Notes to broadcasters
The aim of the following script is to promote the planting of fruit-bearing, leguminous and non-leguminous trees and shrubs in fallow fields as an alternative to slash-and-burn. Although slash-and-burn agriculture, or shifting cultivation, has been practised for centuries, many soil nutrients and organic matter are lost during burning. These days, fallow periods are shorter, so soil has less time to regenerate. Farmers need to find new ways to replenish their land.
A non-leguminous shrub from the sunflower family called Tithonia diversifolia that grows wild throughout Africa has proven to provide nitrogen and phosphorous to depleted soils. This shrub produces a bright yellow flower and also acts as a natural pesticide. It can be used for fodder for cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits and guinea pigs. The use of cuttings and leaves of Tithonia diversifolia as green manure in an intensification fallow system is often referred to as a “daisy fallow.”
Tithonia diversifolia is known as “wild sunflower” or “Mexican sunflower,” but farmers may have other names for it in the local language. Before broadcasting this program, find out if Tithonia diversifolia grows wild in your area and whether it is used by farmers already. Invite farmers in your listening audience to share how they use Tithonia diversifolia on their farms. Include the local name(s) for this plant throughout the script.
SOUND EFFECTS: knocking and door opening.
I hope you are well. I can’t believe it has been so long since I visited you. We have been so busy! Thank you for giving us the wild sunflower cuttings. Zuri was doubtful at first, but I also found some sunflowers growing wild. I offered to work extra hard to plant and weed our field. I asked him what could be worse than ash that ruins our soil? An extension worker also suggested we plant some bush mangos [Irvingia gabonensis]. We used the wild sunflowers as green manure before planting our maize crop and our yield improved a lot!
To show my gratitude and spread the message, I painted our house with a pattern of yellow sunflowers, just like I did in the dream I told you about. The children helped me and learned about an old tradition, too. Even Zuri likes it. I feel connected to my home village and the wisdom of sharing farming ideas.
May you continue to prosper and be blessed with good harvests and good health.
Love, Hanna.SOUND EFFECTS: gentle music, moderate tempo. Continue under.
– END –
- Contributed by Belinda Bruce, Vancouver, Canada.
- Reviewed by Dr. Helen Hambly Odame, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, and Dr. Peter van Straaten, Land Resource Science, University of Guelph, Canada.
- “Alternatives to slash-and-burn.” Spore. Oct. 1995: 5.
- “Plant shrubs that improve soil.” Uganda Environews. June 1997: 4.
- Sonke, Daniel. “Tithonia weed – a potential green manure crop.” Echo Development Notes. July 1997.
- Palm, Cheryl. “Hedgerow shrubs boost soil fertility.” International Agricultural Development. Sep.-Oct. 1999: 14-15.
- Abdu, Kakande. “Tithonia as a fertilizer.” Uganda Environews. June 2001: 13.
- “Farming in the forest.” ILEIA Newsletter. Sep. 2000.
- The Overstory #42: Improved Fallow.
- Gladwin, Christina H., Jennifer S. Peterson, and Robert Uttaro. “Agroforestry innovations in Africa: Can they improve soil fertility on women farmers’ fields?” African Studies Quarterly.
- “Biomass transfer: harvesting free fertilizer.” ILEIA Newsletter. Oct. 1997.
- Metaphors and Meanings of House: African Painted House Traditions.
Note: The booklet, Using the wild sunflower, tithonia, in Kenya for soil fertility and crop yield improvement, provides additional information about the use of Tithonia diversifolia as a green manure, including traditional uses, how to plant the seeds or grow from cuttings, and the benefits for crops. Please contact the Farm Radio Network office if you would like to receive a copy. (Published by the International Centre for Research in Agroforesty.)