Part A Presenter: George Atkins

Part B Presenter: George Atkins

Part C Presenter: Barbara Peacock

Part D Presenter: George Atkins

We at this radio station are part of a world-wide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International

Development Agency, Massey-Ferguson and the University of Guelph.

Through this Network we bring you information on ways to increase food supplies for your family, or to sell — ways that other farmers have used successfully.

Today, here’s (George Atkins) (Barbara Peacock) with a farming hint.

Farming Hints (Item 1A) – “Birds — A Problem for Many Farmers”

Atkins Birds can be good for you — and they can be bad.

Did you ever think about that? — The good part is that they eat a lot of pests, — flies, bugs and worms that spoil your fruits, vegetables and other crops. Birds are very good for you when they do that.

At other times, however, some of those same birds may eat the seeds you have planted, or attack your fruits and vegetables while they are growing or eat your grain, — your sorghum, maize, rice, wheat, — even before you’ve harvested it.

— So, what can you do about birds that are sometimes your friends, sometimes your enemies?

Well, don’t try to kill them all. — If you do that, there won’t be any around when you need them to help you get rid of those pests I was talking about.

I’m going to suggest several ways you can deal with the problem. Remember, though, that there are many different kinds of birds and of crops, so what’s good for a farmer to do in one area may or may not be what a farmer in another area should do. — The best thing is to try out different methods and then decide on the right ones for you.

To start with, if birds get your seeds just after you’ve planted them, — perhaps you might try planting them a little bit deeper in the ground, but not too deep.

Some people protect newly planted seeds and small plants with old tin cans. They use tin cans with no top or bottom. For seedling beds and some garden crops you could cover the bed with a fish net 1/2 a metre (1-1/2 feet) above it. To hold up the net, you could surround the bed with good strong stakes just the right height. If you have no net, you could attach strong thread or string near the top of one of the stakes and stretch it tightly back and forth over the bed between the stakes, — that would keep the birds away.

Another good way to deal with the problem is to scare the birds away. There are many ways of doing this. The important thing about scaring them away is that you must start doing it at the time that they first begin to attack what you are growing. You must be ready for them and stop them before they

really get started — before they really find out how good your seeds or crops taste to them.

— Now, here are some of the ways: An agricultural extension worker in Sierra Leone, Easmon Lavaly, says to set up something that looks like a person in your paddy field, your groundnut field or your garden. Just put a tall stake in the ground so that it stands there as tall as a person. Then, about where the person’s arms and shoulders would be, attack a shorter stick, making a cross. You can then put an old shirt or dress on the cross, using the cross bar as the person’s arms and shoulders. Put an old cap or hat on the top — and there’s a non-living person to scare away the birds. The bigger the field the more of these “persons” you’ll need scattered around through the growing crop. — Easmon says they’re very effective in Sierra Leone.

In Costa Rica, some farmers get a dead animal of some kind, — they leave it in the field and before long, vultures will find it and start flying around above it. — They’re big birds so they scare away the smaller ones that are likely to attack your crop.

If you happen to find a dead bird of the kind that’s bothering you, hang it up on a tall stake. — It may scare the others away.

— And now, one more method from Sierra Leone. Both Easmon Lavaly and George Vandi told us about it. They suggest you set up a series of stakes in the crop you want to protect. These stakes are all connected together with rope or cord; and hanging from the ropes between the stakes, you have tin cans with pebbles in them that will rattle around inside the cans when they move, thus scaring away the birds.

Here’s how to do that: First put a lot of tall flexible (springy) stakes firmly in the ground in the area to be protected from birds. One or more ropes or strong cords must then be tied to the top of each stake. These ropes are then stretched tightly and tied to the tops of other stakes that are nearby. Now after you have set up the “web” of ropes tightly connecting all of the stakes, get a whole lot of empty tin cans, tie a 20 to 30 centimetre (8 to 12 inch) piece of string to each of them and hang 2 or 3 of them together from the pieces of rope between the stakes. Drop 3 to 5 pebbles in each tin can — and what have you got? — A bird scaring noise maker right there where the birds will be wanting to attack your crop. To one of the pieces of rope, you tie a strong cord or rope long enough to reach the place you will be sitting waiting for the birds to come. — When they do, — jerk on the cord — it will shake all those stakes, ropes and tin cans; the pebbles will rattle in the cans and the birds will fly away.

This will happen if you are ready to scare the birds away when they come to feed, — so it’s important that you notice when it it, during the day, that they usually come.

Remember, though, it’s best to start scaring these birds away before they get used to eating your crop.

FARMING HINTS (Item 1B) – “A Simple Rat Trap”

Atkins Do you have problems with rats in your crops?

For many years, some farmers in Africa have been solving their rat problems by trapping rats right where they are, — in the field. Now, many other people are trying this method and finding it works very well to protect their crops from rats. Here’s how they do it.

The main idea is to attract the rats to jugs or pots that are set down in the ground in such a way that, with soil filled in around the pots, the open tops of the pots are just level with the ground. There’s something you can do to make rats in your fields fall into these pots. Before you do though, you have to pour some sticky liquid into the pots, — enough so that they_l be half full of sticky liquid. Then when the rats fall in, they can’t get out of the pots, and if you leave them in there, of course, they will drown.

The best times to set traps like this are during the planting season and after harvest; and of course if you catch a lot of rats before they have a chance to have babies, you won’t have nearly as many rats to deal with.

Here’s how to do it.

The jugs or pots you are going to use should have a fairly large opening at the top and should be tall enough so that you could put your whole arm inside them, that’s 60 to 80 centimetres (2 to 2-1/2 feet) deep from top to bottom. Maybe you already use jugs or pots like these for carrying water.

If there are a lot of rats in your field, you will need 3 to 5 of these pots per hectare (1 or 2 pots per acre); if there aren’t too many rats, you don’t need so many traps.

Next, you will need water – mixed with something to make it thick or sticky so that when a rat falls into this sticky mixture it won’t be able to move very well, and won’t be able to escape easily. — And how can you make a sticky mixture like this? Well, you could boil up some cassava peelings. Or you may know of other things you could mix with water to make a thick sticky liquid.

After you have made up the sticky liquid, pour enough of it into the pot in the ground so that it’s about half full. — No more than that though, because you don’t want any rats that fall into the trap to be able to reach the edge and climb out. It’s best if you put in the liquid in the late afternoon or evening as the rats will be out looking for food at night.

But what can you do to get the rats to come to these large pots down there in the ground and to fall into them? Well, rats really like toasted grains, — rice, wheat or other grains. You should carefully place these toasted grains one next to the other all around the top of the pot as close to it as you can. Perhaps you can figure out a way of doing that without touching the toasted grains with your fingers. By smelling the grains, rats might know you had touched them and might be afraid to eat them. So try not to touch those toasted grains.

Now see what you have, — a ring of toasted grains all the way around the edge of the pot.

When a rat comes to the trap and starts eating the bait, it will eat one toasted grain — then, as it eats the others, it will keep moving around the edge of the pot. Now this is something that rats don’t do naturally. They don’t normally move in a circle like this, so while doing it they’ll lose their balance and fall into the pot, — into that sticky liquid.

Each morning, take the drowned rats out of your trap and bury them. Then every afternoon, put a new ring of toasted grains around the edge of the buried pot.

After 2 or 3 days, dig up the traps, clean them out well, and bury them again, but in different places in your field. This is very important. Add the same kind of sticky liquid and put out toasted grain bait as usual. Keep taking the dead rats out of the traps and adding new bait each day.

After 2 or 3 more days, move the pots again, dig them up, wash them out, put them in new places in the field and start again. Keep doing this as long as you are catching rats.

Never use the same pots for water or food afterwards, unless you first wash them out several times, with a lot of soap and boiling water. If you don’t do this, germs from the rats can get in your food and make you very sick.

Many farmers in Africa now use this kind of rat trap and find it very useful. Perhaps you will too!

FARMING HINTS (Item 1C) – “Bush Fires – Try to Prevent Them”

Peacock You may have seen a bush fire and heard the loud crackling sound it makes. —

It can be a terrifying thing!

Now you may have thought that if you clear bushland for farming by burning it all down, all those ashes that are left after the bush fire will be very helpful to your crops. It is true, of course, that ashes are valuable as plant food, but what happens when the wind blows? You know very well that a lot of those ashes can just be blown away. — And they certainly won’t help your crops any if that happens!

But have you ever thought about what really happens when there’s a bush fire, — when everything is burned?

We’ve talked before on this program about making you own fertilizer out of grass, weeds, leaves and a lot of different kinds of what we call organic matter; — the kind of home-made fertilizer we call “compost”. Well just think for a moment about how much of that kind of organic matter there is in a bush. — And think how much really good plant food you would have if you made it all into compost. — And think about all the compost there is already on the ground in the bush from leaves and other plant material that has been collecting there as long as the bush has been there. There’s a lot of very good plant food in all the compost that’s already there; — and also in all that live green material in the bush.

What happens to all that if there’s a bush fire? Most of this valuable plant food is lost and even the ashes that are left may be blown away by a strong wind; — or they can be washed away in a heavy rain.

That’s something to think about! — And here’s something else.

Now, I’ve just been talking about plants, ferns, shrubs, trees, leaves and other things that grow in the bush above ground, — and about organic matter from these things that builds up on top of the ground over the years. As it builds up however, a lot of it becomes mixed into the soil as humus.

We’ve said before on this program that soil that has lots of humus in it will take up and hold more moisture than soil without humus. — This is moisture that plants need to grow well.

— And what happens to this humus in the soil when there’s a bush fire? — Well, a lot of it is destroyed by the fire.

— So what happens to rainwater falling on the land after humus is destroyed? — Not nearly as much of it stays there in the soil; a lot more of it runs off, often washing away

good soil with it. This is topsoil, — the best of the soil for growing crops, — and it’s being washed away.

There’s another problem with this soil with less humus in it. — When it dries out in the hot sunshine and there’s a strong wind, the good topsoil can be blown away easily. — Of course when soil is lost like this, crops planted in it won’t grow as well — and the land can become drier and drier. — This, in fact, is how deserts begin to form — and all this because of the bush fire that burns up nearly everything.

I say “nearly everything” because sometimes bigger trees won’t be completely killed. They will be injured however and they won’t grow as well afterwards. — Because of this, there’ll be less firewood and wood for all the other uses you have for wood.

When you stop to think about everything we’ve just talked about, don’t you think you should do all you can to prevent bush fires?

Serving “Agriculture, the Basic Industry”, this is Barbara Peacock.

FARMING HINTS (Item 1D) – “Why Plant Trees?”

 Atkins Let’s think about trees for a few minutes.

A lot of people cut down trees. Not nearly as many people plant trees. If you’re a farmer, you’ve probably planted a lot of crops since you were young, — but how many trees have you planted? —

Have you ever thought about that? You need food for yourself, for your family and to sell, so you plant and harvest your crops. But what about wood? — You need it too. If you go out and cut or “harvest” wood, how can you expect to keep on

doing that if you don’t plant trees like you plant the other crops that you harvest?

David Coyle, a forester at Kanye in Botswana told me this.

 Coyle I was talking to a woman just the other day and I asked her what it was like 10 years ago in this village. —

She said “Well, when we first lived here, you could just walk outside the door and pick up dry wood — so we had no problems getting firewood.” Now, she says she has to walk for a whole day to find enough firewood to keep her family for a week; — and pretty soon it’s going to get to the point where she’ll work 2 or 3 days a week just to get firewood.

 Atkins There are other good reasons for planting trees near where you live or on rough stony or hilly land near the land you use for farming. In a moment, we’ll hear again from David Coyle, but first here’s what another forester, Andy Kenney, told me.

 Kenney We have to also consider the value that trees can give us in shelter for our gardens or fields, — protecting the crop from winds that can damage it; — and also protecting our homes.

We can also look at a number of other uses for trees.

If you can have trees that protect your home from winds but also provide firewood and also provide food for your livestock and perhaps food for yourself, then you’re getting that much more value out of those trees.

 Atkins Now I ask you, – wouldn’t it be a good thing for anyone to do if they could, to plant one new tree every time they cut one down? If everybody did that, there would be a never-ending supply of firewood and of wood for other uses as well. Another very good reason is that there are plenty of areas where planting trees would have prevented deserts from spreading.

Now if you decide to start planting trees, it may be that there’s an agency in your area that will supply you with trees to plant and that will help you do it or at least show you how to do it.

If there’s no such agency, or if young trees you could get would cost too much money, you could do it all yourself, — growing young trees from seed, or from cuttings, something like the way you grow other farm crops. We’ll talk about that next time. Before we finish though, here’s one more good reason Dr. David Kidd gave me for planting trees.

 Kidd I’ve met older farmers in some of the areas and they would say “Look, — on those hills, 40 or 50 years ago, we remember when there were many trees, — and we are sure that the cutting down of the trees has made the climate less pleasant.”

 Atkins Thank you very much Dr. David Kidd here at Ranchi in the northeastern part of India.

Serving “Agriculture, the Basic Industry”, this is George Atkins.


Interviewees: David Coyle, c/o Kantor Bappeda II,
Watampone, Kabupaten Bone, Sulawesi
Selatan, Indonesia

Andy Kenney, c/o Department of Environmental
Biology,University of Guelph,
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 2W1, Canada

Information sources

Part 1A:

1. Mini Technology, Volume 1, Second Edition, published by Sahayogi Press, Tripureshwar, Katmandu, Nepal. It could be obtained from UNICEF, P.O. Box 1187, Katmandu, Nepal.

2. DCFRN Participant Easmon Lavaly, C.I.D. Headquarters, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa.

3. DCFRN Participant George Vandi Jr., c/o Dr. B.J. Lansana, Army Medical Services, Wilberforce Barracks, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa.

4. Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA), 3706 Rhode Island Avenue, Mt. Rainier, Maryland 20822 Maryland, U.S.A.

5. “Protecao de Sementeiras contra Passaros”, Cada Cabeca e um Mundo…, No. 15, Programa Technologia da Escassez (in Portuguese), published by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Brazilian Literacy Movement Foundation (MOBRAL), SCRLN 704/5 – LB. H Ljs. 33/43, Brasilia – DF, Brazil. The picture “Using Strong String” with the illustrations, is from this publication which was sent to us by DCFRN Participant Maria da Penha Araujo.

Part 1B:

Information for this item came from an article entitled “The Kornaka Trap in Niger”, in the publication African Environment, Vol. III, Nos. 3-4. For a copy, you could write to ENDA, Boite Postale 3370, Dakar, Senegal. The article was based on information from a French-language leaflet on rat and gerbil control (Plant Protection Recommendation No. 1, 1976) produced by the Plant Protection Service, Ministry of Rural Development, Niamey, Niger.

Part 1C:

1. Agricultural Extension Handbook, published by the Ghanaian-German Agricultural Development Project (GGADP). For more information about it, you could write to Albin Korem, Ghanaian-German Agricultural Development Project (GGADP), P.O. Box 171, Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana.

2. Geald Ivanochko, No. 9-908-15th St. East, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7N 0R3.

Information Sources for Items 1D, 2 and 3

1. A Guide to Successful Tree Growing, published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Forestry, P.O. Box 30048, Capital City, Lilongwe 3, Malawi. It was sent by DCFRN Participant McKey Mphepo.

2. What’s a Tree for? and How to Plant Your Seedling Tree, published by The Forestry Department, Suva, Fiji, sent by DCFRN Participant Gyan Chand.

3. People’s Workbook, published by the Environment and Development Agency (EDA), box 62054, Marshalltown, 2107 Johannesburg, South Africa.

4. Indicaciones Generales Sobre Plantaciones Forestales, (in Spanish), by Luis Venegas Tobar, published by the National Institute for Renewable Resources and the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Carrera 10 No. 20-30, Bogota, D.E., Colombia.

5. World Neighbours in Action, Vol. 9, No. 2E, Topic: “Reforestation”, published by World Neighbours, 4116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, U.S.A.

6. Transcripts of World Neighbours filmstrips:

a) “We Need Trees”

b) Trees, Land and People

Part One – “Trees as a Farm Crop”

Part Two – “Trees from Seedbed to Harvest”

For address, see reference 5 above.

7. Techniques and Plants for Tropical Subsistence Farms, “Trees”, by Franklin W. Martin and Ruth M. Ruberte, Agricultural Reviews and Manuals, ARM-S-8/July 1980, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Science and Education Administration, Washington, D.C. 20250, U.S.A.

8. Hello Tomorrow, 45/83, broadcast prepared by BBC Topical Tapes, P.O. Box 76, Bush House, Strand, London, WC2B4PH, U.K.

Additional Sources of Information

1. Reforestation in Arid Lands, by V.C. Palmer, available from Volunteers in Technical Assistance (V.I.T.A.), 1815 North Lynn Street, Suite 200, P.O. Box 12438, Arlington, Virginia 22209, U.S.A.; also available from Peace Corps, Information Collection and Exchange, Office of Program Development, 806 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20526, U.S.A.

2. Firewood Crops: Shrub and Tree Species for Energy Production, Vols. 1 and 2, published by the National Academy of Sciences, available from BOSTID (JH-217D), National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20418, U.S.A.

3. Environmentally Sound Small-Scale Forestry Projects – Guidelines for Planning, published by CODEL, Environment and Development Program, 79 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016, U.S.A.; also published by and available from Volunteers in Technical Assistance (V.I.T.A.), 1815

North Lynn Street, Suite 200, Arlington, Virginia, 22209, U.S.A.

4. Manual of Reforestation and Erosion Control for the Philippines, GTZ series No. 22, compiled by H.J. Weidelt, published by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), P.O. Box 5180, Dag-Hammarskjold-Weg 1, D-6236 Eschborn, West Germany.