Villagers in Malawi Discuss the Role of Trees in Their Community

Environment and climate changeTrees and agroforestry

Notes to broadcasters

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The following script was adapted from parts of an episode of ‘Mwana Alirenji’, a weekly farmer-to-farmer radio magazine produced by Gladson Makowa of ‘The Story Workshop’ in Malawi. It is based on actual interviews with people living in Mnyong’a 1 and 2 villages, in Traditional Authority Masamba Nkhunda, in Lilingwe District of Malawi.



Good afternoon farmers and all listeners. Today we are going to hear a program that comes to you from ‘The Story Workshop’ in Malawi.


Let us take care of Natural forest.
There are many wild fruit trees there,
There are bwemba trees,
There are masuku trees,
There are baobab trees.

You mean you haven’t heard?
That your friends are making fruit juices,
Juice from the wild fruit trees,
Your friends are making money,
From these natural juices.


Did you know that your friends are making money by selling fruit juices made from indigenous, natural fruit trees? They are selling other tree products too. Let’s hear from the people of the village.

Woman 1:
When we saw that trees for firewood and timber are scarce we thought of planting some more trees.

Some people believe that if you leave land fallow for some time, trees grow again and the natural forest regenerates. But you decided to plant other trees. Why is that?

Man 1:
This is because the natural trees grow slowly. So they can take a long time before they reach maturity or harvesting stage. These exotic trees that we planted will be used in the transition time as we are waiting for natural trees to grow big again.

Man 2:
Some of these trees will be used for small household uses like thatching houses and firewood. We also collect fruit from the fruit trees.

For you, what is the relationship between household security and trees?

Woman 1:
Products from trees bring cash into our homes.

Woman 2:
If trees are close to our homes then we’ll stop travelling long distances to fetch firewood. We women will have time to rest and do other household chores.

Why did you plant trees on the upper side of your village?

Man 1:
We wanted our trees to grow faster. We did not want waterlogged conditions to hamper the growth of the trees.

Man 2:
We want the trees to shield our village from wind

Man 3:
Trees hold the soil and water that come from uplands. So we wanted these trees to reduce erosion and water run-off into our village.


Our friends are planting trees so that they can now start collecting firewood close to their houses. And so they can make money by selling fruits and fruit juices. Could tree planting be a way to provide more security to you and your family?



  • Contributed by Gladson Makowa, The Story Workshop, Blantyre, Malawi.
  • Reviewed by Anna Brazier, Environmental Consultant & Specialist in Sustainable Resource Management, Harare, Zimbabwe.