Which Farmer Would You Rather Be? A Story About Diversification

Crop productionNutrition

Notes to broadcasters

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One way to help farmers meet the food needs of their families, and make some cash at the same time, is to talk to them about diversification. Farmers who produce only crops for sale may not have enough nutritious food to feed their families if prices fall or crops fail. Find ways to explain to farmers how they can benefit from producing crops for cash, but at the same time urge them to make feeding their families a priority.



Here is a story that will be especially interesting for those farmers in the audience who have started planning their crops for next season. It’s a tale of two farmers…



Mrs. Patel

Mr. Joseph

It’s the rainy season in Padma village. Two farmers, Mrs. Patel and Mr. Joseph, are planting their crops.
Mrs. Patel has a one-hectare plot of land. She decides to plant half of her land to maize, mixed with pumpkin. On the rest of her plot she plants sorghum, sweet potatoes and beans.

Mrs. Patel:
At harvest time, I will dry the beans, and keep them for the off season. The sorghum, I will use to make porridge. My neighbour will buy some of my pumpkins, and I can use the rest to make stews and sauces. And I will sell some of the maize at the market.

So, Mrs. Patel has a variety of crops in her one-hectare plot. Now, what about Mr. Joseph?

Mr. Joseph:
This season I will plant my whole plot to maize. I can sell this at great profit!


Now, it happened that year in Padma village, that there was a terrible drought. Because of the drought, many farmers suffered. At the end of the season, Mrs. Patel and Mr. Joseph examined their crops.

Mrs. Patel:
Well, I lost the maize. But some of the pumpkins grew! The sorghum was attacked by birds, but I will have enough to feed my family. And my bean crop did very well.

And Mr. Joseph? For Mr. Joseph, it was a completely different story.

Mr. Joseph:
(upset) I’ve lost all my maize …which means… I’ve lost everything!

Which farmer would you rather be? Mrs. Patel or Mr. Joseph? Farmers, grow several crops – not just one crop. This will give you security. If any crop fails, you will have something else to eat or sell. Feed your family first!


“Which farmer would you rather be” is adapted from a book of stories complied by the Farmer Support Group at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa.Insert performer’s nameplayed Mrs. Patel.Performer’s namewas Mr. Joseph. The story was narrated byinsert performer’s name.


Adapted from a story in “Farmer to Farmer: A story of innovation and solidarity,” compiled by Erna Kruger, Farmer Support Group, University of Natal, South Africa.

Reviewed by Peter Rosset, Co-Director, Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy, Oakland, California, USA.