Voices 54

April 2000

What is agroforestry?

  • Agroforestry means growing trees on farms. It is a name for farming systems which combine trees with crops and livestock on the same farm. Agroforestry can improve farm productivity and the welfare of the rural community.
  • Is agroforestry a new farming technique?
  • Farmers have practised agroforestry for thousands of years. Many of the farmers in your audience may already grow trees with crops on their farms. For example, they may use trees as windbreaks, and to mark boundaries. They may have a home garden made up of trees and crops which grow at many different levels, and they might maintain some forest on their land.
  • Other words which describe agroforestry systems are alley cropping, forest farming or forest gardening.

How will agroforestry help small-scale farmers?

  • Most traditional farming systems require that land is left fallow for many years to restore its fertility. Today, this practice is not always possible. Farmers need the land to feed their families and to provide fuelwood and timber. Agroforestry is a way to keep the land continuously in use, without depleting it of nutrients needed for growing crops.
  • Trees have many different uses. They can be used as fuelwood and as timber for building. They also supply food, fruits, nuts, fodder for animals, mulch, oils, resins and medicines. Trees also control runoff and soil erosion, improve soil fertility, provide living fences, and protect livestock from cold winter winds and summer heat.

Won’t trees compete with crops for water, light and soil nutrients?

  • All plants that grow next to each other compete for water, light and nutrients. That is why it is important to grow the right kinds of trees and crops together. For example, some trees send their roots deep into the soil and do not compete with more shallow-rooted crops. Other trees provide only a light canopy, which allows enough light to filter through to the crops underneath. It is very important that farmers learn about which trees will grow well with other crops and livestock on their farm. Successful agroforestry means planting the right trees in the right places at the right time.

How can I help farmers in my radio audience adopt an agroforestry system?

  • The scripts in this package give many different examples of how to successfully grow trees with crops and livestock. You can find more agroforestry resources on the last page of this newsletter. Sometimes, the best information can be found in your own backyard. Talk to the farmers in your area. Find out if they grow trees and crops together. Or trees, and crops and livestock. Share their stories of success so that other farmers can learn from them. And of course, let us know too, so we can pass the information on to all of our members.


For many years, the Farm Radio Network has made its radio scripts widely available to extensionists and other community workers who are active in promoting sustainable farming methods and rural development.

More recently, we have increased our efforts to help our members use radio more effectively. This “return to our roots” is prompted by a need to examine, evaluate and enhance the impact of our activities. It is also a response to the increasing opportunities for cost-effective development using radio, particularly in regions where there is now more freedom for media. Not coincidentally, this narrower focus in our program also enables us to use our own limited resources more strategically.

We are encouraged by the response we are getting from Network members who use radio. For them, our scripts are now even more easily adaptable. Voices is a useful tool, full of information that they can use to improve communication with their audience.

We have not forgotten the extensionists in our membership. If you are an extensionist, this commentary is primarily for you.

In your work, you most frequently use small plot adoption trials, visits to farms and homes, training meetings, and group meetings. Most of you make little use of radio, television, or even publications or drama. Yet in many areas, mass media can be relied upon to quickly and efficiently inform farmers of new developments in agriculture. By not using radio, you are asking farmers to wait for your personal visit or training meeting.

Why not ask your community radio stations to provide you with a weekly time slot so that you can get information out more quickly? Many stations have several hours per week to devote to “community affairs.” Are farmers part of the community? Talk to your local station about how you can build a loyal, interested audience. In just five or ten minutes per week, using Network scripts and guest speakers (see letter on this page from José Francisco Urgiles C. of Super “S” radio in Ecuador) you can develop a feature that is invaluable to the farmers in your area.

And don’t forget to tell us about it! We’re here to listen, and to help.

Nancy Bennett
Executive Director

Our radio program called “Enfoque Agropecuario” is broadcast from 5:00 to 6:00 AM daily. It is divided into four segments: news; recommendations on crops; recommendations on livestock, small species and disease control; and an agroecologic, forestry or environmental segment inserting music. We also invite a farmer, or an agricultural technician, or a veterinarian, who is working efficiently in projects related to our program.

By using the Network scripts and other topics, by interviewing people from different fields, and the feedback and acceptance of our program in the communities, we have been able to identify topics that are really important to our audience. For example, they are interested in vermiculture, organic agriculture, greenhouse crops (i.e. kidney tomato and boboco), regular tomato, moro, passion fruit, peaches, apples, avocados, corn and potatoes.

Thanks a million for sending us the Network packages with such valuable information that helps us in our radio programs.

José Francisco Urgiles C.
Radio Super “S” 95.5 FM
Azogues, Ecuador

Share your radio scripts and win!

This is a new opportunity for all Network members to share their adapted radio scripts with other members.

We’d like to see how you adapt the scripts to meet the needs of your audience. Did you add local information, or interview local experts? Or perhaps you used the script as a starting point for an original drama!

Send us your scripts, and any feedback you received from your audience. If your script is selected for publication in a future package, you will receive a valuable resource on effective radio communication.

Send your submissions to us by July 31st:
Developing Countries Farm Radio Network
416 Moore Avenue
Suite 101
Toronto, Ontario Canada M4G 1C9

You may also send them by E-mail to: info@farmradio.org

Knowing Your Audience

Knowing Your Audience is a three part series which will appear here and in the next two issues of Voices. In part 1, we discuss the difference between your current audience and your target audience and how you can identify these two groups. In parts 2 and 3 of the series, we will offer tips on how to gather information about your target audience and how to use that information effectively.

We invite you to share methods that have worked for you as rural communicators, and that you feel will help other Network members.

Your audience is the group of people who listen to your radio programs. They are the people you are broadcasting to – the people who receive the information you deliver. Whether you work in a small community radio station, a government agency, or a for-profit business, you cannot be a successful broadcaster if your audience is not listening to you.

Knowing who is currently listening to your radio programs is the first step in deciding whether you are reaching the group who will benefit most from the information you are broadcasting.

Identify your current audience

It is important to know who your current audience is – who is really listening to the radio programs that you broadcast. Ideally, a radio station reflects the interests and needs of the community where it broadcasts. This will attract listeners and support to the radio station. In order to serve effectively, there must be communication between audience and broadcaster. Compare your current audience with your target audience.

Identify your target audience

Your target audience is the audience you would like to attract. Your current audience is the audience you do attract. The difference between the target audience and the current audience is very important. Let’s say, for example, you are producing a show that talks about the importance of health to nursing mothers, but the majority of your listeners are male. Your target audience may be nursing mothers, but your actual audience is mostly men. You need to make changes in order to get your message across. Perhaps the time of day the program is aired is inconvenient for nursing mothers and you should try a different time. Or perhaps fathers are part of your target audience you should provide information to involve fathers in the health of their families.

In order to identify the target audience of a specific show, ask:

Who would benefit the most from the information in this program?

Create an audience profile

An audience profile is a description of your audience. As a broadcaster, it is helpful to know as much about your audience as possible. Questions you will need to answer include:

  • Does my target audience have access to a radio?
  • What kind of shows do they listen to?
  • When do they listen to the radio?
  • How do they listen to the radio? (i.e., are they doing other things at the same time?)
  • Why do they like the shows they like?
  • What other kinds of interests do they have?
  • What attitudes do they have about issues we discuss on radio?
  • How do they apply the information they receive to their own lives?

Being able to answer these questions will help you to make decisions for effective broadcasting.

Contributed by Krystyn Tully, Student of Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

New Forests Project: World Seed Program

The New Forests Project is a non-profit NGO that works to improve the environment worldwide. Through their World Seed Program – now in its 15th year – they are helping to combat environmental degradation by offering packets of tree seeds, technical information and training materials free of charge to groups that are interested in starting reforestation projects. The high-quality seeds of fast growing nitrogen-fixing trees are available for immediate distribution.

For more information, or to receive a free reforestation packet, contact:

Felicia Ruiz
Coordinator, World Seed Program, New Forests Project
731 Eighth Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 USA
Tel: (202) 547-3800
Fax: (202) 546-4784.

Or apply on-line: www.newforestsproject.com/world.html.

Please provide a description of your area, including elevation, average rainfall, length of rainy and dry seasons, high and low temperatures, soil characteristics and how the trees will be used (fuelwood, lumber, forage, soil conservation, soil enhancement).

Thank you

We would like to thank the following Network members for their contributions to this package of radio scripts:

John Njoroge

Adelina Carreno

E.S. Mahendrarajah
Sri Lanka

Henrylito D. Tacio

Also special thanks to Debra Lodoen, Science Writer, International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, for special assistance with this package.

Call for contributions

We are looking for contributions for an upcoming package on gender issues. This includes radio scripts about male and female role models and the importance of including women in all household, financial and farming decisions.

If you have stories to share about how women in your area have taken action to imrpove their position, or participate more fully in their community, please send them to us by June 15th.


International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF)
PO Box 30677
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254 2 521450
Fax: 254 2 521001
E-mail: ICRAF@cgiar.org
Web site: https://www.worldagroforestry.org/

Agroforestry Today
Published quarterly in English by ICRAF. For subscription information write to: Circulation, Agroforestry Today, at the address above.
E-mail: e.mwamunga@cgiar.org

ICRAF Regional offices

ICRAF Southern Africa Regional Programme
Makoka Agricultural Station
PO Box 134, Zomba, Malawi
Tel: 265 534227
Fax: 265 534283
E-mail: fkwesiga@malawi.net

ICRAF Southeast Asian Regional Programme
Jl. Cifor, Situgede, Sindangbarang
PO Box 161, Bogor 16001 Indonesia
Tel: 62-251-625-415
Fax: 62-251-625-416
E-mail: icraf-indonesia@cgiar.org

International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR)
YC James Yen Center
Silan, Cavite, Philippines 4118
Tel: (63-46)4142417
Fax: (63-46)4142420
E-mail: iirr@cav.pworld.net.ph
Web site: https://iirr.org/

Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO)
ECHO publishes ECHO Development Notes, information and resources for small farm tropical agriculture. Available quarterly in English and Spanish free of charge to those living in developing countries who are directly involved with community development and/or health or agriculture improvement.

Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization
17391 Durrance Road
N. Ft. Myers
Florida 33018 USA
Tel: 941-543-3246
Fax: 941-543-5317
E-mail: echo@echonet.org
Web site: www.echonet.org

The Overstory
A free e-mail newsletter for people and organizations working in tropical agroforestry, forestry and sustainable development. Available in English. Published bi-weekly by:

PO Box 428, Holualoa, HI 96725 USA
Tel: 808-324-4427
Fax: 808-324-4129
E-mail: email@agroforester.com
Web site: www.agroforester.com

To subscribe, send an e-mail to overstory@agroforester.com with “subscribe” in the Subject line. In the body of the message, include your name, e-mail address, organization or brief project description, and country/state.

Forest, Farm and Community Tree Network (FACT Net)
An international network promoting the use of multipurpose trees to improve soil and protect the environment. FACT sheets are available in English. Some available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Indonesian.

For a list of FACT publications contact
Winrock International
38 Winrock Drive
Morrilton, Arkansas, USA 72110-9370
Tel: 501-727-5435
Fax: 601-727-5417
E-mail: forestry@winrock.org