Notes to broadcasters: Drought and drought-tolerance

    | May 13, 2013

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    The frequency and severity of drought is likely an effect of climate change ( ), and scientists are trying to determine whether this trend will continue ( Whatever the cause of the weather events associated with the changing climate, it is undeniable that farmers will have to deal with changing and unpredictable weather patterns. It’s important to consider how to engage with your listeners on this subject.

    The Kenyan farmer featured in this week’s story selected a new variety of beans to offset the diminishing yield and income from wheat. A recent story about new varieties of beans, “Cameroon: Bean farmer increases production with new variety,” can be found in FRW issue #241 through this link: An accompanying Notes to broadcasters is available here:

    In the story from Tanzania, Dr. Ngowi refers to drought-tolerant maize varieties grown in Dodoma. Notes to broadcasters on this subject are available, with stories and scripts, from issue #128 (September 20th, 2010) at this link:

    Tanzanian authorities tried to encourage drought-stricken farmers to grow sorghum, millet and cassava. Notes to broadcasters on sorghum and millet were produced recently (issue #245, May 2013) and can be found here:

    A story from June 2011 (“Kenya: Re-discovering cassava during drought, issue #160) describes how a Kenyan farmer coped with drought by growing cassava instead of maize. It is available here: You can read Notes to broadcasters about the 2011 Kenyan drought here:  Information on the 2011-12 East African drought is also available through Wikipedia:

    Kenyan farmers, along with their Tanzanian counterparts, favour maize because they prefer its taste to the taste of drought-resistant sorghum or millet. Read a story from issue #114 (“Kenya: Farmers use drought-resistant crops and improved access to water to adapt to climate change,” June 2010) here: The accompanying Notes to broadcasters are here:

    It is not just crops that are affected by droughts. A Notes to broadcasters on droughts and cattle from issue #211 can be found here:

    Farmers can sometimes lessen the effects of drought though water harvesting systems. There are Notes to broadcasters on good harvests and water management available through this link: It contains some suggestions on how to raise the subject of drought-preparedness on the radio.

    For more information and resources on coping with climate change, consider the following Farm Radio International scripts:
    Choosing crops for drought prone areas (Package 73, Script 3, January 2005)
    Supply water directly to plant roots with pitcher and drip irrigation (Package 71, Script 10, June 2004)
    Farmer Phiri uses infiltration pits to combat drought (Package 64, Script 6, July 2002)
    The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002)
    Dr. Compost talks about compost piles (Package 61, Script 6, October 2001)
    A farmer practices zero grazing (Package 51, Script 3, February 1999)

    You might also consider producing a call-in and text-in show, or a locally researched news story, on one or both of the following topics:

    1) Local climate change observations:
    -What differences in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns have people observed?
    -Have floods and/or droughts been more frequent in the last 20-30 years than in previous decades?
    -What differences in soil properties have been seen in recent decades?
    -What changes in vegetation, including crops, pasture, and wild plants?

    2) Local adaptation techniques:
    -What crops have farmers struggled with, and which have proven well suited to these new conditions?
    -What sorts of feeding and care techniques have livestock farmers used to cope with new conditions?
    -What steps have farmers used to prevent flooding and make the best use of available water?
    -What other steps have farmers taken to maintain food security when facing severe drought or floods?

    The articles on which the stories from Kenya and Tanzania were based can be found through these links: Kenya –; and Tanzania –