Nelly Bassily | October 19, 2009
Both maize and cotton farmers in Malawi enjoyed a good harvest this year. For cotton farmers, an ample harvest usually means a good income, once their crops have been sold. This year, however, Malawi’s cotton farmers were left with no way to market their crops, and therefore no income to purchase food. In this state of food insecurity, farming families rely on wild vegetables and hope for food aid.
If you broadcast to an area where many farmers grow non-food crops, you may wish to prepare programs on food security. How can farmers who grow non-food crops improve their security when crop failure, severe marketing problems, or other difficulties prevent them from purchasing food?
Here are two program ideas:
-Find one or more farmers in your community who grow both food and non-food crops. Prepare a report that allows these farmers to explain why they chose this mix of crops. What past experiences led them to their choices? Can they describe a particularly difficult growing or marketing season during which they were glad they had diversified their crops?
-Host a call-in show that invites local farmers to call- or text-in and discuss their crop choices. For these farmers, what are the benefits and risks associated with growing non-food crops? How have farmers coped with seasons when they were not able to sell their crops, or couldn’t get a decent price?
Some farmers choose to plant “survival” or “security” crops. These are crops which produce food even in poor weather and without inputs such as fertilizers. The following scripts describe some survival crops and why communities rely on them: