Nelly Bassily | May 7, 2012
Growing crops in floodplains is possible as a seasonal activity. Small-scale farmers in many parts of Africa rely on cultivating floodplains – the Nile basin is probably the largest and best known. Floodplains can be very fertile places, as the annual flooding leaves the soil rich in nutrients. However, the possibility of flooding or waterlogging means that farmers need good local knowledge in order to plan which crops to plant and when, to give them the best chance of success.
Here are some links to further information on irrigation and floodplain systems in Africa, and recent news stories:
-Kenya: Budalangi Farmers Told to Keep Off Dykes: http://allafrica.com/stories/201204250031.html
-Zambia: No longer waiting for the mangoes to ripen: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106909
Farm Radio International has produced a number of scripts related to irrigation and water use, which you can browse here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/water.asp
And here is one story from Farm Radio Weekly about how farmers make good use of wetland resources:
-Mali: Groups restore forest and improve fisheries (FRW 122, May 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/05/24/1-mali-women%E2%80%99s-groups-restore-forests-and-improve-fisheries-in-the-inner-niger-delta-wetlands-international-mali-ips/
If you broadcast to a region where farmers farm on floodplains, you might want to produce a show that looks at the complexities of floodplain farming. What experiences can farmers share about controlling water, choosing the right crops to plant, or knowing exactly when to plant to make the most of available water?
As well as talking to farmers, meet with irrigation specialists or agricultural extension workers who can share good practices for your region. You could also look at how practices have changed over time – is there more or less floodwater now? Have floodplains been developed for industry or other uses? Is there as much floodplain farming as there used to be? Have planting times changed? How have farmers learned to adapt?