Nelly Bassily | February 2, 2009
Much like the debate between traditional and “improved” crops, the debate between native and imported or “improved” livestock breeds is complex. There are benefits to “improved” species that farmers must weigh carefully against the benefits of traditional or native varieties. In this story from Rwanda, we see that, while imported cows can produce more milk under the right conditions, many farmers prefer native breeds because they are cheaper to buy and care for.
Since there is often a great deal of public education around the value of improved crops or livestock breeds (by the government or a company promoting them), radio can help give farmers a balanced perspective. By encouraging discussion of the value of traditional species, and encouraging farmers to share their experiences (positive and negative) with improved species, you can help farmers make the best choices for their farms and families.
The following Farm Radio script provides story ideas on this issue:
“The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health” (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002): http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/63-3script_en.asp
You may also refer to these FRW news stories, which consider the merits of traditional and improved crop varieties in different contexts:
–“Government promotes open-pollinated seeds over hybrids” (Issue#47, December 2008)
–“Farmers, scientists encourage preservation of traditional crops” (Issue#33, August 2008)
–“Improved seeds improve livelihoods for women’s group” (Issue#27, July 2008)
–“Women traders play crucial role in providing locally adapted seeds” (Issue #9, February 2008)
–“Farmers test best millet varieties for dry conditions” (Issue #6, January 2008)