Nelly Bassily | August 2, 2010
This story highlights long-term measures that communities and families can adopt to make them less vulnerable to drought and hunger. Farmers can implement certain systems and techniques to make their farming system more robust and improve their chances of recovering after shocks such as droughts or crop failures.
The three techniques covered in the story are: use of local foods, drip irrigation and micro-dosing of fertilizer.
Many locally available foods − including amaranth, green leaves and sesame − are nutritious and versatile. They can easily be grown around homesteads and used in times of need. General information about such crops can be found here: http://www2.bioversityinternational.org/Themes/Neglected_and_Underutilized_Species/index.asp.
A document about leafy vegetables called “The benefits of traditional vegetables: One Community’s story” can be downloaded here: http://www.bioversityinternational.org/index.php?id=19&user_bioversitypublications_pi1[showUid]=2951.
Drip irrigation is an effective way to water thirsty vegetable crops. But it can be expensive for small-scale farmers to establish drip systems. Farmers need assured markets in order to make the initial investment. They also need a secure water supply. If drip irrigation were adopted on a large scale, it could impact water sources which are already under stress, as in Burkina Faso. For more discussion of and descriptions of drip irrigation, here are some links:
A short video about drip irrigation in West Africa:
A related news story from Zimbabwe:
Micro-dosing of fertilizer has produced impressive results in Niger. Scientists at ICRISAT explain that the soils are so depleted of nutrients that they respond well to small amounts of inputs. One constraint is that fertilizer is usually sold in 25kg bags, which are either too expensive or too great a quantity to be cost-effective for small-scale farmers.
For more information on ICRISAT’ s work in Niger, see: http://www.icrisat.org/newsroom/latest-news/one-pager/africa-hunger/africa-hunger-crisis.htm.
A photo gallery about micro-dosing of fertilizers in Niger can be viewed at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10698153.
Here are some relevant Farm Radio International scripts:
A healthy diet for babies and young children Package 69, Script 1, December 2003 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/69-1script_en.asp
Winning the Race with Traditional Foods Package 65, Script 4, October 2002 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/65-4script_en.asp
Drip irrigation Package 84, Script 12, August 2008 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/84-12script_en.asp
Supply Water Directly to Plant Roots with Pitcher and Drip Irrigation Package 71, Script 10, June 2004 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/71-10script_en.asp
Micro-doses of Fertilizer Increase Yields in the Sahel Package 79, Script 4, November 2006 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/79-4script_en.asp
Dr. Compost Answers Questions About Soil Improvement Package 61, Script 9, October 2001 http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/61-9script_en.asp
The availability of water and how water is applied to a crop is fundamental when deciding which crops to plant and when. You might like to produce a radio program about irrigation methods.
-What methods of irrigation are common in the region?
-How do these irrigation methods affect farmers’ choice of crops?
-How much information is available to farmers on new or improved irrigation methods?
-Is there local support for investing in irrigation?
-How could farmers benefit from better irrigation in your broadcast area? Would they be able to, for example, grow more crops per season?