Nelly Bassily | July 7, 2008
A couple of months ago, Lilianne Nyatcha brought us a story about farmers in the Moungo Region of Cameroon who were suffering as a result of high fertilizer prices (“Farmers say financial support is needed to boost production”) The farmers she spoke with could no longer afford the quantity or quality of chemical fertilizer that they were accustomed to using. As a result, they produced, or expected to produce, lower yields.
This week’s story from Ms. Nyatcha proves that “necessity is the mother of invention.” The farmers she spoke with in the agricultural town of Nkongsmba, Cameroon, were initially frustrated by soaring chemical fertilizer prices, but soon discovered they could meet their fertilizer needs with less expensive manure. It is interesting to note that, while manure is a traditional fertilizer, many farmers in this town had dismissed it until chemical alternatives became unaffordable. There is evidence that farmers in other parts of the continent are also coping with high chemical fertilizer prices by using less expensive, organic alternatives (“Rice bran can substitute for chemical fertilizer.”)
Farm Radio International has produced a number of articles on soil fertility, which you can find online at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/fertilization.asp. If you broadcast this story, you may wish to complement it with one of the following scripts, which talk about producing the best quality compost using manure and other organic materials, and selling compost.
-“Make compost as your vegetables grow” (Package 47, Script 1, January 1998)
-“You can make compost in two to three weeks” (Package 47, Script 2, January 1998)
-“Improve manure to make better fertilizer” (Package 48, Script 9, April 1998)
-“Farmers can earn income producing compost” (Package 80, Script 3, March 2007)
You could also follow up with a news story or call-in/text-in show about how farmers in your area are coping with increased chemical fertilizer prices. Here are some questions to consider:
-What percentage of farmers in your area typically relies on chemical fertilizer? What other strategies do they normally use to ensure the fertility of their soils?
-How has the price of chemical fertilizer in your area changed in the past year or so?
-Are there farmers in your area who produced lower yields because they could not afford the quantity or quality of chemical fertilizer that they normally use?
-What alternative fertilization techniques are farmers in your area using following the hike in chemical fertilizer prices?