Notes to broadcasters on market gardening as a climate change adaptation

    | January 14, 2013

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    The changing climate is affecting farmers in every part of Africa, and across the globe. Increased heat, a greater number of extreme weather events, and unpredictable rainy seasons present a variety of challenges for farmers. Some farmers, like those in our story from Burkina Faso, are adapting to climate change by growing different crops or raising different livestock. Other adaptation techniques include new approaches to soil and water management and storing food for emergency situations.

    There have been many news stories on this phenomenon. Here are a few recent ones:

    Uganda: Cassava Key to Food Security, Say Scientists

    Tanzania: Drought Drives Tanzanian Herders Into Conflict With Farmers

    Kenya: As Rains Change, Citizens Turn to Planting Indigenous Trees

    The organization has a webpage devoted to climate change in Africa, with news stories and features, analysis, policy briefs, reports, and more:

    Farm Radio International has distributed many scripts on climate change and farmers. You can browse these scripts at: (under the heading “Radio Scripts by Subject,” click on “Climate Change.”) Included in this list of scripts are three issue packs, which provide more detailed information on awareness of climate change, soil fertility and climate change, and water harvesting.

    Farm Radio Weekly has published many stories which highlight the challenges of a changing climate on small-scale farmers. Here are a few:

    Niger: Farmers improve yields by letting trees grow in their fields (FRW #229, December 2012)

    Burkina Faso: Farmers regain hope because of good rains and dryland farming techniques (FRW #227, December 2012)

    Kenya: Permaculture promotes food security on Rusinga Island (FRW #218, September 2012)

    Namibia: Farmers restore soil fertility to boost yields (FRW #217, September 2012)

    Kenya: Home-grown solutions help pastoralists adapt to changing climate (FRW #183, December 2011)

    Sahel: Fighting malnutrition with local food security and water management initiatives (FRW #122, August 2010)

    Mali and Niger: Dealing with drought (FRW #117, June 2010)

    East Africa: Pastoralists survive drought by adapting (FRW #110, May 2010)

    How have farmers in your area experienced climate change? What actions have they undertaken to adapt? Here are a couple of ideas for starting a radio program on this important topic:
    -Host a call-in/text-in show asking farmers to discuss their climate change observations and how they may have adapted their agricultural work as a result. Take note of any trends or particularly interesting anecdotes about farmer adaptation, which could form the basis of a future program.
    -Visit one or more local agricultural co-operatives, markets, or other places where farmers gather. Speak with both leaders and average farmers about climate change, asking for their own experiences and about any farmers they know who have had notable experiences with climate change and adaptation.

    The adaptation method chosen by the farmers in this week’s story is market gardening to supplement staple grain production. Vegetable gardening can be appealing to both urban and rural people, as a way to earn income or simply to add a variety of nutritious foods to the household diet.

    The following Farm Radio International scripts talk about “sack farming,” a method of growing vegetables in a very small space, at any time of year:
    -Sack farming: Unlimited vegetable harvest! (Package 90, Script 9, April 2010)
    -Women use ‘hanging gardens’ to grow vegetables and solve land crisis (Package 90, Script 8, April 2010)

    Finally, one of the reasons the Burkinabe farmers in this week’s story are successful is that they live near a highway, which provides easy access to market traders. If you are interested in exploring the topic of farm-to-market roads, you’ll find some ideas and resources in the following Notes to broadcasters from a previous edition of FRW: