Notes to broadcasters on switching crops

    | March 11, 2013

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    The choice of which crop or crops to grow is one of the most important decisions a farmer can make. Among the many factors that may impact a farmer’s decisions are: knowledge of the crops; suitability of crops to local growing conditions; local traditions and food preferences; and market prices. In this week’s story, we heard from farmers who weighed the value of producing ylang-ylang, a non-food crop that used to carry a high market value, and the staples of bananas and cassava that have a lower but more predictable market value and can also provide food for the family.

    The following stories from previous editions of FRW also deal with crop choice:
    -“Congo-Brazzaville: Cassava scarce as farmers turn to growing pineapple” (FRW #219, October 2012)
    -”Niger: Onion producers suffer from market glut” (FRW #202, May 2012)
    -”Uganda: Organic certification allows farmers to tap export market” (FRW #68, June 2009)
    -”Nigeria: Cassava “waste” is good food for goats” (FRW #54, February 2009)

    Many farmers frequently revisit crop choice for reasons such as market changes, climate change, or promotion by NGOs. What sorts of choices and changes are farmers in your listening area making? Here are a couple of program ideas on the topic:

    1) Host a call-in/text-in program inviting farmers to discuss their crop decisions. If they’ve switched or introduced new crops in the past, what were their reasons and what were their results? If they have maintained the same crops while nearby farmers have made changes, what were their reasons and are they happy with their decision?

    2) If you see a trend of farmers increasingly growing a new crop, interview some of the farmers about their decision. What do their farms look like now (for example, have they devoted some or all of their farms to the new crop or crops)? What have been the benefits and challenges of making the change? If some or all of their crops are non-food crops (such as coffee or ylang-ylang) what steps are they taking to ensure their family’s food security? While visiting areas where many farmers have made a change, see if you can find some farmers who have opted against change, and add their voices to the program.