Nelly Bassily | April 6, 2009
Weather patterns are a constant concern for farmers, whether they are hoping for rain to germinate their crops or sun so that they can harvest with ease. In recent years, climactic changes have led to higher temperatures and decreased humidity in many parts of Africa, causing problems for countless farmers. Our news story from Ethiopia and the following script from Ghana show that when the local climate is too hot and dry, farmers can do more than hope for better weather – they can take action. In this script, village chief Nana Ackesson describes the hardships that deforestation caused in his community, and how reforestation has improved the weather and restored the forest’s resources.
This script can be found online at: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/78-6script_en.asp.
Notes to Broadcaster
Disasters such as bush fires, floods, storms, and locust infestations destroy both plant and animal life. As in every other business, farmers need to understand how to revive the land and ensure food security when disasters strike.
The following programme is about a group of farmers in the Abinmma forest range in Ghana. These farmers started to reforest land which had been destroyed by bush fires, clearing land for farming, tree felling and overgrazing. The programme is based on the real experience of a group known as the Asubimma Forestry Group.
You may wish to use the ideas and themes in this script to produce other programmes, for example a radio drama or a discussion piece, to suit the needs and situation in your area.
Introductory music. Fade under host.
Host: Here in Asubimma, in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana, bush fires and clearing of the forest for farming have destroyed most of the original forest cover. This has affected rainfall patterns, decreased food crop yields and lessened the yield of other products from the forest. This programme tells what happens when deforestation hurts a community. It also tells what communities can do to revive the land.
Fade up music, then out.
Host: Nana Ackesson is the chief of a village at the fringe of a forest reserve. He is meeting with his community of 600 people to talk about deforestation and the loss of forest products to the community. His people want to know what they can do to revive the forest, to bring it back to the way it used to be.
Birdsong and other forest sounds up, then under the Chief’s speech.
Nana Ackesson: Twenty years ago I used to go to the forest in the morning to pick snails, palm fruits, mushrooms and many other things. I would get rope to mend my house. I relied solely on what I could find in the forest. I set traps for rats, antelopes and other animals. The water pot in my house was full during the rainy season. Rainfall came early in February, and sometimes in January. All year round we were able to find green plants to supplement our diet.
We had nine months of rain and it sometimes rained during the dry season. Days were windy and nights were cool enough for sound sleep. We saw many kinds of butterflies, birds and other animals both day and night. Fruits were abundant.
We didn’t need to take water to the farm since there were so many streams and wells. We got fish from the streams. Working under the shade of the many trees on the farm was pleasant and increased our work output. We walked long distances without facing the scourge of the hot sun. The soil was soft. Uprooting yams, cassava, cocoyam, and ginger was not difficult.
The soft soil made the crops grow large. Maize and millet grew very tall and produced big fruits without fertilizer. Groundnuts and beans could be planted at any time of year. Life as a farmer here was a delight.
Forest sounds up for a few seconds then fade out.
But by five years ago, life had changed. When I went to the forest I didn’t find snails, mushrooms, and palm fruits. I had to walk long distances through the degraded forest to get few and weak ones. I didn’t find rope to mend my home.
I set traps but I didn’t get any animals. The pot in my house had only a little water in the rainy season. The rains started at the earliest in April and lasted for only five months. There was a severe dry season five months long. Green vegetables were almost non-existent. Our nutritious diet was gone.
Days were very hot and sunny without wind to cool us. Nights were also hot and sleeping was difficult. I didn’t see many animals. Fruits that served as food when we went to the farm were also gone. We needed to take food to the farm. We had to carry water in a pot to the farm because the streams had all dried up. The fish we used to get from the streams were all gone.
The soil had become hard so vegetables were small. Maize didn’t grow very tall and fruits were getting smaller and smaller. Fertilizers were used extensively and pests were rife. Rainfall was very inconsistent. (Pause) Life as a farmer was very risky.
Forest sounds slowly fade up, hold a few seconds, then under.
I want to tell you something. For the past five years, the rainfall patterns have been changing again. My pot is now full sometimes.
Do you know why? I will tell you. Because of the trees we have planted over the past few years. The wind has started to blow again and nights are now cool. The birds have started coming back and the streams have started to flow again. The crops have begun to grow bigger. The forest officers tell me that this is due to the changing patterns of the rains.
They say we should plant more trees this year and stop burning the bush. Then the snails, mushrooms, rats, and squirrels will come back. The green plants will be there for us and the rains will come at the right time for our planting season.
(Pause) So I think we must plant more trees. What do you think? Do you agree with my suggestion?
Community: Yes, we will help ourselves by restoring the forest. We understand that depleting the forest is causing all those problems. If it will solve our problems, we will grow more trees and stop burning the bushes.
Fade up music, then out.
Contributed by: Kwabena Agyei, Classic FM, Techiman, Ghana.
Reviewed by: Judith de Wolf, International Centre for Research on Agroforestry, Malawi.