Mr. or Mrs. Potato of the Year!

    | December 8, 2008

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    You and your listeners will learn more about potatoes through this mini-drama, in which an agricultural trader and local farmer field questions from a zany quizmaster. If you’ve ever wondered which continent Irish potatoes really come from, what a “true potato seed” is, or simply the best way to fry potatoes, you’ll find the answers in this script.This script is a “sneak preview” of Package 86, which will be mailed to Farm Radio International partners next week, and posted online shortly thereafter. Stay tuned to next week’s FRW for another potato script!


    Notes to broadcaster

    Potatoes have been called a “food of the future” by the United Nations. Though potatoes are grown in 125 countries across the globe, there is much potential for further production and better yields, especially in Africa.

    The potato has many wonderful qualities. For example, the edible potato tuber weighs about 85% of the entire potato plant. In contrast, in wheat, maize and rice, only the seed head is edible, which makes up about 50% of the weight of the plant. Thus, the potato produces from two to four times more food value per hectare than grains do. Potatoes are nutritious, with high levels of carbohydrates, vitamins C and B, and minerals such as iron. While potatoes do face pest problems, these difficulties are being successfully met by researchers and farmers working together.

    Potatoes are a promising food for meeting the needs of both subsistence and cash crop farmers, and for addressing poverty and malnutrition. The potato’s ability to produce more food on less land in a shorter time means that potatoes are well worth celebrating. Because of the potato’s many benefits, the United Nations has named 2008 as the International Year of the Potato.

    The following script is a light-hearted quiz show, with exaggerated characters, especially the host or quizmaster. If the quizmaster’s personality does not suit your station’s audience, feel free to adapt the characters to your needs. Remember also to use locally appropriate names. The program is designed to inform the audience about the benefits of growing and eating potatoes, while giving a little history lesson on the potato. It is meant to be theatrical and exaggerated, with loud music and cheering – entertainment, with interesting information along the way.


    Announcer: Welcome, everyone, to the first annual potato quiz!

    FX: Very lively signature tune, over background applause and cheers. Hold for 10 seconds, and then fade under announcer and out.

    Announcer: On today’s program, we will meet two carefully selected contestants who will compete for the honour of being Mr. or Mrs. Potato of the Year.

    FX: Applause

    Announcer: It’s truly a great honour. Our lucky winner will also receive some valuable prizes – 5 kilograms each of purple Irish potatoes and orange sweet potatoes, several types of yams, a kilogram of true potato seed, and a bronze statue of the Irish potato. And now, let me introduce you to our quizmaster, Mr. Domevlo Abrafo.

    FX: Loud dance music and “hysterical” cheering, as if the crowd is cheering for a famous musician or singer.

    Mr. Abrafo: (Shouting over the applause and cheering) Welcome to the show! Welcome everyone! (After the cheering dies down) But really (pause and in a softer voice) … don’t I look fabulous?

    FX: Laughter from crowd, with many people crying “yes,” then one loudly yelling “no!” The quizmaster coughs quickly, as if disturbed by the “no,” and starts to talk quickly.

    Mr. Abrafo: Well, let’s get right down to business. Let me introduce you to our two fabulous contestants. First, we have Mrs. Lydia Onkomo, an agricultural trader from (insert a local place name). What she doesn’t know about potatoes is … well, nothing. She knows everything! Almost as much as me! She’s fabulous. She’ll be hard to beat.

    FX: Applause

    Lydia Onkomo: Thank you. I’d like to thank …

    Mr. Abrafo: (interrupting rather rudely) Yes, yes, yes, you’ll get your chance to talk soon. Oh … I almost forgot. One must always begin a performance – I mean a radio program – with a joke, in this case a potato joke. (Editor’s note: if this joke is not appropriate or not funny to your audience, please use another joke.) So … there was once an old man who lived alone in a big city. He loved potatoes and wanted to grow them in his small plot. But he was too old and frail to dig the garden. His only son lived far away. The old man wrote his son a letter, asking him to come as soon as possible and dig his garden for him. A few days later, the old man received a letter from his son. “For heaven’s sake,” (Editor’s note: insert a locally appropriate expression as needed) said his son in the letter, “Don’t dig up the garden! That’s where I’ve hidden the bodies!”

    FX: Some nervous laughter

    Mr. Abrafo: At 4 o’clock the next morning, the police arrived and dug up the entire garden, but found nothing. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day, the old man received another letter from his son. “Dear Dad. You can go ahead and plant the potatoes now. That’s the best I could do from so far away.” (Laughter) Now it’s time to meet our next contestant. His name is Mr. David Nkelete and he is a local farmer from (insert local place name).

    FX: Applause

    Mr. Abrafo: Why, I can still see the dirt under his fingernails. He must know a lot about potatoes.

    David Nkelete:
    If I say anything, you’ll just cut me off.

    Mr. Abrafo: You’re absolutely right. I can tell you’re going to be a good contestant! Now, let’s
    get right to the game. The rules are simple. I’m going to ask you both five questions about Irish potatoes. The contestant with the most right answers wins the game – and the title of Mr. or Mrs. Potato of the Year. Are you both ready?


    Mr. Abrafo: The first question is: Is it TRUE or FALSE that the Irish potato is related to the sweet potato?

    Lydia Onkomo: (Quickly) It’s FALSE. They are not related.

    Mr. Abrafo: Mr. Nketele?

    David Nkelete: (Slowly) I think they are related.

    Mr. Abrafo: Fabulous! Potato and sweet potato are not related species. The potato is a member of the Solanum family, and is related to tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. The sweet potato is a member of the Ipomoea family. That’s one correct answer for Mrs. Onkomo. The second question is: On which continent did the Irish potato originate?

    Lydia Onkomo: (Quickly and eagerly) Europe. They’re from Ireland. That’s why they’re called Irish potatoes.

    Mr. Abrafo: That is absolutely … wrong. Sorry, Mrs. Trader. Do you know the right answer, Mr. Nkelete?

    David Nkelete: Let me just consult the dirt under my fingernails.

    FX: Audience laughter and then a slight pause.

    David Nkelete: I would say that they came from South America.

    Mr. Abrafo: And you would be … right!

    FX: Applause

    Mr. Abrafo: That’s one correct answer for Mr. Nkelete and one for Mrs. Onkomo. The Spanish brought Irish potatoes from South America to Europe in the sixteenth century. From Europe, they travelled to the rest of the world. Now they’re grown in more than 125 countries. In fact the English word “potato” comes from the South American indigenous word “papa.” Here’s the third question. Most foods are grown from seed. Is it TRUE or FALSE that Irish potatoes can be grown from potato seeds?

    David Nkelete: (Quickly) FALSE. They are grown from small tubers called seed potatoes.

    Mr. Abrafo: What do you say, Mrs. Onkomo?

    Lydia Onkomo: It’s a good thing I know almost everything, isn’t it, quizmaster?

    FX: Audience laughter

    Lydia Onkomo: Because only a person who knew almost everything would know that potatoes do produce seed and that you can use potato seed to grow potatoes.

    Mr. Abrafo: Perhaps you do know everything, Mrs. Onkomo. Because you are right!

    FX: Applause

    Mr. Abrafo: Fabulous! That’s two correct answers for Mrs. Onkomo and one correct answer for Mr. Nkelete. In fact, true potato seed, as it’s called, is increasingly used to grow seed tubers which are then transplanted into farmers’ fields. True potato seed has the advantage of being free of diseases such as late blight and bacterial wilt, which can badly damage potato crops. The use of true potato seed is growing fast in Africa. Fabulous, Mrs. Onkomo! (Pause) But before I ask you the fourth question, I want to remind everyone in the studio audience and listening on the radio that I will be performing on Friday and Saturday of next week in a very special …

    Lydia Onkomo: (Interrupting) Hey, I thought this was our turn to get some attention, not yours. Can you please stop talking about yourself and ask the question?

    FX: There is silence for a few seconds, and then a few people start to clap, then more people, and finally most of the audience applauds for her.

    Mr. Abrafo: (As the applause fades) Fine then, I’ll just tell another potato joke.

    Audience member: (Shouting) No! Just ask the questions!

    Mr. Abrafo: (Irritated) Okay, okay … The fourth question is another TRUE or FALSE question. Is it TRUE or FALSE that one potato contains half the adult daily requirement of vitamin C?

    Lydia Onkomo: That’s FALSE. Vitamin C is found in large quantities in fruits such as oranges and mangoes, and in tomatoes, but not in potatoes.

    Mr. Abrafo: Mr. Nkelete, what do you say?

    David Nkelete: This time, she’s right.

    Lydia Onkomo: What do you mean – this time? Are you saying that …?

    Mr. Abrafo: (Loudly interrupting and laughing) I’m saying that you’re both wrong! When boiled, a single medium-sized potato contains about half the daily adult requirement of vitamin C. It also has lots of vitamin B, iron, potassium and zinc. Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. Vitamin B helps enhance the functioning of the nervous and immune systems. Iron is also essential to healthy nervous system functioning as well as metabolism and oxygen transport. Potassium is essential for healthy nerve and brain functioning. So potatoes are like a buffet of wonderful nutrition! (Pause) Audience, aren’t both of our contestants fabulous?

    FX: Applause

    Mr. Abrafo: (Continues sarcastically) Now let’s see if they can answer a question correctly! (Normal voice tone) We have come to our last question. Mrs. Onkomo has two correct answers and Mr. Nketele has one. If Mr. Nketele answers the last question correctly, we will be forced to ask an additional tie-breaking question. Are you both ready? The last question is also a TRUE and FALSE question. Is it TRUE or FALSE that the Irish potato is the world’s fourth most important crop, in terms of the weight of the crop grown?

    David Nkelete: It’s TRUE.

    Lydia Onkomo: No, it’s FALSE. There are many grains which are produced in higher quantities than potatoes: rice, maize, and many others.

    Mr. Abrafo: Sorry, Mrs. Onkomo, Mr. Nketele is right! There are more Irish potatoes produced by weight than any other crop in the world – except for maize, rice and wheat. Each year, 320 million tonnes of Irish potatoes are grown on 18 million hectares of farmland across the world. Irish potatoes yield two to four times more food energy – or calories – per hectare than grains. So they’re a great food to address hunger. And Africa has the fastest-growing potato production of any place in the world. Now, we are forced into a dramatic tie-breaking question. (In a softer and dramatic voice) You can feel the tension and anticipation in the air. The audience is sitting on the edge of their seats. Actually, it reminds me of a movie I once played in. I played a character who …

    Both contestants: (Interrupting loudly and sternly) Quizmaster!

    Mr. Abrafo: (Irritated) Okay, okay. Here’s the tie-breaking question. I’m going to read you three statements. Only two of these statements are TRUE. I want each of you in turn to tell me which statement is FALSE. Here are the three statements. Statement number one: The best French fries (sometimes called chips) are fried twice. Number two: Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop. And number three: Most of the potatoes in the world are grown in northern, developed countries. (Pause) Which of these three statements is FALSE? Mrs. Onkomo?

    Lydia Onkomo:
    This is very difficult. (Pause) But I would have to say that the first statement is FALSE. I don’t think you should fry chips twice.

    Mr. Abrafo: And what does the farmer think? Mr. Nkelete?

    David Nkelete:
    I agree that this is a very difficult question. But, I have again consulted the dirt under my fingernails, and I have decided to take a guess that the third statement is false.

    Mr. Abrafo: So you think it is not true that most of the potatoes in the world are grown in northern, developed countries?

    David Nkelete: Yes, I think that statement may be FALSE.

    Mr. Abrafo: What a fabulous situation! Each of our contestants is waiting anxiously to find out if he or she is correct. The situation is fraught with drama, full of potential complications, joy and sorrow. Who is going to walk away joyous and happy tonight, with every dream fulfilled, Mr. or Mrs. Potato of the Year? And who will be crushed with heartbreak? It’s finally time to reveal the answer … (in a soft voice) Mrs. Onkomo …

    FX: Some cheering starts but stops as soon as the quizmaster speaks again.

    Mr. Abrafo: … I am sorry. (Pause) Mr. Nkelete has given the correct answer. More than 50% of the world’s potatoes are now grown in developing countries!

    FX: Loud and sustained cheering.

    David Nkelete: (Amid loud cheering) Thank you very much.

    Mr. Abrafo: (With applause and cheering in the background through this speech) Mr. David Nkelete is Mr. Potato of the Year! He has shown a fabulous knowledge of this wonderful food, which is easy to grow, can be prepared and eaten in many delicious ways, and should be part of everyone’s diet. And it can generate lots of income for farmers such as Mr. Nkelete! Please, Mr. Nkelete, accept our congratulations and don’t forget to pick up your fabulous prizes. (More loudly) Most importantly, don’t forget that I will be performing next Saturday and Sunday at (insert name of local performance venue). The week after, I will be performing in (name of nearby city) at (name of performance venue). The week after that, I will be performing at (name of nearby city) at (name of performance venue).

    FX: The quizmaster continues naming places and venues with cheering and applause in the background. The signature tune fades up, holds for 5 seconds, then the music, quizmaster’s voice, applause and cheering fade out.

    Contributed by: Vijay Cuddeford, Managing Editor, Farm Radio International.
    Reviewed by: Paul Stapleton, Head, Communications and Public Awareness Department, International Potato Center, Lima, Peru.

    Information sources
    International Year of the Potato website at:
    International Potato Center website at:
    International Potato Center. Press Room / Facts and Figures: 2008 – the International Year of the Potato.
    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAOSTAT website at:

    mccain.JPGSpecial thanks to the McCain Foundation for supporting this script on potatoes.

    Program undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)