Date Posted: November 17th, 2008
One of the biggest agricultural news stories of the year has been the dramatic rise in food prices. In May, Farm Radio Weekly produced a special edition on this topic, including an article that describes some of the reasons for – and proposed solutions to – rising food prices (http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/05/05/africa-some-reasons-for-and-proposed-solutions-to-the-rising-price-of-food-jeune-afrique-agence-france-presse-and-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/). Most media coverage has focused on the impact to consumers and the struggle of average people to put food on the table.
This story reveals another layer of the situation, which is often referred to as “the food crisis.” The chicken farmers interviewed in this story reflect the reality of many livestock farmers throughout Africa, where the grains used as staple feed have become expensive and difficult to find. This causes hardship for farmers whose livelihoods depend on livestock. It is also a factor in the rising cost of meat.
The following Farm Radio International scripts discuss fodder, an alternative feed source that may be available, even when grains are in short supply:
-“The adventures of Neddy the ParaVet: Fodder trees provide nutritious livestock feed all year” (Package 63, Script 8, April 2002)
-“Good cow feed for all seasons” (Package 30, Script 6, October 1993)
These scripts discuss related issues, including the superior ability of native livestock to survive lean periods, and ways that chickens help in the garden:
-“The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio” (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002)
-“Chickens fertilize and weed the garden” (Package 39, Script 4, April 1996)
You may wish to host a call-in/text-in show inviting livestock farmers to discuss their methods of coping with higher feed costs. Some questions to ask include:
-Where do livestock farmers get their feed (for example, do they grow it themselves or buy it)?
-How has the price of livestock feed changed in the past year?
-Have farmers been forced to reduce their livestock numbers as a result?
-Have any farmers sought out alternative feed sources, such as fodder, to maintain their livestock? Have they faced challenges associated with using alternative feed sources (e.g., availability, quantity, and palatability)?
-Do they know of particular livestock breeds that can tolerate lean periods? Are there trade-offs with raising more tolerant breeds?
-Has the price they receive for meat increased?