Date Posted: June 25th, 2012
Farmers across Africa commonly practice intercropping. In this story, legumes such as pigeon pea or beans are planted alongside maize. But farmers often interplant squash or water melon with maize. There are many advantages to planting more than one type of crop on the same land. If intercropping is done carefully and with the right combination of crops, farmers can make the most of the available land, sunlight, water, and nutrients. There are lots of reasons for trying it out.
For general background information on the technique of intercropping, visit: (#180) http://www.allindiary.org/pool/resources/intercropping.pdf
For information about intercropping maize and legumes for increased sustainability, visit: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/3/3/309.full.pdf
This research paper examines intercropping maize and legumes in Tanzania: http://www.acss.ws/Upload/XML/Research/86.pdf
Farm Radio International has published scripts about how well-managed intercropping can benefit farmers, whether through reducing plant pests, or diversifying the food consumed at home:
-Understanding Plant Diseases (Package 72, Script 2, September 2004) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/72-2script_en.asp
-Crop Rotation and Intercropping Reduce Damage from Striga Weed (Package 72, Script 6, September 2004) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/72-6script_en.asp
-Diversify Crops to Keep your Family Healthy (Package 65, Script 1, October 2002) http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/65-1script_en.asp
Here are some recent stories from Farm Radio Weekly related to intercropping:
-Kenya: Farmer enjoys good profits from vegetables intercropped with sugarcane (FRW 180, November 2011)
-Uganda: Coffee and bananas make good neighbours (FRW 90, November 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/30/2-uganda-coffee-and-bananas-make-good-neighbours-iita/
-East Africa: Indigenous vegetables make a comeback (FRW 87, November 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/09/2-east-africa-indigenous-vegetables-make-a-comeback-new-vision-new-agriculturalist-2/
Intercropping is a relatively easy, low-input, and low-cost technique that can improve soils, increase productivity, increase diversity and incomes. Certain crops work well together, such as cereals and legumes. Farmers may be interested to hear more about the science involved, and then experiment with their own crop mixtures. You could seek out an expert from an NGO or the government, as well as a farmer who has experience with intercropping, to air an informative, discussion-based radio show.