Drama or performing arts has been a powerful tool in reaching out to a vast number of people across the world. It creates awareness among people be they illiterate, semi-literate or literate. For instance, People learn about the legal consequences of rape, spousal violence and child labour from drama. Dramatizing spousal violence, dramatizing sexual harassment, dramatizing HIV/AIDS acquisition among others have been a special tool to sensitize the target population about the effects and dangers of these social problems.
Let us pause here to think about one other area that drama could be used to sensitize the farming community in spite of several calls for sustainable agriculture practice or Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) among farmers. What then about dramatizing bad agricultural practices? In my opinion and from continuous observation, this has been a much neglected area for smallholder farmers by the media, governments and policy makers alike. What could be the reasons behind this inability of media houses, governments and other civil society members from taking the “bull by the horns” to stage performances of agriculture practices that have long term negative impacts on the environment and the livelihood of the farmer as a whole? Could the answer be hidden in the fact that agriculture is not given much recognition as a business venture or could it be that many farmers are both uneducated and hence illiterate?
I will argue that the answer does not lie in any of the reasons given but due to the non-committal nature of many state actors including the media. The point still remains that farming has been relegated to the background and farmers are seen as inferior to other professions or vocations. It will also come as no surprise then that there is no much education and training being invested on the farmer. Drama is a powerful tool so much so that, if used effectively can be used to effectively communicate, educate and entertain people who are not able to read or write.
I do believe that just like any other staged performance or drama; drama on bad agricultural activities will equally be stimulating, informative, educative and entertaining for the target audience. Many will feel guilty for their activities on the environment, others would feel concerned and yet others would be informed that there is help out there to train and educate them on sustainable ways of farming.
Agriculture activities are one of the fastest contributors to the increase in green house gas emissions (GHG). Sadly, majority of the farmer population do not know that some of their agricultural practices have a negative impact on the environment. For instance, the traditional methods of slash and burn is still embraced in Asia and Africa and largely depended on by farmers to clear vast hectares of farmland for cultivation of their crops. Added to that, there are other practices that are equally damaging and harmful to the environment such as inappropriate use of organic fertilizers which causes eutrophication of water bodies thereby leading to the loss of plant and fish species.
It should be emphasized here that if education in the form of drama is not stemmed up by civil society and other well meaning organizations who are fighting the cause of climate change, unsustainable agriculture activities will destroy local communities in Asia and Africa most particularly and further exacerbate climate change.