Resource 3: The story of the selfish farmer
Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils
There was once a young farmer, who had a wife and two children, who lived in a small village. The farmer had inherited his farm from his hardworking grandfather whom he loved. While being sad at the death of his grandfather, the farmer was pleased to be his own boss and own all the land.
He was a hardworking young man and he maintained the farm as well, if not better, than his grandfather. He had learned a lot from his grandfather but also had learned well at school and read all about different ways to preserve water and tend the ground, which increased his crops. However, he was not like his grandfather in that he would not share his ideas or extra produce with other farmers and growers in the village.
The villagers were surprised when they went to ask for some seeds or advice to be told to get off his land. His wife was not happy about this but respected his views. The villagers watched what he did and some tried to copy the things he did but without as much success. Others just laughed or moaned about what he was doing.
One very dry season, the crops in the village did not do well. There was little water as the stream had dried up and there was a long walk of over six kilometres to the next source of water, which meant that only water for drinking was brought back.
The selfish farmer, however, had plenty of water and food, but did not help villagers who came to seek help. His wife begged him but he did not change his mind. He had put up guttering and sheets to catch the rainwater and stored this in big drums that he had collected so when the drought came he was able to water his plants, which grew as well as ever.
As it got hotter and hotter and drier and drier, people’s crops began to fail and many were hungry. The wife tried to persuade her husband to help the villagers. The children tried to persuade their father, but he would not listen. He said he had worked hard and it was his and the others were lazy or had not planned ahead.
However, one day, a very thin and ragged man came to the farm to ask for food for his ill wife. The farmer shouted at him to go away but his wife stopped him and said: ‘Don’t you recognise your cousin?’ The farmer was shocked at how thin and old his cousin looked. The cousin explained how he’d tried to save water but failed, and so his crops failed.
The farmer told him what he could do next time. But his wife said he is too weak to do this unless you give him and his wife food. The farmer relented and gave the cousin food. The cousin returned a week later saying his wife was getting better and could he have more food. The farmer was going to say no but his wife told him that they were so hungry it would not be enough to give just one lot of food. The farmer gave the food and over the next few days he slowly changed his ideas as he thought about how selfish and thoughtless he had been to his grandfather’s memory and to his neighbours. So he asked the villagers to his farm and shared his food with them and promised to help them prepare better for the next crops.