1. 2019-03-21 This Technical Note provides an overview of parasitic plants of agricultural significance in Africa. Parasitic weeds cause drought stress and stunted crops. Affected plants include cereal grains (e.g., sorghum [Sorghum bicolor] and maize [Zea mays]) and grain legumes (e.g., cowpea [Vigna...



  2. 2019-01-07 Two broad categories of seeds exist, referred to as recalcitrant and orthodox. The former must be kept moist and planted soon after they are collected; large-seeded fruits such as mango and avocado are typical examples. The second type of seeds are discussed in this document. Orthodox seeds are...





  3. 2018-05-17 Many plants deemed as invaluable for the smallholder farmer offer nutritious food for the family, fodder for animals, or timber for construction. Remarkably, bamboo offers all three of these assets from the same perennial plant! This Technical Note will focus on how to most effectively harvest,...





  4. 2018-02-09 Traditional diets included a wide variety of ingredients from myriad wild and domesticated plants. Regional cuisines were shaped by native species in their local environment and by gradually-adopted plants from distant places. The modern global food system and market pressures have reversed this...





  5. 2017-09-29 As an organization that equips people with informational resources to reduce hunger, ECHO values the role of science in validating agricultural practices. Over the years, we have received numerous inquiries from university faculty and students looking for ways to do research that benefits...





  6. 2017-06-06 A version of this material first appeared in EDN 134. Gender dynamics in relation to agriculture is a big topic, and one we had not previously written about in EDN. In recent years, widespread attention has been paid to the disparity that often exists between men and women when it comes to...



  7. 2003-01-01 Although this document will tell you how to build a particular incubator that I have used for several years, the ideas presented here should assist in building an incubator of any capacity. The orientation here is toward solving the problems in building a kerosene fired incubator in general....



  8. 2002-01-01 Seed storage is often a problem in the tropics. However, if seeds can be properly dried, they will remain viable for a longer period of time. The seed drying cabinet described here can help improve the viability of seeds in storage. What’s Inside: Introduction Description Diagram Observations



  9. 2002-01-01 This simple forage cutter provides a mechanism to chop tough grasses or other forages to make them more palatable and digestible for livestock. This results in more efficient food conversion for animals and reduced wastage. It can also be used to chop materials for compost, silage, vermiculture,...



  10. 2000-01-01 Briquettes made from materials that cost little or no money to obtain, such as old newspaper or unutilized plant waste, can be a cost-effective alternate fuel to charcoal or firewood. This could alleviate the harsh pressures put on many forests for providing enough fuel energy to meet people’s...





  11. 2016-08-17 Farmers and gardeners in semi-arid and arid regions of the world face two associated but separate problems, which limit the crops they can grow and the yield of these crops. The underlying problem is lack of rainfall needed for growing plants. The second is accumulation of salts in the root zone....





  12. 2015-11-04 Active learning and exchange of knowledge are key to farmer adoption of beneficial agricultural innovations. Community health worker (CHW) and community animal health worker (CAHW) programs have led to a rich body of knowledge about extension, much of which is applicable to efforts aimed towards...





  13. 2015-09-21 The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a method of raising rice that produces substantially higher yields with the planting of far fewer seedlings and the use of fewer inputs than either traditional methods (i.e., flooding) or more “modern” methods (using mineral fertilizer or...





  14. 2015-02-16 Tropical root and tuber crops are consumed as staples in parts of the tropics and should be considered for their potential to produce impressive yields in small spaces. They provide valuable options for producing food under challenging growing conditions. Cassava and taro, for instance, are...





  15. 2014-06-01 When you come across an especially promising local variety of a crop grown in your area, how can you enable other farmers to try out this variety? If a farmer gives you 30 seeds of an exceptional variety, how might you go about distributing these? How does seed flow happen in and among...





  16. 2014-01-01 In order to achieve high levels of agricultural productivity in the tropics at the lowest possible economic and ecological costs, we need to properly understand the relationship between nutrients in the soil and crop productivity. For this to happen, the current understanding needs to change. The...



  17. 2013-01-01 “Zai” is a term that farmers in northern Burkina Faso use to refer to small planting pits that typically measure 20-30 cm in width, are 10-20 cm deep and spaced 60-80 cm apart. In the Tahoua region of Niger, the haussa word “tassa” is used. English terms used to decribe zai pits include “planting...



  18. 2013-08-01 Prakrit Khamduangdao was looking for an alternative to agricultural chemicals to control pests in his vegetable farm. However, he was not completely satisfied with various botanical pest control measures being promoted in northern Thailand. He reports that even though certain natural insect...





  19. 2016-02-05 Until recently, firewood was taken for granted in northern Thailand. With vast forests full of many types of trees, upland households could afford to be choosy concerning the wood they used for cooking. However, in recent years, more and more communities are facing restricted access to forest...





  20. 2013-06-01 Rick Burnette wrote an article for Issue 7(July 2010) of ECHO Asia Notes, titled “Charcoal Production in 200-Liter Horizontal Drum Kilns.” My article takes the charring process a step further by exploring the rapidly re-emerging world of biochar. Biochar is a form of charcoal, produced through...



  21. 2013-01-01 The ECHO Asia Regional Office receives frequent inquiries from small organizations seeking input and other assistance relatedto their agricultural initiatives, including questions such as the following: How many acres would it take to grow enough food (other than rice) to feed 38 people year...





  22. 2013-01-20 About 98% of agricultural production in the Sudano Sahelian region of West and Central Africa is based on rainfed crops. With a mean annual rainfall of 300 to 800 mm/year, the number of staple crops is very limited. It includes two grain crops: pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) for sandy soils...





  23. 2012-01-01 Asia makes up less than one third (30%) of the world’s land area and yet carries over half (56%) of the world’s population. Moreover, the average population density of Asia becomes a significant long-term problem when food production is considered. Some countries in Asia have a population density...





  24. 2012-01-01 Dawn Berkelaar, working with Dr. Martin Price and Danny Blank, featured this farming system in EDN 98. At that time, the technique was known as “Farming God’s Way” (FGW). Subsequently, the name was changed to “Foundations for Farming” (FFF); however, it continues to also be promoted as FGW. FGW...





  25. 2011-01-01 A sand dam is a reinforced concrete wall built across a seasonal river to hold underground water in sand (see above photo of Nzaaya Muisyo sand dam, Eastern province, Kenya). It is initially built one meter high and up to 90 meters across. During the heavy and erratic seasonal rains, the water...



  26. 2011-01-01 Lack of food security is one of the biggest challenges that Central Africans face each day as they toil in their gardens, trying to produce enough food to simply feed their families and afford other expenses in life such as health care or schooling for their children. Main factors limiting...





  27. 2011-01-20 Over the past 30 plus years that we have been working with small-scale farmers in Central Africa, we have enjoyed the wonderful lushness of its forests, savannahs, and rivers. In addition, we have been privileged to get to know some of the many people groups, with their different cultures and...



  28. 2011-01-01 Often farmers asked for seed, but we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we suggested—to the farmers’ union in Nampula, Mozambique—that they organize a fair in which the members could come together and exchange seed. They might only be interested in “improved” varieties. However, when we...



  29. 2010-08-01 Worm or vermiculture is a useful technique for recycling kitchen and livestock wastes into a rich organic fertilizer, for producing high-protein feed for poultry and initiating a lucrative business selling worms and worm castings for the small farm. Worms are invaluable partners in building the...





  30. 2010-01-01 For many years, conventional Western forestry methods have been applied, and exotic tree species promoted in Sahelian countries in order to combat desertification. Large and small projects were commissioned to curtail the assumed southward movement of the Sahara desert, but few made any lasting...



  31. 2010-07-01 Fish farming can generate high interest and excitement. It has great potential to produce high quality protein in relatively short time periods and in small areas. Fish farming is one way that resource poor farmers throughout the world can provide protein that is often lacking in the family diet...





  32. 2010-06-01 Seeds naturally have a place in almost any endeavor having to do with agricultural development. Seeds of most food plants are small and, as such, are more easily transported and can be shipped longer distances than vegetative cuttings. For the farmer, seeds represent the promise of a continued...



  33. 2010-01-01 This treadle grindstone can spin a 6” abrasive wheel (of the type used on electric tool grinders) at up to 3000 rpm by means of a single treadle operated by the person using the grinder. Although rotational speed is similar to electric grinders, power is lower therefore short or light grinding...



  34. 2010-01-01 The purpose of this document is to show several water pump designs constructed from PVC pipe, explain how to manufacture them, and discuss pump performance and how to improve on these designs. What’s Inside: Pump Design Manufacturing Process Pump Performance Appendix





  35. 2010-01-01 Farming communities in the semi-arid tropical regions of Africa are becoming particularly vulnerable and face enormous challenges for their survival. Climate change, diminishing and unreliable rainfall, traditional mono culture cropping farming practices, high population growth, frequent famines...



  36. 2009-01-01 Within a couple days after Bonnie and I arrived in Florida in June 1981 to assume my new role as founding CEO of ECHO, I began digging a garden. For an avid gardener used to the long winters “up north” this was an exciting adventure. I was going to grow flowers and vegetables year-round in the...



  37. 2009-03-01 Rabbits are animals for folks that like to eat meat and want to raise it quickly. Rabbits reproduce quickly; up to eight bunnies every three months. A young rabbit can weigh four pounds in three months -- bigger than a broiler chicken. Rabbits are easy to raise, both in urban and rural areas....





  38. 2009-01-20 All plants need certain mineral elements for proper growth, development, and maintenance. The basic structure of all organisms is built of carbon (C), oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H). Plants obtain these elements from water (H2O) in the soil and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, so no input is...





  39. 2007-01-01 In a world where hunger and poverty are issues with a large percentage of the population, technology and education are wanting, and agricultural resources are often scarce, a farmer is thankful for low-maintenance crops that will grow with a minimal input of effort and resources. Lagos spinach...





  40. 2006-01-01 The A-Frame Level is a simple, yet accurate tool used for constructing contours on a hillside or slope. It is useful in the basic construction of hillside farming systems, such as the SALT systems, as well as for establishing level contours and drainage ditches. Level contours on a slope reduce...



  41. 2006-04-01 There are two parts to this document; part 1 provides a brief description of the things a college student should consider as he/she chooses opportunities for learning and part 2 lists organizations that provide some practical training. The second section will be most useful for individuals...





  42. 2006-01-01 Dr. Martin Price, co-founder of ECHO and former head of ECHO’s Agricultural Resources Department, has said, “I would consider chaya to be one of the five most important underutilized food plants ECHO distributes. I give it this rank because of its ability to thrive in both arid and rainy regions,...



  43. 2005-03-01 In addition to food, shelter and clothing, water is one of our basic human needs and lack of potable water is a major cause of death and disease in our world. The purpose of this document is to provide information on household water treatment using seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree. Using...





  44. 2005-01-20 The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree are very nutritious. They can be consumed fresh, cooked or dried. Since dried Moringaleaves retain their nutrient content, it is possible to convert them into leaf powder. When there is an abundance of leaves, this leaf powder can be made and stored easily....



  45. 2003-04-01 Use of a new crop variety or production technique may dramatically increase food production in a given area. Alternatively, an innovation successful in North America may utterly fail in the tropics. The goal of “adaptive research” is to evaluate a particular innovation for its usefulness under...



  46. 2003-01-01 Rope can be made from cord or string or even discarded plastic bags using a simple spindle to twist the materials together.





  47. 2002-01-01 Acidification of soil is a natural process with major ramifications on plant growth. As soils become more acid, particularly when the pH drops below 4.5, it becomes increasingly difficult to produce food crops. As soil pH declines, the supply of most plant nutrients decreases while aluminum and a...



  48. 2002-01-01 A composting toilet is any system that converts human waste into compost through the natural breakdown of organic matter. The photo above shows a composting toilet from the late 1800’s. Composting toilets provide a sanitary method to recycle human waste while conserving water and protecting the...



  49. 2002-01-01 ECHO does NOT recommend that anyone stop taking their antimalarial medicine in order to try this treatment. The only evidence for the effectiveness of papaya leaf tea in the prevention of malaria is anecdotal. No studies have been done to scientifically demonstrate its effectiveness. Does papaya...



  50. 2001-06-01 Several times each year ECHO hears from someone (1) at an institution that is evaluating whether it should attempt to grow food for its [students, orphans, feeding program, staff, etc.] or (2) from someone contacted by such an institution and are asking ECHO's advice about whether/how to help...





  51. 2001-01-01 When organic material decomposes under anaerobic conditions, it produces biogas which is a mixture of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) with small quantities of hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and other compounds. Biogas can be used as a fuel source for cooking, heating, producing light...





  52. 2001-01-01 Access to clean drinking water remains one of the greatest challenges in the world. The BioSand Filter is one method that can be used for purifying water at the household level. With this filter, contaminated water is filtered through a natural biological layer and then layers of sand, pebbles...



  53. 2001-01-01 This simple device provides a method of manually producing bales of hay. Small-scale farmers may be interested in this technology because hay is both easier to store and easier to transport when it has been baled. Also, baled hay retains a higher nutrient content than hay that has been cut and...



  54. 2001-01-01 Often the biggest challenge faced by a tropical farmer is not in the production of a crop but rather in the preservation of the crop. Farmers may want to preserve a crop for future consumption or for sale at a time when the market will offer a higher price. Using a solar dehydrator is a simple,...





  55. 2001-01-01 There are many variations of sawdust cookstoves that have been used for many years both in North America and around the world. This sawdust cookstove model provides a low-cost, low-input method for producing a high intensity flame that will burn for up to five hours. The flame burns fairly clean...





  56. 2000-01-21 ECHO is frequently asked, by groups or individuals from North America, to suggest vegetable seeds to take with them on short trips overseas. Often the group is a “work team” that is being sent by a church. Someone with the group they are going to visit has asked them to bring vegetable seeds. Or...



  57. 1999-01-01 The cashew, Anacardium occidentale, is a resilient and fast-growing evergreen tree that can grow to a height of 20 m (60 ft). It belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, which also contains poison ivy and the mango. Native to arid northeastern Brazil, the cashew was taken around the world by the...



  58. 1998-11-01 From Wikipedia : "Egusi(also known by variations includingagusi,agushi) is the name for thefat- andprotein-rich seeds of certaincucurbitaceousplants (squash,melon,gourd), which after being dried and ground are used as a major ingredient inWest African cuisine. Authorities disagree whether the...





  59. 1998-10-01 Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) of the fabaceae or leguminosae family is a short-lived perennial, often grown as an annual leguminous climbing vine, which during short days will flower, produce long, inedible pods, and develop tuberous roots. These are few in number per plant, usually spherical, but...



  60. 1998-09-01 Many families in the tropics must assume a major role in production of their own foodstuffs. Incomes are so low that purchase of food competes with purchase of necessary items that cannot be hand-made. Most governments in the tropics do not have the resources to guarantee even minimum food to all...





  61. 1998-06-01 There are more than one hundred major species of fruits in the tropics, which make a very interesting contribution to the appetite as well as to good nutrition. These species vary in ecological requirements, in season of production, in yields, uses and, of course, in many other characteristics....



  62. 1998-04-01 Traditionally the people of Sri Lanka consume vegetable cooked as curries with the dietary staple, rice. Legumes, in general, play a vital role in Sri Lankan diets and they are being consumed as green vegetables or pulses. Edible legumes are excellent sources of dietary protein and oil....





  63. 1998-01-01 The first section of this note focuses in on a new technology, called the ‘technology protection system’ by its developers and ‘terminator technology’ by its opponents. This technology illustrates the potential for patents to impact society at the fundamental level of food production. The...





  64. 1996-01-01 What can a family do if the national unemployment rate is over 50%, wages are a dollar or two a day, prices of food are increasing and may at times be even higher than in the USA, they have neither savings nor credit and there is no governmental safety net? For many, an option of last resort is...



  65. 1995-01-01 Domesticated food producing animals in the world outnumber the human population, two to one. There are thousands of animal species in the world, yet, only a few have been successfully domesticated on a permanent basis and none within the last 2000 years. In fact, five species (cattle, sheep,...





  66. 1993-06-01 During the course of each year a number of individuals working in community development spend some days studying and planning at ECHO. In reality their felt need is not so much for a bit more knowledge (study), but for a project plan for how they are going to proceed to help local farmers. A...



  67. 1993-04-01 If the small farm is to be a permanent source of food for its owners, it must be managed in a sound fashion that provides a constant source of nutrients, fuel, construction materials, etc. without damage to the land or its productive capacity. Forage crops are important to the small farm as one...



  68. 1993-01-01 In every region of the world it is necessary to find or develop appropriate techniques for agriculture. A large part of the surface of the world is arid, characterized as too dry for conventional rain fed agriculture. Yet, millions of people live in such regions, and if current trends in...



  69. 1992-04-01 In your work with small-scale farmers, you may be interested in the spiritual well-being of others. But how can you help them spiritually if they suffer from hunger or malnutrition? Both needs must be addressed. Finally, although all people need the same foods, they may need them in different...





  70. 1992-01-20 In simplest language, agroforestry is the production of trees and of non-tree crops or animals on the same piece of land. The crops can be grown together at the same time, can be grown in rotation, or can even be grown in separate plots when materials from one are used to benefit another....



  71. 1992-01-01 A case could be made that onions are one of two universal vegetables that are cherished in almost every culture, tomatoes being the other. Both are difficult to grow in many tropical and subtropical climates. Where a vegetable is both popular and difficult to grow, it brings a good price. If a...





  72. 1991-01-01 There are several reasons for establishing fences on the small farm. Fences are used to: To mark boundary lines between farms or next to roads. To separate adjacent fields used for distinct purposes To protect and keep animals from straying To protect crops from animal damage A fence represents a...



  73. 1991-01-01 The high protein and high concentration of B vitamins found in meat make it an ideal part of the diet, very difficult to replace by plant foods, even with grain legumes that are nutritionally the closest plant foods to meat. Yet production of meat on the small farm almost dictates a way of life...



  74. 1990-01-01 I often tell folks that ECHO specializes in growing food under difficult conditions. The pigeon pea, Cajanus cajan, is a prime example of a tough but nutritious plant for just such cases. This article is directed toward two audiences. For some of you, pigeon pea is already an important crop. You...





  75. 2007-01-01 By Dr. F. W. Martin. Published in parts, 1989 and 1994; Revised 1998 and 2007 by ECHO Staff Though nearly all plants are useful in some way, they are not equally valuable. For example, wheat, rice and corn may be considered the most valuable plants in the world based on the vast acreage planted...



  76. 1989-01-01 Maize (Zea mays; corn) is the third most important food crop in the world, surpassed onlyby two other grains, wheat and rice. Maize is a widely adapted crop, capable of production during the appropriateseason in almost all parts of the world where farming is done. Maize is represented by...



  77. 1988-01-19 Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are already the 6th or 7th most produced food crop in the world, surpassed onlyby wheat, rice, corn, potato, barley, and possibly cassava. Among the reasons that sweet potato is a great crop is that it is relatively easy to grow, relatively free of pests and...



  78. 1988-04-01 The soybean (Glycine max) is one of the most important food plants of the world, and seems to be growing in importance. It is an annual crop, fairly easy to grow, that produces more protein and oil per unit of land than almost any other crop. It is a versatile food plant that, used in its various...





  79. 1988-04-01 So you want to help people in the tropics. Beautiful! The tropics are waiting for you. No matter what your abilities, you can make life better for others in the tropics. Your concern for the physical and spiritual well-being of people can be translated into fruitful service. Your first asset is...



  80. 1988-01-01 "Of all parts of the tree, it is the leaves that are most extensively used. The growing tips and young leaves are best. [However, we sometimes pull the leaflets off in our hands and cook them without regard to age]. Unlike other kinds of edible leaves, benzolive leaves do not become bitter as...



  81. 1987-01-01 We are making this available in spite of misgivings about the safety of consuming larger amounts of velvet beans. Has there been a failure of the bean crop in your area, but velvet beans are abundant? If so, it is almost certainly better to make use this high protein bean than to suffer hunger or...



  82. 1985-08-01 Several scientists and one grower were contacted by telephone and asked about the potential of strawberries for the tropics. Their conversations are summarized. The potential of strawberries (Frageria americana) as a source of income for the small farmer has been clearly demonstrated at the...





  83. 1985-06-01 The moringa tree, Moringa oleifera, has probably been the most popular plant in ECHO's seed bank of underutilized tropical crops. The tree is native to India but has been planted around the world and is naturalized in many locales. Moringa goes by many names. In the Philippines, where the leaves...



  84. 1985-04-01 On the small farm, or in the home garden, techniques suitable for the production of food might be quite different from those used in large-scale production systems. The use of machinery, for example, might be impossible or uneconomical, or special small-scale equipment might be needed. The wide...





  85. 1985-01-01 Green manure crops are crops that are [often times in North America] grown to be turned under to increase soil fertility. Leguminous green manure crops ( i.e., those which can make nitrogen fertilizers from atmospheric nitrogen) can offer small-scale Third World farmers a tremendous number of...



  86. 1984-09-01 Next to food, firewood is the most scarce item in developing countries. More than one third of the world is dependent upon firewood to supply their energy needs and ninety percent of the people in the poorest countries depend upon it as their chief source of fuel. What better way is there to...



  87. 1984-08-01 Several types of hives and their construction will be described but it must always be kept in mind that availability of materials is of extreme importance. There are places where lumber is readily available at reasonable prices and, certainly, if it is termite-proof or termite-proofed it is the...



  88. 1984-07-01 One aspect of ECHO's ministry is behind the scenes for most of our readers. We help college professors and students in the sciences identify research projects that would be of benefit to the small Third World farmer. Several ideas that could be done at an undergraduate level are written up in...



  89. 1984-06-01 The uses of cucurbit seeds as sources of oils and proteins have been reviewed by Jacks, et al. (1972). After the hull is removed, cucurbit seeds contain about 50 percent oil and up to 35 percent proteins. Most of their oil is made up of non-saturated fatty acids, thus of high nutritional values....





  90. 1984-04-20 This technical note was published in the early 80's when there were relatively few sources of information on, or seed for the the neem tree. In recent years much progress has been made in each of these areas. The information contained in this technical note is still quite valuable. A good source...



  91. 1984-01-19 Leucaena leucocephala ("koa haole"-Hawaii; ipil ipil - Phillipines) is a fast-growing, leguminous tree that can be used for reforestation, for firewood, and as a forage crop that can equal alfalfa in nutritional value. There are three basic types of leucaena trees: Hawaiian, Salvador, and Peru....



  92. 1983-01-01 What are the advantages and disadvantages of growing citrus from seed when that is possible? One obvious advantage is that it is much less labor intensive to simply sow citrus seeds and eliminate the grafting step. Another advantage is that the seedling will most likely be free from viruses that...





  93. 1983-01-01 Amaranth [Amaranthus hypochondriacus, A. cruentus (grain type) & A. tricolor (vegetable type)] is an herbaceous annual with upright growth habit, cultivated for both its seeds which are used as a grain and its leaves which are used as a vegetable or green. Both leaves and seeds contain...



  94. 1983-01-19 The Muscovy is a heavy bird, suitable mainly for meat production. Under good management, with proper feeding, the drakes (male ducks) will reach 4.0-4.5 kg and the ducks 2.0-2.5 kg at 16 weeks, which is usually the age at which the birds are sold to be eaten. Most of the Muscovys are pure white...