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  1. 2020-06-29 Seed storage in the tropics has been a frequent topic of ECHO publications and trainings due to its importance to the smallholder farmer. Access to quality seeds is imperative for agronomic and horticultural crop production. While on-farm seed saving benefits the smallholder farmer, cooperative...





  2. 2019-07-23 I discovered 100-fold gardens while researching ways to irrigate plants directly in the root zone. I wanted to know how to practically and affordably control some of the variables that influence plant growth, such as water availability and soil fertility. I read about “wicking beds,” which are...





  3. 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...





  4. 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,...





  5. 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...





  6. 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...





  7. 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...
  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. 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....





  10. 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...





  11. 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...





  12. 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...
  13. 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...





  14. 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...





  15. 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...





  16. 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...
  17. 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...





  18. 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...





  19. 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...
  20. 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...





  21. 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...
  22. 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...
  23. 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...
  24. 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...





  25. 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...





  26. 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...





  27. 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...





  28. 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,...
  29. 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...





  30. 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....





  31. 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...





  32. 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...





  33. 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...





  34. 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...





  35. 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...





  36. 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...
  37. 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...





  38. 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...





  39. 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....





  40. 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...
  41. 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...





  42. 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...
  43. 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...