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ECHO Asia Notes is a quarterly technical e-bulletin containing articles of interest to agriculture and community development workers in Asia.

This list contains articles from ECHO Asia Notes, many of which have been translated into regional languages.  

99 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 33 - 28) |

Op-Ed: Forage Plants for Improved Human Development

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 33.

I read David Price’s concerns about promoting invasive forage plants in Asia Note #25 [Eds’ Note: AN #25 was written in response to AN #23] and would like to respond based on my own experience and observations.  

My reply will be based on the following principles:

  1. It is moral to help poor farmers as much as practicable.
  2. The primary aim of human activity is the betterment of the human condition.  Thus, preservation of the natural environment is NOT necessarily the primary aim of development activities. 

I have been promoting the use and expansion of all of the species listed by David to smallholder farmers for, in some cases, the last 45 years. I wish to address the concerns David has for each of the species listed in Asia Note #25. I live in northern Thailand now, so I will use local examples, but the comments should apply equally as well to most of the humid and sub-humid tropics.

Inexpensive Mass Propagation Techniques for Introducing Improved Potato Varieties in the Tropics

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 32.

Dr. Tapani Haapala

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) contain high-quality food properties and are very good protein and energy sources on a daily per hectare basis of production (Frusciante et al. 2000). Potatoes are grown mostly in cool climate areas. In the tropics, they easily suffer from several different kinds of stress related to hot climate, which sometimes ends up causing problems such as attacks of fungal diseases. New potato varieties that are better adapted to hot climates could enable development of potato production in the tropics and could potentially provide livelihood opportunities for small-scale farmers. However, providing enough stock material to meet the potential need could be challenging.

Comparing Locally Available Waste By-Products as Feedstocks for Gasifier Cook-Stoves

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 32.

In many developing world households, meeting the daily energy needs required for cooking is burdensome and costly. Fortunately, low-cost cooking methods that require less fuel while burning more cleanly and efficiently are becoming available at the household level. One such method is the household gasifier cook-stove, designed to convert small amounts of carbon-based solid biomass (usually from waste or low-cost material) into combustible gases used for cooking (see Dr. Dussadee’s work for information on how gasifier stoves work (2013)).

Feed Options for Ruminants in the Tropics

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 31.

The amazing multi-stomached ruminant comes in many forms, with varied nutritional requirements. Ruminants are even-toed, cloven-hoofed, four-legged, cud-chewing mammals of the suborder Ruminantia (within order Artiodactyla). Cattle, water buffalo, goats, and yaks are some of the ruminants found in Southeast Asia.

Many options are available for feeding ruminants on the small farm. Before selecting a feeding strategy for your situation, be sure that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Every farm is unique, and farmers must determine the most appropriate and cost-effective techniques for their needs.


Creating a Low-Cost Seed Dryer for Use in Local Seed Banks

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 31.

Saving your own seeds can be a cost-effective way to access crop seed for future planting and to help maintain the planet’s plant biodiversity. Whether you plant your own saved seeds, give them away to friends and neighbors, or distribute them through your organization, the ability to effectively harvest, clean, prepare, dry, and store seeds is important to help maintain seed germination and viability. This note will focus on the importance of drying seeds to proper seed moisture content, and will provide details about two low-cost seed dryers that we have built and use at the ECHO Asia Impact Center Seed Bank. 


Permaculture in Development

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #30

The word permaculture is mentioned with increasing frequency in speeches, books and magazine articles on sustainability and food security. What is permaculture? Is it a movement? A philosophy? Simply a set of design tools? In this article, I answer the above questions by looking at permaculture from a variety of angles. First, I briefl y describe permaculture’s history, underlying ethics, and key principles and common practices. Then I discuss common criticisms of permaculture and explain the underlying perspective that shapes its use in addressing a community’s food, water and shelter needs (i.e., the lens through which a permaculturalist views development). Finally, I share how permaculture has infl uenced my own life and work, both as a Christian and as an agriculture development worker.

Soils of Mainland Southeast Asia

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #30

Editor’s Note: Peter is a freelance consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a M.Sc. in Agriculture from Leipzig, Germany. Peter is a former researcher in “The Uplands Program,” a collaborative research program between Hohenheim University (Germany), Chiang Mai University (Thailand), and others. Contact: peter.elstner@gmx.net)

We have been looking for a reference guide to the soils of Southeast Asia for some time, and in the past have had to rely upon the fragmented soil classifi cations provided by most Southeast Asian countries. Those guides tended to include old data and were certainly not interactive. In this article, Peter Elstner explores the digital soil map of the world and the resulting seven major soil classes of Southeast Asia. Soils are the backbone and foundation for all sustainable agriculture and development, and knowing the type of soil in your community is essential for knowing the types of crops, development, and land use that can occur there. Be sure to check out the Reference Soil Groups (starting on page 6). We hope that this guide will inspire you to explore the digital soil map and learn more about the soils in your area.]

This report describes and analyzes the soil distribution and characteristics of the main soil types in Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) that comprise the countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam (Map 1).

A Primer on Coffee Harvesting and Processing

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #29

Processing methods for coffee can drastically change the quality and taste of the final product, for better or for worse. By choosing a method that positively impacts quality, flavor, and cost, a coffee producer can optimize the coffee’s potential, at the same time optimizing a farmer’s income from that higher-quality coffee. Using an improved method to remove the coffee bean from the coffee cherry is one of the most effective ways to increase quality.

Diagnosing Crop Nutrient Deficiencies in the Field

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #29

The old adage ‘You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know you have one’ underpins the basic science of diagnosing plant nutrient deficiencies. For years, farmers and scientists have worked together to identify a set of visual clues that can be used to determine nutrient deficiencies in a variety of agronomic crops. These clues and symptoms can be extremely useful, especially when soil and plant tissue testing methods are neither feasible nor available.

Farm-Generated Feed: Chicken Feed Production

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #28

Farm-generated fertility contributes to a more sustainable agricultural system. Crop residues and manures are part of the nutrient cycle for plant production and can lower input costs through the use of thermophilic composting, vermiculture, bokashi production, and/or green manures. Farm-generated feeds can also reduce expenses, as farmers manage and utilize resources already available to them. Chickens in particular can be very expensive to feed on a small scale with purchased commercial feeds. In this ECHO Asia Note, we will explore a variety of alternatives for small flock feeds.