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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.  

92 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 6 - 1) |

Gardening without Digging

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #6

One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve and build soil fertility in any gardening situation is to use a method known as sheet mulching. Thick layers of mulch are placed directly on the soil, simulating the thick leaf litter and humus found in natural forest systems. Sheet mulch provides multiple benefits, including water retention, weed suppression, slow release of nutrients and increase of beneficial soil organisms.

I first was introduced to this method through a sweet old lady called Esther Deans. She had written a book called 'Growing without digging', and was one of the first people in Australia to promote this type of garden. Her simple method enabled anyone to quickly create an extremely productive garden in any soil, even directly over weeds or lawn. The somewhat chaotic garden in illustration 1 is one of my early mulch gardens, made on shallow sandy soil over solid rock!

Agriculture Components for Small Institutions: Realistic Expectations and Best Practices - 2010-04-01

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #5

Across Asia, small institutions such as children's homes play an essential role in caring for orphans and other young people at risk. Likewise, hostels (i.e., boarding facilities) provide disadvantaged students with safe places to stay in order to further their studies. And small, faith-based educational institutions, including Bible schools, strive to offer low cost educational opportunities.

Unfortunately, providing quality services for young people and students is not cheap. As non-profit institutions operating under limited budgets, children's homes, hostels and schools are often forced to seek at least partial self-sufficiency. As a result, many small institutions turn to agriculture in an attempt to reduce costs.

Asian Plant Name Databases

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #5

Communicating technical information among different language groups is challenging. For example, despite being familiar with the scientific, English and Tagalog common names for eggplant, how might an Asian development worker know what the Indonesians call the same vegetable? Fortunately, at least two excellent web-based resources related to multi-lingual plant nomenclature are available.

The Amazing Effects of Rice Straw - 2010-01-01

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #4

Does rice straw have any value? Looking at the practices of most farmers, it seems not! The burning of rice straw is a common sight during the harvest period in many parts of Asia. Yet a number of farmers think otherwise. One of them is Isidro Prado from Alba in the municipality of Tago, Surigao del Sur, Philippines. He does not consider rice straw as open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API pdfcrowd.com ECHO Website In This Issue The Amazing Effects of Rice Straw Preserving Bamboo with Borates ECHO Agricultural Conference for Northeast India Contact Us ECHO Asia Regional Office P.O. Box 64 Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand e choasia@e chone t.org Quick Links ECHO Agricultural Conference 2010 Dec. 7-9 Fort Myers, FL trash to be disposed of in the easiest way. Instead he recognizes rice straw as essential for maintaining the fertility of his rice field. About eight years ago, he learned that returning the rice straw could help to overcome the problem of zinc deficiency that was prevalent in his rice field at that time.

Prado, now 69 years old, started cultivating the rice field he inherited from his parents in 1969. For about 15 years he cultivated his rice field like most farmers: using high yielding varieties (HYV), fertilizers and pesticides. Although he considered a yield of about 40 cavans (one cavan equals 50 kg or 110 lbs.) from his 0.38 hectare (0.94 acre) field acceptable, he felt lucky to have even five sacks of palay (unhusked rice) left over for consumption; barely enough to last his family a few months. Unfortunately, most of his produce went to the money lender who asked up to 10 cavans as payment for each 1,000 Philippine pesos (1 US dollar = P 47.2) of borrowed capital.

Preserving Bamboo with Borates

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #4

Working together with Thai Care, the children's ministry of the Rain Tree Foundation, Meribah Ram Pump is engaged in various community development projects in northern Thailand. A major focus is to make simple, sustainable technology, such as ram pumps and bio sand water filters, available to those who have limited access to water and electricity.

Bamboo plays a key role in our work as well. Meribah enhances local livelihood opportunities by promoting the production and sale of bamboo products such as handicrafts, and has also constructed a coffee shop almost entirely out of bamboo.

Micro-Hydro in Myanmar and Thailand

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #3

Rugged northeastern Myanmar is home to the Lahu, Shan, Akha, Palaung and various other ethnic groups. With few paved roads and only a small percentage of the Shan State's population connected to the electrical grid, infrastructure serving the locals is still very limited.

Approximately 10 years ago, traders from neighboring China capitalized on the lack of access to electricity by introducing microhydro generators. Roughly the size of a 20- liter container, the Chinese-made turbines typically generate between 1-3 kilowatts with larger models producing 5 kw or more. While energy within this range is not enough to power larger appliances (e.g., refrigerators, washing machines), a few light bulbs and very small household appliances such as fans, televisions and radios can be operated.

Crotalaria juncea, a promising green manure crop for the tropics

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #3

Crotalaria juncea, or sunn hemp, is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae) grown in many countries as a green manure or forage crop. Originating in South Asia, but with a common cultivar developed in Hawaii, it is a fastgrowing, drought-tolerant and aesthetically pleasing plant with real potential for integrated farming in the tropics.

Because sunn hemp is a strong nitrogen fixer with a reported resistance to root knot nematodes, and can be incorporated into the soil with little more than a month of growth, it can be used rotationally between primary crop plantings in both paddy and dryland fields. However, as sunn hemp needs well-drained soils, it does not seem appropriate for paddy farmers with drainage problems. The crop is also grown as forage and fiber, especially in South Asia. However, it is not a true hemp of the Cannabis genus.

SRI Practical and AV Material Webpage

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #2

With regard to SRI, the previously mentioned "SRI Homepage/System of Rice Intensification", a joint collaboration of Association Tefy Saina and CIIFAD, offers a wealth of SRI-related material, particularly on its "SRI Practical and AV Material" page . The SRI instructional and presentation material accessible on this page include print documents as well as slides (e.g., PowerPoint) and videos. Besides information in English, French and Spanish, materials are also offered in various Asian languages.

Lessons Learned from the Spread of SRI in Cambodia - 2009-07-01

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #2

In a 2001 ECHO Development Notes article, “SRI, the System of Rice Intensification: Less can be more,” ECHO first reported on SRI’s radical rice production steps including:

  • Transplanting rice seedlings when the first two leaves have emerged, usually sometime between 8-15 days old.
  • Transplanting seedlings singly rather than in clumps.
  • Wide spacing of seedlings, usually no less than 25 cm x 25 cm.
  • Maintenance of moist but unflooded conditions in the paddy.
  • Weeding by hand or with a mechanical rotary hoe.
  • Using organic inputs such as compost, green manures and other biomass.

​Since 2001, a combination of farmer groups, non-governmental organizations and governmental agencies across Asia have evaluated and promoted the rice production system. Now, eight years later, country-wide reports from across Southeast Asia and adjoining regions are showing varied levels of adoption by rice producers.

The World Food Situation - 2009-04-01

This article is from ECHO Asia Note #1

What is the outlook for world food prices? In the immediate future (the next few months), some moderation in global food prices seems likely in response to very recent (since mid-2008) declines in world grain and energy prices. In the short-term (next 2 to 3 years) world food prices are likely to remain relatively high, as depleted grain stocks are rebuilt; more rapid economic growth resumes in countries such as China and India; and prices of key farm inputs such as fertilizer remain high. Over the medium-term (beyond about 2010), the outlook becomes more cloudy. In that time frame the world’s farmers seem likely to respond with increased production in response to attractive grain prices. However, we are also likely to see continued income growth and associated dietary changes world-wide; continued high energy and farm input prices; and steady population growth. In light of these realities, world grain and food prices are likely to remain significantly above the levels of the past two decades.