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General Technical Documents are resources made available through ECHOcommunity.org that are not currently part of an ECHO periodical publication such as ECHO Development Notes or ECHO Technical Notes. These resources may or may not be published by ECHO, but have been made available to the ECHOcommunity as online, sharable resources.

74 Issues in this Publication (Showing 31 - 40) |

Coffee Silverskin - 2022-07-01

Coffee silverskin is high in nutrients, but contains recalcitrant and phytotoxic compounds, limiting its use as a mulch or soil amendment. Fortunately, composting can reduce or eliminate these problems.


Coffee Silverskin Figure 1

Figure 1. Components of the coffee cherry. (Narita and Inouye 2014)

Coffee Silverskin (CS) is the membrane surrounding the coffee bean which separates from the bean during roasting (Figure 1). More-exterior layers, from endocarp outward, are removed prior to roasting, during coffee cherry processing. Thus, CS is the predominant waste created during bean roasting.

Coffee Silverskin FIgure 2 corrected

Figure 2. Composition of Coffee Silverskin and Spent Coffee Grounds (Malara et al 2018)

CS is largely composed of lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose, probably in the form of a lignocellulosic matrix (Carnier et al 2019). Composition varies with the type of coffee and growing conditions. Examples of the varying composition are illustrated in Figure 2 and Table 1.

CS is high in nutrients, including N, P, K and a variety of micronutrients (Table 2). However, CS is also known to contain a number of potentially phytotoxic compounds including phenolics, chlorogenic acid, and caffeine (Gonzalez-Moreno et al 2020, Picca et al 2022). Some CS compounds also exhibit anti-fungal properties and CS extract has been proposed as an alternative wood preservative (Barbero-Lopez et al 2020).

Coffee Silverskin Table 1

Table 1. Composition of Coffee Silverskin dry mass. (Hijosa-Valsera et al, 2018)

CS as Soil Amendment or Mulch

The high nutrient content suggests that CS could be used as a fertilizer or soil amendment. However, it appears that the nitrogen is primarily bound in highly recalcitrant lignocellulosic compounds. The lack of available N means CS should not be considered a fertilizer or soil amendment (Carnier et al 2019).

Table 2. Example Nutrient Content of CS (adapted from Gonzalez-Moreno et al 2020)


w/w %



Organic N














The lignocellulosic content of CS should not pose a problem if used as a mulch. However, the phytogenic properties of some CS compounds suggests that heavy use of CS as a mulch should be avoided (Gonzalez-Moreno et al 2020, Picca et al 2022).

Fortunately, composting has been shown to degrade the phytogenic compounds in CS, providing a route for safely returning CS nutrients to the soil. Picca et al (2022) have shown that composting with garden prunings and biochar eliminated phytotoxicity while making nitrogen readily available. Gonzalez-Moreno et al (2020) demonstrated a similar outcome with vermicomposting. However, they noted that CS can be toxic to worms in high concentration.


Barbero-López, A., Monzó-Beltrán, J., Virjamo, V., Akkanen, J., & Haapala, A. (2020). Revalorization of coffee silverskin as a potential feedstock for antifungal chemicals in wood preservation. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation152, 105011.

Carnier, R., Berton, R. S., Coscione, A. R., Pires, A. M. M., & Corbo, J. Z. (2019). Coffee silverskin and expired coffee powder used as organic fertilizers.

González-Moreno, M. A., García Gracianteparaluceta, B., Marcelino Sádaba, S., Zaratiegui Urdin, J., Robles Domínguez, E., Pérez Ezcurdia, M. A., & Seco Meneses, A. (2020). Feasibility of vermicomposting of spent coffee grounds and silverskin from coffee industries: A laboratory study. Agronomy10(8), 1125.

Hijosa-Valsero, M., Garita-Cambronero, J., Paniagua-García, A. I., & Díez-Antolínez, R. (2018). Biobutanol production from coffee silverskin. Microbial cell factories17(1), 1-9.

Malara, A., Paone, E., Frontera, P., Bonaccorsi, L., Panzera, G., & Mauriello, F. (2018). Sustainable exploitation of coffee silverskin in water remediation. Sustainability10(10), 3547.

Narita, Y., & Inouye, K. (2014). Review on utilization and composition of coffee silverskin. Food Research International61, 16-22.

Picca, G., Plaza, C., Madejón, E., & Panettieri, M. (2022). Compositing of coffee silverskin with carbon rich materials leads to high quality soil amendments.

Food Safety Strategy for Africa 2022 - 2036 - 2022-01-20

Food safety is poised to play a key role in Africa’s agricultural transformation due increased demand for food fueled by the continent’s rapid population growth and the entry into force of the exciting era of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) Area Agreement. Within the broader context of Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) measures, food safety presents an enormous opportunity for food trade under the AfCFTA since over 75% of trade in Africa is dominated by agriculture products. However, Africa’s food safety records remain the worst compared to other regions, and accounts for 30% of global deaths associated with foodborne illnesses. Consumption of unsafe food accounts for approximately 137,000 deaths and about 91 million cases of acute foodborne illnesses on an annual basis in Africa, the highest estimates worldwide. Moreover, these foodborne diseases affect disproportionately the most vulnerable of the society, the infants, young children (under five years), pregnant women, the elderly and immunocompromised people. Besides the human suffering caused by foodborne illnesses, the economic impact on African economies due to unsafe foods is staggering.

A situation which if not addressed could seriously jeopardize the attainment of the goals set in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture growth and Transformation because of the cost of lost productivity to African economies the cost of lost opportunities in agriculture food trade gains that could prevent the achievement of the goal set of tripling intra-African trade by 2025.

The Food Safety Strategy of Africa (FSSA) will provide a harmonized framework to implement activities that mitigate various food safety threats that negatively impact consumers’ health. The strategy will help to address non-tariff barriers, particularly those related to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures or standards that have the potential of slowing down the attainment of the Malabo Declaration aspirations and ultimately the African Union Agenda 2063 and related flagship programmes impacted by food safety. An additional benefit of the strategy will be reduction of duplication of efforts, facilitating synergy leveraging on resources and capabilities, and enhancing lesson learning and best practices. This strategy is developed as a tool for the implementation of the Continental SPS Policy Framework for Africa endorsed by AU policy organs in 2020.

Modern Beekeeping Practice and Honey Production - Nigeria's untapped goldmine - 2022-01-20

Submitted by the author for publication on ECHOcommunity  :  © 2022 Yusuf Olufade

No book on beekeeping can cover everything about such a vast subject, and so a decision was taken to steer the reader towards the practical rather than the theoretical side of the subject. It is hoped that, by doing so, this book should help to get you started. You can pick up the more theoretical aspects from specialist books and beekeeping journals and papers – the important thing now is to begin to explore the exciting world of beekeeping which is largely untapped in Nigeria.

This book will also let government at all levels, corporate bodies and Non-Governmental Organizations to know the most sustainable and workable business model for commercial scale modern beekeeping in Nigeria based on my thorough research and analyses.

ECHO quick photo guide of insect pest damage vs. other crop damage - 2021-04-07

Insect feeding damage or other insect activity can look similar to many bacterial, fungal, or viral diseases or to plant nutrient deficiency symptoms. Before taking action against an assumed insect pest, verify that the symptoms you observe are not caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Insecticides are not effective against these types of infections, and improper use of insecticides wastes farmers’ valuable resources and can kill beneficial insects. For visual comparisons of common diseases and pest damage, you can use this quick photo guide which has side-by-side photo comparisons of commonly confused plant health issues. 

Soil Testing Guidelines - CFGB - 2020-04-20

Soil infertility is a key constraint to improving crop production for small-scale farmers. Soils throughout Canadian Foodgrains Bank members’ program areas are degraded and deficient in nutrients and organic matter. Soil testing measures the soil’s health and nutrient holding capacity and provides a measure of nutrient status and health. It also serves as a  basis for crop and land management decisions. Soil testing has been advocated by technical specialists, government extension agents and through radio messaging. As a result, there is a growing demand from farmers and project partners for information on soil testing strategies and services. Farmers want specific guidance on which fertility inputs are best for their fields, and how much they should apply.

Given the wide range of available soil testing options, it is important to identify which tests are most useful for a given project, and for what reason. Some tests are helpful in developing recommendations for how farmers manage crops. Other tests may not help with crop management decisions, but are useful in training farmers to think about soil health. Still others are helpful in monitoring and evaluation of the effects of a project on soil nutrients and soil health. This guide is designed to help farmers and partners decide what soil tests are most important and cost-effective for their context.

Animal integration and feeding strategies for the tropical smallholder farm - 2019-10-05

Animal integration and feeding strategies for the tropical smallholder farm: Approaches and methods for increasing sustainability and profitability

Copyright © 2019 Keith Mikkelson – ECHO Asia Impact Center 

Integrated livestock systems can provide many benefits. With careful planning and by starting small, most farmers will be able to incorporate cows, goats, chickens, or hogs and improve the stability of their farm. Crop residues can reduce feed costs, and manure can reduce fertilizer costs. Manure can also be used to produce biogas for cooking or heating, to reduce costs on the farm. Grazing livestock can help manage weeds and improve soil health.  

This booklet was borne out of a need to help smallholder farmers re-integrate animals into their systems and use nutrients and energy wisely in order to reduce external inputs, increasing sustainability and profitability. It gives practical information, starter feed recipes, and much more, showcasing organic best practices occurring at the Aloha Farm in Palawan, The Philippines.  

This booklet is based on five of Keith’s prior articles that were written for ECHO Asia Notes, which include AN #20 Fish Feed, AN #25 Hog Feed, AN #28 Poultry Feed, AN #31 Ruminant Feeds, and AN #35 Animal Integration. This book is available in hard copy in our office.

Here are excerpts from Chapter 1 (Asia Note 35) “Livestock Integration”: 

Properly managed livestock can bring the tropical farmer higher profits than some market vegetables and most grains. In permaculture, we say “integrate instead of segregate!” An example of this is the way farmers integrate their grazing livestock into seasonal cropping patterns.  In traditional upland farmland systems, cattle and goats are left to graze in the forest or taken up onto higher ground away from the cropland during the growing season. When the harvest is over, the animals are brought back to the village to graze on the fallow croplands during the dry season. At the Aloha House Farm, we raise and integrate goats, chickens, ducks, cattle, and hogs. For example, our goats graze pasture and browse as well as feed on legume shrubs, and we feed some crop residues to the goats. With the integrated system, we are able to eliminate many feed costs and (with the manure we collect) also eliminate many fertilizer costs. We cut and carry fresh feed stock for goats, cows, chickens, and hogs; it requires labor, but we are able to minimize inputs. 

...from Chapter 2 (AN20) “Integrating Fish”: 

With experimentation and careful recordkeeping, a fish farmer can produce his/her own high-quality feed.  In many countries, readily available meat grinders and pelletizers have made it possible to create economic floating feeds for tilapia, koi or catfish. Our unit was obtained in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand. It is an un-branded stainless-steel auger-driven meat mincer manufactured in China. We assembled it on a table at home and mounted it with a 1 hp motor. Before beginning, make sure you have a range of plate sizes to extrude your feed, so that feed and stock size can match. The sizes we use are in the 2-8 mm range for our 300-500 gram tilapia production. When we finish making the feed, we immediately dismantle and clean the auger, blade and plates. When done with a good auger-type grinder, very little effort is spent in the production of feeds. At Aloha House, two people can produce ten trays (approximately 45 kg) of moist feed in less than one hour.  

...from Chapter 3 (AN25) “Integrating Hogs”: 

Corn-fed pork is a phenomenon that came about through a glut of low-cost maize production in industrialized countries. Modern corn has a higher carbohydrate level and a corresponding lower level of protein. By contrast, rice bran has twice the crude protein of corn, and is often less expensive. In a natural feed system, protein is the number one limiting factor in performance and growth of livestock; it is also the most expensive to purchase. If you keep the target protein level appropriate for the age of the animal, everything else will balance out with your natural feed. In creating your pig feed, you pay for protein. Old corn-based feed formulas are based on corn varieties that had more protein than the modern dent corn that permeates our supply chain (which also contains glyphosate residues and is often genetically modified). On Palawan, where Aloha House is located, corn is approximately twice the price and contains half the protein of rice bran, making corn protein four times more expensive than rice protein. We want natural feed supplies for our hogs to be economical and to assure the best end product. 

...from Chapter 4 (AN28) “Integrating Poultry”: 

The fermenting activity of certain beneficial microorganisms during the production process can enhance the digestibility and shelf life of chicken feeds. According to one study, the use of microorganisms increased the crude protein in copra meal from 17.24% to 31.22%. An amino acid was also found to be greatly improved in quantity. Please note that not all flocks like a wet feed. You can mix feed without fermenting in the morning and use it immediately if your chickens do not appreciate fermented feeds, which tend to be wet. In addition to chicken feed, you can also ferment your feed for hogs, ducks, and fish with the help of diverse probiotic groups of microbes. However, we do not recommend fermentation for ruminant feeds. 

...from Chapter 5 (AN31) “Integrating Ruminants”: 

Farmers feeding cows, goats, sheep, and buffalo should attempt to keep purchased inputs to a minimum. Farmers must balance the dietary needs of their animals with safety, comfort, and security from theft. No matter how ideal your goals for your ruminant herd, make sure you carefully plan and manage for the overall benefit of the animals and the farmer. Most small farms in SE Asia would do well to develop and manage some amount of pasture for ruminants, combined with a cut and carry strategy. Manure should be incorporated on the farm to maintain soil fertility for the forages and plants, and tighten nutrient cycling loops so that the benefits of integrated livestock will translate into more economical and sustainable food production. 

Maize Armyworm and Stalk Borer Scouting - 2018-04-20

The introduction of Fall Armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda) to Africa in 2016 has raised concerns of possible widespread damage of maize and other crops. Stalk borers are a common pest of maize throughout Africa, causing modest damage virtually every year. Armyworms, on the other hand, can devastate maize and other crops if not controlled at a young age. Because of this big difference in damage potential, it is important to identify these pests early in their life cycle.

Rangelands Group Framework Worksheet - 2018-03-08

This worksheet was used at the 3rd ECHO East Africa Pastoralist Symposium by a group generating a joint voluntary plan of action including policy and legislation inhibiting or needed, social and cultural approaches that inhibit or could add value, economic tools, and natural resources governance.

Livestock to Markets (L2M) - Action Plan - 2018-03-08

This is an ACTION PLAN based on participation of representatives from three East Africa countries in the L2M Working Group. The group developed a common framework to guide their discussion and understanding of all the elements that influence the development of a Livestock to Markets Business among pastoralist communities. They will use this as a benchmark for their commitment and actions in their respective countries over the next two years.