ECHO Tech Notes are subject-specific publications about topics important to those working in the tropics and subtropics. Our material is authored by ECHO staff and outside writers, all with experience and knowledge of their subject. These documents are free for your use and will hopefully serve a valuable role in your working library of resources in agricultural development!
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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 protein of an unusually high quality. The grain is milled for flour or popped like popcorn. The leaves of both the grain and vegetable types may be eaten raw or cooked. Amaranths grown principally for vegetable use have better tasting leaves then the grain types.
Originating in the Americas and Europe, amaranth has been cultivated for more than 8,000 years, dating back at least to the Mayan civilization of South and Central America. It was a staple of the Aztecs and incorporated into their religious ceremonies. In the 1500’s the Spanish conquistadors prohibited amaranth production. In that area today only a limited amount of amaranth grain is grown, most of which is popped and mixed with honey to make a confection called, “alegría.” However, much of the genetic base has been maintained there because amaranth has continued to grow as a wildflower.
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 but black ones also exist. There is also a full range between black and white. All the birds develop red flesh around their eyes and at the base of their bills. In older drakes, it may even appear on the back of the neck and wings. With good feed, the ducks will lay about 90 eggs per year and will hatch ducklings very successfully. The breed is very hardy and can get a lot of its feed requirement in foraging. Traditionally, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Farmer does not feed its poultry and relies on natural incubation for breeding. The Muscovy duck is ideally suited for the PNG village conditions.