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This is a book of practical ideas. It is written for people who help those who live and make their living under difficult conditions in the tropics and subtropics. What should a development worker do to assist a community? There are no simple answers, but there are many possibilities--plants, techniques, and technologies--which hold potential. For fifteen years, ECHO has sought out information on these ideas for the quarterly networking bulletin ECHO Development Notes (EDN). Many people have contributed their insights to share with our network of over 4000 people in 140 countries. If you are interested in improving the lives of small farmers, we welcome your active participation in our network.

This book is based on the first fifty-one issues of EDN. The ideas in EDN come from questions or experiences of field workers, the scientific research done in support of their work, and many newsletters from around the world which ECHO's staff monitor for worthy items. This collection is not intended to be a complete handbook. There are important topics which are not mentioned, and in many cases you are referred to other resources for background information or specialized details.

Since no innovation can be guaranteed success in any location, ECHO encourages development workers to be experimenters. Trying ideas which have worked elsewhere and testing plants which are appreciated in another part of the world are first steps toward discovering something valuable for your own situation. As you read these chapters, some ideas will strike you as promising for your region, while others will not be applicable in your site. What is accepted in one area will be rejected in another. Keep in mind that the world is a very, very large place, and often discovering the right niche for a new plant or technique can make a big difference. Visionary open-mindedness and a critical eye can together help you define which ideas to consider for experimentation and adaptation.

ECHO's primary focus in the field of agricultural development is with little-known tropical plants or improved varieties of common plants. Our seedbank has selected vegetables, fruits, grains, cover crops, and trees with potential to produce well in challenging environmental conditions. EDN also includes information on other topics of importance to the small farmer. This book lists many organizations which specialize in various areas, and we can direct you to them with questions related to their fields of expertise.

All organizations, publishers, and many individuals mentioned in this text were contacted during 1995 and 1996 to confirm current addresses, prices, and services. Every effort was made to update the information wherever possible. However, books go out of print and prices change, so after 1996 you should confirm availability and prices before ordering any items mentioned. Please let us know of any changes you find so we can stay updated.

We sincerely hope that this information will assist you in your work, and we encourage you to write ECHO with your questions and experiences.  We look forward to hearing from you!



ECHO is a networking organization. Many people have contributed their insights and experiences, or called to our attention relevant materials, or provided us with seeds. This book would not have been possible without them. Keep writing to us!

Christi Sobel is the primary illustrator of this book, designing the cover and most of the artwork. We appreciate her fine talent, versatility, flexibility, and service. An Eastern College graduate with degrees in studio art and biology, her work combines her love of art and fascination with the intricacies of nature. Christi works in several art media and can be contacted for freelance work at 219 White Church Road, Brooktondale, NY 14817, USA.

We appreciate Dr. Frank Martin's willingness to share his expertise by writing numerous technical documents, several of which are included in this book. It is also a pleasure to thank Herb Perry for his faithful help in editing each chapter, and all the staff and interns at ECHO who offered encouragement and assistance.

Some pictures were also taken from the copyright-free books Clip Art for Development and The Copy Book. These resources are reviewed on page 363. We thank Ann Winterbotham and the other artists who also donated their work.

Copyright 1996 by ECHO, Inc. All rights reserved. No copies of print-outs from down-loaded files from this publication may be made without permission of the copyright owner.