On September 3, 2020, ECHO held its first virtual Appropriate Technology (AT) Fair. As this year has brought many challenges for in-person gatherings, we were grateful for all who took advantage of the shift towards virtual gatherings and participated in this event. It was an enriching time for ECHO staff, and I hope of benefit to the network of attendees.
Josh Jamison, HEART Garden Manager
Many of the world’s most important vegetable crops originate from the Solanaceae plant family, including tomato, eggplant, and peppers. This family also includes a host of lesser-known but locally important species, such as naranjilla (Solanum quitoense), tamarillo/tree tomato (S. betaceum), and goldenberry (Physalis peruvianus). Unfortunately, many plants in this group are plagued by root-knot nematodes and other root-born diseases (such as fusarium wilt) that greatly complicate cultivation. This difficulty is especially pronounced in the tropics where harmful nematodes are prolific. My article highlights a simple, low-input strategy for working around this problem that may be relevant to smallholder farmers in the tropics and subtropics.
Below is a summary of a seed trial report ECHO received in 2013 from Peace Corps Volunteer Chris Peterson, working in Uganda (Nalugala, Wakiso District). Sharing the results of Peterson’s efforts serves as an example of what to expect from a seed trial. Trying new crops can be very challenging, and likely not all crops will be successful. Nonetheless, seed trials are valuable, low-risk methods to inform agricultural development plans.
How can smallholder farmers help mitigate against climate change? An article in EDN 148 described principles on which the strategies presented in this follow-up article are based. Key to any agricultural approach for dealing with climate change is dialogue with farmers, whose knowledge, experience, and participation are critical for success. In our conversations, we should distinguish between adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation strategies increase farmers’ resilience and reduce their vulnerability to loss. Mitigation strategies directly reduce the causes of climate change. Some farming practices are helpful both for adaptation and for mitigation. For example, reduced tillage makes a field less vulnerable to erosion (adaptation) while also allowing for more carbon to be stored in the soil (mitigation). Below are a few strategies that are familiar to ECHO and that have mitigation potential in addition to building farmers’ resilience (adaptation) to climate change.