Resources on Parthenium 2017-02-15

Except: Parthenium hysterophorus, also known as carrot top, white top weed, and fever few is a fairly new invasive weed but has quickly become one of the worst weeds to tropical areas(CABI 2015). In Ethiopia it is known as Farmasissa which means “sign your land away” (IAPPS 2016). Originally from Central America, Parthenium has been seen to cause major problems in India and Southeast Asia, Australia, and East Africa. In 2015, Parthenium is said to have invaded roughly 34 countries globally (Strathie 2015). A fast growing highly reproductive invasive species, Parthenium has become a hazard to farmland, rangeland, as well as animal and human health. (From Parthenium hysterophorus by Emalee Allen)

Recent interest from ECHOcommunity network members has prompted the creation of new resources raising awareness of Parthenium.

East Africa   Parthenium  

In the network now: West African trainers meet for Foundations for Farming Training 2017-01-24

Knowing a subject is not enough to train on it, training adults requires specific competencies. This week in Burkina Faso, key trainers from across West Africa are meeting to improve their knowledge about the Foundations for Farming (FFF) method, and to improve their skills in sharing knowledge with others.

West Africa   FFF   Foundations For Ag...   Foundations For Fa...   Farmer Managed Nat...   Training  

ECHOcommunity Member Spotlight: Sipasi Olalekan Ayodele 2017-01-04

Sipasi Olalekan Ayodele is the most recent recipient of the Africa Youth Award for Agriculture. The CEO of L’Afrika Integrated Farms and ProtectOzone in Nigeria, he was nominated for the award based on his implementation of the Foundations for Farming methods, and for innovations at his poultry farm. Using locally available herbal alternatives he is demonstrating how to avoid the synthetic micronutrients in commercial poultry feed. Contamination in these feed products are linked to nearly a half-million lost birds each year. L’Afrika Integrated Farms, and those they have trained, are seeing decreased livestock mortality and improvements in the health and wellbeing of their consumers.

West Africa   Foundations For Fa...  

Greetings to the ECHOcommunity as we enter 2017 2016-12-27

Thank you for your participation with ECHO during the past year.  You and your 11,000 other colleagues around the world constitute a unique Community of Practice.  What makes you a “community of practice”?  You share a passion to address the challenges of small-scale farmers, their agriculture, their health and their communities.  And, you share a desire to learn how to do this more effectively – a desire to “get better”.

Because we share these passions and desires, we can learn from each other, support and encourage each other and collectively increase our beneficial impact.   ECHOcommunity provides special opportunities for us to do all of this…together.  It also provides a way that we can multiply our impact into places in the world where we might never set foot but where our experience can bless and benefit nonetheless.

As we enter 2017, I want to encourage you to make time for your “community of practice”, invest in it, and grow it.  In the process we will all benefit.  Please also let us know how we can more effectively nurture this very special community that we share – we’re passionate…and want to get better!

Thank you for being part of the ECHOcommunity!

David Erickson
President/CEO – ECHO, Inc.

Peace on earth, goodwill towards men 2016-12-20

As we celebrate this season together I am encouraged when I reflect on these words spoken to a group of pastoralists more than two thousand years ago. It has been another tumultuous year with both peace and good will seeming very elusive.

For example, recent news reports from West Africa highlight the rise in conflict due to crop failure that has been acerbated by climate change.  Many of us are familiar with the proverb, “A hungry man is an angry man.” The correlation between food scarcity and instability is obvious.  Alternatively, so is the connection between food security and peace.  

The ECHO community is comprised of a diverse mix of individuals and organizations who serve small-scale farmers in challenging circumstances.  According to a 2013 UN report, an estimated 500 million smallholder-managed farms provide over 80 percent of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world.  Obviously, global poverty reduction and food security depends heavily on the successful food production efforts of small-scale farmers. 

It should not be lost on us that our collective efforts to serve smallholder farmers contribute to the divine mandate of peace on earth and good will toward men.  During this season, may we all be encouraged and renewed in our service to these producers of food and stability.

Rick Burnette
ECHO Director of Agriculture

New Research: A comparison of three insect monitoring traps 2016-12-14

Insect pests can cause substantial crop losses or even complete crop failure. An insect monitoring strategy helps farmers make informed, timely pest-management decisions. Scouting is an important part of any monitoring approach, but it is probably not practical to walk through fields or gardens at night when many nocturnal insects are active. Traps, on the other hand, function all the time. Above-ground traps catch flying insects, before they turn into larvae/caterpillars that can decimate plant leaves. They also give the farmer an indication of beneficial insects in the garden or field. 

Insect monitoring traps often use color to attract target insects. Yellow, white, and blue are colors that are commonly used. Insects can also be attracted to a food source such as molasses. Once insects are drawn into a trap, sticky substances or water are used to trap them. 


There are many types of traps that can be purchased or made. For this small trial, we focused on three types of traps:

1) Dishpan trap, consisting of a container filled with water and dish soap. Jugs could be filled and hung on stakes or fruit tree branches. For this trial, we simply placed a round container on the ground.

2) Pitfall traps made by filling a container with water and molasses, with the container buried so that the top of it is flush with the surface of the ground.

3) Sticky traps made by painting molasses onto a yellow piece of cardboard.

The traps were placed in between rows of sorghum at ECHO’s Global Demonstration Farm in southwest Florida. The sorghum plants were close to harvest stage, with a noticeable abundance of insects present. Using a randomized complete block design, two of each of the above-mentioned traps were placed in three locations in the sorghum plot. Insects were counted after 48 hours.

Kitchen gardens and innovative kids - growing together at Plaster House 2016-12-06

This ECHOcommunity Update provided by ECHO East Africa intern Travis Silveus

Plaster House is a not-for-profit organization based in Arusha, Tanzania.  Their aim is to provide a safe place for healing after surgery for children of all ages.  At any one time you can find around one hundred kids boarding at the house waiting to go into surgery or recovering from operations.  It’s common to find children with severe burns, club feet, cleft palates or missing limbs playing together in the yard.  Safe spaces can be hard to find when so often village-life is based on living within the standard of normalcy, which too often includes appearances.  Plaster House gives off a fragrance of acceptance and visitors can see a smiling community in the midst of such trying circumstances.  Many times students can spend an indeterminate amount of time at the Plaster House depending on the severity of the surgery needed.   Volunteers come and visit but oftentimes the older boys can be overlooked as they don’t quite fit into programs that are directed to young children.  As a result, Plaster House nurse, Hannah  , invited ECHO to come and design some educational opportunities for the youth.  The goal was to construct some kitchen gardens and provide a mentorship between the boys and male role models. 

Over the last several months, Venance Mollel, Adiveckson Mamkwe, and Travis Silveus and others (Elly Embowe, Hannah Hacker) have visited weekly.  On the first visit, Venance explained that the purpose of ECHO was to encourage creativity with farmers to solve problems that they’re facing.  Before we left, we asked the boys to be creative to make something new out of used water bottles.  The following week, we were happy to find that the youth had made a number of things out of the bottles including several garden designs and a simple drip irrigation system.  We took some photos and celebrated their creativity.  The consecutive weeks we discussed sack gardens, tire gardens, medicinal uses of native plants and nutrition.  The ECHO staff planted chaya and leaf cassava cuttings and explained the uses of the perennial greens and encouraged cooking staff to incorporate them into the diets.  Along with the sweet potato greens from the sack garden, the amaranth and celery in the tire garden and the garlic to be planted in the keyhole garden, ECHO has worked to supplement the diets of the lodging students.  ECHO was very pleased to host a group of youth from Plaster House.  Most of the time, a trip off of the campus means going into surgery- so the teens were much relieved for a chance to explore and learn outside of the walls.  The ECHO staff received the teens and we are looking forward to continue mentoring Victor, the gardener, as the on-site teacher to continue educating new groups of boys and girls hosted at Plaster House.

East Africa  

La Niña to affect small-scale agriculturalists 2016-12-01

According to the US National Weather Service, La Niña conditions are present and are slightly expected to last through the winter of 2016-17, likely affecting temperature and precipitation around the world.  This follows a 2015-16 El Niño event that resulted in extreme drought conditions in numerous regions around the world, having affected more than 60 million people worldwide (World Health Organization). 

The NASA Earth Observatory webpage describes La Niña impacts as causing “wetter than normal conditions west of the equatorial central Pacific over northern Australia and Indonesia during the northern hemisphere winter, and over the Philippines during the northern hemisphere summer. Wetter than normal conditions are also observed over southeastern Africa and northern Brazil, during the northern hemisphere winter season. During the northern hemisphere summer season, the Indian monsoon rainfall tends to be greater than normal, especially in northwest India. Drier than normal conditions are observed along the west coast of tropical South America, and at subtropical latitudes of North America (Gulf Coast) and South America (southern Brazil to central Argentina) during their respective winter seasons.”

Farmers and development workers are encouraged to make preparations for anticipated rainfall irregularities in their particular regions.  The ECHO Best Practice Note No. 2, Agriculture in Times of Climate Change, recommends practices for smallholder farmers to cope with climate extremes.

Climate Change   Climate Smart Agri...  

Success stories from Sanekui, Mali 2016-11-15

Sanekui is a village in Mali where, a few days after its opening, ECHO's West African Regional Impact Center conducted its first training in 2014. During this training, the FFF and Moringa were The themes given to the church member. Two and a half years after this training, a follow-up team traveled to Sanekui to see the effects of the training. The testimonies and findings are very edifying and encouraging.

 Indeed, the FFF technique was adopted by all the participants and especially by many people in the village and the neighboring villages which had not participated in the training, but who having seen the good harvests of the FFF fields went to those who received the training and learnt how to also do the same. Many people have seen their yields increased and their living conditions improved. Among these people, Pastor Silas Kéïta from Sanekui was able to buy a car to facilitate his professional and private journeys, thanks to the surplus of millet and cotton he sold.

West Africa  

EDN Issue 133 - Now Available 2016-11-08

In This Issue:

Download EDN 133


by Craig Bielema

Excerpt: Bamboo’s reputation is largely based upon intrinsic peculiarities of certain varieties. The plant can grow a meter a day and is the staple diet for giant pandas; though a grass, it can grow to 30 meters tall with hollow wooden stems which are stronger than steel; and bamboo has a reproductive cycle in which all plants of the same species flower and then die simultaneously…worldwide. These sound like qualities conjured up for a fantasy novel. 

Though the aforementioned qualities are true for some varieties, bamboo exists with a wide array of sizes, shapes, and palatability, and with varied growth and reproductive patterns. With diverse characteristics comes diverse functionality; bamboo is commonly used as food, fodder, fiber, fencing, furniture, and construction timber, all without sacrificing the life of the plant! Bamboo has many impressive and amazing characteristics, but its most important quality is the impact that its use can have on the life of a smallholder family.

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Download and Share ECHO Development Note #133