The Power of Knowledge and Networking 2017-03-29

While at the gathering of 170 global participants working in agricultural and extension services, Abram met Saikou, who is from the Gambia and works as a Peace Corp volunteer coordinator and advisor for the Gambia. Saikou attended an ECHO Florida TAD 1 training back in 2014 to gain more knowledge about Tropical Agriculture Development. What he gained from the training was a wealth of options that he could help Peace Corps volunteers implement in the Gambia to improve smallholder farming households’ lives and food security. Upon returning to the Gambia, he began rolling out backyard chicken projects that employ local breeds and low-input feeds for sustainability. He has seen much success with the projects and communities are sharing the approach with each other and adoption is increasing. He credits ECHO, and in particular, the TAD 1 class, as being the inspiration, catalyst, and knowledge piece that makes the project successful.


ECHO Asia Research: Local treatments and vacuum sealing as novel control strategies for stored seed pests in the tropics 2017-03-22

Seed conservation under tropical climates is a great challenge when usual storage technology is lacking. Seed pests and the loss of seed viability are among the main risks faced by farmers and seed banks. Scientists Lawrence et. al. recently found that vacuum sealing significantly reduces stored insect pest pressure while maintaining seed viability. Several local treatments decrease also pest pressure, thus constituting sustainable alternatives to storage under low temperature and low moisture.

Asia   Bruchids   Vacuum Sealing   Lablab   Seed Treatment   Seed Storage   Germplasm  

Amaranth as fish feed? - New research 2017-03-13

Scientists warn that global fish stocks are on the verge of collapse due to the effects of climate change and overfishing, fueling concerns of increased malnutrition.  This not only translates into less fish for human consumption but, ironically, impacts aquaculture as commercial fish feed contains a large amount of fishmeal.

In an effort to identify a protein-rich replacement for fishmeal, researchers from Karatina University and the University of Eldoret in Kenya and the University of Arizona explored the use of amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus) leaves, which contain 17.5–30.3 percent dry matter as protein, of which 5 percent is lysine.  Specifically, they replaced fishmeal with amaranth leaf protein concentrate (ALPC) for the production of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Through their research, it was determined that up to 80 percent of fishmeal could be replaced with ALPC without compromising growth performance and nutrient utilization.

Amaranth   Fish   Fish Farming  

Chaya use in West Africa 2017-02-28

Kangoura is a rural municipality located in the west of Burkina Faso. Ten years ago, an American missionary introduced Chaya which became a well-known and well-consumed leafy vegetable for the peasants of Kangoura. The peasants have made Chaya leaves a component of their diet which they consume in several different forms including leaf sauce, the leaves in peanut sauce, and they have incorporated it into other local dishes.

West Africa   Chaya  

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.