Title: Agricultural Risk Assessment and Management 2017-05-30

These resources were recently shared by Steve Hodges of African Agriculture Risk Management Services. This is an excellent example of how ECHOcommunity members can benefit others by sharing their work. To find out more about publishing resources on ECHOcommunity.org check out ECHO Intellectual Property and Sharing.

Except: Basic Criteria for Evaluating and Managing Risks

Within the internationally recognized field of agricultural risk assessment and management, all of
these risks of these many categories can be evaluated according to three basic criteria :

1. Impact: In other words, how severe will the risk event be if it actually happens? Some
risks can destroy the whole year's farm income and even destroy assets; other risks are milder in

2. Likelihood How likely is this risk to come about? Some risks are rare and unpredictable,
others are more likely to happen.

3. Manageability Independent of how severe or how likely a risk is, some risks are out of
the control of the farmer, others can be handled to a large or small degree. It makes sense to
prioritize scarce resources on risks which can actually be managed

Seed banks and seed swaps - focusing worldwide on healthy local seed systems 2017-05-22

Seed availability for small-scale farmers can be unpredictable and unreliable. Commercial products are often out of reach financially or geographically and can lead to loss of biodiversity. ECHO's seed banks provide sample packets of seeds to evaluate for potential crop production in challenging places. This free service fills an important need, but is one part of a holistic, successful, and sustainable crop cycle.

ECHO promotes strengthening local seed systems though seed saving, local banking, and seed fairs - also known as seed swaps. Seed swaps have proven to be highly successful events allowing development workers, farmers and gardeners to identify the wealth of local crop varieties and exchange valued plant materials for expanded propagation and production.

Seeds   Seed Fair   Seed Bank   Seed Exchange   Seed Sources   Seed Saving  

New Publication: ECHO Central America / Caribbean Notes 2017-05-09

The first edition of ECHO Central America / Caribbean Notes (CACN) presented the article “Making Silage in Vichada“written by Dexter B. Dombro.  From this article we learned that silage is an important supplement to feed livestock during long droughts when grasses dry up and lose nutrients.

Silage is a farm product made from fresh cut grasses or other green forage matter, mixed with molasses, compacted and hermetically sealed and stored. Silage, as cattle feed, offer some important advantages. From a nutritional point of view, silage conserves most of the nutrients of fresh cut grasses; while hay, which is dried grasses, loses most of its nutrients.  Silage, as a farm product, is economical as it eliminates the cost of transportation.

GUEST POST: End Of Hay Baling Season - Lessons Learned 2017-05-02

ECHOcommunity member Anne Munene is a hay farmer, trainer, consultant and blogger in Nanyuki Kenya. This week's post is from her blog "Lukuai Hay Farm" originally posted here: https://lukuaihayfarm.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/end-of-hay-baling-season-lessons-learnt/

We are close to the end our baling season and what a time we have had; with challenges that could fill a barn and lessons from sources that we didn’t expect. On a very personal level I have had tremendous support from the Lukuai Farm staff and neighbours, for which I am truly grateful.

In this post I mainly want to address the challenges in hay production especially at a time when there is a new hype that pesa iko kwa hay.  Ok, that if you have some idle land and plant “hay”, this will be better than betting.  You will get rich, and very fast while we are at it, with the best part being that you don’t have to sweat it out, it is easy money.

Aaah, I guess I stood on the wrong side of this mythical generous wind that blows money into hay producers, while still allowing them to live the easy life of lounging about.

East Africa   Hay  

A Snapshot from Bangladesh: Building Farmer-Extension Relationships 2017-04-25

With 160 million people living in an area the size of the US state of Georgia, cropland is not an overly abundant resource in the country of Bangladesh.  In order to meet the ever growing needs of its population, it is not uncommon for farmers in this delta nation to produce 3 consecutive seasons of rice on the same piece of land in a given calendar year.  This relatively recent intensification of the land doesn’t come without its costs, and relies heavily on expensive external inputs, a dwindling of irrigation water resources, and an uninterrupted invitation extended to crop pests and diseases.

Asia   Green Manure Cover...   Agriculture Extension  

EDN Issue 135 - Now Available 2017-04-18

In This Issue: 

Biofortified crops: What are they, how do they work and why should we grow them?

The cheers and challenges of Conservation Agriculture programs

Echoes from our Network: Woman and Agriculture feedback from Joel Matthews

From ECHO's Seed Bank: Gac - A colorful and health-promoting fruit

eBook Releases: Options for Restoring Unproductive Soils and Options Where Water is Scarce

Download EDN 135

Gac: A colorful and health-promoting fruit

From ECHO's Seed Bank

EXCERPT: Perennial leafy greens, such as moringa and chaya, have been featured quite extensively in EDN. Here we focus on the bright orange-to-red fruit (Figure 7) of a tropical vining plant called gac (Momordica cochinchinensis). Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, other names for gac are cochin gourd, spiny bitter cucumber, and sweet gourd. Gac fruit has a mild flavor. Like moringa, it can be consumed in a variety of ways; it can be eaten fresh, cooked, or as a powder. Incorporated into traditional foods, gac adds both color and nutrition.

Gac fruits are best known for their high concentration of carotenoids, natural chemicals that protect against cell damage and are the source of yellow, orange, or red coloring in fruits and vegetables. By weight, beta-carotene is more concentrated in gac fruit than carrots. Similarly, gac fruit has a higher concentration of lycopene than tomato. Much more detail about these and other health-enhancing properties of gac are available in the literature (Chuyen et al. 2015, Minh 2014). 

Gac is currently available from the ECHO Global Seedbank

Check out the ECHO Plant Information Sheet on Gac

[ Read the full article

Experimenting with Medicinal Plants in Matagalpa Nicaragua 2017-04-11

Through many mistakes and trials, Sarah Hornsby, and husband Jim, learned much of the practical use of medicinal plants from their experience in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The reforestation project started with the purchase of land in the Arenal Forest Reserve. From there, the learning process began bringing to life the concept of “it takes a village to …” Neighbors were paid to help collect seedlings of native plants from surrounding forest to use in reforestation.  Unfortunately, all five thousand neatly planted and labeled seedlings were planted on top of a hill where strong winds made it known the planting location was a mistake. Moving the seedlings to a more protected location invited other mishaps and lead to the creation of an informational website to share experiences and lessons learned.

Central America an...   Medicinal Plants  

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