EDN Issue 144 - Now Available 2019-07-25

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Introducing 100-Fold Gardens
Wicking Beds for High-Density Planting of Vegetables Where Water is Scarce

Dawn Berkelaar and Tim Motis


Network member Lance Edwards works in Zimbabwe. He told us about using and promoting inexpensive, water-conserving planting beds that he calls 100-fold gardens. These are a type of “wicking bed”; they are lined with plastic so that water pools at the bottom in a reservoir. From there, water moves up towards the plants’ rooting zone. 100-fold gardens are a way to maximize vegetable production on raised beds.

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Apaikunda’s Story 2019-07-16

Apaikunda is a mother of seven in the village of Ngyeku in Tanzania.  Her husband has passed away, leaving her to care for the younger four of seven children on her own.  In order to provide for them, Apaikunda works as a weeder for other people, as she does not own any land herself.  The eldest three of her seven children have moved out of the house, living independently, one of whom is a brick maker.   In addition to the challenges of being a single parent, Apaikunda is living with HIV.

East Africa  

Green Manure / Cover Crop Resources 2019-06-13

Green manure cover crops (gmcc) are rapidly growing crops that cover and protect the soil. There are a lot of great resources including and interactive selection tool for GMCCs on ECHOcommunity.org including an ECHO Technical Note on “Green Manure Cover Crops” and the GMCC Selection Tool.

Restoring The Soil: Second Edition Now Available 2019-05-23

Green manure/cover crops (gm/ccs) enrich the soil while providing numerous other benefits such as weed suppression and food for human and/or animal consumption. Understanding their functions, selecting gm/ccs for specific growing conditions, and knowing how to integrate them on small-scale farmsteads can be a daunting process. Roland Bunch's second edition of "Restoring the Soil" helps practitioners and farmers learn about gm/ccs and choose context-appropriate gm/cc systems already in use by farmers.

Part 1 of the book explains benefits and limitations of gm/ccs, common misconceptions, and mistakes made in using them. It discusses how gm/ccs relate to soil improvement, tropical agriculture, and climate-smart practices that sequester carbon and mitigate against drought.

Part 2 guides the reader through a unique, incremental decision-making process for selecting which of 117 gm/cc systems have the most potential for success in their setting.


EDN Issue 143 - Now Available 2019-04-26

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Learning about and from Local Seed Systems

Dawn Berkelaar


Access to viable seed is critical for successful farming. This is one reason our seed banks in Florida (USA), Thailand, and East Africa offer trial packets of seed to our network members. We have written about how to hold a seed fair, to enable people within a community to share and acquire seeds directly from each other. But what do we know about how seed normally flows throughout a small farming community?

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Agriculture Training and Youth Motivation in NW Cambodia - Launch 2019-04-17

Guest Post by ECHOcommunity member: Muneezay Jaffery

This is part 3 of a series describing how one network organization is progressing with development of training facilities and curriculum.

The team are now doing village outreach work with banners and hand-outs at the ready.  There are challenges at hand- are people interested? What sets us apart? How can we ensure regular attendance?


Parasitic Plants in African Agriculture - ECHO Technical Note #94 2019-03-27

ECHO's newest Technical Note, by Lytton John Musselman, provides an overview of parasitic plants of agricultural significance in Africa. Parasitic weeds cause drought stress and stunted crops. Important grains such as sorghum, maize, and cowpea are affected. Damage to these and other crops is worsened by low soil fertility and drought stress, conditions that are faced by many African smallholders. Parasitic weeds can lead to severe yield losses, making them an important constraint to food security in many areas.

Agriculture Training and Youth Motivation in NW Cambodia - Planning and Building 2019-03-12

Guest Post by ECHOcommunity member: Muneezay Jaffery

This is part 2 of a series describing how one network organization is progressing with development of training facilities and curriculum.

Whilst working on the planning and build, our aim was to “repackage” what horticulture means within a rural community. One main strategy was to include low cost, affordable tech within the space. Our bottom line for decision-making was “is it replicable? How much will it cost? What are the benefits?”


Agriculture Training and Youth Motivation in NW Cambodia 2019-02-22

Guest Post by ECHOcommunity member: Muneezay Jaffery

This is part 1 of a series describing how one network organization is progressing with development of training facilities and curriculum.

The Green Shoots Foundation Agritech Centre is situated on a 0.5 Ha piece of land which was, until last year, an over-grown site of shrubs and trees. In July, 2017 the government provided the land on a concession based on 6 years of running horticulture projects focusing on natural farming techniques within educational schools.


EDN Issue 142 - Now Available 2019-01-30

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Understanding Agriculture-Nutrition Linkages

By: Cecilia Gonzalez


In recent years, much attention has been given to the connections between agriculture and nutrition in the development sector as a whole. These connections may seem obvious: we get nourishment from the food we eat, and we eat food produced by agriculture. However, the claim that agriculture interventions (e.g. home gardens) can improve nutrition has come under scrutiny, because of the lack of evidence to substantiate it (Masset et al. 2012; Girard et al. 2012). 

At the same time, recent efforts have helped us to better understand these linkages and to begin to close the evidence gaps. Agriculture plays an indispensable role in development, and though it doesn’t automatically improve nutrition, its potential to do so is undeniable. The recent efforts have provided important frameworks for program design and for implementing agriculture interventions that aim to improve the nutrition of vulnerable populations.  These frameworks for “nutrition-sensitive agriculture” interventions help us make sense of complex problems and identify pathways to solutions.

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