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Ways to Collaborate

ECHO seeks to collaborate with inividuals or organizations serving small-scale farmers, with first-hand knowledge of farmer needs and constraints. There are ways that educational institutions can also contribute to ECHO's body of knowledge. ECHO has limited capacity to conduct field work/trials, but can help distill and disseminate research findings to those well positioned to impact farmers. 

Literature Searches

There is an abundance of knowledge available that farmers or development workers don't have time to monitor and read. Much of it is written for acedemic settings and those with specialized training. There is a need for distilling this information to summarize practical key recommendations for smallholder application. This is a good way for education institutional to leverage their extensive libraries to benefit small-scale farmers. 

Sharing Farmer Knowledge

Farmers have knowledge and experience that can benefit others. Ideas that farmers are willing to share can be disseminated through ECHO's Newtork of pratitioners. Examples include simple innovations, techniques, lessons learned, or modifications to practices and technologies as well as novel approaches. 

Variety Trials

The aim of a variety trial is to determine top-performing varieties of a single crop for growing conditions within a local context. This has implications for adapting to changing climate and expanding nuritional or income-generating options. ECHO may be able to assist with variety seed packets and trial design.

Field Trials

Field trials can be done on a project site to minimze risks to farmers or can be considered for Farmer Field School applications. Field trials can consist of simple, side-by-side comparison of treatments. Trials can also be designed with replication for statistical analysis in mind. ECHO can advise with treatment selection and experimental design. ECHO can also work with authors to summarize previously published research results. 

Types of Deliverables


Research posters are effective visual tools that help present information in concise and interpretive ways. Posters can be integrated into ECHO conferences and events, but can also be stand-alone informational pieces. These could summarize research findings as well as lessons learned in development projects (what worked/what hasn't worked). If you are interested in submitting a poster, please see the poster guidelines. Posters may be submitted for review at any time and will be displayed on ECHOcommunity.org if approved.

EDN Atricles

ECHO Development Notes (EDN) is a quarterly publication in which ECHO shares ideas, techniques, case studies, and new plants with network members, to help them have a greater impact in their work with small-scale farmers.

  • Lead EDN articles are ~1000 to 2500 words long. They are topic-specific and based on extensive experience or knowledge on a subject.
  • “ECHOes from the network” articles are shorter. They share ideas, techniques, or experiences that are context-specific and likely in-process. They are flexible articles that can share experimental or observational content. They can also be written in response to information published in previous EDN issues.

Blog Posts

Research blog posts are an excellent way to share preliminary findings and ideas that could be expanded on. They are concise, informal summaries of one or two research results. ECHO often uses this platform for research updates. This could be a great way to share knowledge gleaned from farmers, particularly when supported with a little data (e.g. a table).

Research Notes

ECHO Research Notes (RNs) share results of first-hand trials and experiments, or of reviews of primary literature. The research centers around crops and agricultural practices that are relevant to those working in the tropics and subtropics. Research Notes must include an abstract (<250 words), introduction, materials and methods section, and results and discussion section.

Idea Submission Process

If you would like to collaborate with ECHO’s research, please read the “Aims and Scope” section of this document to confirm that your research and/or observations are relevant to ECHO’s network. Send requests to collaborate to publications@echonet.org, Attn: Research Department.

Cover letters are not necessary. In the body of the email, please summarize your research topic, ideas for collaboration with ECHO, and potential deliverables. A member of ECHO’s Agriculture Technical Department will get back to you within 10 business days (about two weeks).

Aims and Scope

In conducting research, ECHO's aim is to address questions or problems that are relevent to smallholder agriculture. ECHO research focuses on practices that have low risk to farmers and that can be implemented readily with local inputs and resources. ECHO encourages smallholder ownership and innovation of practices and technologies. ECHO is a platform for the knowledge transfer and adapation of practices to local contexts. 

Topics.  ECHO research does not address geopolitical problems (e.g. rampant corruption in the world) that are  indirectly related to agriculture and are beyond most people’s capacity to solve. Instead, ECHO focuses on specific topics that are relevant to smallholder farmers in the tropics and subtropics. For example, ECHO has researched the following topics:

  • seed storage and preservation,
  • post-harvest processing,
  • resilience to climate change, 
  • appropriate technologies, and
  • healthy soils and productive agroecosystems.

For more ideas, explore ECHOcommunity.org.

Scale. Experiements should be specific, pratical, and replicable. This insures that findings are meaningful to smallholder production/context. LImiting a research design to a few carefully selected treatments helps ensure meaningful findings for one or two specific questions. 

Smallholder relevance. The information ECHO researches must be relevant for smallholder farmers. Generally speaking, this means there will be very little cost or need for outside resources in order to implement a technique or try a new idea. There are exceptions; some initiatives are implemented at a community scale and will require greater inputs. ECHO’s priority is to reach and help smallholder farmers.