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ECHO Asia Notes is a quarterly technical e-bulletin containing articles of interest to agriculture and community development workers in Asia.

This list contains articles from ECHO Asia Notes, many of which have been translated into regional languages.  

77 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 37 - 32)

Preventing Insect Damage of Stored Seed Using Low-Cost Control Options - 15-02-2019

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 37.

Seed saving in sub-tropical and tropical climates is challenging. Without equipment designed to maintain dry and cool environments, the quality of seeds may quickly deteriorate. High temperature and humidity during storage increase seed metabolism and encourage the proliferation of seed-eating insects (Lale and Vidal, 2003; Upadhyay and Ahmad, 2011). Technologies such as refrigerators, dehumidifiers, and pesticides can help prevent these seed-damaging conditions, but may not be available to smallholder farmers in the tropics. Traditionally, many locally available treatments have been used to prevent insect pests. These treatments, typically added to seeds prior to storage, are meant to poison, damage, or discourage movement of insects around the seeds. Some treatments may effectively reduce insect growth, but they may also damage seed viability; it is important to identify which treatments are effective and appropriate for use by farmers. ECHO Asia research staff analyzed five low-cost treatments to determine their effectiveness in preventing the growth of a common seed storage pest called cowpea bruchids (Callosobruchus maculatus) in stored Lablab bean seeds (Lablab purpureus L.). In keeping with previous ECHO research by Croft et al. 2012, each treatment was also analyzed with and without vacuum sealing. 

Rice Hull Gold - 10 On-Farm Uses of Rice Hulls - 15-02-2019

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 37.

One of the great challenges of sustainable agriculture is the sourcing of adequate and affordable organic (carbon based) resources that can be used on-farm for the production of food and feed. Utilizing composts, manures, mulches, and other organic inputs from the farm is a challenge on its own, and the production of each often requires its own input of materials. These are materials that are often in direct competition of each other on the farm and a challenge to supply completely with smaller land holdings or available labor. A mulch for example, may be in direct competition with livestock fodder, thus making it a challenge to feed it out while still producing enough mulch. Using some of that same material to produce a compost or a fuel becomes even more challenging still.

Gracious Greetings from the New Regional Director of ECHO Asia - 15-02-2019

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 37.

With deep gratitude, I wish to thank you all ECHO network members for continuous support of and participation in this ECHO Asia Notes published quarterly. Without your valuable participation, this newsletter would not sustain its wide readership and distribution, as well as its value addition to the different endeavors that we do as farmers, community development workers, teachers, managers, researchers, educators, social entrepreneurs, missionaries, trainers, leaders and others. To a significant degree, our inspiration and motives behind this quarterly publication hinge on our collective interests for information sharing, resourcing, networking and learning with and from each other. This is a public good that we, together, contribute to the greater society.

Soil Amendments for Healthier Soils - 31-10-2018

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 36.

Soil chemical, physical, and biological properties range from those highly favorable to plant growth to those highly unfavorable to plant growth. It is rare—especially in the tropics—to find a soil in its natural state in which all properties are highly favorable to plant growth. Nevertheless, as long as there is sufficient soil depth to provide an adequately deep and well-drained root zone, proper amendment and management of soil properties can result in almost any soil becoming suitable for plant growth. Even naturally infertile soils and soils with very low water-holding capacity can produce extraordinarily high crop yields with proper management and inputs.

Putting Biochar to Use at the Edge: Quality, Soils and Measurement - 30-05-2018

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 35.

Dr. Michael Shafer is a retired Professor of Political Science from Rutgers University in the USA who founded the Warm Heart Foundation in 2008. After first learning about biochar at an ECHO conference in 2013, Warm Heart began to design and test improved low-cost, low-tech biochar-making equipment for smallholder farmers. In 2017, the Warm Heart Biochar Team won the World Energy Globe Award (Thailand) for the development of a model, village-scale biochar social enterprise. The Team has just launched a social enter-prise to sell farmers’ biochar products under the brand name “Rak Din.”

In this article, Dr. Shafer shares his experience with the actual use of biochar in the devel-oping world. He aims to refocus the study of biochar, moving it from academic laboratories to the messy context of farms in the developing world. He hopes to reassure “boots-in the-mud” development practitioners that they can make, use and even test biochar in the field.

Livestock Integration on the Tropical Smallholder Farm - 30-05-2018

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 35.

One of the best things that you can do to complete your sustainable farm or garden is to balance it with a small livestock unit. Livestock integration is fundamental #10 in my book Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics.  If you read ECHO Asia Notes, chances are good that you are involved in some way in farming or gardening. Livestock will produce low cost, high quality fertilizer, while also yielding food to eat or clothing material to wear. Although scientists have attempted to replicate the benefits of traditional integrated livestock systems, the quantified results are not always easy to show in field trials.

Op-Ed: Forage Plants for Improved Human Development

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 33.

I read David Price’s concerns about promoting invasive forage plants in Asia Note #25 [Eds’ Note: AN #25 was written in response to AN #23] and would like to respond based on my own experience and observations.  

My reply will be based on the following principles:

  1. It is moral to help poor farmers as much as practicable.
  2. The primary aim of human activity is the betterment of the human condition.  Thus, preservation of the natural environment is NOT necessarily the primary aim of development activities. 

I have been promoting the use and expansion of all of the species listed by David to smallholder farmers for, in some cases, the last 45 years. I wish to address the concerns David has for each of the species listed in Asia Note #25. I live in northern Thailand now, so I will use local examples, but the comments should apply equally as well to most of the humid and sub-humid tropics.

An Innovative, Inexpensive, Environmentally Friendly Method to Pasteurize Mushroom Media in the Tropics Using a Styrofoam Box

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 33.

Summary

Mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are usually grown in plastic bags filled with organic material that may include organic farm wastes. That material must be sterilized (heated to temperatures above 100°C) or pasteurized (heated to a lower temperature, 60°C or higher) to prevent contamination by germs, viruses and fungal spores. However, sterilization and pasteurization are challenging for small-scale farmers because of the energy requirements. Normally, small-scale farmers use a drum sterilization method, during which water is heated until it boils. Farmers must buy or collect the firewood to heat water (an expensive and/or labor-intensive task). Charcoal is even more costly to buy or to make. Also, results of drum sterilization can be inconsistent, depending on the device used and quality of the fire wood. 

The new, easy-to-build piece of pasteurization equipment introduced in this article is inexpensive, long-lasting, easy to prepare, and does not need fossil fuel energy. The pasteurization process does not need monitoring, so it requires less labor. 

The aim of this article is to encourage other development workers and local farmers to continue these early experimentations to improve the device or other similar ones so that they become useable in their own different environments, with an aim of helping small-scale farmers save energy and money when growing mushrooms.

Comparing Locally Available Waste By-Products as Feedstocks for Gasifier Cook-Stoves - 15-08-2017

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 32.

In many developing world households, meeting the daily energy needs required for cooking is burdensome and costly. Fortunately, low-cost cooking methods that require less fuel while burning more cleanly and efficiently are becoming available at the household level. One such method is the household gasifier cook-stove, designed to convert small amounts of carbon-based solid biomass (usually from waste or low-cost material) into combustible gases used for cooking (see Dr. Dussadee’s work for information on how gasifier stoves work (2013)).

Inexpensive Mass Propagation Techniques for Introducing Improved Potato Varieties in the Tropics - 15-08-2017

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 32.

Dr. Tapani Haapala

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) contain high-quality food properties and are very good protein and energy sources on a daily per hectare basis of production (Frusciante et al. 2000). Potatoes are grown mostly in cool climate areas. In the tropics, they easily suffer from several different kinds of stress related to hot climate, which sometimes ends up causing problems such as attacks of fungal diseases. New potato varieties that are better adapted to hot climates could enable development of potato production in the tropics and could potentially provide livelihood opportunities for small-scale farmers. However, providing enough stock material to meet the potential need could be challenging.


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