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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.  

98 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues - 43)


Critical to the success of a small-scale farm is its ability to turn on-farm waste into alternative value-added products. By integrating the Black Soldier Fly (HermetiaAN47 BSF Fig13 illucens) on the farm, small-scale enterprises can do just that. Taking common waste products such as food scraps and manure, the Black Soldier Fly can be used to efficiently convert raw waste materials into high-protein feed sources for livestock, while simultaneously producing a by-product suited for amending soils. 

Developing Community Seed Banking Practices through Low-Cost Appropriate Technology Use

This article by ECHO Asia Staff members Patrick Trail, Yuwadee Danmalidoi, and Boonsong Thansrithong, appeared in ARI's  'Eudoo' Journal of Rural Future Study (May, 2021)

A number of motivations exist for saving seed at the community level, including crop biodiversity preservation, food sovereignty of local seed, and the potential for improved crop production. Beyond traditional farmer seed saving practices, many opportunities exist for small to medium-sized seed bank entities operated at the community level. This article will summarize some of the work of ECHO and its experiences partnering with community seed banks throughout Southeast Asia.

To date, ECHO has engaged with a growing network of community seed banks (CSBs) throughout the region, serving at the community and/or local NGO level. Current partnerseed banks range in scale and scope but share in their implementation of low-cost appropriate technologies for the storage of their seeds.

A ‘Successful Failure’: Introducing SALT Technology in Northern Thailand

Dave had come to Thailand two years prior exactly for the opportunity that he was now presented with. Ethnic minority hillside farmers had been experiencing lower crop yields even with their efforts in using more chemical fertilizer. 

AN48 SALT fig1


Playing with Water Wheels: Exploring Low-Cost Methods for Pumping Irrigation Water

As we began looking into sustainable and alternative solutions for pumping water, our team began ‘playing around’ with the idea of water wheels for the supply of irrigation water to low elevation farmland. We initially began with research and testing of a pump called a Sling Pump, but gave up after testing several prototypes. Challenges included difficulty with DIY assembly, cost, specialized parts, and ultimately its efficiency.

AN48 Water wheel fig5

នវានុវត្តន៍មួយ “អនុវត្ត-ទាំងអស់” ក្នុងការរចនាឧបករណ៍ផលិតជីវធ្យូង

[កំណត់ត្រារបស់អ្នកនិពន្ធ៖មានការរចនាឧបករណ៍ផលិតជីវធ្យូងជាច្រើនដែលកំពុងមាននាពេលបច្ចុប្បន្ននេះ ដែលមានបំណងសម្រាប់កម្រិតផ្សេងៗ និងការប្រើប្រាស់ចុងក្រោយនៅក្នុងផ្នត់គំនិត។ ការរចនាពិសេសនេះ បានក្លាយជាចំណូលចិត្តរបស់បុគ្គលិកកសិដ្ឋានអេកូអាស៊ីសម្រាប់សមត្ថភាពរបស់វា ក្នុងការបំបែកសុះបានល្អតាមរយៈការដុតកំដៅនៅសីតុណ្ហភាពខ្ពស់ ក្នុងបរិមាណដ៏ច្រើន និងទឹកខ្មេះឈើក្នុងពេលតែមួយ។ ការ​រចនា​នេះ​ ត្រូវ​បាន​បញ្ចូលរបៀបថ្មីឡើង ​ដោយ​ដៃ​គូ​ថៃ​ក្នុង​ស្រុក ហើយ​ឥណទាន​គួរ​ត្រូវ​បាន​ផ្តល់​ឱ្យ​តាម​នោះ​ដែរ។ សូមអរគុណលោក Arun Waikham ដែលបានអនុញ្ញាតឱ្យពួកយើងចែករំលែកការរចនារបស់អ្នកជាមួយបណ្តាញអេកូ។]

វីរុសប ៉េសតជ្រូកអាហ្រ្វិកៈ ទិដ្ឋភាពទូបៅ និងការ ង្ការប ើកសិដ្ឋឋនខ្នាតតូច PDF

As global prosperity has risen, so too has demand for animal protein. Pork has become the most consumed meat of terrestrial animals at 37% of total global meat consumption (Beltrán-Alcrudo et al., 2017).  Pork production most drastically increased in Asia (Figure 1), accounting for as much as 55% of global pork production in 2018 (FAOSTAT, 2018). Global gross pork production value has hovered around 300 billion USD since 2011 (FAOSTAT, 2020). In 2018 this all changed with the onset of the African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) in Asia. This deadly virus has decimated pig populations and brought significant reductions in global pork production and pork protein consumption. It is estimated that upwards of 25% of the world’s pig population has succumbed to ASFV over the past two years (Niederwerder et al., 2020). 


[Editor’s Note: This is only one example of a biosecurity plan for small-scale pig operations in one region and may be used as a template. It is unlikely that all measures will be practical or appropriate for your context and should therefore be adapted according to the needs and priorities of your farm. It is recommended that that the adoption of any such farm plan be the result of farm-wide discussions  with your team for maximum buy-in, understanding, and practicality.]

The Martinez Airlift Pump: Lifting Water with Air

Water pumps have long been a key component of the small-scale farm and are valuable labor-saving devices that offer a variety of practical applications. Pumps of different types are regularly used for water storage & filtration, irrigation, aquaculture systems, and more. While convenient and useful, pumping water does come at a cost – from the necessary consumption of energy, to the regular maintenance of moving parts. However, new developments in appropriate pump technologies offer options that can save money, increase reliability, improve longevity of equipment, and offer certain other benefits that to be presented in this article. 

AN 44 Fig1


Mycorrhizal Fungi - Our Tiny Underground Allies

This article is from ECHO Asia Note # 43

Soil microbes influence almost every food production system on earth. Microbial life helps build and maintain human society because they are among our greatest agricultural allies. Ten years ago, I began studying an exceptional group of soil microbes called ‘mycorrhizal fungi’. These microscopic fungi are essential for productive soil ecosystems, because they support plants and other beneficial soil microbes. With proper management, they can help us improve food production, accelerate rural development, and promote community nutrition security.

There are many ways to discuss soil ecosystems, and numerous physical, chemical, and biological terms can become overwhelming. I favor an overall concept called ‘soil health’ because it reminds us soil is alive, and like all living systems, can range from vibrant to broken. The capacity of soil to sustain plant, animal and human life is fundamental to soil health. I focus on the abundance, diversity and functions of mycorrhizal fungi as key indicators, because we often observe thriving mycorrhizal fungi and other microbes building soil health and developing system stability, resilience and productivity over time.