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ECHO Tech Notes are subject-specific publications about topics important to those working in the tropics and subtropics. Our material is authored by ECHO staff and outside writers, all with experience and knowledge of their subject. These documents are free for your use and will hopefully serve a valuable role in your working library of resources in agricultural development!

99 Issues in this Publication (Showing issues 41 - 32) |

TN #41 Solar Dehydrator - 01 មករា 2001

Often the biggest challenge faced by a tropical farmer is not in the production of a crop but rather in the preservation of the crop. Farmers may want to preserve a crop for future consumption or for sale at a time when the market will offer a higher price.

Using a solar dehydrator is a simple, cost-effective way to preserve a variety of different crops. Dehydrating removes the moisture from food so that bacteria, yeast and mold cannot grow and spoil it. 

Cite this article as:

Dahlman, J. and C. Forst 2001. Solar Dehydrator. ECHO Technical Note no. 41.

TN #40 Sawdust Cookstove - 01 មករា 2001

There are many variations of sawdust cookstoves that have been used for many years both in North America and around the world. This sawdust cookstove model provides a low-cost, low-input method for producing a high intensity flame that will burn for up to five hours. The flame burns fairly clean with little smoke. This stove brings one gallon of water to a boil in approximately 12 to 15 minutes and maintains an intense temperature for two to five hours, depending on the fuel used and the compression of the fuel (fine, highly compressed sawdust burns longer than coarse or loose material). In addition to sawdust, fibrous plant waste such as rice hulls, chaff, coffee bean hulls and straw can be used as fuel. A mix of sawdust and coarser material works well.

Cite this article as:

Dahlman, J. and C. Forst 2001. Sawdust Cookstove. ECHO Technical Note no. 40.

TN #39 Introducing New Seeds Overseas - 21 មករា 2000

ECHO is frequently asked, by groups or individuals from North America, to suggest vegetable seeds to take with them on short trips overseas. Often the group is a “work team” that is being sent by a church. Someone with the group they are going to visit has asked them to bring vegetable seeds. Or perhaps the group has just decided that it would be a nice thing to do.

What's Inside:

  • Gardening Differs in the Tropics
  • Questions to Consider When Selecting Seeds
  • Recommendations for Selecting Seeds for Use Overseas
  • Pitfalls to Avoid and Some Positive Suggestions
  • Considerations Before Sending Free Seeds
  • Seed Sources

Cite this article as:

Price, M.L. 2000. Introducing New Seeds Overseas. ECHO Technical Note no. 39.

TN #38 Cashew - 01 មករា 1999

The cashew, Anacardium occidentale, is a resilient and fast-growing evergreen tree that can grow to a height of 20 m (60 ft). It belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, which also contains poison ivy and the mango. Native to arid northeastern Brazil, the cashew was taken around the world by the Portuguese and Spanish who planted the trees in their colonies. The English name "cashew" is derived from the Portuguese "cajú" which came from the Tupi Indian "acaju" (Rosengarten, 1984). In Spanish it is known as "marañón" or "anacardo."

Cashew is an important nut crop that provides food, employment and hard currency to many in developing nations. Of all nuts, cashew is second only to the almond in commercial importance (Rosengarten, 1984). India, Mozambique, and Tanzania are the three biggest exporters of cashew nuts today. Although there are large commercial plantings of cashew, wild trees or those owned by small farmers account for 97% of cashew production (Rosengarten, 1984).

The plant produces not only the well-known nut, but also a pseudofruit known as the cashew "apple" and cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) which is used for industrial and medicinal purposes.

The cashew tree has other uses as well. It is used for reforestation, in preventing desertification and as a roadside buffer tree. Cashew was planted in India in order to prevent erosion on the coast (Morton, 1960). The wood from the tree is used for carpentry, firewood, and charcoal. The tree exudes a gum called cashawa that can be used in varnishes or in place of gum arabic. Cashew bark is about 9% tannin, which is used in tanning leather.

Cite this article as:

Davis, K. 1999. Cashew. ECHO Technical Note no. 38.

TN #37 Egusi Recipes - 01 វិច្ឆិកា 1998

In West Africa, the name Egusi is applied to members of the gourd family having seeds of high oil content. Egusi Melon plants closely resemble watermelon plants; both have a non climbing creeping habit and deeply cut lobed leaves. The pulp of the watermelon fruit, however, is sweet and edible while the Egusi Melon has bitter and inedible fruit pulp. Egusi Melon seeds are larger than watermelon seeds, and they are light colored. Egusi Melon is cultivated in portions of West Africa, especially in Western Nigeria, for the food in the seed and as a crop interplanted with maize, cassava, or other crops.

Cite article as:

Welch, R. and K. Smith 1998. Egusi Recipes. ECHO Technical Note no. 37.

TN #36 Jicama - 01 តុលា 1998

Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) of the fabaceae or leguminosae family is a short-lived perennial, often grown as an annual leguminous climbing vine, which during short days will flower, produce long, inedible pods, and develop tuberous roots. These are few in number per plant, usually spherical, but often lobed, and weighing several kilos per plant. The flesh of the root is white and crisp, even after cooking, and is covered with a tan skin or cortex, which is easily removed by peeling.

Jicama, (pronounced, HEE-kah-mah) also known as yam bean, originates in Meso-America and is naturalized in agricultural areas throughout the tropics. It is excellent for commercialization where markets exist, a useful home-grown crop for varying the diet, and a novelty vegetable for special uses due to its taste and crisp texture.

Cite this article as:

Price, M.L. 1998. Jicama. ECHO Technical Note no. 36.

TN #35 Quail: An Egg & Meat Production System - 01 កញ្ញា 1998

Many families in the tropics must assume a major role in production of their own foodstuffs. Incomes are so low that purchase of food competes with purchase of necessary items that cannot be hand-made. Most governments in the tropics do not have the resources to guarantee even minimum food to all of their citizens. Families in rural and urban situations often live in a minimum of space without soil that can be cultivated, or even a backyard in which a few animal cages can be placed. Such persons sorely need small scale systems that are in harmony with resources available.

Unfortunately, not enough study has been given to small-scale production systems. The small animals typically encountered on almost every small farm, chickens, ducks, geese, and rabbits, are still too large for many households. A small animal for a minimum sized system should produce food in units that can be eaten at one meal so that refrigeration is not necessary. Furthermore, such systems should use resources available to most families, including feeds that can be grown or purchased, cages that are home made, and systems of sanitation that
protect the health of the animals and the residents of the household. The development of such systems has not attracted serious investigators.

The system described here, based on the Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica, is based on sound published information on this species and its requirements, and on three years of experimentation with quail at the household level. All apparatuses described were built and used, and actual costs and yields are reported.

Cite this article as:

Martin, F.W., A. Martin-Davis, and A. Maffioli 1998. Quail: An Egg & Meat Production System. ECHO Technical Note no. 35.

TN #34 Banana, Coconut & Breadfruit - 01 មិថុនា 1998

There are more than one hundred major species of fruits in the tropics, which make a very interesting contribution to the appetite as well as to good nutrition. These species vary in ecological requirements, in season of production, in yields, uses and, of course, in many other characteristics. The three fruits that are the subject here are outstanding fruits that are particularly important in feeding people. These fruits also produce a lot of food for a minimum of effort. In fact, they are practically staple fruits of the tropics. In contrast, mangoes are very important in the tropics, but are seldom a staple. Citrus fruits are varied, widely produced and enjoyed, but never a staple. These comments can be extended to many other fruits as well.

Probably the most important fruit in the tropics in terms of distribution, use and contribution as food is the banana (for purposes of this discussion, bananas and plantains will be considered together). The many ways these fruits can be eaten makes them a popular everyday food. Its primary nutritional contribution is calories (as starch and sugar).

The coconut is common and a daily food in some but not all parts of the tropics. It is well adapted and can be grown almost anywhere. The tree itself is versatile in its application and may be the most useful tree of the tropics. The fruit is used at all stages in unique ways, and is a significant source of protein and a major source of fat in the diet.

The breadfruit, aptly named, a staff of life in the Pacific. Its nature as a staple is the reason that it has been so widely introduced throughout the tropics. Normally seasoned, primitive and modern methods of processing have been developed, and native cooks find diverse uses for the fruit. Its contribution to the diet is principally starch, and ripe fruits are rich in sugar as well.

Cite this article as:

Martin, F.W. 1998. Banana, Coconut & Breadfruit. ECHO Technical Note no. 34.

TN #33 Winged Bean Recipes - 01 មេសា 1998

Traditionally the people of Sri Lanka consume vegetable cooked as curries with the dietary staple, rice. Legumes, in general, play a vital role in Sri Lankan diets and they are being consumed as green vegetables or pulses. Edible legumes are excellent sources of dietary protein and oil. Nutritionists expect them to play an important role in meeting food needs, particularly proteins, at this period of food shortages and widespread prevalence of malnutrition. Immature pods of winged bean and to a lesser extent tender leaves and flowers are consumed by Sri Lankans as a vegetable. The potentials of the mature seed as a cheap source of protein and oil has not been exploited fully as yet for which research efforts must be directed.

The ambient temperature, rainfall and humid conditions in Sri Lanka are favorable for the cultivation of winged bean. By virtue of the fact that immature pods, seeds, tuberous roots, leaves and flowers are all edible and rich in protein, it is desirable for every one to grow this wonder plant as a backyard crop until a form of winged bean plant is breed suitable for large scale cultivation.

Cite this article as:

ECHO Staff 1998. Winged Bean Recipes. ECHO Technical Note no. 33.

TN #32 Protection of Plant Genetic Resources - 01 មករា 1998

The first section of this note focuses in on a new technology, called the ‘technology protection system’ by its developers and ‘terminator technology’ by its opponents. This technology illustrates the potential for patents to impact society at the fundamental level of food production.
The implications to humankind, especially to those producing food in the developing countries of the world, are significant; it behooves missionaries and development workers to be aware of what is happening in the area of patents and the protection of plant genetic resources. The second section provides a broader base of information on related issues such as the rights of plant breeders, seed companies, and nations in regards to plant materials.

Cite this article as:

Cox, D. 1998. Protection of Plant Genetic Resources. ECHO Technical Note no. 32.