After 27 years of publishing ECHO Development Notes (EDN), we have reached a milestone with this 100th issue. For this issue, we looked back over the previous 99 issues and selected some of the plants, techniques and perspectives that we believe have special potential to help you in your efforts to improve the lives of the poor.
Our goal from the start has been to enable members of our network to not only read about promising plants that have not been grown in the countries where they work, but to also get free trial packets of seed so they can evaluate the plants’ potentials themselves. If farmers are interested, they can save their own seed. The plants below are some of the ones we consider “underutilized.
This method is designed to allow crops to be grown even on steep hillsides with minimal erosion while at the same timeincreasing soil fertility and providing fodder for livestock. Rather than controlling erosion with rock terraces or ditches, SALT relies on rows of vegetation.
Topics briefy addressed:
Seed inoculants to maximize the ability of leguminous plants to fix nitrogen.
Bean weevils controlled by tumbling the beans.
Controlling seed storage conditions.
Saving your own vegetable seeds.
Neem leaf tea or neem seed oil to discourage insect feeding.
Tephrosia (Tephrosia vogelii), a valuable green manure with insecticidal properties.
“Short day” onions to produce bulbs in the tropics.
Using owls to control rats
ECHO interviewed Glen Munro, a man with considerable experience sawing tropical wood in various warm climate countries. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) can potentially have an enormous impact on the environment and the welfare of whole countries.
ECHO encourages our network members to be experimenters. In fact, many of the things mentioned in EDN are things that have worked in one location and might work for the farmers where you live.
These are common problems for gardeners from the tropics. If you have a tomato plant that is healthy and flowering but not setting fruit, the reason is likely related to temperature.
Bone meal has another use. You can overcome mineral deficiencies in cattle by making your own cattle lick or mineral block, using bonemeal as the source of phosphorous.
Farmers in Niger used bottle caps to distribute tiny amounts of fertilizer in each planting hole. Coca cola bottle caps hold 6 grams (0.2 oz) of fertilizer, and one capful was used for two to three plants.
This agroforestry technique has been widely promoted in agriculture development programs throughout the tropics. Alley cropping (AC) is the practice of growing food crops in alleys between hedgerows of trees or shrubs, which are regularly coppiced (severely pruned). Prunings are placed on the soil as mulch around the food crops, or they are used to feed livestock and to provide firewood.
Descriptions of several crops that are adapted to difficult situations.
Keep the soil covered. At ECHO, the soil around nearly all our plantings—vegetables, fruits, grains, root and tuber crops, even forestry plots—is covered with organic matter.
CHO farm manager Danny Blank says that the principles in EDN 96 “revolutionized the way I look at the land and understand the impact agriculture practices have on the overall health of soils.”
Briefly addressed are the following:
Artemisia for malaria treatment.
Leaf Protein Concentrate (LPC) for treatment of severe malnutrition.
Moringa high density planting for leaf powder.
Indoor air pollution.
For 25 years, ECHO has promoted several methods for growing vegetables above ground, particularly methods well suited to urban settings on rooftops, concrete slabs, or in areas where gardens may benefit from being out of the ground
Brief descriptions of annual underutilized crops for which ECHO provides seeds.