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close this bookSPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 24 (CTA Spore, 1989, 16 p.)
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Artificial reefs double income

Artisanal fishermen in Kerala, India, have built artificial reefs to attract fish back into their fishing grounds. As a result incomes have doubled.

The fishing grounds off the coast of Kerala had been exhausted by commercial trawling, and the trawls had damaged the natural reefs. Consequently catches suffered so much that most fishermen gave up fishing. At this stage groups of fishermen got together and worked out strategies to recreate productive fishing grounds by building artificial reefs with concrete well- rings, stones coconut fronds and other locally available material.

Costs of a typical artificial reef have been about 6000 rupees, but in the first year of operation 100 fishermen caught 10,000 rupees worth of fish. That reef now supports 300 fishermen.

Commercial trawling had also exhausted the bait, such as prawns and cuttlefish, which the hook and line fishermen used. Now they have found that any shiny material attracts fish. In fact, the brighter the material the higher the hooking rate, so they are using locally available fibres as lures.

Programme for Community Organization - PCO Centre - Spencer Junction Trivandrum - Kerala


Natural control for bee pest

Natural chemicals that draw the parasitic mite, Varroa, away from worker bees have been identified, and French scientists have isolated these chemicals from substances taken from bee larvae.

Varroa jacobsoni has been spreading throughout the world since 1968 and has destroyed hundreds of thousands of honey bee colonies.

The parasitic mites cling to the bees and suck out body fluids. This weakens the bees and shortens their lives. At the moment acaricides keep Varroa partially under control, but there are harmful side affects. Control is made more difficult because female mites spend some time in sealed bee larvae cells where they proliferate.

The researchers found that the female mites are drawn to the bee larvae by a chemical attractant, and it is this chemical that has been isolated. In preliminary trials compounds containing the chemical attractants made the mites leave their hosts when they fell to the hive floor where they were easily caught and destroyed.

There are good prospects that the chemical could be used by beekeepers to control the pest with a product harmless to bees.

Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Cornpardes Invertebres - INRA-CNRS - 91440 Bures sur


African livestock research

African Livestock Research'' is an internationally reviewed journal for agricultural research systems in Africa, and will be launched in 1990 by ILCA (International Livestock Centre for Africa) with the primary aim of encouraging scientists working in livestock research and related fields to share their work with colleagues in a quick and efficient way.

Guided by an advisory board of international experts in the various subject areas relevant to livestock research, "African Livestock Research'' aims to disseminate the results of national and international research on livestock and mixed crop-livestock production systems in

Africa, and to improve communication among scientists and between national and international livestock research centres.

It will report on and review basic, applied and strategic research on livestock and rebated fields in Africa, technology transfer and innovation in the African livestock subsector, and policy formulation and analysis in the same.

Subscriptions - Information Centre - ILCA PO Box 5689 - Addis Ababa - ETHIOPIA

Train the (women) trainers beekeeping

A Midweek course designed for women who are trainee of extension workers and farmers, and who have some experience in bee-handling, is on offer from the Agricultural Education and Training Unit of Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the UK.

The course, from April to August 1990, combines technical updating with the development of effective training skills in bee management, and although based at Wolverhampton it offers attachments to institutions specialising in different aspects of beekeeping. During the course participants will produce a manual for training extension workers on their return home. The emphasis is on the acquisition of practical skills in both beekeeping and training methods.

Participants should be actively involved in training extension workers and/or farmers, have practical experience of beekeeping, have recognised qualifications for extension and training work, and be competent in both written and spoken English.

The Agricultural and Education Training Unit
Wolverhampton Polytechnic- Castle View
Dudley DY1 SHR - WestMidlands- UK

A mulch in time ...

ILCA (International Livestock Centre for Africa) has conducted trials in the Ethiopian high lands on the tree legume Sestania sesban which shows much promise in being able to sustain or increase the organic matter content and fertility of the soil by mulching' and to provide feed for livestock as well.

The trial involved an examination of the effect on sorghum yields of the timing of mulching with sesbania prunings. Dry prunings (five tonnes per hectare) were applied on each treatment plot on one of five occasions: one, two, or three weeks before planting, at the time of planting, and four weeks after planting Control plots received no prunings.

The pre-planting mulches significantly increased sorghum dry matter yield relative to the unmulched control. Application at or after planting did not because this may have immobilized soil nitrogen, making it unavailable to the sorghum during establishment.

ILCA PO, box 5689
Addis Ababa

Improved kiln saves trees

A new kiln which produces lime more efficiently and to a standard required by Malawi's sugar industry - and reduces the amount of timber needed - is being used in the Chenkumbi Hills near Balaka, Malawi.

The Zimbabwe office of the UK based ITDG Intermediate Technology Development Group) was asked by Malawi's Ministry of Forests and Natural Resources to design the new kiln since the traditional methods of firing limestone to produce lime require a large number of trees and are inefficient.

The new kiln with its vertical shaft has a fuel efficiency of 36% (against about 11% for the old system), and leads to a saving of 55-60% in fuelwood.

ITDG official John Spiropolous says that the vertical shaft kiln does not require indigenous timbers, but can use the plantation wood of the area, thus easing pressure on the local forest.

Up to 9000 hardwood trees a year can be saved. Costing around UKL2500, and designed to be built entirely of local materials, the kiln operates continously and produces 2.8 tonnes of lime a day. The unit cost of lime production is Malawi Kwacha 2.03 compared to MK 2.65 for the traditional operation.


15Ba Samora Machel Avenue -


Serious fish disease spreads across South East Asia

A virus causing a new but serious disease of fish is spreading quickly across South East

Asia. When the disease was first noticed in 1980 it was feared that the cause might be chemicals polluting the water. Now researchers from the Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling University, have identified a rod-shaped virus, previously unknown to science, as the organism causing epizootic ulcerated disease.

The virus itself is not lethal but the ulcers it causes allow other organisms into the body and these prove fatal. As a result, millions of wild and farmed fish are dying on fish farms from

Malaysia to Sri Lanka. Fish develop ulcers on the head and body and as the fish look so horrible, people have been reluctant to eat other fish from the pond or even use the water.

However, researchers have established there is no danger to human beings or to other mammals.

Recent research in Bangladesh has shown that the disease can be controlled to a certain extent by good management and clean water. Extension services are being effective in spreading this message. A disease research centre is being set up in Bangkok with help from

Britain's ODA and Stirling University.
Institute of Aquaculture - University of Stirling -
Stirling FK9 ALA - UK

Experiments on groundnut seed storage

In Senegal and the Gambia high post-harvest losses are incurred because of the groundnut seed beetle Caryedron serratus which infects groundnuts while they are drying off in the field.

The OnFarm Seed Project (OFSP) and the Peace Corps AFSI Project in these two countries are currently conducting experiments to combat this pest.

Different methods to be tried include: drying off the around and away from the field, storage in sand to reduce space and oxygen for the insects; storage in ash, which damages the exoskeleton of the insects; treatment with storage insecticides; storage in neem leaves which have insecticidal properties; and storage in sealed mud brick boxes.

Results will be judged primarily on germination rate next season and also on comparative costs, labour, and availability of materials. They will be published in "Seed Sowers", the newsletter of the OFSP.

Valerie Lamont - On-Farm Seed Project - Winrock International
1611 North Kent Street - Arlington VA 22209 - USA

"Tinker, Tiller, Technical Change"

In June 1989 Intermediate Technology brought together specialists from 14 countries in the developing world in London to promote people's technologies". Their case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America show that farmers, artisans, small businessmen, and entrepreneurs are at the forefront of technical innovation in the process of rural development.

These case studies will form a major new book in 1990 from IT Publications, called "Tinker Tiller, Technical Change". The conclusion to be drawn from the studies is that technical change does not come only from universities and research institutes, but rather from the producers themselves, who are often at the forefront of innovative processes, developing the tools and techniques that they themselves require.