Cover Image
close this bookSPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 40 (CTA Spore, 1992, 16 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentConquering Europe's fruit and vegetable markets
View the documentAzolla - a nitrogen source for rice farmers
View the documentCORAF - Africanizing African research
Open this folder and view contentsSpeaker’s corner
Open this folder and view contentsCTA activities
View the documentNewslines
View the documentBookshelf
Open this folder and view contentsInformation sources

(introduction...)

Bi-monthly bulletin of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

Acknowledgments

SPORE, bi-monthly bulletin of scientific and technical information concerning rural and agricultural development, is published in English and French for nationals of ACP countries.

Publisher:
Technical Centre for Agricultural and
Rural Cooperation (CTA)
ACP-EEC Lome Convention
CTA
Postbus 380
6700 AJ Wageningen, The Netherlands
Tel: (31) 8380-60400
Telex: (044) 30169 - fax (31) 8380-31052

Editors:

· CTA (Technical Division) address as above
· Media Projects Fressingfield, Eye, Suffolk IP21 5SA UK - fax 44 (37986) 755
· Agence Periscoop Multimedia 34 bis rue de Dunkerque 75010 Pans - France - fax 40.23.02.20

Layout: Agence Periscoop Multimedia
Printer: Les Impressions JC - Paris
ISSN 1011-0054

Conquering Europe's fruit and vegetable markets

African and Caribbean countries pioneered the export of fresh tropical fruits and out-of-season vegetables to Europe 30 years' ego but they have since lost a substantial share of the market to new exporters from Latin America and Asia. Many ACP countries have the climate, soils, water resources and the skills to produce quality products: a determined effort is needed to win back a larger share of what is now an expanding market.

Fruit and vegetable production has a multiple role in ACP countries: as a source of food for local markets and for export; as a provider of employment and as a source of foreign exchange. A majority of countries would benefit from increasing their production of horticultural crops. This would raise national nutritional levels and provide a larger production base from which the best quality produce could be selected for export.

Several African and Caribbean countries are already engaged in exporting what at first appear to be large quantities of fruit and vegetables: Cote d'Ivoire produces 20,000 tonnes of mangoes, 200,000 tonnes of pineapples and 1.5 million tonnes of bananas each year, mostly for export; the Caribbean is also a major exporter of bananas, Kenya has developed exports of pineapples and French beans, Zambia exports mangetout peas, Burkina Faso exports mangoes and Madagascar exports litchis. However, in world trade terms ACP exports to the EC are both relatively small and heavily reliant on fruit, particularly bananas.

Of the nine million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables imported into the EC in 1990, 96% was fruit and only 10% (920,000 tonnes) was from ACP States. Of this, 46% came from the Caribbean, 39% from West and Central Africa and 15% from East Africa and the Indian Ocean and Pacific States. If bananas, on which the Caribbean countries are highly dependent, are excluded, the total tonnage exported by ACP States was 300,000 tonnes (3.3% of total EC imports), of which only 40,000 tonnes (0.45%) were vegetables.

How competitors succeed

ACP countries obviously face keen competition, in particular from Central, South American and Asian countries but also from the Mediterranean region. Under the Lome Convention ACP agricultural and horticultural exports have enjoyed an advantage, entering the EC without the tariffs levied on many products from non-ACP producers. But with the eventual prospect of a single market within the EC and the removal of tariffs, ACP exporters must be prepared to produce fruit and vegetables of the highest quality at a competitive price and to supply a consistent volume.

Mediterranean and Near-East countries have lower transport costs, being closer to Europe, but Asian and Latin American exporters are more distant than those in Africa. The success of Asian and Latin American exporters has been based on thorough market research to identify consumer preferences, funding of research to develop new, high yielding, flavoursome and visually attractive varieties, and disciplined production and investment in cold storage, transport and marketing promotion.

The mango is a fruit which has enormous potential in the European market yet the ACP share of EC imports has dropped from 40% in 1981 to 18% in 1990. Meanwhile Central and South American countries, notably Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela have increased their market share in the same period from 36% to 61%. These countries are able to supply the European market for six months of the year, long enough to build up a good business relationship with European importers, whereas the ACP season is much shorter. Major exporters are also constantly monitoring the market and are prepared to abandon varieties or product lines if they recognise that consumer demand is changing or if a competitor develops an unassailable advantage. They are also flexible enough to develop new products rapidly.

Meeting the challenge

At present 70% of ACP fruit supply to the EC consists of bananas: pineapple, citrus and coconut make up a further 27%. All other fruit, i.e. 25,000 tonnes, comprises only 3% of the total. Research into the opportunities for extending this "basket of fruit" needs to be undertaken. COLEACP, the marketing organization responsibile for trade links between ACP countries and the EC is able to assist with advice and market information. The Deputy Director, Mme C. Guichard, believes that challenges can be met and cites several successful examples, particularly the export of avocado and kiwifruit.

Several African and Caribbean countries have risen to the challenges posed by aggressive competitors. Kenya has developed horticultural exports, including French beans, strawberries, avocado, pineapple and carnations, which are now worth US$16 million/year. With the decline in coffee prices these products have become an increasingly important source of foreign exchange. Zimbabwe has developed profitable export of mangoes, strawberries, bananas, grapes, citrus and kiwifruit. Cote d'Ivoire has long been a major exporter of pineapples and Ghana is trying now to emulate its neighbour. Burkina Faso exports French beans and mango. Madagascar exports 4200 tonnes of litchis per year 1000 tonnes by air and 3200 tonnes by sea; with an annual production of 35-40,000 tonnes, there is ample scope for increasing the proportion exported.

The Agricultural Diversification Coordinating Unit of the Eastern Caribbean States, based in Dominica, is actively pursuing a diversification programme to reduce dependence on bananas, coconut and limes and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) is undertaking research to broaden the base of varieties of passion fruit and citrus grown in member countries, and to develop pro auction of new product lines including carambola, soursop and sapodilla.

Unfortunately fruit and vegetable research has not been given a high priority in ACP countries over the last 30 years and also there has been a lack of training in horticulture. Dr Linda Wickham, Assistant Dean of Research at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad, believes that research, particularly in the field of post-harvest technology, is essential. She also recognizes the need to educate producers in the Caribbean to recognize that their own criteria for selection of produce - knowledge of keeping and cooking quality and taste rather than appearance - are not those of consumers in Europe, whose priorities are attractive visual appearance, consistent size and absence of blemishes.

However, researching new varieties is only a beginning. The European consumer not only has considerable buying power but is also becoming increasingly selective. It is therefore essential that any country wishing to enter that market must ensure that there is a regular supply of consistently high quality produce in pre-determined quantities and at an agreed price.

Planning for expansion

While there is an urgent need to find new varieties, and even new crops, it is essential that due care is taken not to introduce diseases or pests during transfer of seed or vegetative planting materials. Quarantine regulations must be applied and both exporting and importing countries, as well as farmers, must take responsibility for ensuring exchange of clean planting materials. Pineapple nematodes were accidentally introduced into Ghana when growers embarked on an accelerated programme of planting improved varieties developed elsewhere in the region. Tissue culture, or aerial root propagating material, would have avoided this problem but there are no facilities for tissue culture in Ghana as yet.

Sites for new plantations must be chosen with care. Mango plantations, for example, should not be established in humid zones where disease will always remain a problem. And for export crops, the distance between farm and port of exit should not be more than 100km in order to avoid long haulage and the inevitable bruising that results.

Increasingly, crops will have to be grown with very strict control over pesticide usage, especially just before or after harvest. With consumer pressure to reduce pesticide residues in food commodities and the tightening of EC laws concerning residues, alternatives to existing spraying regimes and post-harvest treatments must be developed: for example integrated pest management systems incorporating cultural and biological control measures.

In the whole chain of production from grower to consumer one of the most critical links to protect quality is post-harvest storage. For tropical and sub-tropical produce the use of chilling facilities to remove field-heat and to maintain low temperatures during storage and transport is essential. However, the temperatures involved are critical and without reliable equipment and power supplies and well trained staff, all the investment in production may be lost between field or orchard and the supermarket shelf. Nearly every exporter in Zimbabwe has on-farm coldstore facilities to remove field-heat by pre-cooling and storing at the optimum temperature to prevent physiological deterioration. And there has been heavy investment in insulated trucks and cold stores at the airport for holding produce in transit.

Multiple retailers (supermarkets) are expanding their share of the retail market throughout the EC and in the UK they now represent 50% of retail distribution. The demands set by the multiples on their suppliers are high, not only in terms of quality of the product, but also on reliability of supply, volume and delivery schedule. They also expect standards of hygiene adopted by food processing industries and, where fruit or vegetables are being pre-packed, it is essential that the packhouse environment, workers' clothing and hands and any water used for washing all meet the highest standards of public health.

Wherever air cargo capacity is available and prices are competitive, airfreight will be preferred for exporting perishable produce. However exporters should target only those countries served by direct flights; when consignments are trans-shipped onto a second flight they are inevitably subjected to a 3-5 hour period on the tarmac awaiting loading. In addition, the 'last-on' port of any cargo is vulnerable to last-minute offloads and trans-shipped consignments are the least likely to be put into coldstore facilities at an intermediate airport.

Seafreight is a lower cost alternative for less perishable products but again temperature, and even the gases in the atmosphere, have to be controlled. Packaging must also be stronger in order to survive longer journey times, dockside trans-shipments and road or rail distribution on arrival in Europe.

Finally, exporters should be aware of changes in packaging regulations in EC member countries. For instance, suppliers to Germany must use only standard pallets and these must be recyclable wherever possible. Where non-returnable pallets are used, they may be made only of untreated wood. Packaging must not include a mix of paper and plastic nor should toxic inks be used. Similar regulations are likely to be implemented throughout the EC.

Worth the trouble?

Competition is fierce and the standards demanded are high. It will not be easy for ACP countries to maintain, let alone increase, their share of fruit and vegetable exports to Europe. It may also appear easier for large-scale producers to manage production, storage, transport and marketing rather than farmers on smaller acreages. However, the rewards for successful exporters will be a share of a still-expanding market and foreign exchange to make up for reduced income from more traditional exported commodities, many of which are now in over-supply. Countries such as Kenya, Mauritius (see box) and Zimbabwe have also proved that a wide range of horticultural products can be grown to a high standard by small-scale growers: over 80% of Kenyan producers are small-scale farmers who, with effective technical services provided by government and the private sector, are prepared to accept the challenge of producing for export.

Government intervention and investment does not have to be on a large scale but it must be targeted to critical areas. It can be most effective where it plays a regulatory role and facilitates growth through horticultural research, infrastructural development, incentives and support services. In addition, the EC Commission encourages joint research projects and fosters links between ACP States and between ACP States and other countries.

In the past new export crops such as fruit and vegetables have often been considered by policy makers to be less important than food crops and traditional export commodities. Now it seems that the rewards for successful trading in fresh produce may be more attractive. But exporting is a team effort and government policy-makers, research scientists, commercial exporters and farmers must be prepared to work together. If serious attention can be given to market research, varietal development, coldstorage facilities, transport, flexibility and marketing promotion, ACP countries have much to gain.

Mauritius: cool marketing from a tropical island

AS the visitor to Maurtius drives from the international airport on the south-eastern tip of the island towards the capital Port Louis on the west coast, or past the smart luxury hotels scattered discreetly around the shores, he quickly realizes that the country has quite a challenge in catering for both its permanent and temporary populations. But the former, traditionally plantation workers on the large sugar cane estates, have responded with entrepreneurial spirit which has transformed the fresh fruit and vegetable production sector of the economy. Since 1984 exports of fruit alone have increased livefold, from 92 tonnes to over 500 tonnes and now passion fruit, avocado, melons, strawberries, litchlis and carambolas are grown as well as citrus and pineapples. Spices, such as ginger, turmeric, all spice and vanilla, all retain their traditional importance.

The incentives for Mauritius to produce its own fresh fruit and vegetables are great. Producing fruit of export quality means that high quality fruit and vegetables are available to satisfy the appetite of the tourists who come to the island. This appetite would otherwise have to be satisfied with costly imports. And top quality for tourists also means better quality and choice for the local population. These were the main reasons behind government policy to encourage exports as well, of course, as the need to earn foreign exchange. However, incentive alone is not quite enough. The government quickly recognized that thousands of growers cultivating small scattered parcels of land too steep or too poor for sugar could not, by themselves, establish the organization and infrastructure necessary to achieve consistent, high quality produce.

Individual growers, even those producing fruit and vegetables for sale from their own backyards, have organized themselves into produce groups. Megh Pillay, General Manager of the country's Agricultural Marketing Board, explains that by working with these groups the island's production can be carefully planned. Together they decide who will plant what, in what quantities and when. The Board organizes distribution of seed and offers a guaranteed market at a floor price, and this despite the fact that production is seasonal whereas demand remains steady throughout the year. It has been able to do this by building up cold storage facilities so that excess production during the season can be skimmed off, put in coldstores and then put back on the market when that market can no longer be supplied directly by the grower. Produce destined for export rather than the local market is moved from exporters" own coldstore facilities at the packing houses, along good roads in temperature controlled trucks to the air terminal. in order to complete the cold chain and avoid the problems arising from delayed or canceled flights, cold storage facilities have been built at the airport. The store has a capacity of 1680m3, which is far greater than that required for exports at the present time. Imports and goods in transit can therefore be serviced as well, and the earnings set against the cost of exports servicing.

This successful, well integrated system has supported many small producers, but has been painful for others. There is no place for those whose produce fails to reach the premium price. And growers have to abide by the rules. On one occasion the export of litchis was banned completely for two weeks, affecting everybody, because of an unfavourable report from a European importer. One grower had tried to catch the market by sending litchis extremely early in me season before they had reached the proper stage of maturity. The situation was only restored to normal after appropriate inspection and control procedures were put in place by the Ministry, of Agriculture. For, as Megh Pillay says, "the good image of Mauritius as an exporter of high value crops has to be preserved by all means".

Azolla - a nitrogen source for rice farmers

Azolla, a small free-floating fern associated with the nitrogen-fixing alga Anabaena azollae, is used by rice farmers in Asia as a natural, low-cost source of fertilizer nitrogen. However, farmers elsewhere in the tropics have not been so ready to incorporate Azolla culture into their cultivation practices. The benefits of Azolla, and the limitations in its use, should be assessed carefully by farmers in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

Inorganic nitrogen fertiliz ers are expensive, and supplies remain inadequate and uncertain for the majority of farmers in the tropics. Nitrogen-fixing crops and trees, composted crop wastes and livestock manures are least-cost alternative sources of nitrogen which have been adopted by farmers in a wide range of situations. Another option, specifically for those growing rice on flooded or irrigated land, is the use of Azolla.

Azolla plants form dense mats on water surfaces in ponds, ditches and rice fields throughout the warm, temperate and tropical regions of the world. Each leaf lobe has a cavity containing the blue-green nitrogen-fixing alga Anabaena azollae.

The two plants have a symbiotic relationship; Anabaena providing nitrogen compounds in exchange for carbon compounds from photosynthesis.

Azolla has long been used as both a green manure for rice and as a fodder for poultry and livestock in China and Vietnam. Azolla can grow exponentially, doubling its biomass in 5-10 days. Yields of over 30t/ha of fresh weight are possible, containing over 2.5t/ha dry matter. Protein content of 13-23% of dry matter makes the product a useful feedstuff, although fibre and mineral contents are also high.

Production potential

As a source of fertilizer nitrogen, the Azolla Anabaena symbiosis can fix 100-170kg N/hectare/year. Under field conditions selected species can fix about 1.2kg N/day and in excess of 40kg N in 35 days. Azolla is very responsive to phosphorus and requires a continuous supply for rapid growth. Trials have shown that each kilogramme of phosphorus resulted in more than 5kg of additional nitrogen in the Azolla biomass after 35 days' growth.

Most research on Azolla in the tropics has been carried out in Asia, but trials were conducted simultaneously by the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) at the Richard Toll Forage Station (Senegal) under semi-arid conditions and at Rokupr (Sierra Leone), which has a wet humid climate. These have indicated its potential but also its limitations in the semi-arid Sahelian zone and in the humid tropic zone of Africa.

In northern Senegal, where farmers apply nitrogen at high rates (120kg N/ha) it was demonstrated that up to 50% of the mineral N can be supplied by Azolla. In the mangrove swamps of Sierra Leone Azolla nitrogen can completely replace mineral N at the recommended rate of 40kg N/ha. Azolla can also control weeds in irrigated rice.

Constraints

Azolla growth depends on a constant and sufficient depth of water in rice fields. In Asia, where rice is transplanted into flooded paddies, inoculation with Azolla is followed by a very rapid proliferation, a suppression of weeds and a generous production of nitrogen. In sub-Saharan Africa there are few places where water is available in sufficient quantity to maintain constant flooding. As a result, farmers have to balance the cost of pumping water to maintain sufficient depth for Azolla growth against the cost of purchased mineral nitrogen. In many instances the cost of pumping plus the additional labour cost involved in producing Azolla can exceed the cost of mineral nitrogen.

Where post-emergence herbicides are used Azolla can only be inoculated after reflooding the field and the beneficial effects of the Azolla are limited to weed control for the current crop and residual nitrogen for a following crop. In village irrigation systems transplanting is more common, but soils are more permeable, water is more limited and much of the land may be without standing water for several days. In such situations Azolla cannot thrive.

On balance

Near most rice areas there are natural depressions, which are flooded by rainwater during the short wet season or by drainage from the larger irrigated areas. These natural water bodies can be inoculated with Azolla, which can subsequently be composted for crop production or dried for animal fodder.

Azolla can play an important role in intensive agriculture systems. One hectare of Azolla can produce over 500kg assimilable protein per month and provide feed for pigs, ducks, chickens and cattle. The manure from such livestock can be returned with benefit to crop land.

Azolla can also be grown as fishfood: Tilapia mossambica readily consumes Azolla as do some of the grass carps. There is no doubt that a flexible approach to Azolla production and utilization would be needed in most of Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific; the optimal growth conditions found in south-east Asia are very much the exception in these regions, but where opportunities do exist the rewards could be substantial.

CORAF - Africanizing African research

The recent official recognition of CORAF (Conference des Responsables de la Recherche Agronomique Africains/Conference of African Agricultural Research Officers) as an association of national agricultural research systems is a major step towards making the structure and machinery of agricultural research in Africa truly African.

Members of CORAF, which was founded in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire in 1987 as an informal "club", met in Dakar, Senegal in March 1992 to setup a permanent constitution and to define future strategy. By creating a formal structure, the Conference sought international recognition for this regionally-based approach to agricultural research, functioning by means of networks and centres. CORAF's official status is the culmination of a steadily growing collaboration and consultation among African researchers and a progressive move towards Africanizing research systems

In its earlier days CORAF's administrative headquarters were in France. Three years after it was set up CORAF met in Madagascar and, although still an informal grouping, it was already on the way to becoming a pan-African organization. As he handed over to his successor, Nya Ngatchou of Cameroon, the outgoing president, Charles Razafindrakoto of Madagascar, proclaimed "CORAF is becoming truly African and a future for African research is opening up before us." At the same time the CORAF Head quarters moved from France to Dakar.

The three main French centres for agricultural research CIRAD (Centre de Cooperation International de Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement), ORSTOM (lnstitut Francais de Recherche Scientifique pour le Developpement en Cooperation) and INRA (Institut National de Recherche Agronomiques) will continue to give scientific support to CORAF, but CORAF is sufficiently dynamic now to carry on unaided. Its main strength lies in the research networks of rice, cassava, cotton, groundnut, maize and the drought control campaign set up some five years ago.

Regional networks

Even before the Dakar meeting last March CORAF had earned itself a reputation for serious and effective work, a reputation which has persuaded international funding agencies to finance some of its regional research projects. Indeed, the originality of the CORAF system lies in its regional focus and structure. This arises from a recognition that countries with overstretched financial resources cannot address all the problems individually. CORAF, therefore, focusses on particular subjects each coordinated by one of its various bases through out the 21 member countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Zaire). Progress is being made towards opening the association to non-francophone countries. In addition to Nigeria and Sierra Leone who were represented at the Dakar meeting, researchers in other anglophone and lusophone countries are closely associated with CORAF's activities.

The politics of research

As an organization of "scientists sans frontieres" CORAF obviously must go beyond a mere sharing of knowledge and laboratories. With the support of the ACP Secretariat General, of CTA and of the French Ministry of Overseas Cooperation CORAF organized a meeting of African ministers with responsibility for agricultural research, in Dakar, recently. This incursion into the world of political decision-making was not only inevitable but also very greatly welcomed by the African members of CORAF.

This move into the politics of research was reinforced in Dakar by CORAF's decision to forge even closer links with National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS). CORAF's strategy revolves around three priorities: joint scientific projects carried out by networks and CORAF bases; training, exchange and mobility schemes for scientists in order to speed up the emergence of a pan-African scientific community; and a programme of scientific and technical information in order to better exploit the results of research.

CORAF's budget amounts to approximately 110 million French francs (£1.1m) over five years, of which only 5% will be spent on administration. The majority will be spend on scientific projects (65%), developing the networks (22%) and on the base-centres

Interesting results

Some significant advances can already be ascribed to CORAF, mainly thanks to its vigorous policy of information exchange and communication among scientists. National institutes have used the network to disseminate some interesting results, mainly in the field of varietal research. From these have emerged new groundnut varieties which are adapted to drought and disease-resistant maize and cassava, which are also in line with consumer taste and the limitations of peasants farming. Through CORAF activities a means of protecting cotton and a crop calendar, which helps Sahelian farmers make the optimum choice of variety and sowing times, have been developed.

The existing specialists subject network will probably soon be further reinforced by the addition of networks on: market gardening, pastoralism and forestry.

Understanding organic farming

Mr John Njoroge
is one of three founder members of the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming, an NGO involved in the dissemination of information on organic agriculture to smallholder farmers in Kenya. He has been the Director since its formation. Previously he worked with Inades Formation Kenya, a pan-African organization involved in adult education and rural development.

In modern agriculture we have become dependent on purchased inputs to produce crops and livestock instead of utilizing the range of materials that are available, or could be made available, on the farms.

The result is that as production costs have become more expensive the margin left to the producer has become less. While farmers are persuaded to spend more on chemical plant foods and protectants and on purchased feeds, vaccines and medicines for livestock, nature provides an alternative option: abundant and healthy, production of crops and livestock at little or no financial cost.

In the natural bush and forest we can see that plants grow without the application of fertilizers. There is abundant growth and nutrients are recycled as plants shed their leaves and branches, animals leave their droppings and dead organisms return to the soil. All this organic matter combines with the naturally weathered rocks to form a healthy productive soil. If we remember that all things come from the earth and return to the earth we can begin to understand organic farming.

Organic farming is a form of agriculture which mimics the natural system of plant and animal growth and death. The natural system is a closed system since everything is recycled more or less where it grows. In agriculture, fertility is removed in the crops and livestock products consumed off the farm and that fertility must be returned. To achieve a fertile and productive soil on a sustainable basis farmers must put effort into proper cultivation, selection of pest resistant varieties, crop rotation, mixed cropping, growing trees on the farm, making compost and providing the right conditions for beneficial insects to control pests. Soil erosion must be prevented as the soil that erodes is the most fertile soil. Nitrogenfixation can be achieved through growing leguminous crops and trees. Trees also provide foliage for mulching and adding nutrients to soil and for feeding livestock, while composting provides a hygienic way of converting all available vegetable and animal waste matter into a form that both improves the physical structure and the nutrient status of the soil.

We waste so much that we could use to great benefit. Vegetation which could be composted and bring fertility to crop land is allowed to die and rot around homesteads and along roads. Livestock manure is left in kraals, when it could accelerate the composting of vegetable matter. Household wastes which could go back on the land via the compost pits are thrown aside or buried.

To make compost efficiently requires some knowledge. First, a series of three shallow pits is required so that the compost from Pit 1 can be turned into Pit 2 after 21 days and from Pit 2 into Pit 3 after a further 21 days. Following a final 21 days in Pit 3 the compost should be ready for use - 63 days from start to finish. The pits themselves should be 0.3 metres deep, 1 metre wide and 2-3 metres long.

The width is critical: it should be possible to reach to the middle of the compost heap without walking on it. At the bottom of each pit there should be a layer of fibrous vegetation to assist aeration, and whenever a layer of material is added it should be covered with a 10 cm layer of soil to stop gases escaping. Water can be added during dry weather to hasten decomposition, but too much water will cause the internal temperature of the compost heap to fall and not only will decomposition slow down or stop, weed seeds and disease spores will not be killed by the heat. To safeguard compost heaps in the rainy season they may be covered by plastic or corrugated metal sheets, or by banana leaves.

Organic farming is not easy, but it is sustainable. If more farmers were to keep their farms fertile through organic means, many of today's farm problems would be solved. The soil would have natural fertility restored for producing healthy crops and animals, it would hold more water and it would be easier to cultivate. Fertile soils contain more living micro-organisms which are beneficial to plant life, and they help plants resist or grow away from pests and diseases.

Modern agriculture has its limits. It does not acknowledge these issues and does not take into account specific problems of smallscale producers in developing countries. Imported fertilizers and pesticides are expensive both for the state and the producers. When utilized without care, particulary pesticides, they destroy the natural balance of the land.

There are many ways of benefiting from local resources while conserving the environment for a sustainable production of abundant and quality food products. This is the essence of organic farming. All concerned with agriculture development should bear this in mind in decision-making.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CTA.

Rural radio - the voice of science and technology

As part of its programme of support for rural radio and agricultural information services in ACP countries, CTA held two professional upgrading workshops for rural broadcasters in 1991. They were a direct consequence of the inaugural workshop held at CIERRO (Centre interafricain d'etudes en radio rurale de Ouagadougou) in Burkina Faso in May 1989, which was organized by CTA and GRET. The two workshops held in 1991 were for the anglophone countries of East Africa and francophone West Africa respectively. The focus for both was research and the use of scientific and technical information in radio, with particular relevance to agriculture and the rural environment.

The first of these workshops, organized by GRET (Group de recherche et d'echanges technologiques) and WREN (World Radio for Environment and Natural Resources) and held at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication in Nairobi, was attended by 14 rural radio producers and journalists. The second gathered 15 participants from nine francophone African countries at IFTIC (L'institut de formation aux techniques de ['information et de la communication) in Niamey. CTA invited GRET and CIERRO to help organize and run this meeting. The STI (Scientific and Technical Information) theme chosen for 1991 was agroforestry. In the first section (critical listening), the participants of each country put forward a 15-25 minute broadcast (documentary, magazine or play) on this theme. The second part of the workshop gave participants, working in groups, the opportunity to put together a 20 minute programme in the field, using the skills they had been taught during the critical listening sessions.

At the end, the participants said they were now more aware of "the need for precision and discipline in documentary work and research", and said they hoped to "integrate STI into the art of writing for radio in order to reach as many rural listeners as possible." In 1992 there will be further workshops in Ghana and Mauritius for West African anglophones and the francophones of the Indian Ocean region respectively.

Documentary support

Concurrently with these training initiatives CTA is developing a parallel documentary support service for rural radio by publishing "Rural Radio Resource Packages" on specific STI themes. These include audio elements drawn from interviews with specialists who have practical experience of the chosen subjects, and written syntheses (radio talks) and reference publications relevant to the themes. Themes covered to date include village poultry production, soil conservation, soil fertility and integrated pest management.

Those who work in radio like to be known as "facilitators", and they form an essential link between organizations such as CTA and the rural populations. A network of these "go-betweens" is now being established, and CTA will continue to support them through its Rural Radio and STI programme.

Handbook for coffee cultivators

Coffee growing is the latest in the Tropical Agriculturist series published by CTA in cooperation with Macmillan. It covers the botany of the coffee plant, and how to grow and harvest the crop.

This handbook, like others in the series, has been written for agricultural extension workers and farmers. It gives guidance to coffee growers who wish to improve their traditional working practices.

Originally published in French under the title Le Cafeier, and written by H R Cambrony, this English edition has been edited by Professor H D Tindall, formerly of Silsoe College, UK, with advice from John Mburu Njoroge of the Coffee Research Foundation, Kenya.

The book provides information collected from the most reliable scientific sources which it presents in a simple and well illustrated form. The guide reflects the author's preferences on practical matters; scientific, economic and statistical detail is limited to information essential to an understanding of the recommended methods.

The botanical sections refer only to the two main species grown, Coffea arabica (arabica coffee) and C. canephora (robusta coffee), although there is also some discussion of the robusta hybrids. Operations not specific to coffee cultivation, such as land-clearance, creation of service paths, pegging and nursery layout, which have been described in previous volumes in this CTA-assisted series, are mentioned only briefly.

Coffee cultivation has spread far from its original home in Ethiopia and currently faces challenges and choices regarding cultivation and management options to achieve maximum output and quality at lowest cost. Coffee growing will assist those involved in production to refine their techniques. A further volume in the series will cover the processing of coffee beans and the manufacture and marketing of finished coffee.

Coffee growing by H R Cambrony 1992
(originally in French under the title Le Cafeier) 119pp ISBN 0 333 54451 X
Pbk in the CTA/Macmil/an series
The Tropical Agriculturist
Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 4 Little Essex Street London WC2, UK
Also available at CTA for ACP nationals

Simple information manuals

AGRODOKS are a series of low-priced, simple manuals on agricultural practices in the tropics which are produced by AGROMISA in conjunction with CTA, who finance the translation of the booklets.

Agrodok 7, on Goat keeping in the tropics, is designed as a first-aid kit for those who live in isolated places and cannot easily diagnose a disease or have an analysis made of feed quality. The book covers goat breeding; raising and selection; nutrition; housing; health, diseases and parasites; goat products; and administration. A list of helpful literature is included together with useful appendices that deal with units of feed values, an example of how to calculate rations, hoof care, castration of young billy-goats, age estimation, and examples of how to keep a record card on individual goats (male as well as female) and a servicing record.

Agrodok 18 deals with Protection of stored grains and pulses; it is a revised edition of the earlier Protection of stored products against insects and fungi. This booklet deals with the problems concerning losses of stored products by storage pests (moulds, insects and rodents), and is meant as a manual for those who are involved with providing information on storage to farmers and cooperatives.

Descriptions of the main storage pests are given, together with preventative practices. Special attention is given to the use of natural materials in protecting storage products but there is also information on chemical treatment of stored products against pests. All sections of the books are well illustrated with simple explanatory line drawings.

Beekeeping in the tropics (Agrodoc 32), first published in June 1977, was revised for the third time last year. Similarly, The preparation of diary products, first published in 1985, was also revised last year.

Goat keeping in the tropics by Car/ Jansen and Kees van den Burg ISBN 9072746 39 2 Protect/on of stored grains and pulses by Inge de Groot ISBN 9072746 120 4 Beekeeping in the tropics compiled by P Segeren and revised by V Mulder, J Beetsma and R Sommeijer ISBN 90 72746 13 9 The preparation of dairy products by Pauline Ebing and Karin Rutgers revised by Rogier Muller and Matty Weijenberg All four books are also available in French.

The Agrodok series of booklets is produced and published by Agromisa, PO Box 41
6700 AA Wageningen, THE NETHERLANDS and is available from CTA

Managing arid grasslands

The immense grasslands in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world support species from many families of plants: but it is members of the grass family which characterize, stabilize and define these regions. Although human activity has disturbed the natural distribution of grasses in all the continents, much of the original diversity still remains. This is fortunate, as such species abundance provides a valuable resource which can be called upon to restore the widespread deterioration caused by recent desertification in these dry ecosystems.

A new reference work edited by Dr G P Chapman (Wye College, University of London, UK) focuses on research aimed at understanding the biology and improving the management of arid grasslands. CTA supported the symposium on which this book is based and contributed towards the production costs. The book includes a valuable appendix which lists the useful grasses of arid and semi-arid regions and indicates their uses (human food, animal food, materials, medicines and land use).

Priority topics highlighted for future study include salt tolerance and the genetics of grasses. More long-term ecological studies are needed, and the accessibility of relevant information needs to be improved.

Desertified grasslands: their biology and management edited by G P Chapman, Linnean Society Symposium Series No. 13, 1992 360pp ISBN 0 12 168570 5 Hbk price UKL47.50

''From small acorns do great oak trees grow''

SPORE does not normally publish readers. letters, but we are making an exception in this issue because the following letter contains both important information and a word of encouragement for all of us at SPORE.

To the Editor SPORE

Sir,
I am obliged to write and thank you for the publication (in 1987) of the address of CIMMYT (International Centre for the Improvement of Maize and Wheat).

We got in touch with the Centre immediately, and in response they sent us (free) 9kg of a maize variety adapted to high altitude conditions. This seed solved the problem of the poor productivity of maize at 3000m (the average altitude in our area).

It was so successful that now our problem is how to process all this maize rather than how to grow it (maize and potatoes are our main staple food crops). So may I, through the courtesy of your columns, thank you, and tell you that SPORE saved the livelihoods of more than 50,000 farmers of the High Plateaux of Uvira (Zaire).

Yours truly,
Ruhimbika Muller
Principal Development Officer, Uvira High Plateaux

If proof were needed of the value of information, this is it. But information alone is not sufficient, you have to know how to use it, and so we congratulate our friends in Uvira on their initiative and CIMMYT on its readiness to help. We should also like to thank Mr Ruhimbika Muller for his kindness, and to invite any reader with a similar story to send it to us.

The eighteenth-century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke once said: "Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." Mr Muller's story proves the point.

Newslines

Organic technologies from the Philippines

Trials have been conducted in the Philippines to find ways of improving crop yields through the use of organic fertilizers. The following are reports based on the results of three of the experiments.

Rapid composting and the use of compost as fertilizer

Researchers in the Philippines tested, in rice fields, composts generated from Trichoderma. They found that the treatment increased yields of rice, and reduced the need for chemical fertilizers.

Crop residues were thoroughly wetted, any woody parts were chopped and everything was piled loosely into a compost pen or raised platform. One or two handfuls of activator were broadcast on each 10-15cm thick layer of rice straw, animal manure and Leucaena leucocephala. The compost pile was then covered with plastic sacks, banana or coconut leaves. The pile was moistened periodically and turned at least once, particularly when there were woody substrates. After 3-5 weeks the compost was already ripe, with a low temperature in an layers the substrates were brown to black and soily. A half-rate dose of inorganic fertilizer was applied as a side-dressing. At the end of the trial year, yield increases were up to 16%.

Using Azospirillum for maize production

Azospirillum bacteria isolated from the roots of talahib grass can supplement the nitrogen fertilizer requirement of maize. Before planting, maize seeds were inoculated with Azospirillum and then sown at a distance of 25m between hills in ground that had been ploughed, harrowed and had basal fertilizer applied to it. The plants were then hand-weeded, thinned, sprayed with pesticide and side-dressed with fertilizer.

Azospirillum-inoculated maize plants were found consistently to grow taller and greener compared to uninoculated plants. yields were also higher than uninoculated plants and responded favourably to different fertilizer levels. Inoculated maize fertilized with 30-0-0 NPK gave the highest return on investment (142%).

Response of maize to the inoculant was affected by the inoculant concentration, type and fertility of the soil and the season. The inoculant was effective if roots were colonized with 100,000 to 1,000,000 cells of Azospirillum per plant but was less effective in clayey soils or soils with a high organic matter content. Soil subjected to either very low or very high fertilization rates also caused the inoculant to be less effective.

Sesbania rostrata as a source of fertilizer for maize

Research has shown that sowing Sesbania rostrata at a seeding rate of 45kg/ha can supplement 75% of the nitrogen requirement of maize after the third cropping.

S. rostrata seeds were first soaked in concentrated sulphuric acid for 20 minutes then drilled at 45kg/ha into furrows 50cm apart. As soon as the Sesbania started to flower it was ploughed under. Maize was then planted in furrows 75cm apart with one seed per hill at 25cm intervals. After 25-30 days a side-dressing of 25% total N (urea) was applied.

Results showed that green manuring with S.rostrata increased organic matter content and nitrogen mobilization of phosphorus, improved rnicrobiological and physical properties of the soil and had the potential to accumulate nitrogen and substitute for it as a fertilizer as well as to increase yield.

The Executive Director
Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and
Development (PCAARD)
Los Bahos, Laguna, THE PHILIPPINES

Helping deprived farmers

The Farmers Development Union is an association of farmers in development and promotes the hopes, activities and determination of the rural poor and c the marginalized with the aim , of achieving development which is truly sustainable, cullturally acceptable and self-sufficient.

The FDU's activities include information transfer, training supply of fertilizers etc. and credit, as well as consultancy services in technical and managerial matters.

Farmers Development Union PO Box 70, Erunmu, Ibadan NIGERIA

New sorghum hybrids for Southern Africa

Farmers in Southern Africa will soon have the opportunity to grow higher yielding hybrids of sorghum. In low rainfall areas these new hybrids are outyielding hybrid maize by more than 50%. At the moment hybrid maize usually gives better yields, even though sorghum is more drought tolerant.

The new sorghum bybrids have been developed in Zimbabwe by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). At the Matopos Research Station the sorghum hybrids have yielded 4.2 tonnes/ hectare with 450mm rainfall. Under the same conditions hybrid maize yielded 2.7t/h. In addition some of the new hybrids are giving higher yields of green stover than the present sorghum varieties. In the very dry areas, where only sorghum or millet is grown, the new hybrids have yielded between 1 to 5t/h when the local varieties gave 200 to 250kg/h.

The new hybrids are still being screened for resistance to pests and diseases. It is also important that the quality of the grain is acceptable, especially for milling and brewing.

ICRISAT scientists are collaborating with the food industry in Zimbabwe to blend sorghum and wheat flours for baking. This should ensure that there is a good market for sorghum even after it has met the food deficit in the area.

The aim now is to encourage the local seed industry in Zimbabwe and Zambia to develop the improved seed.

ICRISAT
PO Box 776
Bulawayo, ZIMBABWE

The detection of food shortages

An early warning system for food shortages and natural disasters in Africa is one step nearer, thanks to the DIANA telecommunications satellite system.

This direct access information system, which was developed and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), will link the FAO headquarters in Rome with various regional surveillance offices and centres in Africa via Intelsat.

The information leaves the "mother" station in Rome for the regional stations: FAO Regional Office in Accra, Ghana, the Regional Surveillance, Cartography and Remote Sensing Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Harare Weather Centre in Zimbabwe. Soon, these stations will also be able to transmit short messages and computer files back to the mother station.

DIANA transmits pictures and data on rainfall and the state of vegetation acquired by the environmental satellites and analyzed by the ARTEMIS system. ARTEMIS, developed by FAO, allows real-time surveillance of the state of crops in Africa and can issue an urgent warning if severe weather conditions are threatening, or if some natural disaster is imminent.

FAO and the ESA are carrying out a year of tests of the different applications of the DIANA system, starting in July 1992.

FAO
Via delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, ITALY

Software system for plant growth prediction

Farmers have predicted plant growth according to their experience for thousands of years. Now a new software system PLANTGRO, combines this experience with modern scientific techniques to provide new ways of predicting the growth of hundreds of plant species, including some lesser-known plants.

The PLANTGRO package, which was designed by the Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Australia (CSIRO), comes with a handbook which uses a simple skill-rating system.

It encourages users to goat their own pace. In this way, people who have a strong feeling for plants but have little contact with computers or formal plant science, quickly realise that their expertise is vaIuable and can be recorded. The package provides starter data-files for 60 plants 30 soils and 40 climates.

PLANTGRO can be used in numerous contexts. For farmers, foresters and rural advisers, it provides an on-the-spot means of thinking about new land-use options. For planners at higher levels who use computerized resource information systems, it represents an add-on package which can give life to soil and climate data held in store. And for those struggling to integrate scraps of information about lesser-known plants it provides procedures for almost every situation.

Crops covered include banana, cashew, cassava, cocoa, coconut, coffee, cowpea, kenaf, lentil, maize, oil palm, pineapple, potato, rubber, soybean, sugarcane, sweet potato, taro, wheat and yam. Trees include Acacia spp. and tropical hardwoods.

Software programme language is GWBASIC (not supplied) System: MS DOS 3.2 or higher. Total access is given to software. Editing and upgrading of datafiles can be performed by using a simple word processing package.

The price is $A100 for the complete package, $A65 for the handbook only and $A40 for disks only.

CSIRO Publications
314 Albert Street
East Melbourne
Victoria 3002, AUSTRALIA

ATNESA workshop stimulates regional cooperation

The first workshop of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa was held from 18-23 January, 1992, in Lusaka, Zambia.

The overall theme of the workshop was Improving animal traction technology. This broad topic was chosen as a development-orientated framework for analysing and discussing research and extension experiences concerning animal draft power. Seven interrelated subthemes were selected to allow contributors and discussion groups to focus on particular research and development topics:

- Improving the profitability of animal traction;
- Improving draft animal management;
- Improving tillage and weeding technology;
- Improving implement supply/distribution
- Women and animal traction technology; and
- Improving animal powered transport;

The workshop highlighted the great importance of animal traction as a major element in the smallholder farming systems of the region The use of draft animals is expanding in most countries and in some areas almost all smallholder farmers now use animal draft power. Cows are increasingly used for work and research and extension workers should give more attention to this farmer-led process, likewise to the role of donkeys for cultivation and transport.

The lack of accessiblity of animal traction technology to women was another issue raised by the workshop. It was recommended that promotion schemes should ensure that women benefit directly. But the overriding issue affecting all other factors relating to animal traction is profitabilty. Animal traction will only be sustainable if it is profitable to al1 concerned, including manufacturers of spares and suppliers of animals.

ATNESA
Mr Emmanuel Mwenya
Animal Draft Power
Coordinator
Agriculture Engineering
Section
Department of Agriculture
PO Box 50291
Lusaka
ZAMBIA

Two new publications from FAO

Action plan for women in development. For many years FAO has been actively trying to promote awareness of tile role of women in agricultural anti rural development. In 1988 the FAO council asked the organization to step up its efforts in this particular area. An action plan aimed at bringing about the full integration of women into the development process was adopted unanimously by the Council.

The plan suggests directives on ways of introducing measures into all FAO's areas of activity that will recognize both the role and particular problems of women. FAO has now published a shortened version of it in an attempt to increase awareness of this issue as widely as possible.

The plan defines four areas for action: the legal status of women, their economic and social positions, and their role in decision-taking. In each of these areas the plan recommends action to be taken in order to remove the barriers which prevent women from taking a full part in the development process, as well as those that prevent them developing their ability to do so.

Improving the traditional processing methods of cassava and of some oil crops

This book, which is a synthesis of studies on women's food production and processing groups in Benin, is published under the auspices of the Promotion of women's role in the rural environment project, which is being funded by FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme.

The main purpose of this is to introduce equipment tested by women's groups into traditional food-processing methods. The tests have led to modifications which improve the safety of the women using them, and help them to expend their time and energy in the most efficient way possible.

This FAO report contains numerous photos and detailed plans of equipment, which will be useful to anyone intending to copy or adapt these experiments for their own purposes.

The project was based on the processing of four foodstuffs; palm nut, groundnut, shea butter and gari. In each case the traditional method is described, as is the new equipment used in the project. Concluding sections recommend ways of improving methods and equipment.

FAO Via delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome ITALY

Cassava yields set to double?

Within the next ten years it is possible that cassava yields could double. Improved~varieties that are being grown on farms across Africa yield about 20 tonnes per hectare. New varieties under trial at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria are proving capable of yielding 40 tonnes per hectare.

The new varieties are triploid, that is they have three sets of chromosomes; they are the result of crossing diploid varieties (two sets of chromosomes) with tetraploids (4 sets of chromosomes).

The resultant triploids are more vigorous and are taller than the tetraploids. Their leaves are much bigger and broader, so they cover the ground much faster and are therefore more effective in shading out weeds.

As the triploid cassava is higher yielding it may be possible for farmers to release land for growing other crops. However, past experience has shown that it takes about 10 years for improved varieties to become widely crown. It may be a decade before the triploid varieties have any real impact on production.

IITA
PMB 5340
Ibadan, NIGERIA

Video focuses on banana disease research

A wide range of banana cultivars, some of them the most popular varieties, now appear to be susceptible to Fusarium wilt. This is particularly critical in East Africa where the wilt is spreading rapidly.

In Australia, the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) has produced a video entitled Panama disease - the banana industry under threat (Panama disease is a colloquial name sometimes used for Fusarium wilt).

The video covers the development, management and occurrence of the disease causing fungus in bananas in Queensland. It describes the life-cycle of the disease and shows the symptoms in roots, stems, leaves, bunch stalks and fruit in both Cavendish and Lady Finger bananas. Both internal and external damage are illustrated.

Management practices aimed at limiting the spread of the disease are also examined; current QDPI research programmes into the different races of the fungus and the development of resistant cultivars are described.

The 15 minute video is available in PAL format, in either VHS or BETAMAX sizes at $A25 plus cost of airmail postage at $Al0 for one copy, $A22 for two and $A37 for three to five. Other formats (NTSC and SECAM) are available at extra cost.

QDPI Publications
GPO Box 46
Brisbane 4001
AUSTRALIA

Namibian ally?

African countries with hot, arid climates or even those with waterlogged or salty clay soils may have an ally in a versatile tree species found in Namibia. Terminalia sericea has spread naturally over a former war-zone area that had been cleared mechanically and by herbicide prior to 1978. Since that time the tree growth has been vigorous and the soil appears well restored.

Terminalia sericea is a semi-deciduous tree 3-13 metres tall. It grows abundantly in less populated areas of northern Namibia as well as around the Kalahari desert. As long as it is not subject to heavy competition for light, the species thrives across a range of soil-composition moisture and drainage conditions. It is an aggressive colonizer forming dense pioneer thickets on new alluvial, eroded or deteriorated soils. The trees improve sites by draining waterlogged soils, enriching impoverished soils and shading out weeds, allowing climax species to move in. Its seeds regenerate readily as open sites become available.

The tree has man useful qualities. The wood is yellow, grained, hard, heavy and very tough and the heartwood is durable, being both termite- and borer-proof. As well as the wood making good fencing and building material, the bark of Terminalia can be harvested and used also in construction as tieing strips. The roots have medicinal properties.

Terminal serica is a potential candidate for reforestation, erosion control and agroforestry at similar sites in other African countries.

ICRAF
PO Box 30677
Nairobi,
KENYA

Virus-free vanilla

Vanilla plants, freed of a serious virus disease, will soon be offered to farmers in Fiji and elsewhere. The lethal disease, known as a potyvirus, is a serious threat to vanilla production. It appeared in Tonga and then spread to Fiji, where vanilla is an important cash crop

The spread of the disease is exacerbated by the way farmers have to manage the crop. Vanilla has to be hand-pollinated, and once one plant is Infected with the potyvirus it is soon spread from plant to plant as farmers pollinate the crop.

A scientist from New Zealand working with a Tongan scientist was able to identify the virus. Anti-sera were developed, leading to tissue culture of virus-free vanilla.

Now these virus-free plants have to be multiplied and supplied to farmers. But in distributing the disease-free material farmers will have to be taught how to handle their crops so that they do not encourage the spread of tile disease should it occur again.

Plant Protection Service South Pacific Commission Private Mail Bag
Suva, FIJI

Pesticide protection booklet

A brochure entitled Protective clothing for the safe use of pesticides in hot climates has been produced by the International Group of National Associations of Manufacturers of Agrochemical Products (GIFAP).

The aim is to make protective clothing available locally at a reasonable price to all farmers field workers, professional applicators and other users of pesticides in hot and humid climates. Four key items have been selected to ensure the safe handling and use of pesticides: gloves, a protective garment, a face shield and an apron. Each specification has a clearly written, simple description of its purpose, basic requirements design, material, additional information and alternatives. Clear diagrams give measurements and outlines to serve as a basis for local manufacture.

GIFAP, Avenue A/bert Lancaster 79A
1180 Brussels, BELGIUM

Courses and conferences

INTERNATIONAL COURSE ON FOOD SCIENCE AND NUTRITION (24TH)
11 January -12 June 1993

INTERNATIONAL COURSE ON INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (22ND)
21 March-4 July 1993

INTERNATIONAL COURSE ON SEED PRODUCTION AND SEED TECHNOLOGY (6TH)
21 April-15 July 1993
The above courses are offered by the International Agricultural Centre
PO Box 88, 6700 AB Wageningen, THE NETHERLANDS

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ALLIUMS FOR THE TROPICS
15-19 February 1993, Bangkok, THAILAND

The Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), in conjunction with a number of national and international institutes, is co-sponsoring this symposium to promote discussion on the constraints and solutions to Allium growing and storage in the tropics and to bridge the gaps between researchers, commercial ventures and extensionists.

Dr David Midmore, Convener Intemational Symposium on Alliums for the Tropics AVRDC PO Box 42 Shanhua, Tainan, TAIWAN

15TH CONGRESS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE (ICID)
6-11 September 1993, The Hague, THE NETHERLANDS

The Congress theme is Water management in the next century. ICID Congresses are held every three years and provide an exclusive forum to exchange information and new ideas on irrigation and drainage all over the world. The 7th International Exhibition on Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control will be held simultaneously.

Prof. dir. W A Segeren, Chairman,
Organizing Comitee Secretariat PO
Box 82000, 2508 EA, The Hague, THE NETHERLANDS

PAN-AFRICAN PASTORALISM CONFERENCE
23-27 November 1992, Nairobi, KENYA on current levels of performnance, risk and prospects in pastoralism today.
Animal Production Society of Kenya, Hill Plaza, PO Box 34188, Nairobi, KENYA

INTERNATIONAL TREE-PLANTING SYMPOSIUM

23-27 November 1992, Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO organized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Centre National des Semences Forestieres (CNSF) of Burkina Faso.

CNSF, 01 8P 7687, Ouagadougou 01, BURKINA FASO

SECOND BIENNIAL CONFERENCE ON SMALL RUMINANT RESEARCH
11-15 December 1992, venue to be announced
Dr R L Baker, ILCA, PO Box 46847, Nairobi, KENYA

Bookshelf

The 'Green Revolution' destroying biodiversity?

The 'Green Revolution' has undermined the role of farmers in managing genetic resources, argue the editors of Growing diversity. As new varieties bred in research centres have displaced traditional varieties, farmers' own local knowledge and understanding of natural resources has been eroded too.

But recognition of the vital importance of plant genetic resources for world food security, and the crucial role of small-scale farmers in developing sustainable approaches to agriculture, IS growing.

The contributors to this book document the achievement of farmers in developing crop varieties tailored to their needs, and demonstrate how these approaches can be built upon to promote both conservation and sustainable development.

Other chapters survey the limitations of the formal systems of plant genetic resource conservation and improvement.

Growing diversity edited by David Cooper, Renee Vellve and Henk Hobbelink 1992 192pp ISBN 1 85339 119 0 Pbk UKL9.95 IT Publications Ltd 103-105 Southampton Row London WC1B 4HH, UK

Oral histories from the Sahel

"When I was young, the rains were good and the vegetation was thick and green. We don't really understand what happened: suddenly the rain lost respect for the old cycle - it no longer lasted as long, and the hot and cold seasons have been disrupted. Today the environment is sick, the soils are poor and hard, and the trees are dead. I believe these changes can be attributed to the fact that we have lost respect for our customs. We have violated old prohibitions to allow room for modernization and in doing so we have disregarded God's laws." So said Obo Kone from Mali before he died in 1991. He is one of the contributors to a remarkable collection of reminiscences in At the desert's edge.

Oral history is both a methodology and an academic discipline. It has not yet been widely recognized or used in a development context. But as Robert Chambers has found elsewhere, rural people with an oral tradition have an astonishing capacity for mentally recording and remembering events that profoundly affect their daily lives. Their recall of abnormal weather patterns have been found not only to be totally accurate, but to give far greater detail than the official records.

At the desert's edge is a unique collection of knowledge gathered from the older peoples of the Sahel, through their memories and recollections. They share their observations and knowledge about changing ecological conditions, conservation and agricultural practices, traditional medicines and social relationships.

With the controversial Earth Summit having struggled to find common ground on how to address global environmental problems, this book could provide a timely object lesson on how the older generations knew how to live in harmony with their environment.

At the desert's edge - oral histories from the Sahel edited by
Nigel Cross and Rhiannon Barker
248pp ISBN 1 870670 26 4 Pbk
UKL12.95
Panos Publications Ltd
9 White Lion Street
London N1 9PD, UK

The role of nitrogen fixation

Soil fertility is an overriding constraint to food production in the tropics, yet in many less developed countries fertilizers are unavailable or beyond the reach of subsistence farmers. The biological fixation of atmospheric nitrogen is the only way that plants can manufacture their own nitrogenous fertilizer and is the main input of nitrogen in many tropical cropping systems. Nitrogen fixation in tropical cropping systems provides a comprehensive review of the main nitrogen-fixing grain crops, fodder plants and trees in the tropics and shows how the inputs of nitrogen can be most efficiently utilized for sustainable agricultural production.

Nitrogen fixation in tropical cropping systems
by Ken Giller end Kate Wilson 1991 313pp ISBN 085198 6714 Hbk CABI, Wallingford Oxon OX10 ODE, UK

Post-harvest diseases and disorders Volume 2 vegetables

An authoritative, profusely illustrated guide to the recognition and understanding of the causes of deterioration m temperate and tropical vegetables, with an emphasis on those of importance in international trade. Volume 1 in the series (General introduction and fruits) has already become a standard text.

A colour atlas of post harvest diseases and disorders of fruits and vegetables - Volume 2: vegetables
by Anna Snowdon 1991 416pp ISBN 0 7234 1636 2 Hbk
Wolfe Publishing Ltd, 2 16 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7LT, UK

Also received

Manual basico de agriculture by G Owen 1991 235pp Pbk. This is a recent translation into Portuguese of the O level textbook on agriculture by G Owen Longmans Group UK Ltd 5 Bentinck Street London W1M 5RN, UK

An agricultural library: its start and management by G Naber 1991 123pp ISBN 90 70754 274 Hbk ILRI, PO Box 45 6700M Wageningen THE NETHERLANDS

Small ruminant production end the small ruminant genetic resource in tropical Africa by Trevor Wilson 1991 231pp ISBN 92 5 102998 9 Pbk FAO Distribution and Sales Section
Via delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, ITALY

Microorganism biodiversity

It is only recently that the implications of declining biodiversity for sustainable agricultural production and environmental protection have been recognized. However, while justifiable concern is expressed at the need to conserve and prevent from extinction the larger flora and fauna of the world, the importance of microorganisms and invertebrates in the stable functioning of ecosystems has attracted less overt attention. Nevertheless, the subject is now recognized as of major significance for a number of issues such as maintenance of soil fertility and the provision of natural enemies for the biological control of pests and pathogens.

The biodiversity of microorganisms and invertebrates seeks to address a number of these key issues and is based on a workshop organized by CAB International in association with the Committee on the Application of Science to Agriculture Foresty and Aquaculture (CASAFA) of the International Council of Scientific Unions, the Commonwealth Science Council, and the Third World Academy of Sciences.

Four main subject areas are covered: the importance of invertebrates and microorganisms as components of biodiversity; the importance of biodiversity in sustaining soil productivity, the importance of biodiversity to pest occurrence and management, and biotechnology and biodiversity among invertebrates and microorganisms.

The biodiversity of microorganisms and invertebrates: its role in sustainable agriculture
edited by D L Hawksworth 1991 302pp ISBN 0 85198 722 2 Hbk UKL40.00 CAB International, Wallingford Oxon OX10 ODE, UK

Households, agroecosystems and rural resource management

This book describes itself as being a guidebook for broadening the concepts of gender and farming systems. Its overall goal is to help readers to question the assumptions about gender and farm systems that they bring to their field work.

It is therefore not a field research method for gathering data, but rather it is a way to change thinking patterns.

For example, many people assume that a farm system comprises just field crops; they also assume that farm systems only include the work of male farmers. This views both field crops and farmers as separate categories. If these categories are changed to households, agroecosystems and gender relations, more dynamic ways of thinking are encouraged.

Although the guidebook focuses on Bangladesh, its learning and interviewing principles at households are readily transferable. There are many diagrams showing good and bad aspects of pictorial farm interpretation systems and the guidelines are clearly and simply laid out, providing a most useful tool for any research extension officer or development worker.

Households, agroecosystems and rural resources management
by Clive Lightfoot, Shelley Feldman and M Zainul Abedin
1991 80pp, ISSN 0116 5720 ISBN 971 1022 89 3 Pbk
The Banaladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Joydebpur BANGLADESH and ICLARM, MC PO Box 1501 Makati Metro Manila PHILIPPINES

Providing finance for rural women

Rural women have been one of the most consistently neglected groups in development planning and programming, and, paradoxically, one of the groups with the greatest unrealized potential. Direct access to credit accompanied by savings, can become a catalyst for change that brings benefits to rural women, as well as to their families and communities.

In the first chapter of Women and credit the reasons for direct lending to rural women in developing countries are highlighted and women's creditworthiness is reviewed. Subsequent chapters review informal borrowing and saving by rural women, their limited use of formal financial markets; their demand for institutional credit and savings; alternative institutional strategies and women's groups and their role.

The concluding chapter summarizes what has been learned about the planning of appropriate financial services for women and the related policy implications.

Women and credit - the experience of providing financial services to rural women in developing countries
by Monica Fong and Heli Perrett 1991 157pp ISBN 88 85955 02 9 Pbk price Lr.20.000 Finafrica, Via San Vigilio 10 20142 Milan ITALY

IPM in Developing Countries

The cost of crop losses worldwide due to pests is estimated at three hundred thousand million US dollars annually. The cost of pesticides to developing countries is both a major drain on foreign exchange at the national level, and a significant cost to farmers at the village level. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the strategy widely recommended, although less widely used, for the control of pests through the careful integration of an available techniques.

The information in the booklet Constraints on the adoption of IPM in developing countries - a survey, is the result of a postal survey conducted by a group of consultants during October and November 1989. Key questions of major concern are addressed examples and constraints from respondents are summarized, and their views on the future prospects for IPM are given.

Constraints on the adoption of IPM in developing countries - a survey
edited by M Iles and A Sweetmore
1991 36pp ISBN 0 85954 299 8 Pbk published by NRI

NRI have also published A synopsis of integrated pest management in developing countries in the Tropics - synthesis report, commissioned by the Integrated Pest Management Working Group, which provides a broad overview of the major issues which influence the pace of IPM adoption in the Developing World.

A synopsis of integrated pest management in developing countries in the Tropics
1992 20pp ISBN 0 85954 296 3 Pbk
NRI, Chatham Maritime
Kent ME4 4TB, UK

APICA - Association for the promotion of African Community Initiatives

APICA (Association pour la Promotion des Initiatives Communautaires Africaines) is an organization that supports home-grown development activities or Local Development Initiatives - LDls. This support is offered through national and international NGOs and technical services which are known as LDI Support Bodies - LDISB. APICA seeks to improve the support LDISBs give to LDIs, with which they are involved, by helping to resolve their technical, leadership, funding and administrative problems.

Apart from training-related activities, APICA also carries out research and studies on development issues, and, in the technological field, develops equipment prototypes.

In the field of information and exchange, APICA has two main instruments:

- the magazine African Communities, which comes out three times a year. This is an essential means of communication for APICA, containing as it does sections on development activities; technologies; job creation schemes; health issues past and present; recipes; and practical hints. APICA's priority now is to make sure this interesting magazine gets distributed in rural areas.

- the Douala Documentation Centre in Cameroon, which could be called a sort of "information processing plant", turning theoretical knowledge into practical help for potential users. Many books are registered there, and the Centre acquires new ones each year for the "bookshop" and prepares the files called "experience storage rooms", which are records on how certain experiments or projects were carried out. The Documentation Service, whose mission is to disseminate information, replies to questions, receives visitors, and arranges the sale of books on a sale or return basis in various regions of Cameroon.

One of the Centre's current activities is research on the use of national languages in extension work for development.

APICA, 8P 5946
Douala Akwa - CAMEROON

IRED - New initiatives and networks for development

IRED (Innovations et Reseaux pour le Developpement) is an international network of more than 1000 partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia, who mainly belong to associations of small farmers, pastoralists, those working in small-scale crafts and industry, NGOs, and training, study and activity centres. IRED aims to support these, its local partners in developing countries; in turn they can meet the needs of the people they serve, and be informed more swiftly of any decisions taken at a higher level which affect them.

IRED organizes seminars, workshops and symposia and offers developing countries' institutions an alternative source of funding.

The support IRED gives an association or group will be judged by the way the development organizations can access and assimilate information. This information transfer is one of IRED's main strategies through which it hopes to carry out its objectives. One of the ways in which this is being done is by helping the Southern partners to share and to exploit to the full their own experience, which is one of their main assets. IRED also tries to process information from elsewhere, particularly from the North, which might have a bearing on the activities of the Southern groups.

IRED feels that information exchange is best carried out by visits from groups or individuals, as these are more conducive to transferring a technology or starting a business, or to acquiring better processing and management techniques. People working on the ground, who may never encounter classic training techniques, can often come up with alternative training methods of their own.

IRED-FORUM is published three times a year in French, English and Spanish, and is the main organ of communication within the network. It includes information on the activities of the network, specialist articles and practical notes.

The practical management handbook, Towards greater financial self-sufficiency, and Making the rural voice heard are three of IRED's most successful titles. Course reports, guidelines for exchanges and personal thoughts and accounts also find a ready readership among the members of the network. Network partners frequently consult the Resource and Documentation Centres in the three Southern continents and in Geneva, when they need a management model or background information on an appropriate technology or advice on financial or other matters.

IRED
International Development Support
Service, 3 rue de Varembe
Case 116, 1211 Geneva 20
SWITZERLAND