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close this bookSPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 14 (CTA Spore, 1988, 16 p.)
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View the documentAGRHYMET from the satellite to the hoe
View the documentIFIS - International Food Information Service

AGRHYMET from the satellite to the hoe

AGRHYMET's regional centre in Niamey co-ordinates the programme, by centralizing and processing the data from nine national meteorological services. Field observers provide daily readings of agroclimatological and meteorological conditions to the national centres which forward summaries to Niamey. This information is then processed and enriched with regional data provided by weather satellites and then sent back to the national services to pass on to interested users. The programme also incorporates observations made by certain public or private services as well as those of the Agency for the Security of Aerial Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (ASENCA).

Having such information readily available enables better planning of agricultural activities, such as seeding times, predicting harvesting conditions or implementing emergency programmes to deal with insect invasions or disease outbreaks. It also improves the ability to evaluate future harvests by taking into consideration the meteorological conditions that prevail during the growing season. In the long term, the analysis of data collected over several years facilitates the task of national planning services when they need, for example, to introduce a new crop that will suffer minimum losses under rare but possible climatic conditions.

Weather bulletins, maps or reports produced by AGRHYMET are not only destined for government agencies or international and national research organizations. The objective of AGRHYMET is to make such information available to end users, notably farmers, through extension services and the media. That is why after an initial phase dedicated to establishing its data collection and analysis system, this programme is now entering a new phase designed to ensure that its services can become a valuable working tool for farmers.

If countries in the Sahel have been pioneers in this field more humid regions of Africa are now beginning to pay similar attention to better exploitation of agrometeorological information. It was in this context that a seminar on this subject was recently held in Benin

For more details, contact:

IFIS - International Food Information Service

In 1968 food science and technology lacked a voice to acquaint a world just coming to the realization that food supply was unlikely to meet the demand of a global population which would double by the year 2000 with this emerging and vital discipline.

The International Food Information Service (IFIS) was created to fill that gap. It aims to provide a comprehensive, high-quality international database in food science and technology, in both printed and machine-readable form. IFIS was formed at a time when developing countries were reaching out for a level of food research and development that would allow them not only to sustain their population but to export food to other countries.

IFIS works with four partners: CAB International (CABI); the Institut fur Dokumentationswesen, Germany, the Institute of Food Technologists USA; and the Agricultural Information Centre of the Netherlands (PUDOC). Its purpose is to fulfil the needs of both developed and developing countries through its databases - Food Science and Technology Abstracts (FSTA) based at the U K editorial office at Shinfield, and its subsidiaries PTSA for packaging and VITIS for wine.

Inclusion of material already covered by other databases in related subjects is avoided. The general philosophy of IFIS is to treat food science and technology only where it affects the journey between producer. and consumer, though there will inevitably be some overlap.

FSTA can rival almost any scientific database in its depth and breadth of coverage: between 1969 and 1986 FSTA's first 18 volumes contained 313,000 abstracts of world food science and technology output, culled from 1,562 journals from 83 countries contributing regularly and from 312 journals from 57 others. Other sources include patents, which represent 12.5% of the database; standards (3.5%), books (2%) and reviews (2.5%), with special efforts being made to include relevant contributions from both developed and developing countries. India, for example, is one of the leading sources

Although most FSTA monitoring and abstracting is carried out in the U K, 12 worldwide links have been established with national organizations to monitor and abstract local literature.

These include the Central Food Technology Research Institute, India, the University of the Philippines and the Technical Information Center for the Food Industry in Czechoslovakia. These links mean that language is no barrier to IFIS staff, who themselves cope with more than 40 languages.

There are 20 major abstracts subject headings within the database, the majority of which are commodity headings and the most important of which are milk and dairy products; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages; meat, poultry and game; and cereals and bakery products. Al1 these are broken down into sub-headings. Patents have only recently been categorised under their own section heading.

Other information products from IFIS include "Packaging Science and Technology Abstract's (PSTA), published bi-monthly, the quarterly nviticulture and Enology Abstracts (VITIS-VEA), "Food Annotated Bibliographies. (FABs), produced on a monthly as well as a cumulative basis, photocopy, and IFIS on-line services (details from the German office).

These publications spring from the IFIS German office at Frankfurt/Main, a not-forprofit company, as does the policy of closer cooperation with the developing world. This is achieved through such formal agreements as the one with the Central Food Technology Research Institute in Mysore, India, and by using modern information transfer media for countries with limited telecommunications facilities. Meanwhile, IFIS is actively exploring every possible means of improving this.

For more details, contact:
U. Schutzsach Managing Director IFIS Gmbh Herriotstrasse 5 6000 Frankfurt 71 WEST GERMANY
H Brookes A/Joint Managing Director I FIS Lane End House Shinfield RG2 9BB UK

Agroforestry for development

1987 saw the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) which is based in Nairobi. "Agroforestry a Decade of Development" was written and published as part of the celebrations of this anniversary, and has been edited by two of the organization's leading figures, Professor Howard Steppler and Dr P K Nair.

It draws together contributions from some 18 authors each of whom is a leader in his field and active in the promotion of agroforestry. Such a range of contributors has inevitably also led to a range of definitions for agroforestry itself: a clear sign that the discipline is still young!

Much of the text deals with the work of ICRAF and this is particularly evident in the early chapters that centre on ICRAF's history and prospects for the future. Nevertheless, the breadth of experience of all the authors is reflected in later chapters which deal in detail with the ecological, institutional and developmental aspects of agroforestry and the results of research in this area.

Throughout the book the interdisciplinary nature of agroforestry is highlighted in all areas, from research to evolution and ultimately transfer. Differences in approach are also evident and nowhere is this more so than in the sections that describe the prominent agroforestry systems in a range of regions as seen by residents or those who have some years of experience in these areas.

Research findings are given regarding alley cropping, the role of nitrogen fixation, the potential of multipurpose trees and shrubs, and on Leucaena, the multipurpose tree genus that has proved so suitable for tropical agroforestry. Specific proposals are also made for future research activities concentrated into four main areas: systems, nutrient enrichment, germplasm evolution and tree component improvement. All of these combine to form management approaches to take agroforestry and indeed agroforestry research into the next decade.

For those interested in futher information on ICRAF's work a special issue of Agroforestry Systems (Vol 5 No. 3) was issued to coincide with the publication of the book. It contains 12 articles written by ICRAF staff and summarizes a decade of ICRAF's achievements.

Steppler, H A and P K R Nair (eds). 1987. Agroforestrya Decade of Development ICRAF. Nairobi. 335 pp. ISBN 92-9059-036X

Available from:
ICRAF House P O Box 30677 Nairobi KENYA

Tropical fruits

Tropical Fruits is a book aimed at those with an interest in tropical fruit, whether at college or in the field. This is the second edition of the book which was originally published in 1980 and widely regarded as the first detailed text on the subject for many years. This new edition has been extensively re-written and expanded throughout, and also includes sections on "new" crops such as pineapple-guava, passion fruit, Iychee and kiwi.

The book concerns itself both with fruits themselves and the techniques needed to cultivate them. Thus early sections are taken up with a detailed study of fruit growing in the tropics, and an explanation of the latest advances in crop protection. Cultivation pratices, both old and new, are also set out with a wide range of references listed.

Minor tropical fruits are also covered such as the sapodillas of Tobago, the cherries of Suriname and Iychee trees in Mauritius. Finally, appendices set out common names and their botanical equivalents, and list families and genera of fruit crops.

The book is written by Jules Samson, who grew up among the fruits in Suriname. He went on to become Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station there before becoming a lecturer in tropical crop husbandry at the Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands, a post from which he has recently retired.

Tropical Fruits provides a comprehensive range of information for anyone concerned with the subject. The revision of the text has been so thorough that this second edition provides a valuable update for anyone who has come to rely on its predecessor.

Samson. J A, 1986 Tropical Fruit. Tropical Agricultural Series, Longman. 336 pp ISBN 0 582 40409 6

Available from:
Longman Scientific and Technical Longman House Burnt Mill. Harlow Essex CM20 2JE U K

Weed Science in the Tropics

One of the reasons frequently given for large family size in traditional societies in developing countries is that it provices labour for crop production. In the tropics people spend more time removing weeds than in any other part of the world.

In these areas weed control is inextricably linked with the drudgery that characterises peasant agriculture, and it is argued that the task of removing weeds occupies a disproportionate percentage of the population, thereby preventing these countries from developing in other areas of their economies.

Against this background it is perhaps surprising that weeds are without doubt the most underrated of pests in the tropics and their control is often severely hampered by the lack of resources, appropriate expertise and, in many cases, determination.

Weed Science in the Tropics is a practical book aimed at anyone who is actually concerned with controlling these competitive plants on an everyday basis. It was written by Dr Okezie Akobundu of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, who believes that it will be of particular use to teachers, agricultural students and consultants as well as those who are involved directly.

The book seeks to introduce a new dimension into the teaching of the subject by placing weed science as an integral part of a crop protection programme - a point emphasised by the first chapter which is specifically devoted to this subject. Further into the book, six full chapters are devoted exclusively to herbicides, covering their chemistry, presence in the environment, their action in plants and the soil, and their safe and efficient use. This is justified, according to the author, by the fact that herbicides are relatively new to tropical agriculture and in general are poorly understood.

Despite the fact that the book offers a detailed guide to all aspects of weed biology and control, it has deliberately been written in such a way that those who require only a short introduction to the subject may focus on a restricted number of chapters, while more advanced students can find considerably more detail in other sections. The appendices list common and trade names of herbicides together with their manufacturers and information on mammalian toxicity and residue tolerance.

Akobundu. I O, 1987. Weed Science in the Tropics - Principles and Practices. Wiley-lnterscience. 522 pp ISBN 0-471-915440