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close this bookGATE - 1/96 - Habitat II Conference (GTZ GATE, 1996, 48 p.)
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AT Activities

AT Activities
- Senegal: New oilpress improves women's incomes
- Poisonous cheese production?

- Thesaurus on Sustainable Agriculture in four languages

- Thailand: Biogas technology to address a unique feedstock

- GATE goes on the INTERNET

Senegal: New oilpress improves women's incomes
Louga -"F.I.D. has achieved excellent results with relatively modest resources." This is the judgement of Rudolf Kiessling, on farm processing expert of GATE/ISAT concerning the project of the Senegalese partner for the improvement of women's incomes through the technical advancement of a local no motorized oilpress for peanuts and neem seeds, which ended in December 1995 (see gate 4/94, p. 6f. and p. 19f.).

In the Louga region of northwest Senegal, 92% of the people live from farming and livestock-breeding. An important additional source of income for the local women is the production and sale of oil extracted from peanuts, and soap made from neemoil, which is also used for the conservation of ni-beans. The oilpress used in this work is manufactured by local blacksmiths. The quality of these products was limited however and the surplus small. Therefore, the women, who are organised into groups, needed better and more productive presses.

In the ten villages which took part in the project, a campaign against illiteracy was carried out beforehand, in order to enable the women to read or write leasing or sales contracts for oil presses and technical and administrative manuals, or to calculate the economic efficiency of their work. Systematic collection of neem seeds was introduced, so that the annual surplus increased sevenfold by 1995. A third area of work was the demonstration of oil extraction at F.I.D., in which more than 800 people took part.

The prototype of the improved local oil press was developed by the F.I.D. technology workshop in co-operation with the women and the blacksmiths. Today, the presses are being modernised by local craftsmen, who can barely keep up with the demand. Training seminars were not only held for blacksmiths in Senegal, but also in the neighbouring states of Gambia and Mali.

The manufacturing and sale of the presses were partly financed by credit. The distribution of this finance was carried out through the involvement of an adminstrative council of the women's groups. The blacksmiths had two thirds of their material costs financed, the women got one third of the price of the press. Repayment was usually on time.

The money which was earned by renting out the presses was used by the women to set up a food stock and an internal credit system with which other forms of work (such as the keeping of small animals) was financed.

For ecological reasons the press should be sold in combination with a new energy-saving oven, the prototype of which was also developed by the F.I.D. workshop. Before neem seeds and peanuts are ready to be pressed they have to be heated up, so when production is increased more wood for heating is needed. The felling of trees however increases the desertification of the region. In order to limit such pressure on the local environment, the blacksmiths were also trained in the production of these new ovens.

Poisonous cheese production?

Natitingou - A traditional method of cheese production from Benin (W. Africa) has been described in gate 4/94 (p. 40). Since Calotropis procera (Apple of Sodom), required for the coagulation of heated milk, is found in many countries of the tropical belt and cheese making became a valuable source of income for rural women, NGOs and help organisations of other developing countries might have been encouraged to introduce similar programmes.

Unfortunately the white milky latex in the leaves and stem of Calotropis procera does not only contain an efficient vegetal rennet but also six very toxic cardioactive substances. Calotropin, the best known among them, is stronger than strophantine and causes death by paralysis of the heart. Furthermore the latex is very caustic towards tender skin and mucous membranes. In the framework of my field research in rural areas of the Sudan I noticed that people from the Northern Provinces and the Gezira were aware that this plant is poisonous and instructed their children not to pick flowers or fruits. Only some experienced herdsmen used the latex to remove thorns or other foreign bodies from the foot-soles of their donkeys.

However animistic tribes in the Blue Nile Province, such as the Bertha, found out that the latex can speed up the fermentation of millet beer. It is brewn by their women in great amounts as beverage, for ritual rinsing of agricultural tools and musical instruments and for offerings to the gods. Teachers from the North working in the region related that fatal accidents after heavy drinking were not seldom and they believed that the unusual method of beer production was involved.

Plant-toxicological literature from India, East-and South Africa tells us that the latex of Calotropis procera has been used as an arrow poison, to cause abortion, to kill small children or enemies and to commit suicide. As far as the West African cheese is concerned, repeated boiling for processing and preservation and frying for consumption may affect the toxic substances in the Calotropis latex, but this needs further investigation. On the other hand a cottage industry in African villages must be safe enough for the women engaged in the work and the children playing around them. Thus it is very important that responsible organisations assist not only with better marketing strategies but also create awareness on the potential "professional" risks to work with the poisonous latex of Calotropis procera, whereas women from other tropical countries should better be prevented from starting such dangerous practises.

Abstaining from the use of the latex of Calotropis procera must not mean abstaining from traditional cheese production. Materials from two known fruit trees might be tested as substitutes. According to Indian experience milk curdling ferments are also found in early fruit stages of Carica papaya (papaw or papaya tree) and ripe fruits of Ficus carica (fig tree).

Should any reader know about additional materials from wild or cultivated plants which are successfully employed as rennets for cheese, please provide us with details about the method, local names of this plant (indicating also language or tribe) and if possible the scientific plant name.

Further information:

Dr. Samia Al Azharia Jahn
c/o GTZ, OE 414
P. B. 5180
D-65726 Eschborn, Germany

Thesaurus on Sustainable Agriculture in four languages

Eschborn -GATE/ISAT has produced a "List of Sustainable Agriculture Terms" in four languages, as part of the European Network for Low-External-Input and Sustainable Agriculture, EULEISA. In cooperation with RAE in Peru, AS-PTA in Brazil and AGRECOL in Switzerland this list of keywords is in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The list contains about 1,000 technical terms for each language on the topic of Sustainable Agriculture. The organisation of the entries enables a quick overview and comparison of terms in each of the four languages. Terms are organised by topics as well as, in the second part of the book, in alphabetical order.

All relevant topics in sustainable agriculture are covered, starting with terms on socio-economic issues, then ranging from systems of soil usage, to the harnessing of animals and to water dependent resources.

The list amounts to an important tool on documentation and information in this area. With the help of this tool, a meaningful and consistent indexation of expert publications can now be prepared. Direct comparison of versions of the same term in different languages can also facilitate a dialogue across language barriers.

Copies can be ordered from:

Postfach 5180
D-65726 Eschborn

Thailand: Biogas technology to address a unique feedstock

Phitsanulok -The Solar Energy and Training Center (SERT) of Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, is expanding its current field in an endeavor to exhaust existing resources within its province for renewable energy utilization. Adopting such an approach SERT aims to use an abundant local waste to procure biogas for basic rural energy requirements, and simultaneously clean up the local environment.

SERT realizes that Thailand's food industry is rapidly expanding, further producing high volumes of wastes that are generally treated improperly before disposal. The district of Bangkrathum, Phitsanulok, has an extensive 10,000 tonne banana-drying industry, which annually accumulates 2,500 tonnes of banana peeling waste. This labor intensive industry involves over 200 families or cooperative working groups, that are widely scattered throughout the district of Bangkrathum.

A typical practice of these rural processing groups is to simply deposit the banana peeling waste at roadsides, water channels, and house-yards. As a result, unattractive mounds of peelings undergo aerobic and anaerobic fermentation, releasing unpleasant odours, attracting flies, providing unsatisfactory working/health environments, and finally releasing methane and carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere.

The German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) has provided a financial and technical contribution out of the Small-Scale Fund (KPF) to support a project, that will establish a demonstration-unit in a waste-inflicted district by employing biogas technology, to environmentally dispose of the discarded peelings. The implementation of biogas technology to address the banana peeling waste will potentially provide improved decentralized energy supplies.

Other more visual economic outputs of the demonstration will be the procurement of quality fertilizer (both solid & liquid) and possible fish feeds. Both will require minimal processing on site and are to be either used locally or on a small-business basis to procure a commercial product. The project will serve as an effective example of environmental protection, aiming to be an attractive operation to initiate wider dissemination to affiliated residents (which accumulated wastes) within the identified region.

SERT recognizes that the project has several integrated components, such as the production of biogas, compost, and fish-feeds, and furthermore viewing the demonstration as a first step to initiate dissemination of the technology. Thus to effectively cover all components SERT has integrated local government organizations in the course of the project's operation. Such participation will unite and focus all efforts to achieve fruition of the local project.

The project began in late 1995. First results are expected the middle of this year.

John O'Donoghue (Project Coordinator, SERT)

Further information:

Naresuan University
Phitsanulok, Thailand
Tel.: (66) 55 26 1000-4
Fax: (66) 55 26 1005

GATE goes on the INTERNET
Eschborn -As was already mentioned in gate 4/95: our magazine is going onto the INTERNET. This article explains this move, its aims and the opportunities of the access to gate information that it provides, as it is not only the gate magazine but also other services of GATE which will be on the INTERNET.

In the last two years, the INTERNET has become very popular worldwide. Everyday many organisations and institutions establish access to this network of networks, in order in particular to present information about themselves but also to join the process of global information exchange.

This applies increasingly to organisations and institutions in the areas of operation of the GTZ in general and GATE in particular. As a logical consequence the opportunities and risks of an information project in this new medium were internally debated and implemented.

It began with the most popular service of the INTERNET: electronic mail. The advantages are clear: quick and cheap communication with organisations, projects and NGOs in numerous countries, not only in Europe, but also in Asia, Middle and South America and Africa.

This approach has been proven successful particularly in those countries where communciation is difficult due to time differences, the high cost of faxes and the reality that the mail takes a long time or is not very reliable.

Starting with these experiences, the possibilites of using other services in the INTERNET were tested. Here in particular the opportunities of the World Wide Web (WWW) caught the eye.

The WWW offers the opportunity to present information in the form of text, pictures and databases to the whole world. It was a small step to the idea to offer the gate magazine also as an electronic publication. The internal preconditions were good since the text of the magazine was already in an electronic format for the printing of the journal.

However, it still took a long working and learning process to produce the first issue which is now available in the WWW, free from time constraints and avoiding a long and unreliable mailing process.

GATE hopes to widen distribution of the magazine without increasing the copies in print. The costs for mailing are an addition factor in the calculation.

GATE wants to use the opportunities of the net also in other areas. Beyond the magazine there will also be numerous information presentations about GATE/ISAT and its services. At several points in the presentation it will be possible to communicate directly with project workers. Tips, questions and information are helpful and welcome, in particular at the beginning of this process.

A further step will be to offer expert information. This will be applied first of all to the area of anaerobtechnology and biogas. Those interested in the use of this technology in developing countries will find numerous sets of valuable information, hints and contacts on the ISAT pages. Practical relevance and questions on applications are the main criteria when choosing information.

In the future, further ISAT focal points such as renewable energies, building or on-farm-processing will be presented in this way.

There was however another reason why GATE wanted this form of access to electronic media. As a project in the area of information management we are committed to providing new and appropriate information for our users.

This means that we as a searcher for information can broaden our scope and our opportunities when researching relevant information, independent of geographical distance and time differences with information sources.

However, despite the optimism about the technical opportunities of the INTERNET we are aware of the fact that numerous organisations and individuals in the South are not able to use the opportunities of electronic mail, for very different reasons, nor will they be able to in the near future.

This is the main reason why electronic media can only be an additional form of information for GATE/ISAT. Our services and information will be made available to all individuals and institutions in the South whatever their communication structure is. This means in particular: our magazine and our publications will be printed in the future and also the question and answer service will be available on the basis of the traditional mail system. The overall spectrum will only be broadened.

Dirk Franken