|SPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 66 (CTA Spore, 1996, 16 p.)|
Natural solution to worm problem
A natural way to control intestinal worms has been found in Scottish sheep. The discovery opens the way to transfering this natural trait into other breeds at a time when resistance to drugs is making worming of sheep increasingly costly and ineffective.
Veterinarians at the University of Glasgow in Scotland have found that the Scottish Blackface sheep has a gene that enables its lambs to control the fecundity and size of intestinal worms. The gene enables the animal's immune system to recognize certain proteins m the worms and to counter them by producing an immune response. The result is that the worms become less active and lay fewer eggs, which results in a smaller population to be passed on to other sheep not carrying the gene. In trials, Scottish Blackface lambs were shown to have 50 times more resistance to worms than lambs without this trait.
The effect has only been tested against one species of Ostertagia, which is the main gut parasite that affects sheep in temperate areas, but researchers are hopeful that the gene will work against other species, both temperate and tropical. The work is also enabling scientists to look for similar genes in other breeds. Work in Kenya has shown that the Red Masai breed is more resistant to worms and more productive than other breeds. If proved, this could enable East African farmers to bring their worm problem under control.
Veterinarians do not see this trait ever becoming the sole method of worm control but it will be used as part of an integrated approach to use less anthelmintics. The latest findings should make it possible to breed sheep with improved worm resistance. The scientists concerned are seeking funding for a commercial breeding trial to last five or more years.
· The Veterinary
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G 12 8QQ, UK
Sasakawa and maize production increases in Ghana
Farmers in Ghana are producing twice as much maize as they did in 1986 and the price many of them get for their crop has risen by nearly 60%. This progress is the result of the adoption of techniques introduced by Sasakawa-Global 2000. Ghana was the first country to receive help from SG 2000, which later extended its work to Tanzania, Benin, Togo, northern Nigeria, Ethiopia and Mozambique. Last year Uganda, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso were included in its programme.
According to Sasakawa's Chris Dowswell, farmers in Ghana could have higher crop yields if they had access to fertilizers. Although proven on demonstration plots with high inputs of fertilizer, higher prices and lack of availability now make it difficult for most farmers to buy fertilizer. This has, however, not stopped farmers from planting seed of higher-yielding varieties such as the highly nutritious quality protein maize (QPM) variety, Obatanpa. Farmers have also improved planting densities and carry out more timely cultivations. In addition, SG 2000 has helped farmers to improve their storage facilities, so that grain can be kept after harvest and sold when prices rise, which earns them 60% better prices.
To improve soil fertility and to offset the lack of fertilizer, SG 2000 is developing organic methods such as the use of green crops. In Benin, farmers are successfully rotating velvet bean (Mucuna puriens) with maize, which can add up to 30kg of nitrogen per hectare but there is still a need for other nutrients like phosphates. Farmers in Ghana and Togo are also beginning to use mucuna and SG 2000 is looking for equivalent legumes suitable for use in East and Central Africa.
Sasakawa is also conscious that as farmers would be unable to maintain the new cropping methods because they lack sufficient funds to buy the necessary inputs once the programme withdraws, SG 2000 is helping to establish savings groups. With advice from the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, farmers in Benin have now established 40 CREPs (Caisse Rurale d'Epargne et Pret or Rural Savings and Loans Associations), each association started by farmers donating 200kg of maize as their first deposit. The scheme has proved so successful that funds have grown to a total of $600,000 which is available for low interest loans. Now farmers are taking out loans not only to buy inputs but also to buy equipment to start processing raw materials into higher value products. Some loans are also being used to start poultry-keeping and other income-generating schemes.
SG 2000 Country Director BP 04 1091 Cadjehoun Cotonou,
SG 2000 Country Director PMB Kotoka International Airport Accra, GHANA
Director for Programme Coordination, SAA CIMMYT Lisboa 27, PO Box 6-641 00600 MEXICO DF
Fumigation video and poster
Gram fumigation faces two important challenges: how to overcome insect resistance to phosphine, which is increasing because of poor fumigation techniques; and the need to find a replacement for the alternative fumigant, methyl bromide, known to deplete stratospheric ozone, which is being gradually phased out. Consequently, it is important to slow or halt the development of phosphine resistance and to preserve the efficacy of what will become the principal grain fumigant. Training in good phosphine fumigation techniques is essential to achieve this.
The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) has produced a video and poster on this subject. The first part of the 28-minute video deals with the main requirements for good fumigation, irrespective of whether the treatment is of a silo, freight container, bag stack or whatever. The second part demonstrates how to undertake fumigation of a bag stack under gas-tight sheets. This was chosen for detailed explanation since it is the most common method used in developing countries.
Both the video and poster are designed as aids in support of training courses in pest control to encourage safe and effective fumigation techniques. Copies are available from NRI, free of charge to countries who are recipients of British Aid; otherwise they cost £20.
· RJ Hodges, Food Storage Group
NRI, University of Greenwich
Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime Kent ME4 4TB, UK
Potato genes protect rice
A gene taken from the potato and put into rice plants will help rice to defend itself against chewing insects.
Insects, such as stem-borers, eat their way down the stem of the rice plant using enzymes called proteinases to digest what they have consumed. Scientists at Cornell University argued that if they could stop the proteinases working, the insects would not be able to digest the rice plant and that would force them to move elsewhere to feed; otherwise they would starve.
Fortunately, there are natural compounds which will deactivate these enzymes, they are called proteinase inhibitors. The rice plant itself might have a proteinase inhibitor gene but it has not been discovered yet. But researchers have found that the potato has a very effective gene which is responsible for making the inhibitor which they have transferred into rice.
When the treated rice plant is attacked by a chewing insect, the gene is switched on and the insect ingests the inhibitor as it begins to eat its way down the plant. When genetically altered plants were challenged by the pink stem-borer; the plants proved to be five times as resistant as normal plants.
When researchers manipulated other pests such as planthoppers, which feed by sucking, the inhibitor gene was not switched on because the tiny hole made by the planthopper is so small that the damage is not detected. However, researchers believe they have other genes which may help to control sucking pests.
· Section of
Molecular and Cell Biology
Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
Avoiding 'information overload'
Experts and researchers in the broad subject area of tropical agriculture are faced with a bewildering choice of information sources. On the one hand there are huge information services with their abstracts counted in millions and, on the other hand, there are the tens of thousands of journals, books, reports, conference proceedings and theses. No single researcher can scan all these information sources to find key material in his or her discipline.
A new bibliographical journal Agriculture and environment for developing regions was first published in January 1996. It aims to counteract this 'information overload' by selecting annually some 6,000 key articles and monographs from the contents of more than 4,000 journals and thousands more books, conference reports and theses. These 6,000 documents are then abstracted by subject specialists for inclusion in the journal.
The journal covers the whole spectrum of agriculture and the environment in tropical and subtropical regions: literature from other regions of the world is only included when it is of direct relevance to the tropics. Disciplines covered include agronomy, animal husbandry, environmental sciences, forestry, land management, plant breeding and production economics.
The 6,000 abstracts published in each annual volume of the journal are also placed on the TROPAG & RURAL bibliographic database, which is available on CD-ROM and on-line. The TROPAG & RURAL CD-ROM, published by SilverPlatter, contains some 116,000 abstracts from the international literature on tropical agriculture and rural development from 1975 onwards. The journal and bibliographic database are produced on a non-profit basis by several member institutes of the European Consortium for Agricultural Research in the Tropics (ECART). ECART members comprise ATSAF and GTZ of Germany, CIRAD of France, llCT of Portugal, KIT of the Netherlands and NRI from the UK.
An annual subscription to the monthly journal is US$ 310.00 inclusive of postage and packing. A subscription to the CD-ROM costs US$ 825.00 including software and twice-yearly updates.
For a sample copy of the journal or a month's free trial of the TROPAG & RURAL CD-ROM, contact:
· Sarah Cummings
Promotion & Marketing Manager
Information, Library & Documentation KIT Mauritskade 63
1092 AD Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS
FishBase 96 is the second release of the CD-ROM database which contains data of more than 14,000 species of fish (see Spore 59 p 10). The biological information offered for education and research purposes on all aspects of finfish is under continuous review by the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources
Management (ICLARM) and its many collaborators, and will be released annually.
Dr Rainer Froese
MCPO Box 2631
0718 Makati City
Integrated control of ticks and tick-borne diseases newsletter is a new publication and part of a Concerted Action project of the INCO-DC programme of the European Union. The project and the newsletter are intended to be a forum for the exchange of data and information obtained within this and several other projects supported by the KU, through reguIar meetings and small-scale workshops. The aim is to contribute to the control of tropical ticks and tick-borne diseases in developing countries. Contributions are welcomed and should be submitted to:
The Editor, lCTTD newsletter Faculty of
Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Infectious Disease & Immunology,
PO Box 165 3508 TD Utrecht THE NETHERLANDS
Groundcover is a quarterly publication of the Natural Farming Network of Zimbabwe, which also represents the interests of the Permaculture Association. The publication is designed for the exchange of information about sustainable land use. It provides a platform for exchanging ideas as well as giving practical tips and news about food production and other related topics. The subscription is Z$45.00 in Zimbabwe and US$6.,00 elsewhere.
Groundcover, Natural Farming Network of Zimbabwe
PO Box CY301, Causeway, Harare, ZIMBABWE
Food from though, - a series of narratives on the practical application of research conducted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and its collaborators. Issue number 3 is entitled: Improving the unimprovable - succeeding with pearl millet
ICRISAT, Patancheru 502 324, Andhra
COMPAS (Comparing and Supporting Indigenous Agricultural Systems) newsletter is an informal publication for sharing experiences and discussion among the COMPAS project partners, and other interested persons. Comments and contributions to:
COMPAS newsletter, Bertus Haverkort/Wim Hiemstra, c/o
Netherlands BV. PO Box 64, 3830 AB Leusden, THE NETHERLANDS
Keep the colour in palm oil!
Unrefined oil derived from oil palm is red, rich in carotene and vitamin A, and has an acidic taste that is much appreciated by those who use it. But it appears that for some time there has been reluctance to use palm oil with its natural colouring.
Housewives have been overheating the oil, burning it in order to lose the colour and make it appear more like oils from groundnuts, cotton or maize, which are more expensive. This practice is not without risk: oils that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, like palm oil, break down if overheated. Irritant toxins develop and these can result in higher levels of cholesterol, enhancing according to some, the risk of cancer.
· Catherine Djite
BP 1 1955
Hope for Eritrea's highlands
Drought and poverty are devastating combinations for any country and its people, but few countries have also suffered the years of war that have affected the State of Eritrea. At the end of the Ethio-Eritrean conflict in 1991 the casualties of the war were not just the people: the economy, industry and environment of the country also lay crippled. Outside the towns, the scars are evident with land stripped of trees that had once been forested. Laid open to the effects of climate, the soil is heavily eroded. Hope for the land and its people lies in restoration of the woodlands around the villages.
Reforestation is not just about planting trees but about meeting the people's needs in order for schemes to be a success. Initial planting experiments were replicated in three highland villages in 1993. Planting took place over a two-year period with close collaboration with the local people and the Ministry of Agriculture. The goal was to achieve results that could be readily interpreted by the villagers so that they could carry out their own management with the support of extension officers.
With the villagers' decision to provide land and labour, single species and mixed stands of olive, juniper and eucalyptus were planted at their request. After two years, 96% of the trees had survived in each of the villages, with equal mortalities amongst the species. Encouraging growth rates in all three species, but particularly with the Eucalyptus, were observed.
Options for the future include coppicing eucalyptus for fuel, whilst using native species for local industry. Alternatively, the eucalyptus may be harvested and the native woodland restored. The latter option would allow the reintroduction of native herbs, shrubs and grasses from the small areas of remaining woodland in the country. However, it will be almost a decade before an assessment can be made of these alternative options.
IUCN/WWF Forest Conservation
Newsletter June 1996 p 12
23 Bath Buildings
Bristol, BS6 5PT UK
The drought tolerance of some 900 different strains of cowpea was evaluated in a collaborative research programme between scientists from the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and IITA. The scientists found that the drought-tolerant strains yielded about one tonne/ha without irrigation during the dry season in the Sudan savannah. Lack of rainfall in the area often results in drought during the ripening stage of the crop, therefore the need for drought-tolerant crops.
Later trials in Kano, Nigeria yielded similar results.
Some accessions, found to be highly drought tolerant, produced several pods per plant 85 days after sowing. However, seed size, seed coat colour and texture were found to be inadequate and research is continuing to improve these characteristics.
· Iwao Watanabe/Tomio
Div. Biological Resources
Ibaraki, 305 JAPAN
New genes for cassava
American, Swiss and British scientists have developed techniques to transfer 'foreign' genes into cassava. This will open up possibilities for improving cassava in ways which, hitherto, have eluded researchers.
The key to the breakthrough is the development of techniques by British scientists at the University of Bath that make it possible to regenerate cassava plantlets from single cells from which mature cassava plants can be produced. This is a crucial development as adding 'foreign' genes is most successfully done at the single cell stage, but previously scientists had found it difficult to regenerate cassava plantlets from single cells. The Bath researchers have achieved this with two improved cultivars from Nigeria and Colombia. Whether the new technique will work with all cassava varieties has yet to be established. The procedures developed at Bath open the way for American and Swiss researchers to use their techniques to transfer the genes into cassava.
American scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have succeeded in bombarding single cassava cells with micro-particles of gold coated with the gene. The particles act as micro-bullets which penetrate the cell wall, thereby carrying the 'foreign' gene into the cell. Meanwhile, Swiss researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have used a bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, to transfer new genes into cassava cells by infecting the plant cells naturally by introducing their own genes. The bacterium could also be manipulated to transfer other genes.
These technologies should also make it possible to introduce pest and disease resistance in those countries where it has not been possible in the past, and to improve the quality and storing properties of this very important tuber crop.
· School of Biology
University of Bath
Bath, Somerset BA2 7AY, UK
The Scripps Research Institute
10666 North Torrey Pines Road
CA 92037, USA
Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology ETH Zentrum
LFW E 17
CH-8092 Zurich, SWITZERLAND
Tropical vegetables conserved by fermentation
Fermentation is a biological method of preparing and preserving food which makes use of the bacteria and yeasts that are naturally present on fresh produce. It is one way of using up a seasonal glut in production and of conserving vegetable waste for animal feed.
The process is simple. The vegetables to be fermented are sorted, washed, and either left whole or chopped up. They must not be treated with any kind of disinfectant. They are then immersed in brine or dry-salted under shade in the open air. The container can be quite rudimentary, so long as it can be hermetically sealed. Fermentation is spontaneous at ambient temperature, due to the lactic bacteria that are naturally present on fruit and vegetables, and provided that the concentration of sodium chloride is correct.
This form of processing can be used for a variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. Lactic fermentation provides a new method of treating okra (Hibiscus esculentus) which results in a product similar to gherkins. Fermented pawpaw (Carica papaya) is similar to sauerkraut. It can be kept in brine for several months, and not only is it delicious but it also retains its vitamins and other nutrients. Mangoes that have been fermented can be used in chutneys, juices, syrups or jellies.
The widespread use of this process in Trinidad has resulted in a 50% reduction in the amount of fruit wasted when there is a seasonal glut.
BP 2202, 97196 Jarry Cedex
COURSES AND CONFERENCES
· IPC LIVESTOCK, BARNEVELD IS OFFERING THE FOLLOWING COURSES:
- Modern animal feed manufacturing - 2- 13 June 1997
- Feed formulation (which can be attended independently or in combination with the course above) -16-20 June 1997
- Modern layer farm management - 2-13 June 1997
- Modern breeder farm management - 2-13 June 1997
- Modern broiler farm management - 16-27 June 1997
- Modern hatchery management - 16-27 June 1997
- Modern pig farm management - 2- 13 June 1997
- Artificial insemination in pigs - 16-27 June 1997
- International course on poultry husbandry 18 August 1997-20 February 1998
- International course on pig husbandry 18 August 1997-20 February 1998
Either of the above courses may be followed by the course below or it may be attended separately:
- International animal feed training programme 23 February-22nd May 1998
The international courses and training programmes are intended as mid-career programmes for extension officers, agriculture teachers, instructors and managers in the field of husbandry of small farm animals, and use of animal feed and its manufacture.
IPC Livestock Barneveld College, Head of Department of
Studies & Cooperation Programmes, PO Box 64, 3770 AB Barneveld
Fax: +31 342492813 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
· INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON BIOTECHNOLOGY OF TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL SPECIES
To be held in Brisbane Parkroyal, Australia from 29 September - 3 October 1997.
Organizers Australia, PO Box 1237, Milton, AUSTRALIA
Fax: +61 73367 1471 email: email@example.com
· CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAMME IN AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY (CEPAT) IS OFFERING THE FOLLOWING DISTANCE TEACHING FOR RESIDENTS OF THE CARIBBEAN REGION ONLY TO START 7 APRIL 1997:
Agricultural & food marketing
Research methods & data analysis Econometrics
The Technical Officer Extemal Programme in Agriculture CEPAT, Faculty of
Agriculture, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine,
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Fax: +809 662 1182
· The faculty of Agriculture of the University of Bonn has devised an AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN THE TROPICS AND SUBTROPICS (ARTS) post-graduate programme for a Master of Science in Agriculture (M.Agr). The application deadline is 15 March 1997 for admittance in the following winter semester for applicants from Universities outside Germany (15 August for those in Germany).
Further information about ARTS and applications from:
Dekan der Landwirtshaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Bonn,
Aufbaustudiengang ARTS, Meckenheimer Allee 174, D-53115, Bonn,
Fax: +49 228 733146
· VETERINARY EPIDEMIOLOGY AND
ANIMAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT
This is a post graduate training course consisting of five modules of four weeks which can also be taken separately.
Tom de Graaf, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Postgraduate Studies in
Veterinary Medicine, Luisenstrasse 56, D 10117 Berlin, GERMANY
Fax: +49 (30) 2093 6349