| SPORE No. 40 - August 1992 |
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
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
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
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