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close this bookSPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 38 (CTA Spore, 1992, 16 p.)
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Bi-monthly bulletin of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation


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
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ISSN 1011-0054

Integrating fish farming and agriculture

Present systems of farming will not meet the projected food needs for most ACP countries in the twenty-first century. Where sufficient water is available and soils are suitably water retentive, the integration of aquaculture with agriculture could make a significant contribution to food supplies.

Many current farming methods degrade the environment and unrelieved poverty continually forces farmers to adopt non-sustainable systems of tillage and grazing. Slash-and-burn farming, which was sustainable when populations were very much smaller, now contributes to widespread deforestation and erosion. One estimate is that 142 million hectares of rainfed crop land in Southern and Sudano-Sahelian Africa have become 'decertified' as a direct result of agriculture, while salinization of irrigated land has affected five million hectares in the same regions of Africa. Several states in the Caribbean and Pacific are also witnessing similar despoilation of once productive forest and farm land.

Rural people recognize the consequence of their actions but their poverty generally precludes them from adopting alternative ways of deriving a living. They have to use land and water resources ever more intensively and, in the absence of sustainable systems, exploitative techniques prevail.

The need for new sustainable farm systems has been recognized for decades but there has been a general lack of agreement as to how they might be developed. One major reason for this failure may be that research workers have been locked into specialist disciplines, whereas what is required is a multi-disciplinary systems approach. However, recent developments in Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSRE), particularly in agroecosystems analysis, offer guidelines for scientists to see how resource use may be intensified and diminished environments regenerated by integrating agriculture with fish-farming.

Waste not want not

Aquaculture provides a way of using agricultural waste to make marginal lands more productive, provided that soils are water retentive. This will vary with the local geology but experience has shown that suitable soils are to be found in many localities. However, test digging must precede any major commitment to pond construction.

Fish convert plant and animal waste into high quality protein and simultaneously enrich pond mud for use as fertilizer on crop land. Such a cyclic, sustainable system where elements of crop, livestock and fish production reinforce each other is illustrated diagrammatically in Figure 1.

The value of this kind of integrated system to intensify farming and also to regenerate the environment through diversification and recycling has been demonstrated through collaborative research by the Philippines based International Centre for Living Aquatic Resource Management (ICLARM) in Malawi.

Farmers in Malawi's Zomba district recognize six land types, from mountain to river plain. The agroecosystem analyst arranges the land types in sequence to form a 'composite' transect listing all enterprises, soils and water characteristics (Fig 2). There are major differences between high water-table floodplain types; the sandier soil, low water-table flat types; and the sloping land types. Flood plain lands are further divided according to whether they are cultivated or not. Crop and livestock enterprises vary accordingly, as Fig. 2 shows. Fishponds are constructed in wet lands and homestead land when a nearby stream or spring permits.

Zomba's agroecosystem transect suggests many points for joining together land and pond 'crops'. Pond mud would revitalize vegetable plots. Pond water could irrigate vegetables and water animals. Animal manure, together with crop residues, weeds, tree leaf litter and rotten fruit and vegetables could fertilize ponds as well as soil. Other crop by-products such as maize and rice brans could also be fed to fish.

Already some farmers are exploring these connections to intensify use of their resources. Some have upgraded impoverished land into orchards, fishponds, fodder and vegetable plots. In essence they are intensifying the use of land and water resources in a sustainable manner through species diversification and nutrient recycling. In many cases resource productivity increases, farmers' incomes rise, soils are improved and the water kept clean.

Water quality and production

Integrated aquaculture systems involve many variables and are therefore highly site-specific. Most systems depend on simple ponds with limited, if any, water exchange. This allows a build up of the nutrients that support the growth of natural feeds, especially if fertilizers, manures or other waste products are added. In consequence, natural feed levels in such ponds may reach far higher levels than those found in most natural aquatic systems. However, it is essential that there is a balance between added organic matter and fish population in order that a healthy ecosystem is maintained.

The density of fish that can be maintained in a pond is largely related to the availability of food. As a result, integrated agriculture aquaculture systems are very flexible and ideal for utilizing the range of raw materials available in rural areas. A comparison of different levels of pond management shows that whereas unfertilized, poorly-managed ponds yield 50-200kg/ha/year, ponds which benefit from agricultural waste feeding and stock management yield 5000-10,000 kg/ha/year. Even 50kg of fish per year provides variety in the diet and additional animal protein. Yields of 200kg can meet a family's needs and leave surplus for occasional sale, whilst higher yields demand guaranteed regular market outlets.

Actual yield depends also on the species of fish stocked, as different species feed on different organisms and plant matter. In all situations the aim of successful pond culture is to manage the different pond organisms in order to maximise the utilization of waste materials and their conversion into edible protein. An efficient waste-fed pond can support growth of 30kg/ha/day. If this were available year round, the potential production would be 1090kg/ha/year. In practice, because of availability of fry (young fish) or water, climate changes, and the need to drain and harvest ponds, there are usually 200-250 growing days per year. 6000kg/ha/year would be an excellent output for such ponds.

Africa is a relative newcomer to aquaculture, compared with most Asian countries, and lack of experience and training has led to many disappointments. However, farmers in several African countries are developing their own expertise and several aquaculture specialists have commented favourably on their progress and potential.

Fig. 2 - Agroecosystems transect, Zomba, Malawi

Andre Coche, who spent 17 of his 26 years' service with FAO in Africa and is an eminent authority on aquaculture, believes that while the most widespread system is still one where fish growth depends on naturally available food, integrated systems are preferred by the farmers who are increasingly contributing to the development of aquaculture in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Mr Coche points to the vast possibilities offered by culture-based fisheries for intensifying the use of local resources and regenerating the environment. It is his opinion that the general potential for development is high in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and it is relatively good in Lesotho and Swaziland. Angola and Mozambique present good opportunities for the future.

African experience

In Cote d'Ivoire freshwater aquaculture in rural areas is practiced mainly on a smallscale, for instance in the region of Bouake in the centre of the country. Fishponds have also been introduced in some schools to encourage pupils to participate in agriculture and aquaculture, as well as to contribute to feeding the school's pupils. The main species farmed is Tilapia nilotica, which yields on average three metric tonnes/ha/ year.

In Nigeria, many fish-farms have incorporated agricultural activities to diversify and to increase revenue. Live stock, poultry and crop production have all been l integrated successfully, and the most popular combination is crops livestock-fish. Where poultry or pigs are part of the system the animal or bird houses can be built over the water or, in the case of pigs and cattle, the wastes can be allowed to drain into the pond. In rice-fish farming the rice provides a spawning ground for the fish, a very common and ancient system in Asia. Where rainfed agriculture is the norm, maize, groundnut and soya are being planted specifically to provide fish feeds.

In Luapula Province of north-east Zambia the Zambian Department of Fisheries and the FAO supported programme, Aquaculture for Local Community Development (ALCOM) has encouraged small-scale pond fisheries. ALCOM is based in Zimbabwe and is a regional programme covering the SADCC countries. It aims, through extension methods, development and testing, to assist in the growth of small-scale aquaculture throughout the region. Research into practical techniques in Zambia is being assisted by the University of Sussex and the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling.

In the past, agriculture in Luapula has been based around citemene, a form of slash-and-burn cultivation. However, a combination of government pressure and increased population density has led to more settled agriculture. The rural dietary staple is cassava, supplemented with millet, maize, groundnuts, and a limited range of vegetables. In certain parts of the province protein malnutrition, particularly of young children, is among the highest in the country. The protein shortage, the fact that fish is a favourite food of Luapulans, and the abundance of surface water, all make for a promising potential for aquaculture development. Indeed, recent years have seen a rapid spread of aquaculture

Fish-rearing provides work for the whole family among small-scale farmers and in some villages virtually every household has at least one pond.

Most ponds in Luapula are less than 200m2 and at present two species are produced: Tilapia rendalli and, to a lesser extent, Oreocromis macrochir. Inputs to fish ponds are largely plant materials, both agricultural byproducts and natural vegetation. Animal manure is also used where available but is generally scarce. Climatic factors limit production to the rainy season (September/October to March) and current outputs are extremely variable. The best yields are estimated to be about 500kg/ha/ year, although most active farmers produce significantly less. Nevertheless, despite this seemingly low productivity, many farmers declare themselves to be happy with their ponds.

Less encouraging are reports that although many ponds are being dug in Luapula, management practices are often very poor. Ponds are badly sited or incorrectly constructed, fish are fed only infrequently despite the availability of food, compost cribs are either not constructed or are poorly maintained, and ponds are left unstocked. Evidently much has to be learned about which farmers adopt integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems and what factors influence the success of some and the failure of others.

Success or failure?

Some farmers will recognise the benefits of integrating fish into their farming system, while others may not feel that they can cope with the added workload, investment or more complex management. Studies by ALCOM in Zambia show that farmers with the fewest options for employing their time, land and water are often early adopters and achieve the highest yields of fish. This is advantageous because the poorer the farmer's household, the more likely that the increased income from fish production will ensure a long-term increase in productivity in the farm as a whole. Conversely, if a farmer is fully occupied and already earning a good income from the land and water available to him or her, there is little justification for persuading him to take up fish farming. However, some successful farmers will have the imagination, financial resources and energy to develop their farming business even further by integrating aquaculture into their crop and/or livestock enterprise.

Research workers from the Universities of Sussex and Stirling are undertaking work on why some farmers in Luapula Province, who have the potential to undertake fish farming, fail to do so. The indications are that those who adopt fish farming tend to be slightly better educated, slightly better off financially, and are more likely to be male, than non-fish farmers. Evidence shows that women have been slower to take up fish farming than men and, overall, relatively few Luapula women have ponds in their own right.

There are signs that one major constraint for women is the difficulty they have in constructing their own ponds: there seems to be a general unwillingness by menfolk to assist with pond construction while the women already have other domestic and farming responsibilities and so have little time to spare. Women may also not have direct access to tools for digging.

It is not yet clear what the role of emergent fish farmers in communities where aquaculture is a strategy for survival at subsistence level will be. There is the potential for some to specialize as suppliers of fingerlings to others to their mutual benefit, but there is a danger also that a few 'elite' farmers will take over the prime means of production and dominate fish production to the detriment of their neighbours. However, this is probably less of a risk where fish farming is a part of an integrated system because, once established, external inputs are minimal.

The future

The current ways in which farmers in many ACP countries use their land and water can neither meet the demands for food and income, nor for environmental conservation. Intensification of food production is required, but without the usual environmental degradation. And yet any system that fulfills these criteria must be within the management and financial capabilities of large numbers of resource-poor farmers. Integrating fish farming with agriculture appears to be such an option. Aquaculture can be integrated with agriculture to the benefit of farmers and the environment but it is a new production system with many aspects that are totally novel to the great majority of rural people in ACP countries.

If such a new system is to be successful government assistance will be essential for training, initial supply of fingerlings, advice on management while farmers gain experience and encouragement of the less advantaged who could benefit most.

There is a growing database of practical experience to draw on from ICLARM, ALCOM, FAO projects in francophone Africa and private enterprises in Nigeria.

The efforts that governments should put into aquaculture will depend on several factors, including its expected contribution to economic growth, by raising consumption of fish. However, an additional economic factor that must be taken into account is the synergistic effect on food production that will result from integrating fish farming with agriculture, and its beneficial effects on the environment by reducing, and even reversing, degradation.

Fish-farming in Sub Saharan Africa - profits waiting to be netted

Fish-farming is a long-standing and traditional activity in Asia, but it is relatively new to Africa, arriving only in the last half century or so. Its potential has yet to be developed: me annual tonnage of fish, approximately 10,000t, accounts for only 0.1% of world production. But the increasing demand for fish, especially in urban areas, means that there is likely to be a boom in aquaculture.

African fish-farming can be classified into several categories. At the rawest end of the scale is 'family' aquaculture. the peasant farmer will dig out a pond by hand, with the help of family members, to rear tilapia for his domestic consumption only. This practice is common in many francophone African countries and often receives considerable aid from international organizations or NGOs for the breeding of young fish, extension and training work, personnel, etc. However! the result) are universally disappointing, the farmers are not motivated, yields are low and incomes poor. The second category is small-scale commercial aquaculture, which is beginning to be a significant factor, especially close to cities. The difference between this and family fish-farming is that it is essentially a business concern which necessitates buying in materials and marketing the produce. For this reason fish-farmers establish their businesses close to towns in order to make use of the urban infrastructure and the marketing potential. FAO has developed a project of this type in Cote d'lvoire, in the Bouake and Daloa regions. About 50 farmers have dug out their own ponds and now breed their own young stock and rear them with the help of the project staff. Research has shown that it is these small or medium-scale ventures which seem to have me best chance of succeeding.

The characteristic of the third category, 'network' aquaculture, is mat its different stages (hatcheries, fish-feed processing, fish production) are separated.

This system is well-suited to some areas, for example where there are lakes, lagoons or water courses. The lagoons of Cote d'lvoire have rearing projects in enclosures and cages, and Niger has set up cage culture schemes in the river. It particularly suits some sectors of the population for example it can provide an alternative living for fishermen when their traditional sources of income are insufficient, and city businessmen are able to invest capital in the hope of significant returns. However, further research into the ideal environment for fish-rearing and into improving feed is still necessary.

The final category - 'industrial', large-scale aquaculture - is carried out in sizeable production units. It depends on high productivity and, for example, raceways, tanksorcages, which demand considerable capital outlay. Burkina Faso set up the Banfora Aquaculture project of intensive-system fish production with cages and raceways, but hatchery and feed probleme forced it to close down in 1936. An industrial fish farm in Brazzaville (Congo) forecast tilapia production of 500 tonnes per annum in concrete raceways using water pumped up from me nearby river. This enterprise was also bedevilled by numerous technical problems which slowed production, and financial results were well down on the forecasts. At present this type of fish culture is extremely problematic in that the cost of production is still considerably higher than the sale price.

All these categories of fish-farming are surveyed in Aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa, which has just been published by the French Ministry of Cooperation. It analyses the current state-of-the-art and suggests some future directions. Particularly useful are me many case studies used to support the theories put forward by the authors, and the analysis of socio-economic factors, especially the market study comparing farmed and wild fish. Also described in this book is 30 years' experience of experimental research done in the field. It addresses the problems of the training need to improve the technical and professional skills of African aquaculturalists.

Fish-farming in sub-Saharan Africa, case studies in the francophone countries - proposals for future action, research report by Jerome Lazard, Yves Lecompte, Bozena Stomal and Jean-Yves Weige ISBN 211 086732 9 Price 120ff Distributed by AGRIDOC International BDPA SCETAGRI, 27 rue Louis Vicat 75738 Paris cedex 15, FRANCE

Exports from francophone Africa have their wings clipped

Reduced air freight capacity is handicapping West African producers. If there is no competition between airlines producers cannot shop around for the best deals in freight transport, and so are powerless to fight off East Africa's increasing share of the export market.

North-South freight transport by UTA/Air Afrique has fallen sharply: the tonnage carried of the 14 main exports from francophone Africa dropped from 32,738t in 1985 to 21,671t in 1989. Only a few years ago it was still perceived as a priority to fill the cargo holds of aircraft which were returning empty to Europe. Due in the main to the economic crisis, Africa has been importing less while at the same time increasing production (tropical fruit and out-ofseason vegetables) for the European export market. Now, only at Lome, Douala and Niamey does the volume of air freight from the North exceed that leaving from Africa. On the Abidjan, Dakar, Ouagadougou and Conakry routes the greater amount goes from South to North.

Space on combined passenger-freight flights (40 tonnes) or on cargo-only planes (95 tonnes) is increasingly limited and so exports of pineapples, avocados, mangos, pawpaws, exotic plants and cut flowers are not always successful in finding a place. And things are unlikely to improve; that is the message being received by the Comite de liaison Europe-Afrique-Caraibes-Pacifique (COLEACP). The only solution for the ACP countries would seem to be to produce goods of a sufficiently high quality and value that the airlines will be able to get some viable return from them.

Despite efforts to maintain freight levels (extra cargo space has been provided on routes from Ouagadougou, Dakar, Lome and Conakry), the problems are on-going. On some flights planes are switched, or cargo is poorly treated or not handled at all at stop-overs. This means that airlines have to announce a change in their carrying capacity without notice. For instance, at Dakar the cargo capacity of Air France planes depends on how much the planes coming in from South America or the West Indies are carrying.

No scope for charters

The exporters believe that the restructuring of Air Afrique and the current pressures on the UTA/Air Afrique/Air France triumvirate are likely to mean that the Franco-African cartel will try to gain a monopoly at those African airports which have been seen to welcome 'outside' (ie non-French) companies such as Alitalia or Sabena. The Italians have in fact refused to take part in negotiations, and the Belgians will not budge. Neither do independent cargo charters get much of a look-in.

Some charter flights do use Accra airport in Ghana, and the tariffs for cargo going to Europe via Belgium are only about half those of the scheduled flights.

UTA declares that "one of our priorities is to take perishable goods from land-locked countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso", but this is not always an economically viable enterprise. Freight carried from South to North is charged at a rate of 200-300F CFA per kilo (for vegetables) and companies have to make up with higher rates for North-South cargo, for which they charge an average of 1250F CFA/ kg. Airlines obviously cannot fly out empty, so, since the South imports less and less from Europe, 70% of fresh African produce for Europe goes back on passenger flights. This type of freight carriage, known as 'padding', is relatively profitable for the airlines.

During times of recession some products are more attractive to airlines since they are charged at higher rates. Plants are transported for 390F CFA/kg and cut flowers at 425F CFA.

The success story of Kenyan green beans illustrates the mechanics which govern the market. The product, which is of a high quality and has a regular supply, is favoured by European import companies. Anglophone African states, unlike their French-speaking neighbours where airlines can dictate freight costs, can impose their own price schedules which are generally lower than those fixed by the IATA Conference. In 1990-91 Kenya fixed the rate for freighting green beans "by government decree" at 275F CFA/kg, which was accepted by British Airways, whereas Air France was unable to make a tariff of less than 375F CFA/kg profitable, and was ready to drop out of the competition. French importers, desperate for Kenyan beans, took the panic step of agreeing to pay the difference to Air France.

How to stop protectionist policies

The total exports of green beans from francophone Africa in 1989-90 amounted to 600t, while Kenya alone despatched some 13,000t. So how can the francophone states stop the protectionist policies of the French airlines?

Despite France's attempt to fix a quota on East African fruit and vegetables, the European Community's decision that there should be free import of produce to Europe from all ACP countries will eventually change things. But the situation for the francophone African states is urgent and all the more alarming because not only do they have to contend with the surge of 'anglophone' fruit and vegetables, but they are also trying to compete with the enormous advance of Latin-American products on European markets.

According to COLEACP the only answer is improved quality, a more regular supply and greater organizational efficiency.

Crafts for rural employment

Rural people have long shown their varied artistic talents as painters, potters, sculptors, carvers and weavers. Whether for family use, for barter or for sale, the production of artifacts has generally been regarded as a "spare time" activity. Could such craft activities be developed more widely to provide employment during periods of low agricultural activity in order to supplement rural incomes?

Almost every country produces a wide variety of craft products for sale, from mohair rugs in Lesotho and tapestries in Senegal to coconut palm woven products and seashell ornaments in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Beadwork, batiks, wood and stone carvings, and clay and metal sculptures are produced in almost every ACP country. Originally, many of these products were crafted by rural artisans employing traditional techniques passed down and refined over generations. But, having pioneered the market, rural craftsmen are being superseded by urban based production. Can the rural producers compete?

As with most forms of production there are economies in larger scale output, and groups of artisans working together in an organized way benefit from centralized buying of raw materials, centralized design, artistic interaction and training within the group. Also, there are benefits in being able to offer market outlets a wide range and high volume of products.

Many urban-based craft production groups have been assisted, and even initially managed, by international aid organizations. The emphasis has been on assisting disadvantaged people with poor employment prospects; as a result, many such projects have trained either the handicapped or unemployed women heads of households. Many such craft projects also sell a substantial proportion of their production to NGOs such as Oxfam Trading, Traidcraft Exchange, Caritas and Tearfund for marketing in Europe and the United States.

Matching urban competition

If rural craftsmen, artists and artisans are to compete successfully with urban producers they too have to form groups, work together and gain the benefits of volume purchase and sale. Those preferring to work as individuals have to develop niche markets for their products, which must be seen as offering originality in design and quality of work that is superior to the mass-produced articles and can therefore command higher prices.

Craft products may be utilitarian or purely aesthetic, but in both cases it is the general attractiveness, originality of design, quality of work and final cost that determine what people will buy. Local talents and preferences should be given free expression to optimize all the talent available in the community. Young people, and those who have travelled outside the community, may be better able to develop designs in sympathy with current tastes. New designs and products should be tested for market acceptance before they are produced in volume.

If craft work is to provide a meaningful source of employment in rural areas artists and artisans must work through agents or traders to reach sales outlets. Exceptionally, rural craft workshops may be on tourist itineraries so that the ultimate purchaser comes direct to the producer. To capitalize on this advantage craftsmen must develop personal skills that help to sell their wares: attractive displays, personable and friendly attitudes and reasonable prices are essential. For tourists, seeing the artist at work is a further attraction. Roadside sale of woven baskets and furniture is a common sight in some rural areas and rural craftsmen can also keep costs down by selling direct to tourists in the environs of hotels.


Some rural craft groups have exported their own products. An example is the Mbooni Women's Handicraft Project in Kenya, which was set up in 1985 with help from the UK-based Traidcraft Exchange, the Danish Volunteer Services and Kenya's Ministry of Social Services. The main product is sisal baskets (kiondos), which are made by the women at home or are woven "on the move" as the women go about their daily work.

The kiondos are sold in Nairobi and Mombasa with 50% of production being exported through Scandinavian trading organizations and the relief agency Caritas. In Lesotho, the potential was realized for adding value locally to the country's major product, mohair. Women were organized to spin the wool and weave it into attractive and hard-wearing rugs, which found a ready market locally and are now exported to the UK and the US.

Future possibilities

Crafts which flourish in Asia, and which could be developed in some ACP countries, include silk weaving based on local sericulture and lace making. In Sri Lanka local initiative alone has resulted in thriving lace-making and batik groups, largely comprising fisherfolk women. Rural women's groups in Bangladesh have been assisted by the Bangladesh Government and UN World Food Programme both to plant mulberry trees for feeding silkworms and to harvest, spin and weave the silk produced.

If governments wish to promote such rural enterprises for the benefits that they can bring in off-season employment, additional income and arresting urban migration, investment will be required in assessing market demands, providing training and facilitating access to credit. The realization by rural people that opportunities for craft production exist leads to recognition and development by them of a wide range of latent skills.

Networking for sustainable agriculture - at the crossroads?

Dr John Farrington has worked for extended periods as an agricultural economist in Malawi, Sri Lanka and Bolivia, and for shorter periods in many other countries. He has been coordinator of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Agricultural Research and Extension Network since 1987, and is currently Chairman of the Agricultural Administration Unit at ODI.

Networking is now a fashionable concept and has attracted much donor funding. Thirteen European-based networks concerned with sustainable agricultural development having an aggregate membership of 15,000, most of whom are based in the South, recently met to form an umbrella organization, AGRINET.

Recent donor interest in networking has stimulated a proliferation of newsletters and related publications. Whilst these meet some requirements adequately, it seems to be that it is now time for networks to consider opportunities, particularly those offered by electronic information technologies, for their members to take on more proactive roles.

At its simplest a network is a group of institutions or individuals who share information on themes of common interest. Networks perform many of the same "dissemination" functions as eg. professional journals and audiovisual media, but, for me, what makes them essentially different is their aim of generating interaction among members. Most networks publish a register of members and a newsletter containing editorials, viewpoints, interviews, news of forthcoming conferences and training courses, reports of work in progress and reviews or summaries of key literature.

In my view, networking has specific advantages: timeliness - Networks aim for greater immediacy than eg. journals, publishing preliminary results and news of work in progress in order to stimulate contact among members. focus and access- agriculturists are faced with two related problems: an enormous increase in the volume of published information, and increasing difficulty in identifying what is relevant and then having access to it. Networks seek to overcome these problems by focusing on a narrow subject area. responsiveness - Networks typically consist of self-selected groups of individuals who are motivated to contribute material to the Network, and the coordinator responds to members' requests for information. grey literature - Much valuable experience is not formally published and so never enters formal abstracting and literature search services. Networks stimulate practitioners, even those for whom publication is not a high priority, to share experiences which otherwise might remain unknown.

In my experience, networks can be distinguished according to: degree of formality- are they simply informal exchanges among like-minded individuals, or do they produce a register and/or newsletters and papers, if so, how frequently and of what type? hierarchy- do they aim to serve practitioners directly, or do they have a structured function in relation to other institutions or networks? principal activities - do they focus on a particular commodity, discipline or subdiscipline or do they treat wider problem areas? mode of operation - newsletters are a near-universal means of communication in networks. But other important fore exist such as workshops and the 'groupes de travail' of the Reseau Recherche Developpement.

Taking a look in the crystal ball, some of the preconditions for a steady and more sustainable expansion of networking in the future already seem clear: First, networks are not a panacea. Some services, such as abstracting and bibliographic search and retrieval, require specialist skills and facilities. Networks should link their members into these, and create user-demand on them, rather than try to provide them directly. Second, more information on networks' current and planned activities is needed not only by network members, but also by coordinators of other networks, to avoid duplication of effort and to identify gaps that need to be filled.

All networks aim to be interactive but my experience suggests that the extent to which members are allowed to influence network agenda is highly variable. A rarely recognized drawback of relying on printed output is that members are recipients of a limited range of information. Electronic information technologies (ElTs) of various types allow proactive access to a much wider range of information: E-mail allows transfer of documents and "conferencing" among numerous participants; databases, whether bibliographic, statistical or register-type information, are now widely accessible even to microcomputer users via modem links to "host" mainframes and allow individuals to search eg. Iiterature on particular themes of interest: CD-ROM allows disk copies of bibliographies or full-text information to be made and shipped to library centres in the South from which it can be accessed and selectively printed out (copyright permitting).

We all realize that some problems with ElTs remain to be overcome, such as the poor quality of some telephonic links and the limited access to ElTs outside urban areas in the South, but I am convinced that they have important potential for enhancing the networking power of South-based practitioners. How they can most productively and equitably be deployed is a major future challenge for networking.

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

Crop protection for resource-poor farmers

The problems that face the small-scale or resource poor farmer in the world today are complex: yet in many developing countries it is these resource-poor farmers who have to produce not only enough food for their own families but also a surplus for the urban population. They also have to produce cash crops either for processing by local industry or for export. Foreign exchange earnings, as well as the livelihood of individuals, depend largely upon their efforts.

Recognizing that yields of resource-poor farmers" crops are much lower than those recorded in the developed world, and that pest damage is a significant contributing factor, CTA, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Institute of the UK, organized a seminar on Crop Protection for Resource-poor Farmers. This was held from 4-8 November 1991 at the Isle of Thorns Conference Centre, University of Sussex, UK and was attended by 24 delegates from ACP countries and a similar number of resource-persons from the EC and elsewhere. Most delegates represented research establishments or their country's ministry of agriculture.

The objectives of the seminar were to provide a forum to examine and evaluate pest management techniques ranging from traditional practices to 'western', high technology approaches; to consider the relevance and usefulness of the latter to resource-poor farmers; to identify which of the modern and traditional technologies are most likely to benefit farmers in the African, Caribbean and Pacific states; and to propose means of promoting them.

In his introduction to the seminar, Mr Alan Jackson of CTA called for vigilance in assessing the effectiveness of new technology, technology which frequently ran the risk of being too narrowly-based. He challenged delegates to consider the extent to which the activities of scientists were really helping farmers with their problems and added that technology which stays in the laboratory is of no use to farmers.

Commenting upon the necessity to put the farmer first when attempting to solve farmers' problems, Dr Robert Chambers of Sussex University, one of the keynote speakers at the seminar, emphasized that farmers' participation is crucial. He said that controlling pest damage was a good example of where farmers should have "a basket of choices" rather than be given a "package of practices".

Mr John Perfect of NRI said that the integrated pest management (IPM) approach to crop protection, should provide farmers with the opportunity to make that choice. He pointed out that IPM called for the minimum use of agrochemicals and the maximum use of natural, regulatory mechanisms. However, he stressed that since improved crop protection was essential in order to increase yields, the use of agrochemicals could not be ruled out and, in certain circumstances, may even be increased.

Dr Theresa Sengooba, the Director of Namulonge Research Station in Uganda, who gave the second keynote address, stressed that the crop protection technologies that are being developed for resource poor farmers should be feasible, socially acceptable, environmentally sustainable and, above all, economically beneficial to the farmer. She felt that economic threshold levels are under-researched in many developing countries. Although levels have been established for some pests of major cash crops such as coffee and cotton, there is a need to determine economic threshold levels on all major pests of food and cash crops. This would improve the value of monitoring information and disease forecasting, and would help to guide decisions on research priorities.

Many of the speakers presented examples of crop protection techniques that reduce the need for pesticides. Dr Nick Jago of NRI described how, in Mali, farmers protect their fields of millet by planting sorghum, which is less susceptible to grasshopper attack, around the boundaries. Again stressing the importance of cultural methods, Dr Julian Mchowa of the Ministry of Agriculture, Malawi, said that having a closed season for cotton as well as ensuring that all plant residues are burnt after harvest, helped to control red and pink bollworm. Farmers are also encouraged to plant varieties of cotton which are resistant to jassid attack and to avoid spraying with insecticides in the early part of the season so that populations of beneficial insects can increase. A similar programme is practiced successfully in Zimbabwe.

Classical biological control has a very high cost benefit ratio when the desired ecological balance between pest and predator has been achieved. However, as Dr Winfred Hammond of the IITA Biological Control Programme in Benin pointed out, vigilance is still required. He said that farmers in Ghana had been controlling the grasshopper damage to cassava by spraying with insecticide, a measure which was proving to be more effective at destroying the beneficial insects which control mealybug and green mite. He described how encouraging farmers to spray earlier, on the weed grasses where the immature grasshoppers develop, had reduced the quantity of pesticide required, protected the beneficial insects and had proved to be a more effective method of controlling damage.

The need for a broad view was expressed by many of the delegates present, not only when presenting papers but in the discussion groups that were formed to consider crop protection from the viewpoints of a resource-poor farmer, a research scientist and a policy maker. Summing up the feeling of the seminar, Dr Florence Wambugu of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute said that IPM is the best method of controlling any pest or disease but that it does need very good coordination to be effective. She suggested that another aspect of IPM should be to train and educate so that traditional methods are not lost and can be integrated effectively with the use of resistant varieties, quarantine measures, disease forecasting and cultural, biological and chemical control. And she observed that women's groups were often the most receptive to new ideas.

At the end of the seminar, Alan Jackson (CTA) re-emphasized that scientists and farmers must work together far more often and over longer periods of time. And when policy-makers try to identify farmer needs, they must consult farmers themselves so that their indigenous knowledge of how to grow crops, and protect them from pests, is fully recognized.

Making more of mushrooms

Mushrooms, or edible fungi, are appreciated for their good taste and nutritional value by many cultures, but to a rather limited extent in most ACP countries. In many places they are collected from the wild, but it is possible to culture mushrooms, although to do so successfully their biology and growing requirements must be understood. It is to assist the wider understanding of the potential of mushrooms as a farm crop in ACP countries and their exploitation that CTA has co-published with the Transfer Technology for Development (TOOL) the practical Manual on mushroom cultivation.

Techniques of cultivation, species and opportunities for commercial exploitation in developing countries are described with case-histories, diagrams and illustrations. Some of the information has previously only been accessible to readers of Chinese and is available now for the first time in English.

Mushroom growing involves many steps, from selecting a suitable technique and strain to spawn manufacturing, growing the crop and marketing the final product. This manual on the cultivation of mushrooms in tropical situations covers general biological information about the nature of mushrooms, information on how to conduct a feasibility study, the commercial potential of mushrooms, and technical information on the cultivation of more than ten species of fungi.

In earlier times cultivation of mushrooms often failed because their biology was not understood. The first records indicate that the wood ear mushroom (Auricularia) was cultivated from 600 AD onwards. The cultivation of white mushrooms (Agaricus) started about 1650 in France. Cultivation spread rapidly after the second World War when reliable spawn (mushroom seed) became commonly available in a number of countries. However, most mushrooms are still currently produced in the western hemisphere and South-East Asia, especially mainland China and Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Mushroom growing has many advantages. No arable land is needed and agriculturaI wastes, such as straw, are converted into fertilizers and soil conditioners. Income is generated, because mushrooms have a high added value in comparison to other crops. An extra source of protein and valuable vitamins and minerals is added to local diets. In most cases a fast return on any investment is possible.

The Chinese have developed many methods of growing mushrooms with limited inputs and it is some of these methods described in this book that are published for the first time in English. These techniques can easily be applied in ACP countries also and a start has been made. Examples are Malawi, where the government has sent technicians to Taiwan to study Agaricus production; and Burundi, where the Chinese have recently started a commercial spawn enterprise.

The potential for using waste products as a growing medium or substrate may be particularly appealing to many ACP countries. Shiitake mushrooms can be grown on wood logs in mountains with broadleaf tree forests, on pasteurized corn cobs and on sawdust. A technique for growing mushrooms on coffee pulp waste developed in Mexico can be adapted for coffee growing regions in Africa, Jamaica or Papua New Guinea. Culture can be in beds or where the substrate is held in plastic bags. Spawn production is still one of the limitations for mushroom cultivation in Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia. Suitable strains are hard to obtain and there are still too few strains available that are suited to high temperature climates.

However, some commercial strains from the Far East for low-input cultivation car now be ordered. Technical skills and c theoretical background are necessary to produce the spawn and accurate guideline: on producing various types of spawn are described in Manual on mushroom cultivation.

In general, literature on mushroom culture is expensive and is not aimed at developing countries. By making the information in this book available to extension workers in ACI countries, CTA is encouraging the further dissemination of knowledge on a crop with considerable potential to farmers in their own country through local media and in the own language.

The publication is available from CTA, free of charge, for ACP nationals.


Insecticides can increase pest damage

Groundnut farmers in India apply so much insecticide that they end up inducing pest outbreaks. Their counterparts in Africa rarely use chemical sprays, and their crops suffer less damage from pests.

Researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India have been looking at why African groundnut crops suffer little from pest damage. It seems that because Indian farmers spray at least seven times in the season the natural enemies of the pests are just not able to recolonize the crops as quickly as the pest.

When the groundnut crop is quite young it is attacked by jassids and thrips. These cause only superficial damage, which results in no crop loss. But the farmers are encouraged to spray against the pest because the crop begins to look untidy and yellow. However, the spray not only kills the jassids and thrips but also the parasites of the groundnut leaf miner, the next major pest to appear.

Plant biotechnologies in Senegal

A new plan/biotechnology laboratory opened in Dakar, Senegal, in October 1991. It was funded by the French Ministry for Cooperation and was set up by the Senegal Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) and the institut francais de recherche scientifique pour le developpement en cooperation (ORSTOMl).

The complex consists of two large laboratories and four rooms for in vitro culture and planting seedlings, and accommodates 20 scientists. The laboratory is headed by Pape Sall of Senegal's DRPF/ISRA (Direction des recherches pour la production forestiere).

ORSTOM Route des Peres Maristes BP 1386, Dakar-Hann SENEGAL

When ICRISAT withheld sprays in their fields they found that 70-80% of the miners were parasitized and, in consequence they caused less crop damage. But if the parasites are killed, the miner can be very destructive. Later in the season the armyworm appears and starts to eat the leaves.

Farmers do not realize that these pests can eat up to half the leaves without having any affect on yield. Even when farmers do spray, the costs incurred are not recovered by the increased yield.

The last important pest of the season is Heliothis or pod borer. By this time any beneficial insects have been killed by all the previous spraying.

ICRISAT plant breeders have now bred groundnut lines that are resistant to jassids and thrips. ICRISAT hopes that farmers using these new lines will not use sprays early in the season. If sprays are withheld at that time there is usually no need to spray later on, because the beneficial insects have been able to increase their populations.

ICRISAT researchers hope that African farmers will be able to benefit from the results of these findings.

ICRISAT Patancheru PO Andhra Pradesh 502 324 INDIA

Book donation scheme for Africa

Many African libraries are unable to purchase books published outside their own countries because of lack of foreign exchange.

However, a new donation scheme jointly administered by the Ranfurly Library Service (See Source of Information page 16) and African Books Collective Ltd. will ensure in future that books from 20 African publishers will be made available to 12 major academic libraries in Africa.

With funds provided by donors the scheme will help to overcome severe book shortage in Africa and allow students and scholars in one part of Africa to gain access to the scope and vitality of African publishing from other parts of the continent. The administrators of the scheme hope that other funding will be forthcoming so as to extend the scheme to additional universities, and also to major public and national libraries in Africa.

Ranfurly Library Service
2 Coldharbour Place
39/41 Coldharbour Lane
London SE5 9NR, UK

Hot chickens need cool water

In hot weather chickens succumb to heat exhaustion, which very often leads to death. But an Israeli poultry farmer has found an easy solution to the problem: give the chickens cool water to drink.

A chicken has a normal body temperature of 39°C. It maintains this temperature partly by drinking water. However, the Israeli poultry farmer noticed that when the weather was hot the chickens actually drank less, and he suspected that the chickens were put off drinking because the water was too warm. Even using air-conditioning in the shed made no difference.

So he started to cool the water, and immediately the chickens resumed their normal drinking habits and fewer chickens died from heat exhaustion. The farmer has now developed a means by which water can be kept between 20°C and 25°C all the year round.

The system has now been tested by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture. They found deaths from heat exhaustion dropped from 12% to 10%. There were other beneficial effects as well: egg production rose by 10%; the egg laying period was prolonged by a week and the number of broken eggs was halved because the shells were harder. It seems that the bird is able to absorb more calcium when it is drinking enough water.

Division of Poultry Science, Agricultural Research Organization The Volcani Centre, Bet Dagan, ISRAEL

Cypress aphid devastation

The Kenyan landscape is undergoing a dramatic change. The Mexican cypress tree Cupressus Iusitanica, which is grown on 45% of the country's total industrial forest plantation area, is falling victim to the cypress aphid, Cinara cupressi, an insect which causes dieback, discoloration and eventually death.

Infestations of Cinara cupressi have also been reported from Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zaire and Zimbabwe. The first reported sighting of the cypress aphid in Kenya was in March l990. Surveys only three months later showed that it had spread to over 80% of the country's forests and was also threatening windbreaks and hedges grown for fuelwood.

In the warm climate of Eastern and Southern Africa the cypress aphid does not overwinter for a prolonged period in an egg stage as it does in its indigenous northern temperate regions. Parthenogenetic reproduction continues year round and since the lifespan of a single generation is about 25 days, and there are no natural enemies, populations increase rapidly.

The aphids inject a salivary fluid into the tree so that they can digest the sap, but this is toxic to the tree. Feeding causes desiccation of the stems and the progressive dieback of heavily in(ested trees. Aphids also produce honeydew and this encourages the growth of sooty mould which can interfere with photosynthesis.

Long-term pest management options are being actively sought by FAO in response to a request from the government of Malawi and, in the UK, the International Institute of Biological Control (IIBC) has begun a search for a biological control agent.

In Kenya FAO has funded an emergency technical cooperation programme to help institute emergency control measures until a longer-term project gets under way.

A full-scale project will aim to establish an IPM system within five years. Eventually a combination of silvicultural, genetic and biological measures IS likely to be developed to counter the effect of the aphid but, in the short term, early harvesting of trees which are in danger of dying minimizes economic loss and reduces fire hazard.

Unasylva, FAO Via delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome ITALY

Namibia doubles pearl millet yields

Most Namibians eat mahangu, a coarse cereal prepared from pearl millet. But despite its being a staple, no research was done on this crop in Namibia before Independence in 1990.

For most Namibians, the basic choice of food is between the flour of pearl millet and maize. Of the two, pearl millet is better adapted to semi-arid conditions. Maize does not grow well in the drylands of Namibia, which have low and unpredictable rainfall, consequently maize flour has to be imported. But farmers have now been introduced to a new variety of pearl millet, Okashana 1 (also known as ICTP 8203).

ICTP 8203 is an open-pollinated pearl millet variety developed at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at Patancheru, India. The prominent characteristics of the variety are that it gives high grain yield, has a large seed, matures early, has resistance to downy mildew disease and yields well under end-of-season drought conditions.

With traditional cultivation practices, Namibian farmers have doubled their pearl millet yields. With improved cultivation practices they could even expect 2.4 tonnes/ha, about eight times the traditional yield of the crop. The consequence is that Namibia need no longer rely so heavily on maize imports.

Jugu Abraham
Information Services
ICRISAT Patancheru PO
Andhra Pradesh 502 324

Rapid on-farm multiplication of plantain and banana

Two new methods of propagating plantain and banana have been developed by the National Horticultural Research Institute in Nigeria. Both plantains and bananas are a major food in West Africa, but availability of propagating material has limited the expansion of groves 90% of which are owned by peasant farmers.

Lack of planting material and risk of disease transfer also pose problems for on-farm multiplication. The new methods use materials that would have been left to waste on the field and also ensure that true-to-type planting materials are used.

In the first technique, the split corm technique (SCT), corms are cut into sett sizes of 50g each and treated with fungicide. They are then air-dried for 24 hours before being planted in a 1:1 mix of forest topsoil and sterilized sawdust. New sprouts appear after four weeks from the date of planting and up to 20 plants have been obtained from one corm in this way.

The second method is the Split Bud Technique (SBT) and IS a modification of SCT. When the corn setts begin to sprout they are removed-from the nursery bed and split longitudinally into 4 sections. Using this method, up to 500 plants can be obtained from a single corm within 24 weeks.

These methods will greatly increase the supply of banana and plantain propagating material, especially as the methods are not complicated and require no specialized equipment.

B A Adelaja Fruits Division National Horticultural Research Institute PMB 5432 Ibadan NIGERIA

CGIAR annual conference

A significant budgetary cutback was adopted at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's (CGIAR) annual conference in Washington held from 28 October -1 November 1991. 1992 will see the budget of $251 million cut by six million dollars.

Visvanathan Rajagopalan, Vice-President of the Bank for Sectorial Policy and Research, was nominated as next head of the consultative group by Lewis Preston, President of the World Bank; this appointment was confirmed by the conference.

The consultative group, now 20 years old, comprises representatives of 40 governments, the World Bank, FAO and UNDP. It has 16 centres for agricultural research, five of which are in Africa.

CGIAR, 1515 H Street, NW Washington DC 20433, USA

Inexpensive termite control

Termites can be controlled without resorting to costly imported chemicals. Field trials have shown that preparations using locally available materials have been effective.

In India, for example, Gondal fluid made from 100g gum, 200g asafoetida, 200g aloe and 80g castor cake, mixed well with boiling water and when necessary thickened with clay, was painted around the base of trees. Poison baits can be made from 25g Paris Green, 100g flour, 80g sugar, mixed to a stiff dough. Small lumps of - - the mixture can then be dropped into termite nests or into holes bored in the soil. Where there is a danger to People or livestock, an alternative using a mix of flour with 50g borax and 100g sugar can be used instead.

Mixtures of lime and sulphur forked into the ground discourage termite attack. Carbolic disinfectant powder, diluted tar or tar water, where they can be ape safely used, are also useful preventatives against termites.

For larger quantities of the mixes, the amounts in the formulae can be increased, providing that all ingredients are increased proportionately.

James Sholto Douglas Director, Hydroponic Advisory and Information Unit, 7 Melrose Road Galashiels, Scotland TD1 2AE, UK

Worm-free sheep

A tropical breed of white hair sheep, St Croix, shows a remarkable immunity to intestinal worms. Within four to six weeks the lambs have developed almost complete resistance.

Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville USA, have been comparing St Croix, which comes from the Virgin Islands with the Dorset. In trials St Croix lambs had 99% fewer worms in their fourth stomach than the Dorset lambs kept under the same conditions. They also passed only 0.5% as many worm eggs in the faeces.

Researchers have found that the resistance is connected with a large number of immune cells called globule leucocytes, which are found in the fourth stomach. It is thought that these cells prevent the worms from attacking the stomach lining. They might even cause the worms to be expelled from the stomach. Unfortunately when the St Croix are crossed with other breeds the cross-bred lambs do not inherit the resistance.

The researchers are now trying to understand how the immune process works. Hopefully this knowledge will make it possible to transfer the resistance to other breeds. Researchers hope that one day it may be possible to transfer this resistance to cattle.

Dr R Gamble Helminthic Diseases Laboratory USDA-ARS BARC East Beltsville MD 20705, USA

First hybrid pigeonpea released

Plant breeders at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India have bred the first hybrid pigeonpea. It is now being released to farmers. This is the first time any pulse crop has been hybridized.

The pigeonpea, known as ICPH8, is earlier than the present varieties. This means it escapes many diseases. Yields are 3040% higher and it is very adaptable, standing up to drought or high moisture very well. It has performed consistently well in trials carried out in many parts of India.

It has been difficult to breed hybrids because the flowers of pigeonpea, and other pulses, are self-pollinating. So the only way to achieve any genetic improvement was to find landraces that were male-sterile. Plant breeders searched through 5,000 accessions from ICRISAT's genebank. A few were found and these were used to produce a number of hybrids, of which ICPH-8 was the best.

Other hybrids are also being tested as they might be suitable for different regions. Some are being tested in Kenya for use in agroforestry systems. Work is also going on to produce hybrids of the vegetable pigeonpea for cultivation in India, Africa and the Caribbean.

ICRISAT Patancheru PO Andhra Pradesh 502 324 INDIA

Sweet potato development

Sweet potato breeders at the Asian Vegetable Research And Development Center (AVRDC) have developed several true seed populations of sweet potato. This has been achieved through polycrosses of clones from many geographical zones.

The polycross populations are basically broad genetic pools from which outstanding clones possessing desirable characteristics have been selected. These characteristics, such as high dry matter content, resistance to diseases like the sweet potato scab, good levels of betacarotene and adaptability to local growing conditions, have been the goals of AVRDC research.

Now, however, AVRDC has decided to phase out its sweet potato programme and pass on the work to the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru. CIP already has many senior scientists working on sweet potato, which is their second principal crop.

AVRDC's germplasm collection is being duplicated and sent in vitro to CIP.

Courses and conferences


Wye College, 29 June-10/17 July 1992

A two-week briefing and training course for administrators working in agricultural and natural resource sectors. The course covers environmental economics, natural resource accounting EIA methods and procedures, economic appraisal of environmental impact of projects and policies. There is an optional third week on GIS/use of computers and environmental management.

Wye College, 13 July-18 September and 12 October-18 December 1992 A training course which provides thorough training in the use and application of standard packages including spreadsheets, databases, word-processing and statistics for rural development professionals: areas covered include survey data processing, project management, statistical analysis and software integration.

Details for both the above courses are available from: Mary Arnofd, Short Courses Office, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Wye College Ashford, Kent TN25 5AH, UK

University of Southampton 28 September-16 October 1992

An intensive course organized in association with the Hydraulics Research, Wallingford, which draws on extensive experience of irrigation management methods and performance assessment techniques.

The Course Administrator, KIM Short Course, Institute of Irrigation Studies The University of Southampton S09 5NH, UK

19 July 1992 (3 weeks)

A course for librarians and information professionals in the use and management of agricultural and related information including: overview of prlmary and secondary literature sources; principles of indexing and abstracting, computerized information and storage retrieval, database management etc. Candidates should have written and spoken fluency in English, and professional qualifications.

The Senior Training Services Officer, CAB International, Wallingford Oxon OX10 8DE, UK

University of Sussex, 24 August-11 September 1992

A study seminar for professional library personnel involved in the management and development of library services which aims to give practical training on information systems for libraries based on micro CDS/ISIS with demonstrations of other systems for comparative purposes. Candidates should be proficient in English.

The Chairman, reaching Area, Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RE, UK

Silsoe College, June-August 1992

The course is designed for a wide range of land use professionals and its modular nature and case studies will allow for appropriate emphasis in certain topics to be selected by the participants. The primary aim is to increase the effectiveness of professionals in the diagnosis, analysis and design of mixed cropping systems involving woody perennials.

Student Recruitment Executive, Silsoe College, Silsoe
Bedford MK45 4DT, UK

MANAGEMENT OF RURAL PROJECTS AND THEIR EVALUATION University of Edinburgh, 28 September-4 December 1992 This course is designed for technical staff on development projects. The content includes: introduction to development, the role of projects and the project cycle; project identification and formulation; project appraisal prior to approval and funding and monitoring and evaluating projects.

Hamish Macandrew, UnivEd Technologies Ltd, 16 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh EH8 9LN, Scotland, UK

19-24 July 1992, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Those wishing to attend or to submit papers should write to: The Scientific Secretariat, WAP, England
6703 ET Wageningen, The

1-7 July, 1992 to be held at St; John's College, The University of Cambridge and The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.

Miss Katherine Fort, Symposium Administrator, RASE, National Centre

Stoneleigh, Warwick CV8 2LZ, UK

Resurgence of interest in ostriches

Ostrich farming has been practiced in South Africa for over 120 years but the modern expertise in farming them comes from the USA. Now Zimbabwean farmers are increasing their interest, expertise and production, and exports are expected to exceed 15 million Zimbabwean dollars in 1992.

Exports of live wild ostrich are prohibited in order to conserve the small native population and therefore the gene pool, but farm hatched birds are likely to be exported to neighbouring SADCC countries. In America, intensive hatcheries are replacing natural incubation.

In the USA ostrich farming is a popular backyard industry. Currently, a cooperative is being set un to build and run a specialised abattoir in Zimbabwe. Once this has been built, ostrich farming may well become an enterprise for some of Zimbabwe's half a million small-scale farmers. With its very agreeable flavour, its high cluality protein and its low fat content the demand for ostrich meat IS reported to be well ahead of supply.

Kevin Grant, Ostrich Producers Association of Zimbabwe PO Box 1830, Harare, ZIMBABWE


Fungi that further fertility

Increasing crop production and land productivity in the tropics is essential if the food demand of the growing population in these areas is to be met. Of all the soil-related constraints on crop production, low soil fertility is the most severe on more than half of the arable land in the tropics. Infertile soils are acidic and may be deficient in phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium. On these soils crop production can only be Improved when fertilizers, in either organic or inorganic form, are applied, and when soil amendments are combined with improved crop production technologies. This is explained by Ewald Sieverding in his book Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza management, in which he describes the role these fungi can play in improving soil fertility.

Dr Sieverding explains that until about 20 years ago, vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal (YAM) fungi were virtually ignored by most soil and plant scientists. However, under controlled greenhouse conditions it has been demonstrated that VAM fungi increase phosphorus uptake. They also play a role in the uptake of other plant nutrients as well as in the biological nitrogen fixation of Rhizobium, the biological control of root pathogens, and the drought resistance of plants.

In 1980 a Mycorrhiza Special Project was initiated at the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), in Cali Colombia. The general objectives of this project were to test the agronomic importance of VAM in tropical crop production systems and to develop practical technologies to utilize VAM fungi as a biological resource to enhance phosphorus uptake and utilization.

Although the content of this book relates directly to South America, with particular reference to cassava, the principles of the VAM technology presented can be transferred to other crops and to conditions in tropical Africa and Asia, provided that the technology is adapted to the prevailing ecological and socio-economic conditions

Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza management by Ewald Sieverding

1991 371pp lSBN 3 88085 462 9 pbk GTZ, Postfach 5180

6236 Eschborn 1, GERMANY

Wheat in tropical environments

Ethiopia is the largest wheat producer in sub-Saharan Africa with about three-quarters of a million hectares of durum and bread wheat. It is one of the major cereal crops in the Ethiopian highlands produced at present solely under rainfed conditions.

Wheat research in Ethiopia CIMMYT book which covers wheat production anti research In Ethiopia. Although agricultural research in Ethiopia has been carried out for lo&rely 30 years, much has beenn accomplished in this time. This book deals with 16 disciplinary topics from wheat production and research to insect and rodent control and the utilization of wheat straw.

Another new CIMMYT publication is Wheat for the nontraditional warm areas, which derives from the papers presented at the International Conference on Wheat for the Nontraditional Warm Areas, held in Brazil in August 1990.

Wheat research in Ethiopia: a historical perspective edited by Hailu Gebre-Marlam, Douglas Tanner and Mengistu Hulluka 1991 392pp

ISBN 968 6127 57 7 pbk Published by the Institute of Agricultural Research

PO Box 2003, Addis Ababa ETHIOPIA

Wheat for the nontraditional warm areas edited by D A Saunders

1991 549pp

ISBN 968 6127 46 1 pbk CIMMYT, Lisboa 27

Apdo Postal 6-641
06600 MEXICO

Participatory technology development

Experimenting is as much a part of farming as planting seeds and tilling the soil. And yet, in many cases, development agencies have encouraged farmers simply to adopt new technology developed by others. Problems then arise when introduced technology fails significantly to improve low exernal input farming systems. Researchers have found that when it comes to developing appropriate technologies for rain-fed farming under difficult conditions, the smallholders are often way ahead.

Joining farmers' experiments is a collection of reports from both researchers and field workers, who have supported the efforts of farmers in diverse and risk prone areas, whilst helping experimenting farmers to link up and learn from each other. The range of experiences of various NGO development projects, together with national and international research centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America, will benefit others who seek appropriate ways of supporting farmer experimentation in their own areas.

This book contributes to the process of collaboration between local people and outsiders, in exploring the paths to sustainable development. It was written primarily for those who work with small-scale farmers in technology development, and for their respective agencies. The case studies can be used for training in NCOs, government agencies, agricultural colleges and universities.

The book includes a bibliography of recent publications about participatory technology development and is the first m a planned series of "ILEIA Readings in Sustainable Agriculture .

Joining farmers' experiments edited by Bertus Haverkort, Johan van der Kamp and Ann Waters-Bayer 1991 269pp UKL9.95 ISBN 185399101 8 Intermediate Technology 103/105 Southampton Row London WC1B 4HH, UK
Little is logical

Microlivestock is a detailed account of over 30 little-known small animals that could have a promising economic future. As well as dwarf breeds of cattle, sheep and goats, the book covers more unusual species that can be farmed profitably including deer, the giant rat, coypu and guinea pig.

Each potentially useful breed is analyzed and useful information set out under headings including appearance, husbandry, behaviour and uses. The muscovy duck, for example, is shown to have several advantages over the domestic duck, in that it is a good forager, is not so susceptible to disease and produces a lean carcass.

Easy to read, and with little technical language, the book will be particularly useful in those areas where good grazing is in short supply.

Microlivestock: little-known small animals with a promising economic future 1991 449pp ISBN 0 309 04437 5 pbk BOSTID, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW JH-210 Washington DC, USA

Protection and production

Approximately 60% of the developing world's poorest people live in highly vulnerable ecological areas. In many of these areas degradation of natural resources and ecosystems has become a mayor problem and, in many instances, immediate action appears to be essential.

Making haste slowly looks at environmental management specifically in relation to small-scale agriculture, as carried out by resource-poor farmers in marginal areas. It confronts the question of whether immediate action can achieve sustainable results, or if action based on more traditional approaches should be accepted.

Derived from a two-day workshop held in November 1990 in Amsterdam, the book contains knowledge from almost 40 Dutch specialists and includes case studies from six African, Asian and South American countries. This is the second volume in the Development oriented research in agriculture series from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT).

The third volume in this series is Woody species in auxiliary roles. This book contains eight papers on the use of three leguminous perennials; Leucaena leucocephala, Gliricidia septum and Flemingia macrophylla, as auxiliary species in the production of water yam (Dioscorea alata). Two main functions are covered: the relative suitability of the woody legumes as live stakes to support climbing yam plants, and the various uses of the mulches in crop fertilization, weed control, soil temperature and moisture regulation.

Making haste slowly edited by
H Savenije and A Huijsman 1991
239pp ISBN 90 6832 040 8 pbk

Woody species in auxiliary roles by A Budelman 1991 151pp ISBN 90 6832 041 6 pbk
Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Mauritskade 63
1092 AD Amsterdam

Farming systems research

"The urgency of improving the productivity of small-farm agriculture in the developing world is widely recognized. Not only is this essential for providing an adequate food supply to the world's poor, but a dynamic agricultural sector is also a key to more balanced and robust economic development. The challenge of making small-farm agriculture more efficient is difficult, especially because it depends on improving production from a large number of farms operating under a wide range of conditions, constraints and objectives. The task is shared by many people, including farmers policy makers and academics, but an important part of the burden falls on agricultural researchers and extension agents."

These words were written by Robert Tripp in the introduction to his book Planned change in farming systems:progress in on-farm research. He continues, "From time to time, searches for order and direction in agricultural or rural development produce what might be called a movement." This book is concerned with one such movement: farming systems research (FSR). The book is presented in three parts. Part I provides an introduction to the FSR movement and to on-farm research. Part 2 instances actual case studies from a number of African, Asian and Latin American countries and Part 3 deals with future directions for on-farm research.

Another book concerned with this subject is Farming systems development: guidelines for the conduct of a training course in farming systems development. Produced by FAO, the guidelines have been prepared for trainers to conduct courses in Farming Systems Development to facilitate the training of frontline extension and development agents in resource-poor countries in the FSD approach.

Planned change in farming systems: progress in on-farm research edited by R Tripp 1991 348pp lSBN 0471 93417 8 hbk

John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Baffin Lane, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1UD UK and Farming systems development: guidelines for the conduct of a training course in farming systems development FAO 1990 259pp pbk
FAO Publications Div. FAO Via delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, ITALY

The third international symposium on tilapia in aquaculture, abstracts of a symposium held in Abidjan, Cote d'lvoire 11-16 November, 1991

Biotechnologies in perspective, edited by Albert Sasson and Vivien Costarini, 1991 166pp ISBN 92 3 103738 7. A collection of papers given at the international seminar on economic and socio-cultural implications of biotechnologies, held in Vlay, France, 21-31 October, 1990 Published by UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, FRANCE

Cereals of me semi-arid tropics, proceedings of a meeting held in Cameroon, September 1989. Available from the International Foundation for Science (IFS) Grev Turegatan 19, S-114 28 Stockholm, SWEDEN

Crop networks: searching for new concepts for collaborative genetic resource management, edited by Th. J L van Hintum, L Frese and P M Perret, papers of the EUCARPIA/IBPGR Symposium held at Wageningen, The Netherlands 1990 Published by the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) HQ, Via delle Sette Chiese 142, 00145 Rome, ITALY

IBPGR: International Board for Plant Genetic Resources

The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) is an international scientific-organization under the aegis of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and established by them in 1974. The basic function of IBPGR is to advance the conservation and use of plant genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

In many countries, IBPGR has encouraged the establishment of genetic resources programmes where none previously existed. It has raised general awareness of the issues related to genetic resources, which in turn has stimulated the demand for training and research, for technical publications, and for scientific assistance to national plant genetic resources programmes.

Since 1974, IBPGR has funded the training of 1700 scientists and technicians throughout the world in all aspects of genetic resources work, from collecting and seed physiology to database management. The institute has been involved in the collecting of 200,000 samples of crops in 120 countries. In the area of research, priority is given to solving those problems which are identified by national programmes as posing significant constraints to their activities. Retention of diversity in collections, conservation technology and plant health are major topics, as is work on wild relatives of crops and on forest genetic resources which involves research on in situ conservation.

In the field of information technology, computerized databases covering a wide range of topics have been developed by IBPGR and are used extensively in programme planning. These databases include information on national genetic resources programmes, ex situ germplasm collections worldwide, and germplasm collecting carried out with IBPGR support.

Good documentation as a means of fostering germplasm management, exchange and utilization has been a priority of the institute. The documentation programme has developed descriptor lists to promote the standard description of accessions and the storage of germplasm data in an exchangeable format. To assist genebanks in establishing their own documentation procedures, IBPGR has provided its expertise as well as computer hardware and software to developing countries where appropriate. A current project, in collaboration with Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is producing a training manual to help national programmes improve their documentation.

In October 1991 representatives of the governments of Kenya, China, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy signed an agreement to establish an international institute for the conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources. It is anticipated that the new institute, to be called the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), will take over the duties of IBPGR (which is attached to FAO) late in 1992. A new 10 year strategic plan spells out four major objectives which will form the basis of IPGRI's programme of activities.

First, the institute will assess and meet their needs for the conservation of plant genetic resources and to strengthen links to users. Secondly, it will build international collaboration in the conservation and use of plant genetic resources, mainly through the encouragement of networks on both a crop and geographical basis. Thirdly, it will work to develop and promote improved strategies and technologies for the conservation of plant genetic resources; and finally, the institute will provide an information service to inform the world's genetic resources community of both practical and scientific developments in the field.

International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Via delle Sette Chiese 142 00145 Rome, ITALY

Ranfurly Library Service

The Ranfurly Library Service is a book aid charity based in the UK which distributes over 650,000 books every year in response to requests from more than 60 developing countries around the world. The books are sent to educational and community organizations, for adults and children, and the majority comprises textbooks for schools and universities.

The Service establishes close links with librarians in developing countries and thereby identifies needs in particular regions or for particular types of books. It responds by setting up special projects targeted at fulfilling those needs. In many African countries there is a severe shortage of secondary school textbooks. While local publishing caters to some extent for the primary level, most secondary titles still have to be imported. The Ranfurly Library Service seeks to fulfil this need and is also hoping to establish a project to support indigenous publishing in Africa.

The Ranfurly Library Service
2 Coldharbour Place
39/41 Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell
London SE5 9NR, UK