The goal of the ECHO Seed Banks is to serve as a resource for development workers who wish to experiment with underutilized crops as they work to improve the lives of small scale farmers and gardeners. The seed bank maintains a collection of hard-to-find seeds that thrive under the often difficult growing conditions of the tropics and sub-tropics.
Seeds naturally have a place in almost any endeavor having to do with agricultural development. Seeds of most food plants are small and, as such, are more easily transported and can be shipped longer distances than vegetative cuttings. For the farmer, seeds represent the promise of a continued supply of food. As with any development “tool,” however, seeds can be misused. For instance, distributing improperly stored seeds that germinate poorly could expose farmers to risk of crop failure.
The world needs to produce an estimated 60 percent more food by 2050 to ensure global food security, and it must do so while conserving and enhancing the natural resource base. Water is a major input in the provision of food – from production in the field through all the steps in the value chain. Water is also required to meet personal and household needs, for energy and industrial production, and to maintain important water-dependent ecosystems and ecosystem services. With demand and competition for water on the rise, however, the planet’s water resources are under increasing stress due to climate change, poor management and pollution.
Effective management during the postharvest period, rather than the level of sophistication of any given technology, is the key in reaching the desired objectives. While large scale operations may benefit from investing in costly handling machinery and high-tech postharvest treatments, often these options are not practical for small-scale handlers. Instead, simple, low cost technologies often can be more appropriate for small volume, limited resource commercial operations, farmers involved in direct marketing, as well as for suppliers to exporters in developing countries.
The plants category is the place for general discussions about plants and crops. This is a great place to ask for crop recommendations, as well as get help with what you're currently growing.
Appropriate Technology Technical Notes describe simple, small-scale technologies aimed at improving people's access to food, water, and shelter. Each document introduces and explains the general concept behind the technological solution, some even include instructions of how to construct your own.
ECHO continues to be motivated by agricultural and community-based needs and strives to make its technical resources available to both global and domestic organizations. Through the Community Garden Assistance Program, an expansion of our organization within southwest Florida, ECHO offers resources such as basic trainings and consultation for local garden projects. A unique perspective that ECHO brings to the domestic community gardening movement is a perspective of agriculture shaped by our work with small-scale farmers in many of the poorest regions of the world. We seek to provide an opportunity for practical and affordable ideas to be shared and communicated across the globe. This often takes the form of low-cost and low-input recommendations, which typically include the use of nutritious tropical perennials and subtropical plant varieties as part of a sustainable agricultural system.
Many people today are finding themselves in situations where they need to produce food in what is considered unconventional agriculture conditions. Whether it be due to the restrictions of limited space, such is the case for those living in cities or challenges of work with community gardens, schools, or orphanages seeking self-sufficiency, ECHO offers resources to support the farming endeavors of those with little to no land. With solutions ranging from urban gardening on rooftops to growing food in feed-sacks and tires, these techniques show how farming can be done even with limited land and resources. Through the use of local and readily available resources these options can be easily accessible and cost effective ways of supplementing food and income for those facing the challenges of urban and community gardening.
Discussion about this site, its organization, how it works, and how we can improve it.
Welcome to the Central Asia/Eastern Europe Group! Feel free to use this group to discuss issues in agriculture and development that may be specific to this region. This is the only temperate geographic area on ECHO Community, and the only one addressing Central Asia. So embrace the uniqueness and feel free to ask questions specific to this fascinating and complex region of the world.