Need some advice from experienced workers!

Hi guys! My name is Feodor, I am currently working in Indonesia and hopefully will be starting to do a lot of farm visits to help farmers to assess their problems and come up with plans for solutions.
I have 3 questions that I would like to bring up to discussion, hopefully I would get some responses from more experienced people :grin:

  1. What general questions would you usually ask to farmers when assessing their farms/to get ideas on their farming practices?
  2. What problems with guava in tropical countries do you guys face? We have bad rust and fruit flies. How do you guys cultivate them? Any suggestions?
  3. Do you know if there is any design for pond/lake to help farmer go through dry season?

Thank you all!



I can share some on question 1. We approach farmers learning from them what is their greatest felt need. What is it that causes them to struggle on their farms? What is their greatest hindrance to success? What is the biggest problem on their farm? From there learn together with them. Help them arrive at a solution to their problems.

Also all our regional directors working with farmers are required to first read the book “Two Ears of Corn” by Roland Bunch. It is out of print but can be gotten used online. Between that book and Tim Albright’s lectures on community development your feet will be pointed in the right direction.:grinning:

Edward Martin


On No. 2, we grow guavas in the Philippines. Fruit fly and tea mosquito are the major pests. For the fruitfly, we use methyl eugenol attractant and wrap the fruits with newspaper and plastic bags. It is increasingly difficult to find cellophanes that last long enough now, so we are experimenting using banana wrap. Wrapping is also necessary to prevent sunburn. We are still working on an effective control for tea mosquito, as they even attack the buds. They are seasonal. Stem borer also attack - everything above dies but below is OK. When we see it we kill the borer, but it is a minor pest so we don’t do any other control.

Anthracnose is also a problem, for some reason worse for us in the dry season than the rains. Applying IMO to the ground and spraying it is helping control it.

At 5-7 years, the trees will often die (dieback). I have read that using cover crops reduces this and also grafting on to native rootstock. We are starting to grow natives for rootstock now.

Apart from the first year, we don’t do any weeding, just cutting. We did, but there was no benefit and the roots are very shallow, so easily damaged. We’re planting perenial peanut underneath now.

No.3. We buy UV resistant tarpaulin, which we get in a 3m width, so have a long pond. When the rains return we remove the tarpaulin to prolong it’s life. An 8m3 pond cost less than $100. We only need small ponds as we are able to fill overnight for use in the day. We installed a Philippine made drip irrigation system on over 800 guavas for a total cost of around $1.20 per tree. This also we remove when not in use. For some trees we use a tanker to water them. If you require any more details about any of these let me know.

Also if anyone has any tips on pest and disease control I would be delighted to hear.


Eric Read

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Hi Edward & Eric,

Thank you so much for a very in-depth answers. I have got plenty to start with!

Feel free to share more answers/experience! I will hopefully be coming back with positive result from these information.



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Hi Eric,

quick question, what does the growing condition look like for the guava plantation your are talking about? (Elevation, dew, moisture, temperature, etc.).

Ours is in 700m which is a little to high for elevation and we get dew from the mountain pretty often even in the dry season which I believe worsen the leafspot on the leaves and reduce the amount of sun light received)




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Hi Feodor - Adding to Edward Martin’s good advice: When you are asking farmers questions (and do this often and over a long time!), learning from them, often a key problem that they identify is a market problem. Prices too low, can’t sell enough etc. Marketing is always a problem for farmers all over the world. If this comes up, be careful not to offer any quick solutions before digging into what the key problems are: market access and logistics? competition and price? differentiation? middle men taking the profit? We have found that very often interventions that improve quality of produce and then quality during storage and transport gives the farmer the edge that he or she needs. After quality, selling as direct to the retail market as possible and avoiding middle men; then differentiation meaning introducing the farmer to grow items which their market demands but doesn’t have enough of. Finally, avoid the temptation to become the middle man or the buyer as part of the solution. This is full of pitfalls and problems. All the best!


HI Feodor,

We are at less than 200m elevation, temperature range 18-36 degrees humid tropics. We have wet season and dry season, it can get very wet and very dry. We do get dew but not mist. We are about 8 degrees north. The guavas seem to be able to tolerate standing water and high water table for a few days. We’ve lost papaya and cassava to saturated soil but not gauvas. We don’t get any leafspot so I can’t help you there. Interestingly and contrary to everything I’ve read, anthracnose is much worse for us during the dry season than the wet. There is neglible dew and our watering is direct to the ground, so a mystery.

During the rains, we can go for days without seeing the sun or seeing it only briefly but have not noticed any adverse effect. We harvest all the year round. Further south many harvest only once or twice a year.

I can echo Stan brown’s comments, we sell our guavas direct to a family who retail them as cut up fruits from a motorbike and outside the market. We get a better price and they get a weekly or 2x delivery on the day they want them. They also get first call on other seasonal fruits we have in small quantites. It works for both of us.


Hi Stan thank you so much for the information, lucky we already have a buyer that will continuously buy from us!

I am posting 2 of the symptoms that we have on our leaves which I am not quite sure what it is.