UN AND PARTNERS SEEK $34 MILLION TO ASSIST DROUGHT-STRICKEN GUATEMALANS (UNNews)

Read at : UNNews

UN AND PARTNERS SEEK $34 MILLION TO ASSIST DROUGHT-STRICKEN GUATEMALANS

New York, Mar  5 2010  2:05PM

The United Nations, together with the Guatemalan Government and aid partners, today launched a $34 million appeal to counter food shortages affecting 2.7 million people living in the Central American country’s so-called ‘dry corridor,’ which even before last year’s drought had one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (<“http://ochaonline.un.org/”>OCHA) said today’s appeal will complement national relief efforts and provide support for food, health, nutrition, agriculture and early recovery, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene projects for six months for some 680,000 people living in departments in the eastern section of the country, including the dry corridor – Jutiapa, Santa Rosa, Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso and Baja Verapaz – and the neighbouring Izabal and Quiché. Global acute malnutrition among children under the age of five in the dry corridor and the two neighbouring provinces is at 11 per cent, and at 13 per cent among women of child-bearing age. Both figures are above the emergency threshold of 10 per cent.  The dry corridor had faced annual food shortages before, but this year, the situation is exacerbated by a combination of bad weather and bad economics.

El Niño-affected rainfall patterns in the country lead to high losses in hillside and subsistence agricultural production.

Meanwhile, rising food prices brought on by the global economic crisis, a decrease in remittances, cost increases for agricultural inputs and a decrease in employment opportunities for unqualified labour has led poorer people suffering from decreased capacities to access food and basic services.

The situation of Guatemala’s food shortages has received increased international attention. The World Food Programme (<“http://www.wfp.org/countries/guatemala”>WFP) recently held a video competition about the 1 billion people hungry in the world and the two aspiring filmmakers who won the grand prize are heading to Guatemala to highlight the plight of the drought-ridden country’s people.
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For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

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JUST AN IDEA (Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Best practices to counter food shortages in dry regions, where child malnutrition is one of the main problems. Besides “national relief efforts and provide support for food, health, nutrition, agriculture and early recovery, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene projects for six months”(short-term relief), long-term solutions can be found in small-scale farming and gardening (BAN KI-MOON).  “Global acute malnutrition among children under the age of five” can be alleviated with small kitchen gardens in which container gardening contributes to saving water.

Even if “rising food prices brought on by the global economic crisis, a decrease in remittances, cost increases for agricultural inputs and a decrease in employment opportunities for unqualified labour has led poorer people suffering from decreased capacities to access food and basic services.”, low-budget investment in construction of family gardens and container gardening would lead to long-term and sustainable improvement in the living standards of the people in dry regions.

2008 – INDIA/TAMIL NADU/SCD PROJECT : Successful container gardening in a family garden, providing fresh food in  a drought-stricken area with a minimum of irrigation water.
2008 – INDIA/TAMIL NADU/SCDA PROJECT : Simple and inexpensive preparation of a family garden
2008 – INDIA/TAMIL NADU/SCDA PROJECT : Low-budget initiative with high return on investment
2008 – INDIA/TAMIL NADU/SCDA PROJECT : Child malnutrition alleviated with long-term fresh food production (vitamins, mineral elements).
2008 – INDIA/TAMIL NADU/SCDA PROJECT : With a small part of the financial support for food aid, transporting food to the affected areas, a sufficient number of kitchen gardens and school gardens can be installed.
2008 – INDIA/TAMIL NADU/SCDA PROJECT : SCAD’s women selfhelp groups feel extremely happy with the small agricultural inputs for their home garden. A challenge for all aid programmes.

GHANA: Volta Foundation to harness youth for faster development (NGO News Afrioca / Willem Van Cotthem)

Read at : NGO News Africa

GHANA: Volta Foundation to harness youth for faster development

Ho, Feb 18, GNA – The Volta Foundation, a development advocacy NGO, is to harness the energies of the youth to accelerate the economic growth of the Volta Region. Mr Dumega Raymond Okudzeto, President of the Foundation, was addressing its fourth anniversary durbar on Thursday in Ho under the theme “Harnessing Our Energies for the Accelerated development of the Volta Region: 2010, the Year for Youth Empowerment”. He described the youth as the region’s most treasured asset without whom the repositioning of the region for accelerated development cannot happen. Mr Okudzeto said the Foundation had assembled a team of resource persons to talk to the youth and inspire them to go the extra mile to achieve their life’s ambitions and become useful to the region and the country as a whole.

Volta Foundation has since its establishment campaigned alone and also partnered other organizations to find antidotes to the sluggish economic growth of the region. This culminated in the November 2009 Volta Trade and Investment Exposition in Ho held by the Foundation in collaboration with the Region’s political authority and the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) with technical support from the SNV. The Eastern Portfolio Coordinator of the Dutch Development Agency (SNV), Mr Dick Commandeur, said a good option for the youth in the region now was to get the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce.

He said it was not enough for officialdom to recognize that agriculture and tourism were the important economic sectors in the area, but also to “invest ideas, time and money to make the sectors give a good income so that they become attractive to young people”.

Mr Commandeur called for efforts to stimulate informal businesses, and urged young people to be “impregnated with the idea of entrepreneurship. They should also learn to “take initiative, take risk, elaborate new ideas and partner with others”.

Mrs Dorothy Gordon, Director of the Ghana/India Kofi Annan ICT Center, advised the youth to take advantage of the Volta Foundation’s ICT centers to be established in various parts of the region to gain skills that would enable them to boost their chances of getting employment.

Other papers delivered were on the state of agriculture in the region and its prospects.

Source: GNA http://www.ghananewsagency.org/s_economics/r_12679/

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MY COMMENT (Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Before gaining skills in the ICT centers “that would enable them to boost their chances of getting employment“, getting the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce would certainly be far more profitable for the African youth, not only that of Ghana.

Young people can deliver a tremendous contribution to the sustainable development of their region after being trained in the best practices of agriculture and horticulture.  On the African continent, in particular in rural regions where a high percentage of the population is regularly affected by hunger, NGOs should concentrate their efforts on small-scale farming and small-scale gardening.

Boys and girls can effectively help their families to secure sufficient food and to improve the families’ financial situation.  Take the example of Patrick HARRY in Malawi (see former postings on this blog), who has set up a “Youth Club”, called the “Future of Malawi”, in which he is training young people in container gardening.  His first successes were booked within a period of 2-3 months.

With very limited financial resources, rural and even urban youth can get the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce, be it with kitchen gardens, container gardening, allotment gardens or with vertical gardening in the cities. No one can deny all those success stories showing the remarkable return on investment of these cultivation methods, going back to the roots of the population in all the drylands of the world.  Once small-scale farming produces sufficient fresh food to bring food security, time will come to introduce new technologies.  Let us not put the horse behind the wagon !

Helping their families to quality fresh food and creating possibilities to take quality food to the market offers more opportunities to “harness youth for faster sustainable development”.

That is a noble challenge for all NGOs and Foundations, if not for the international agencies concerned.

No Green Wall without small-scale gardens for women (Willem Van Cotthem)

My attention was caught by some statements in Mrs. Priscilla ACHAKPA’s interview, referred to a former posting on my desertification blog:

Nigeria: WEP Wants Green Wall Sahara Programme (http://allafrica.com/stories/201002180504.html)

This Executive Director of the Women Environment Programme (WEP) urged the Nigerian Government to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall Sahara programme (GWSP), which she called “an integrated development strategy for combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought and climate change” (see also UNCCD).

Mrs. ACHAKPA observed that the impact of desertification raised security concerns, especially among the vulnerable groups.  She stated that “the impact of climate change is more on women in the rural areas as they have little or no understanding of the issues involved”.  Her NGO, the WEP, intends to conduct a study on gender awareness of climate change issues, because adequate information on climate change is necessary to evolve steps to control it.

Agreeing with some of Mrs. ACHAKPA’s ideas, I want to congratulate her for asking to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall programme.  Indeed, such a nice programme, being a real challenge for all the Sahelian countries involved, merits massive support to speed up its achievement.

On the other hand, I disagree with her that Nigerian and other Sahelian rural women will be better off with “adequate information on climate change necessary to evolve steps to control it“.  Even supposing that there would be a small chance to find adequate information on climate change for rural women, I am not so sure that this will help these vulnerable women to handle their security concerns raised by the impact of desertification.

Even if the Green Wall programme may play a little bit of an interesting role in some aspects of climate change, it will not be tremendously important for the rural families in the northern provinces of Nigeria and in the other countries concerned.  I rather believe that it would be more efficient to invest in awareness building of the local population about the need to combine small-scale agriculture (or gardening) with reforestation in the Green Wall programme (agroforestry).

No doubt, we are all aware of the fact that such an enormous reforestation plan, with billions of trees to be planted in the Sahel belt, can never be achieved without “an army” of labourers for growing seedlings, digging plant pits and planting the seedlings.  These labourers will have to be well fed.  Tons of food will have to be produced at the local level.  By whom ?  By the local women ?  In this case, we would prefer that long time before the activities of the GWSP start all women can get “adequate information on ways and means to cultivate sufficient food for hundreds (thousands ?) of labourers of the GWSP working in their region”.

We can’t imagine that these women would be more interested in climate change issues than in best practices of food production in their dry region.

If well trained in cultivating all necessary species of vegetables and fruits, (dryland farming), they can not only use these skills during the implementation of the GWSP, but also for the rest of their life and that of their children, grandchildren, …

Therefore, just allow me this little piece of advice : start today laying out a small-scale garden for every woman in the northern provinces of Nigeria where the GWSP will be applied, because if there is not sufficient food production in those provinces when the labourers have to start planting trees, there will not be a Green Wall at all. Never, because planting trees with an empty stomach is so extremely difficult.  We all know this, even those strongly interested in climate change.

Collecting seeds of dragonfruit and tree tomato for development projects (Willem Van Cotthem)


Dragonfruits and tree tomatoes can be bought in supermarkets or fruit shops.

Dragonfruit is grown on the cactus Hylocereus :

  • Hylocereus undatus (Red Pitaya) has red-skinned fruit with white flesh, the most common “dragon fruit”.
  • Hylocereus costaricensis (Costa Rica Pitaya, often called H. polyrhizus) has red-skinned fruit with red flesh
  • Hylocereus megalanthus (Yellow Pitaya, formerly in Selenicereus) has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.

The fruit contains hundreds of black, shiny little seeds sitting in the pulp.  One can wash out the tender pulp in a fine sieve and dry the seeds on a plate (not on paper).  They usually germinate around two weeks after shallow planting.  Dry seeds can be sent to us (Beeweg 36 – BE9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium).  We offer free seeds to different development projects in the drylands, thus enabling hungry people to grow fresh fruits in a sustainable way.

Dragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing on climbing cacti - * Dragonfruit plantation - Photo Evariza Farms - 423871_101260033362712_1701936709_n.jpg
Dragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing on climbing cacti – * Dragonfruit plantation – Photo Evariza Farms – 423871_101260033362712_1701936709_n.jpg
Dragonfruit - Photo WVC P1030067
Dragonfruit – Photo WVC P1030067
Cross section of dragonfruit with black seeds in white pulp - Photo WVC P1030059
Cross section of dragonfruit with black seeds in white pulp – Photo WVC P1030059
Dragonfruit's shiny black seeds in rests of whitish pulp - Photo WVC - P1030111
Dragonfruit’s shiny black seeds in rests of whitish pulp – Photo WVC – P1030111
Germination of dragonfruit seeds - Photo WVC - P1030133
Germination of dragonfruit seeds – Photo WVC – P1030133
Dragonfruit seedlings on household paper - Photo WVC - P1030129
Dragonfruit seedlings on household paper – Photo WVC – P1030129

The tree tomato grows on a Cyphomandra betacea tree.

Oval fruits only look like tomatoes.  The juicy orange pulp with purply red seeds can be washed out in a fine sieve by squeezing the pulp under running tap water.  The dark colour of the seeds (anthocyanins) disappears gradually until they are brownish.  Seeds can be dried on a plate (not on a paper).  Seedlings develop quite easily in humid potting soil.

Dry seeds sent to us (see address above) are offered for free to development projects in the drylands, where these tree tomatoes bring fresh food full of vitamins to the local people.  Thus, anyone can contribute to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in this world.

Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea), an interesting fruit to be grown at the largest scale in the drylands. The tree should be incorporated in reforestation programs. - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA BETACEA Photo WVC - P1030139.jpg
Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea), an interesting fruit to be grown at the largest scale in the drylands. The tree should be incorporated in reforestation programs. – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA BETACEA Photo WVC – P1030139.jpg
Cross-section of tree tomato with orange flesh (juicy pulp) and dark red seeds - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA P1030143
Cross-section of tree tomato with orange flesh (juicy pulp) and dark red seeds – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA Photo WVC – P1030143
Seeds of tree tomato sit on their small stalk - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA P1030147
Seeds of tree tomato sit on their small stalk – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA Photo WVC – P1030147
When purplish red anthocyanins are washed out the seeds turn brownish - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA P1030151
When purplish red anthocyanins are washed out the seeds turn brownish – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA Photo WVC – P1030151
All contributions of dragonfruit seeds and tree tomato seeds are most welcome.  In the name of all the people affected by drought and desertification, suffering from malnutrition, hunger and poverty : Sincere thanks !

Help us with Navajo Globe Willow cuttings (Willem Van Cotthem)

Cuttings of Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’)

As we are setting up tests with drought-resistant varieties of trees to be introduced in refugee camps in the desert, we are looking for small cuttings (20-25 cm, 8-10 inches) of the Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’).  We would be very grateful receiving some cuttings to compare their drought tolerance.

2009-11-08 Cuttings of the Navajo Globe Willow in a plastic bottle and a glass to induce root formation

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‘Navajo’ is a very hardy tree, adapted to high desert climates, round-headed upright and fast-growing, spreading, large, deciduous, long lived tree, medium-sized, 20’ to 70′ tall and wide.

The tree seems to be sheared into a perfect ball. Its branching habit results in a characteristic globe shape: a broad, rounded, perfectly symmetrical crown spread of mostly fifty feet. Young 15’ tall trees start showing the rounded crown.

Slender leaves are bright green, lance-shaped, 2″-4″ long, turning yellow in fall.

Unlike most willows, this variety is popular in high desert and drylands because it is drought-tolerant, adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions

The name of the ‘Navajo’ variety of the Globe Willow is probably synonym with ‘Umbraculifera’.

The Navajo Globe Willow is related to the Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’).  Cuttings of this Corkscrew Willow would also be welcome.

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2009-11-23 Two weeks later a lot of roots are developing and the first branches are shooting

Please send some cuttings to:

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
BEEWEG 36
B 9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium

WHY NOT USING CUTTINGS OF NAVAJO GLOBE WILLOW TO REFORESTATE DRYLANDS ? – Willem VAN COTTHEM

Cuttings of Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’)

by Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)

We have been setting up successful tests with drought-resistant varieties of trees to be introduced in refugee camps. We are still looking for small cuttings (20-25 cm, 8-10 inches) of the Globe Navajo willow (Salix matsudana var. ‘Navajo’).

We would be very grateful to receive some cuttings from different origins to compare drought tolerance.

Who wants to help us to some cuttings ?  Please send them to :

Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem

Beeweg 36

B9080 ZAFFELARE

A cutting of Salix matsudana in a juice bottle can be easily transplanted in the field after cutting off the bottom of the bottle, setting the basal part of the rootball free (Photo WVC 2010-01)
A cutting of Salix matsudana in a juice bottle can be easily transplanted in the field after cutting off the bottom of the bottle, setting the basal part of the rootball free (Photo WVC 2010-01)

================
‘Navajo’ is a very hardy tree, adapted to high desert climates, round-headed upright and fast-growing, spreading, large, deciduous, long lived tree, medium-sized, 20’ to 70′ tall and wide.

The tree seems to be sheared into a perfect ball. Its branching habit results in a characteristic globe shape: a broad, rounded, perfectly symmetrical crown spread of mostly fifty feet. Young 15’ tall trees start showing the rounded crown.

Slender leaves are bright green, lance-shaped, 2″-4″ long, turning yellow in fall.

Unlike most willows, this variety is popular in high desert and drylands because it is drought tolerant, adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions

The name of the ‘Navajo’ variety of the Globe Willow is probably synonym with ‘Umbraculifera’.

The Navajo Globe Willow is related to the Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’).  Cuttings of this Cortkscrew Willow would also be welcome.

===============

Please send some cuttings to:

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
BEEWEG 36
B 9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium)

Commercial seeds versus “Seeds for Food” (AfricaFiles / allAfrica/ Willem Van Cotthem)

Read at :

AfricaFiles

Title: Uganda embarks on seed improvement
Author: Aidah Nanyonjo, Kampala
Category: Ecology
Date: 12/9/2008
Source: New Vision
Source Website: <http://www.africafiles.org/database/>

African Charter Article# 24: All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development.

Summary & Comment: Uganda has embarked on a two year project to develop and adapt seed varieties that grow well in the local environment. The research is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. AB


Uganda embarks on seed improvement

http://allafrica.com/stories/200812100139.html

Uganda has embarked on a two year project to develop and adapt seed varieties that grow well in the local environment.

Dr. Peter Seruwagi, the head of Horticulture programme at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI), Namulonge says the multi million project which is called ‘Vegetable breeding and seed systems‘ is funded by the Bill and Merinda Gates Foundation through the World Vegetable Centre. “We want to come up with seed varieties that are of good quality for improved productivity as well as consumption,” he said. Seruwagi says most imported seed varieties especially for horticulture do not do well in the Ugandan environment. The project will cover tomatoes, egg plants, onions and other vegetables. “It is not true that all the imported seeds are of low quality. They may be of high quality in the country of origin, but due to climatic differences they fail to do well here. We have received several cases where these seeds fail to germinate,” he says.

The Institute has organised a seed fair where Ugandan seed companies will exhibit their products. The seed fair, with a theme ‘Vegetables for health and wealth,’ will take place on December 12, 2008. “As part of the project, the seed fair aims at promoting the use of quality seeds and increased vegetable production for income generation,” he says.He said the market for vegetables has grown widely following the benefits they contain. “Eating a wide variety of vegetables means you are more likely to get all the vitamins and minerals that are important to your health,” Seruwagi added.

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MY COMMENT (Willem)

It is a well known fact that some imported seeds, even of the highest quality, will not germinate and develop into healthy plants, due to climatic or edaphic(soil)  constraints.

For that reason some comments on our “Seeds for Food” action doubt about the positive effect of the seeds we send abroad to development projects.

DSCN0304
2008-04 – Tomato production in a family kitchen garden in the Sahara desert

It goes without saying that we are conscious about the right choice of the species sent.  But even if not all the seeds offered for free to projects will germinate or develop into healthy plants, the percentage of them germinating and producing fresh vegetables and fruits is a big step forward for the recipients, because “Eating a wide variety of vegetables means you are more likely to get all the vitamins and minerals that are important to your health“.  And even the non-germinating seeds will always play a positive role, being organic matter that will be decomposed in the soil and thus contribute to the organic content of that soil.

We appreciate very much the efforts of  the “multi million project which is called ‘Vegetable breeding and seed systems‘  funded by the Bill and Merinda Gates Foundation through the World Vegetable Centre.  We expect that the outcome will be : an interesting selection of excellent varieties of seeds, producing bigger plants and better tasting vegetables.

However, the question remains if these selected varieties will be produced in Uganda (and in the other developing countries) at such a large scale that sufficient seeds will be offered for free to the poor rural people.  Or will they be produced by companies, putting commercial varieties of seeds on the market which again will be too expensive to be easily purchased by smallholders.

We remain convinced that offering free seeds of tropical fruits, collected from all the juicy fruits we are eating in developed countries, to small-scale farmers in the developing countries, is a valuable contribution to their sustainable development.  Taking into account the climatic and edaphic conditions at the sites or regions of the developing countries, where we are sending the collected seeds of vegetables to, is also a major step in that direction.  Once those smallholders have these free seeds developing in their kitchen garden, they are in a position to select seeds from the plants they are growing.  They will not be dependent anymore on “donations of seeds”.  They will be able to enhance bit-by-bit their annual income by taking the surplus of vegetables and fruits to the local market.  And at the end of the day they will earn sufficient money to buy the “top quality seeds” selected by their national experts and produced by the commercial seed companies.

In the meanwhile, we continue to collect seeds of vegetables and fruits and we offer them for free to every development project wanting to lay-out kitchen gardens, in particular in the drylands.

Is this working well ?  Ask the people who received already some seeds … or look at the pictures of newly installed kitchen gardens, even those in the Sahara desert.  Seeing is believing, isn’t it ?

DSCN0249
2008-04 – Engineer Taleb BRAHIM taking care of the right application of the seeds in the harsh climatic and edaphic conditions of the Algerian Sahara.

A convenient truth for family gardening (Willem van Cotthem)

In August 2007, I launched a new project “Seeds for Food” (see <www.seedsforfood.org>) for collecting seeds of vegetables and fruits, in order to offer people living in the drylands opportunities to grow fresh food themselves in small family gardens or community gardens.  This action is growing into a dramatic success as people on different continents are now sending seeds of the fruits they eat or from vegetables grown in their own garden.

Nevertheless, a number of people express their concern about the possibility that some of these seeds could belong to “invasive species”, which would rapidly invade the local ecosystems and thus be a nuisance for the local biodiversity.

Here is one of these “critics” and my reply thereon :

“I have some problems with the scheme you are talking about. It is not good for biodiversity. For example here in SA when people imported bramble berries they took off so well that now they are a huge problem covering millions of hectares of land that would otherwise be used for grazing or local crops. I have just spent an hour near the bridge removing the bramble before it takes off after a very good spring rain.

In SA what we need to do is gather and care for our own indigenous seeds, not plant foreign seeds. So the scheme wouldn’t work here. I hope the scheme will really not cause more problems in the long run for the countries where the seeds are being grown. …………..

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MY REPLY (Willem)

I understand fully your concern about the possible introduction of so-called “invasive species of plants”, rapidly dispersing in the original ecosystems and developing into a catastrophic nuisance.  This is certainly the case with bramble berries.  One should never send bramble berries abroad because this plant species is known as an invasive one of which the seeds are dispersed by a lot of animals.

Most of the vegetables, on the contrary, are not invasive.  And so are most of the fruit trees.

Now, let us suppose for a moment that tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery or parsley would spread quite rapidly over the dryland areas where we introduce them.  Would the local people mind finding these food crops around their houses after a certain time? If ever tomatoes would spread massively over desertlike areas, would we speak of a catastrophe for biodiversity ?  Or would it be even positive to see some green plants covering the dry soil?

So, I understand your concern, but I am very sure that the seeds we are sending abroad will never create such a problem.  Moreover, it would be better to create a vegetation layer over a dryland area with vegetables and fruits than to leave it barren, due to desertification.  Drought will always be the limiting factor in such areas.

I hope you see my point : we want to offer fresh food and fruits to the rural people in the drylands, not by sending them “food baskets”, rice, dry beans, peas, canned food and the like, but by offering them free seeds to be grown in their own small family garden.  Our “food aid” brings life into the drylands and takes care of the causes of hunger, drought and desertification.  That’s providing sustainable development, not by sending a billion of dollars load in an airplane, but in a small package full of different seeds.

And we are not sending invasive species !

Thanks for your remarks.

Friendly greetings,

Willem

Container gardening to create food security in the drylands (P.H. DIMUSA – Malawi / W. Van Cotthem)

Today I received a short report from Patrick Harry DIMUSA on his first efforts to launch container gardening in his home country Malawi.  Patrick studied in Ghent (Belgium) in 2007.  Before returning to his country he visited me to get some advice on technologies and methods to improve plant production in Malawi.

We discussed the advantages of :

1. Soil improvement by applying a water- and fertilizer absorbing soil conditioner.
2. Participation in our Seeds for Food project.
3. Container gardening to produce vegetables and other food crops in bottles, plastic bags, pots, etc.

Once back home, Patrick started a small-scale container gardening project in his own village, also using the seeds he received in Belgium (donated by many people of Western Europe).

Here is his first report on the results of his magnificent initiative :

“Dear Professor Willem,

First I would like to thank you for introducing me to “container gardening”.  To say frankly, the initiative impressed me and after my arrival back home, I formed an NGO by the name of “Future of Malawi (FOM)”.  The objectives of that organisation are to contribute in the fight against hunger, desertification and poverty in Malawi.

I remember well your advice that it is better to target children in this project, because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.  That is why FOM is working with children on most of its activities.  Most of the container gardening sensitization is done in the schools surrounding my village, which is the central location of my project.

Ever since I started this action I never received any funding.  Most of the money for the organization of activities comes from my pocket.  I did it because I believe in hard work and in the fact that everything that starts small can become big.

Currently, I am planning to buy some land to construct an “education centre” or a “demonstration centre” for the project.  To my site I take container gardening as the only possible rescue for poor countries like Malawi, because it can be started on a low budget.  Moreover, it helps to keep the environment clean by collecting useless plastic bottles and plastic bags, which are massively polluting nature.  Growing seedlings of trees contributes to the reforestation of our country.

As the founder of this project I am facing a lot of challenges to keep it going forward, due to financial constraints.  Therefore, let me take this opportunity to ask all well-wishers to support me.

Please show my pictures to the visitors of your website.

May God bless you and your wife.

With lots of love,

Patrick Harry DIMUSA

c/o Martha Harry
Theatre for Change
British Council
P.O. Box 30222
LILONGWE 3 – Malawi

2007-12 : Returning home from Belgium Patrick Harry immediately started planting flowering plants at his project site in Piyasani village.
2007-12 : Returning home from Belgium Patrick Harry immediately started planting flowering plants at his project site in Piyasani village.
2007-12 : Patrick Harry preparing his first bottles and other containers.
2007-12 : Patrick Harry preparing his first bottles and other containers.
2008-01 - With a friend learning the container gardening technique at the project site.
2008-01 – With a friend learning the container gardening technique at the project site.2009-03 – The “Future of Malawi” kids club after a football match in Piyasani village.
2009-03 - The "Future of Malawi" kids club after a football match in Piyasani village.
2009-03 – The “Future of Malawi” kids club after a football match in Piyasani village.
2009 - Chrispin and his little brother showing tomatoes and other vegetables growing in containers with a minimum of irrigation water.  With container gardening a lot of water is saved for other purposes (no infiltration in the dry soil, less evaporation from the plastic bags).
2009 – Chrispin and his little brother showing tomatoes and other vegetables growing in containers with a minimum of irrigation water. With container gardening a lot of water is saved for other purposes (no infiltration in the dry soil, less evaporation from the plastic bags).
2009 - Etala is a member of the FOM Kids Club who learned the technique of container gardening.  Kids  love to do a lot of work in the garden at the projet site and later they will set up their own garden at home.
2009 – Etala is a member of the FOM Kids Club who learned the technique of container gardening. Kids love to do a lot of work in the garden at the projet site and later they will set up their own garden at home.
2009 - Patrick Harry with some members of the FOM Kids Club showing spinach plants growing splendidly in plastic bags.  Drought has no effect on plant growth, because the substrate in the bags is kept humid with only a bit of irrigation from time to time.
2009 – Patrick Harry with some members of the FOM Kids Club showing spinach plants growing splendidly in plastic bags. Drought has no effect on plant growth, because the substrate in the bags is kept humid with only a bit of irrigation from time to time.
2009 - Players of the FOM kids football team are happy to show vegetables grown in containers.  No difficulties whatsoever with poor water retention in the local garden soil were encountered.
2009 – Players of the FOM kids football team are happy to show vegetables grown in containers. No difficulties whatsoever with poor water retention in the local garden soil were encountered.
2009 - Isaac, another member of the FOM KC, taking good care of the maize grown in plastic bags.
2009 – Isaac, another member of the FOM KC, taking good care of the maize grown in plastic bags.
2009 - Tibo, Patrick Harry's son, with some of his friends, proudly showing different vegetables grown at the container gardening project site.
2009 – Tibo, Patrick Harry’s son, with some of his friends, proudly showing different vegetables grown at the container gardening project site.

Drought Tolerant Plants (Google / Bharat Abasha / DocStoc)

Read at : Google Alert – drought

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/12420193/Growing-Drought-Tolerant-Plants-In-Full-Sun-Gardens

http://www.bharatbhasha.com/gardening.php/50516

Drought Tolerant Plants

Areas of your garden that face West or South naturally tend to be much hotter and receive much more direct sunlight.

Taking a little time to choose the right plants for these demanding growing conditions can help save you time, money, and water, as well as improve your overall results.

Most plants will require more water under high heat/sun conditions unless they’re native to one of the desert regions, or when established, tend to be drought tolerant.

A deep watering program in high heat areas can help conserve water, and still promote healthy, vigorous growth. Continue reading Drought Tolerant Plants (Google / Bharat Abasha / DocStoc)