Local vegetables continue to grow even in the dry season

Photo credit: ECO.AFRI.COLOGY



Sometimes, solutions aren’t all that complicated.  It’s as simple as taking down stereotypes and showing people that their local food is better than exotic, hyped-up variants.

Check out this quick video showing just such an example.  Replacing kale with a local leafy green, one woman got a boost in income, allowing her to sell at the market only one day per week.  And these local vegetables continue to grow even in the dry season.

Happy people; healthy, drought-tolerant vegetables; I love this stuff.

Find more info on the benefits of the project at African leafy vegetables come out of the shade.

Read the full story : Eco.Afri.Cology

Can Africa afford to save its soils?

Photo credit: CGIAR

Planting white beans in Ethiopia

Photo Credit: Georgina Smith / CIAT


We asked, you answered: Can Africa afford to save its soils?

Deborah Bossio’s blog post on the question “Can Africa afford to save its soils?” has generated an interesting discussion on the LinkedIn group Natural Resource Professionals. Here we highlight some of the points brought up by those across the world who contributed to the discussion.

The general consensus holds that soil rehabilitation in Africa (and elsewhere) is absolutely necessary, but the process of reaching a decent level of soil fertility is problematic due to the various players involved – from policymakers to agribusinesses to the smallholder farms, everyone holds a different agenda when comes to the importance of improving soils.

Or as one commenter put it: “efforts towards restoring the degraded soils and farm lands in African countries needs a holistic approach. Agricultural policies should be fine-tuned towards better practices for production.”

Many voiced that the responsibility often times falls on the smallholder farmer who may not be able to bear the investment – the burden of time, effort, and cost – needed to improve their soil’s fertility, especially through organic means (i. e. the subsistence farmer).

Read the full article: CGIAR

Grow dragonfruit in the drylands



How to Grow Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus)


Learn how to grow dragon fruit, it’s one of the most strange looking subtropical fruit you’d like to grow in your garden. Growing dragon fruit is fairly easy both outdoors or in the pot.


How to Plant and Grow Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit plant is actually a climbing cactus and needs support to climb on, usually as the plant becomes mature it forms aerial roots from the branches and find something to climb. So, it is best if you’re growing dragonfruit, find something to support your plant.

Dragon fruit is a sub tropical plant, it loves heat and sun but it’s better to plant it in a spot that remains dry and receives only partial sun.

If you’re living in more temperate climate or if you’re an urban gardener and don’t have much space, grow dragon fruit in pot, it’s fairly easy to grow and adapts itself well in containers. In pot you can move and overwinter it to save from frost as pitaya plant can survive only short period of freezing temperature (below 28 F is detrimental) and frost.

Read the full article: Balcony Garden Web

Beans to beat drought


Photo credit: Ciat

This community in Ethiopia built the community hall with money from white beans.

“White gold” beans to beat drought in Ethiopia


New drought-resilient white beans – most commonly used to make baked beans – will be deployed to Ethiopia, as erratic weather threatens national production and farmers’ incomes.

New bean varieties help farmers stay ahead of threats, including those posed by climate change. - http://www.ciatnews.cgiar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/21871254402_1f009ae30f_z-1-300x200.jpg
New bean varieties help farmers stay ahead of threats, including those posed by climate change. – http://www.ciatnews.cgiar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/21871254402_1f009ae30f_z-1-300×200.jpg

Severe drought in Ethiopia, Africa’s largest exporter of the bean used to make baked beans, could hit production for millions who cultivate and rely on income from the bean. The drought – the worst to hit the country’s bean-producing areas in 10 years, researchers report – has cut yields by 30 percent.

Low rainfall at the height of the bean season in the Rift Valley can also reduce bean quality. Combined with other factors influencing the world price – the beans are exported mostly to Europe for canning –farmers are expected to less income and prices have already fallen.

Transformed from a neglected staple into a cash crop, with exports worth more than US$90 million, the grain provides income for around three million smallholder farmers in Ethiopia who rely on white bean sales – known locally as “white gold”- to buy food and cover other costs like school fees. Thousands more are employed in postharvest processing of the beans for export.

Read the full story: CIAT Blog

Can we grow carob trees in the drylands ?

Photo credit: Balcony Garden Web


How to Grow Carob Tree | Care and Growing Carob

Carob tree with edible pods that are used as cocoa powder substitute - http://balconygardenweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/400558-500x473_mini.jpg
Carob tree with edible pods that are used as cocoa powder substitute – http://balconygardenweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/400558-500x473_mini.jpg

Learn how to grow carob tree. Growing carob tree is easy, it’s also grown as ornamental plant in the gardens.

Growing Carob is durable evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean. It has bright, green beautiful foliage, cluster of small flowers and edible pods that are used as cocoa powder substitute.

Carob pods contain about 8% protein, vitamins A and B and about one-third of calories than chocolate.



It is resistant to drought. However, watering must be provided during dry seasons, especially if the tree is grown for its fruit.

Read the full article: Balcony Garden Web


Wet cassava peels into high quality animal feed ingredients



Technical innovations for small-scale producers and households to process wet cassava peels into high quality animal feed ingredients and aflasafe™ substrate


Nigeria, the world’s largest producer of cassava, harvests 54 million metric tonnes (Mt) of cassava tubers annually. More than 95% of cassava used in Nigeria requires peeling, which generates up to 14 million MT of peels annually. Most of it is wasted due especially to challenges related to drying. With traditional techniques, sun drying is practically impossible during the wet season, and takes three days in the dry season to reduce moisture content of fresh peels from about 70% to 20% or less, to achieve a marketable state.

RTB has funded cross-continental, multi-centre and multi-disciplinary research work to improve cassava-processing systems, developing models to downscale and transfer the efficiencies of large starch driers to small scale, especially for Africa.

In West Africa, RTB collaborated with the CRPs Livestock and Fish (led by the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI) and Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics (led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA) to develop innovative processing and drying of cassava peels for animal feed, potentially removing up to 14 million t of peels from the waste stream in Nigeria alone, and adding value to the feed value chain.

Ongoing work is showing great potential and has so far dramatically reduced cassava peels moisture content to 12–15% within six sunshine hours using only equipment in current use by small-scale processors and households. The considerably shorter processing time and use of freshly peeled/discarded materials is resulting in high quality cassava peels products (pellets and mash) that are appealing to the livestock and fish feed milling industry as a versatile and new energy source, low in aflatoxin contamination.

Read the full story: CGIAR-RTB


Drought resistance in common beans

Photo credit: CIAT Blog

Grouping new bean lines as water savers or water spenders to facilitate targeting


New common bean genotypes to confront drought

by acarvajal

Drought affects 60% of the bean-producing regions, and is responsible for total crop failure in the worst-case scenario. But this fight is not lost as demonstrated by 13 new bean genotypes developed by scientists of CIAT’s Bean Program using interspecific crosses. The work was done in close collaboration with the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes.

This output resulted from several years of work aimed at achieving a better understanding of the physiological basis of improved drought resistance in common bean. A major lesson learned from this work is that no single morpho-physiological trait stands out for its unique and dominant contribution to drought resistance in common beans.