Community Ice-Rink Crew Compensates for Water Usage (Nik RASULA)

Seed drive established to help grow food in Africa

Dec. 22, 2011.

Calgary- Ice-rink builders in the northwest community of St. Andrews Heights, recently completed a seed drive to help compensate for the copious amounts of water used in the development of the local skating rink.

The idea of rink coordinator Nik Rasula, the seed drive was timed to coincide with Halloween and the fall vegetable season. The 11,005 gathered seeds (a mix of pumpkin, squash, dragonfruit, and bell pepper), gathered from family meals prepared in residents’ homes, represented a 67 per cent increase over last year’s pilot project.

The gathered seeds were sent on behalf of the organization Seeds for Foodâ (, to Central Africa. There they are to become food-bearing plants in community gardens planted by Children Without Borders www.børnudengræ in the village of Serekunda,

The Gambia.

“Getting the rink up-and-running requires a lot of water; by our estimation over 60,000 gallons. We can only imagine how people in drylands areas would love to have this amount at their disposal. Sending seeds to help people-in-need grow food is our way of giving back…it’s easy, convenient, people-friendly, and earth-friendly.” says Rasula.

St. Andrews Heights community association president Dr. Jeff Schaefer adds, “The community association fully supports the annual seed drive. It’s an acknowledgement of our good fortune and our desire to help others. I encourage everyone to contribute to this activity and appreciate the efforts of the ice-crew.”

From his home in Belgium, Seeds for Foodâ founder Willem van Cotthem comments, “Many in drylands areas do not have the money to buy seeds required to grow food for themselves. This is a great community effort. Thanks so much Calgary, and thanks especially St. Andrews Heights.”

St. Andrews Heights is a 400 home community in northwest Calgary. Situated south of 16th Ave. between University Dr. and 29th St., it is one of Calgary’s most desirable residential neighbourhoods.  According to many, it boasts Calgary’s finest outdoor skating surface.

For more information:

Nik Rasula,

Ice-Rink Coordinator, St. Andrews Heights

Office # 403-282-8098

Cell    # 403-880-1517



Seeds for Food was established in 2007 by Belgian Willem van Cotthem. After working on a 2005 UNICEF project in Algeria, van Cotthem recognized that many in drylands regions could help alleviate hunger by growing food themselves in near-by community gardens.

On Facebook:

Willem van Cotthem

Seeds for Food

Container Gardening Project in Malawi

Desertification Field Practices




Children Without Borders, see www.børnudengræ

Seeds for Food to Gozo (Malta) – (Jacques GUEUNING / Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Today, Belgian Jacques GUEUNING received a lot of seeds of vegetables and fruits.  They will soon be taken to the Island of Gozo (Malta), where these new species and varieties will be welcome to enhance the biodiversity on the island and to enrich the food production for local families.

This action was taken within the framework of the “SEEDS FOR FOOD”-initiative.

Seeds collected for the “SEEDS FOR FOOD”-action are free for humanitarian projects. An important load is now taken to Gozo (Malta) – (Photo Jacques GUEUNING)

Jacques GUEUNING will also introduce Prof. VAN COTTHEM’s “container gardening”-method to the smallholder farmers at Gozo.  He will particularly recommend the “bottle tower”-technique to reduce the volume of irrigation water and to promote vertical gardening on poor soils (see :

2011 - Prof. Willem VAN COTTHEM showing his bottle tower-research work (Photo WVC)

2011 - Almost every species of vegetable can be grown with a minimum of water in these towers of bottles or pots (Photo WVC)

Let the cargo ships in, but not the envelopes ! (Willem Van Cotthem)

On August 25, 2011,  I posted the following :

The fear of pests imported with food by people, not by cargo ships 

Read at :

One of the world’s ‘most feared’ pests found in Chicago

By Claudine Zap | The Lookout

One of the world’s “most feared” pests was discovered on American soil. The Khapra beetle, in larva stage, was identified by customs officials last week in a 10-pound bag of rice that came from India.

In a press release, Customs and Border Protection described the bug as “one of the world’s most tenacious and destructive stored-produce pests because of its ability to damage grain.”

The beetles originated in South Asia but have invaded parts of northern Africa, the Middle East, and even Europe, Asia and South Africa.

The Khapra beetle first invaded California in 1953. The infestation was not eradicated until 1966, at a cost of $15 million.



and I added to this :

Larvae in a 10-pound bag of rice from India, never in cargo ships (Willem Van Cotthem)

The article above sounds alarming, terrifying : one of the most feared pests in a bag from India !

This is spectacular news, because I never heard about the presence of the Khapra beetle or its larvae or its eggs in the fleet of cargo ships importing grain in a multitude of countries all over the world.

This must be a fantastic example of Murphy’s law : the poor 10-pound bag of rice is to blame !  And all those cargo ships are exhaustively disinfected before leaving the port of origin, plus at arrival at destination from mast to keel.


Today, I read supplementary information at :

Inspection finds of dreaded Khapra beetle increase 20 to 30-fold this year

By Rady Ananda

The introductory text of this article is somewhat similar to that in Claudine ZAP’s above, but it continues with some remarkable paragraphs :

1. In July, USDA banned non-commercial amounts of rice and now requires inspection of all rice imported from nations known to host the beetle: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.

2. The High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal reports that, this year, “CBP agriculture specialists have made 100 Khapra beetle interceptions at U.S. ports of entry compared to three to six per year in 2005 and 2006, and averaging about 15 per year from 2007 to 2009.”

 3.Too little too late, in August, India agreed to certify rice exports to the U.S. as being free of the Kharpa beetle.  Oryza reports that in addition to auditing inspections and vacuum cleaning containers, India will no longer use burlap bags for packing rice headed for the U.S.

4. In 1998, 2000, and again in 2007, researchers showed that the Khapra beetle has developed a resistance to common pesticides, including phosphine (hydrogen phosphide, PH3), a common fumigant.


Very good news, don’t you agree ?

Rice from India will be safe.  What about the other countries ?

However, my question remains : if all those cargo ships are not exhaustively disinfected before leaving the port of origin, plus at arrival at destination from mast to keel, why can’t we send seeds from the clean melons and other tropical fruits we eat at home to developing countries, helping hungry and malnourished people to vitamin-rich fruits ?

We eat clean fruits, we wash and dry thoroughly the seeds, put them in a clean envelope or box and ship them to development projects.  Dangerous ?  No, forbidden !

Let the cargo ships in, but not the envelopes !

Bye bye famine ! (FRENCH / FRANçAIS)

Programme de l’Arche à VivreS

De Bonnes ActionS à votre portée pour VivreS, pour la planète, pour votre santé et pour sauver des Vies d’enfants de la malnutrition… Comment ?

  1. En mangeant des fruits ‘sains’
  2. En récupérant et en conservant les pépins et noyaux

L’association vous propose une Action pour VivreS, simple et gratuite, pour lutter tous ensemble contre la faim et la maltrution croissante dans le monde.

Quand vous mangez des fruits et légumes frais ; pensez dorénavant à récupérer, vous aussi,  les graines, pépins et noyaux. Ces semences représentent la vie ; ne les jetez plus !  1 graine de melon peut donner 5 melons !

Le but des récoltes est d’aider les populations pauvres et sinistrées à créér des jardins vivriers à échelle communautaire ou scolaire.   Une série de jardins a déjà été développée grâce au Prof. Dr. W. Van Cotthem notamment en Inde et en Algérie où  les résultats sont plus qu’encourageants.   Les enfants, en particulier, profitent de cet apport en vitamines, protéines et en éléments minéraux. Quant aux  surplus de la production végétale, il se vend au marché.   Nous vous invitons à participer vous aussi au sauvetage de Vies d’enfants, premières victimes des climatS.

Comment faire ?  Simple …

  1. Retirez les noyaux, pèpins et semences des fruits que vous mangez comme : melons, pastèques, potirons, poivrons, avocats, papayes, aubergines …
  2. Rincez simplement ces graines à l’eau et/ou laissez-les sécher sur une assiette ou autre support (pas sur du papier)
  3. Une fois sèches (48h), conservez-les dans une enveloppe ou récipient en y indiquant le nom de l’espèce du fruit
  4. Une à 2 fois par an, déposez les dans un relais de proximité que nous vous indiquerons ou envoyez-les nous > Prof. W. Van Cotthem – Beeweg 36 à B9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgique) ou ActionS VivreS – Venelle aux Cyprès 42 à B1300 WAVRE (Belgique)  – (cette démarche est  téléchargeable – voir les images en bas de page)

Plus nous récolterons des graines et semences, plus nous pourrons aider les familles et écoles à semer, planter et à se nourrir. Plus nous les aiderons à planter, plus nous aurons des arbres qui absorberont le CO2.

Pour nous, c’est certain : ce projet peut devenir une initiative mondiale, car nous, citoyens des pays développés, jeunes et moins jeunes, de seniors à nos enfants et petits-enfants, nous pouvons tous collaborer.

De cette façon, ensemble, nous contribuerons à combattre la faim et la pauvreté dans le monde.      « D’AVANCE MERCI DE TOUT CŒUR POUR VOTRE AIDE »

Visionnez ici les résultats  :   Vidéo “ActionS VivreS”

A dream about famine, hunger, malnutrition, drought and desertification (Willem Van Cotthem)

Do we still have to be convinced that there is an urgent need for assisting the millions of people suffering from drought, malnutrition, hunger and famine in the Horn of Africa ?  Who could deny that there is an urgent need of humanitarian assistance for them ?

A financial gap to respond to this emergency has still to be closed.  That explains Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s appeal on many top officials described in my former posting on this blog.

I am convinced that Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s voice will be heard and that in the weeks, maybe months to come, sufficient humanitarian aid will be provided.  However, many children and adults will not survive this catastrophe.  Those who will be more lucky, will try to stay alive for a number of years, until a new catastrophe will come.

And then, the same old story will happen again !  Because emergency aid, noble as it is, will never change a thing at the causes of those catastrophes.  So, it makes me sad that all those noble humanitarian aid actions will have to be repeated, some day, somewhere, etc, etc., etc.

Tired, after a busy day taking care of my dear wife, who had a brain stroke and remained paralyzed already for 3 years now, I wanted to go to bed for a good night’s rest, when slowly I closed my eyes in front of my computer and started dreaming.

I heard Mr. Ban Ki-moon pronouncing a beautiful speech about the urgent need to use all necessary funds for a worldwide application of the well-known successful methods and techniques to produce food crops with a minimum of water in all the drylands of this world.  Very well informed, the Secretary-General described a number of these “success stories”, thereby reconfirming the important role of smallholder farmers and women.  He spoke about successes in dryland management, soil conditioning, water harvesting, permaculture, agroforestry, container gardening, free distribution of seeds of drought-tolerant plants, nurseries of drought-tolerant fruit trees, school gardens, allotments in the cities, vertical gardening and many “best practices” more.

At the end of his speech, Mr. Ban Ki-moon made clear to the audience of world leaders and directors of the agencies and organizations, that the most urgent objective to achieve will be to use our knowledge and skills to ban the hunger from this world in the shortest time, not by bringing food to the hungry, but by teaching them how to grow fresh food themselves, rural and urban people all the like.

What I then heard was filling my heart with great joy : a deafening applause.

That heartwarming noise was waking me up, sitting still in front of my computer, and although even more tired, I decided to tell you about my dream.

For today, that’s all folks ! But I will keep on dreaming, because the day will come …

Sheabutter Cottage donated Moringa seeds to the Container Gardening Project in Malawi (Patrick HARRY)

Friends of Container Gardening Project in Malawi

Open Group

Message on Facebook (Patrick HARRY) :

“Good news to all friends of Container gardening project all over the world :

We have received Moringa seeds from SHEABUTTER COTTAGE in the U.K. The seeds will be sown at the project site this year and the tree seedlings will be used to set up a fruit tree woodlot next year as a demonstration plot for the Container Gardening Project (see above). The woodlot will contain several other kinds of fruit trees producing food for the children of Malawi, more especially the needy kids and street kids. Apart from fruit trees, the plot will contain various vegetables planted in containers.

God bless SHEABUTTER COTTAGE for this kind of efficient support.

Patrick Harry (Project coodinator)”



Sheabutter Cottage is a fair trade, ethical business based in Sonning, Reading (UK).


2011-07-25 - Avocado sapling growing in a plastic bottle in Martine DAUBREME's house in Belgium. Right : cuttings of the spekboom Portulacaria afra in bottles. What is possible in Belgium can be done in all the drylands (Photo Martine Daubremé)

Missing Food : grain (or vegetables and fruits?) – (You Tube / ARDPKL)

VIDEO seen at :

Missing Food: The Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa

Reducing post-harvest losses is an essential pillar in a successful food strategy.


MY COMMENT (Willem Van Cotthem)

So is offering seeds of vegetables and fruit trees to hungry families, making possible that each family can grow its own fresh food (not only grains).  No machinery needed, no intermediary business people involved.  From garden to the kitchen : that’s the real solution of the hunger problem.

Stop talking, talking, talking : send seeds to the hungry instead of throwing them in your garbage bin or on your compost heap.

See :

Evidence for the need to offer seeds to hungry people (Agricultural Biodiversity / CIMMYT’s Blog)

Read at :

Mobile seed marketing in Africa

Posted by ccastro

On 01 May 2011, the busy streets of Morogoro, Tanzania, were treated to a surprising sight, owing to the unconventional promotional efforts of Tanseed International Ltd.

Staff of this Tanzanian seed company drove a vehicle topped with Tanseed drought tolerant varieties in potters through the city’s crowded streets during the nation’s Worker’s Day Celebration. The crowd cheered as the vehicle entered Jamhuri Stadium and passed in front of the chief guest, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. And because the event was televised live on three national stations, the message about drought tolerant maize was likely viewed by a large audience.

This successful bit of mobile marketing was the brain-child of Tanseed CEO and managing director, Isaka M. Mashauri, a partner and beneficiary of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project


Turning compost into foreign aid (The Calgary Herald)

Read at :

By Nik Rasula, For Neighbours

Seeds for Food, www., a Belgium-based organization, has created a program that uses Calgary kitchen compost to provide aid for needy people in Africa.

Founded by Belgian honorary professor of botany Willem van Cotthem, the program has its roots in a 2005 UNICEF development project where Algerian refugee camp residents were taught to grow food for themselves in the space surrounding their encampments.

Recognizing that the seeds required to grow food-bearing plants were cost-prohibitive, van Cotthem realized that what was so desperately needed in Africa often ends up as waste in the developed world.

Establishing Seeds for Food, he requested residents here take a few extra steps when preparing family meals.

After separating the seeds from pulp, rinsing in water and drying on a plate, the Calgary seeds are ready for shipment in the mail.

Planted in desert camps, like the one near Tindouf in Eastern Algeria, the Calgary seeds become plants and trees that grow to bear fruit, and end up providing nutrition to people in need.


The danger of the aliens : invasive foods crops in the drylands (Willem Van Cotthem)

As a plant biologist, I wonder why we accept that cargo vessels full of bulk food (wheat, corn, rice, bananas, … ) import tons of seeds of weeds, mice, rats, insects, spiders, bacteria, viruses etc., while one is shivering as soon as someone sends an envelope with carefully washed and dried seeds of a clean papaya, melon or watermelon to help hungry people in a developing country to fresh food or fruits.

What do we import with our luggage, our clothes, our shoes, when our airplane lands in a foreign country?

“One single avocado seed could destroy a country’s ecological balance.  A handful cherimoya seeds are ecological bombs. Invasive dragonfruit seeds could destabilize the national fruit market.

I hope to see once in my life time (only a couple of years left !) invasive tomatoes, carrots, onions or beetroots taking over the waste dumps or barren soils in the drylands.  It would be a remarkable, “maybe dangerous” step in the combat of desertification.

Invasion of the Algerian Sahara by zucchinis, red beetroots, carrots, watermelons, etc., grown from "foreign" seeds (Photo WVC)

What a catastrophe that would be.  The malnourished people should be enlisted to fight the invaders !

No Sir, it’s the law !

Individuals are sending seeds for development projects (Mirjam GOEMAN)

Message of Mirjam GOEMAN (The Netherlands) :

I am sending you a new package of seeds collected during the last months.  I thank supermarket Albert HEYN for offering possibilities to collect seeds of tropical fruits.

2011-05-06 - Mirjam GOEMAN (The Netherlands) thanking Albert HEYN supermarket for offering chances to collect seeds of tropical fruits. (Photo Mirjam GOEMAN)

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