Urban roof gardens to green the cities

 Photo credit: Food Tank

Fresh & Local farms Mumbai’s rooftops.

Greening Mumbai: Bringing Agriculture to the Rooftops of India’s Largest City


Mumbai, India ranks among the largest cities in the world, with a total metropolitan population of 21 million people. As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Mumbai does not have much room to spare for agriculture. Undeterred by this challenge, Mumbai-based organization Fresh & Local is growing food on the flat rooftops of city buildings to provide fresh produce to the city’s residents.

Fresh & Local was established in 2010 by Adrienne Thadani, an organic food advocate and activist. The vision that drives the project is “an urban India where city residents have the resources and knowledge to use urban farming to transform the spaces around them.” According to Fresh & Local, urban gardens address many aspects of wellbeing in the city by “empowering city residents with the ability to grow their own food and medicine, creating active outdoor urban places, greening the city, improving air and water quality, increasing urban biodiversity and building community.”

With this vision in mind, in 2010, Thadani and her partners created their first rooftop garden atop a middle-income apartment building which produces food for residents while creating a green space where they socialize and work together. Since then, Fresh & Local has expanded to work with more than 2,000 individuals in Mumbai, Alibaug, Jaipur, and North Goa.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Drought-hit hungry households could easily grow food in containers

Photo credit : WVC P1070394 – 2011-09

Vegetables and herbs grown in 8 weeks time on bottle towers

A simple solution for the global hunger problem

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)

Container gardening has become a universal success.  Nowadays people are growing their own fresh food in all sorts of containers (bottles, buckets, pots, bags, sacks, drums, gutters, …).

More and more people are aware of the fact that families do not need a big garden anymore to produce a sufficient quantity of food.  Today, all over the world people are gardening in small spaces, often applying vertical growing systems, e.g. on towers or on pallets.

Growing food in containers on pallets (a vertical garden in a small space) - Photo WVC  P1110546 - 2014-10
Growing food in containers on pallets (a vertical garden in a small space) – Photo WVC P1110546 – 2014-10

In 2010 I have developed my first “bottle towers”, using superposed soda bottles and food grade pots to grow lots of vegetables and herbs.

The success of this simple and cheap technique to help hungry or malnourished people to fresh food and herbs can easily be measured on the basis of numbers of views of my videos, showing how to build the towers (in English and Spanish).

Should you want to convince yourself about the global applicability of this low-tech method and the affordability for all the drought-hit families, please check out my videos:

(1) Building a bottle tower for container gardening  (332,281 views):


(2) HOW TO BUILD A BOTTLE TOWER (142,712 views):




(4) Cómo cultivar plantas en botellas (258,111 views):


(5) BOTTLE TOWER GARDENS  (1,427,421 views):


(6) HOW TO GROW PLANTS IN BOTTLES (196,989 views):


(7) Growing food in containers at home (321,100 views):


(8) Growing plants in a barrel  (268,663 views):


SCAD’s home gardens for food security and nutrient deficiencies

Photo credit: Google

Kitchen Garden

An effective tool for household food security

in SCAD Newsletter Vol. 2 March 2015

Kitchen gardens or home gardens have the potential to improve household food security besides serving effectively to alleviate the micro nutrient deficiencies, quite a common phenomenon in rural areas. Raising different vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants on available land in and around the house premises is the easiest way to ensure access to healthy, fresh and poison-free food. This is especially important in rural areas where people have limited income-earning opportunities and the economically poor have less or no access to healthy food markets.

Mal nourishment and nutrition deficiency disorders are common among rural women and children. In order to improve nutrition and enhance household food security, SCAD initiated kitchen garden promotion in a striking manner. This programme encouraged home gardening to provide both food and income besides nutrition education for the families of malnourished children. The kitchen gardens were established with a simple and low-cost approach of providing 8-10 different types of vegetable seed packets. The seeds are carefully selected to yield greens, tubers, fruits and vegetables. It was observed that when the households understood the nutritional and economic benefits of home gardening, the impact of establishing and utilizing productive home gardens was larger. These efforts gave the household members a sense of being involved in the programme and an incentive to improve child feeding practices.

A well-developed home garden has the potential to supply most of the non-staple food that a family needs every day of the year. Keeping this in mind, comprehensive training packages, especially to suit the requirement of the women, have been prepared for people living in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli regions and are widely disseminated. SCAD’s Rural Development Division in conjunction with the SCAD Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) actively collaborate with the agricultural departments to procure quality seeds and train the field level extension staff, farmers, women ́s groups and school teachers in gardening techniques.

Read the full text in SCAD’s Newsletter

Social Change And Development (SCAD)

105/A1 North By Pass Road, Vannarpettai, Tirunelveli – 627 003, Tamil Nadu, INDIA
Email: scb_scad@yahoo.com / Web: http://www.scad.org.in

Spineless Opuntia in Senegal

Photo credit: Ilonka De Rooij


ilonka DE ROOIJ sent a nice photo of a series of cactus pads growing at their development project in Senegal.  Please register that this variety of the prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis) has no sharp spines, which make it quite easy to handle.

Recently we posted on our Facebook-page of the “Opuntia Ambassadors” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/699997340039515/) a message of Anke Zürn, who shared an article of the FAO entitled “TRADITIONAL CROP OF THE MONTH”. This article was shared by somewhat 600 people and a lot of positive comments were posted.

Photo credit: Ilonka DE ROOIJ (Senegal).
Photo credit: Ilonka DE ROOIJ (Senegal).

The observation that Opuntia stricta got out of control in Australia, invading tens of thousands of hectares of rangeland, particularly in Queensland. It was eventually controlled by introducing the moth Cactoblastis cactorum to become a classic example for effective biological control” can’t be seen as valid for this spineless variety of Opuntia ficus-indica, as this variety is fully edible (pads and fruits for food and animal feed). Therefore, it will remain constantly and completely under control.

We wish our friends Ilonka and Rafaël a well-merited success.

Vertical gardening, successes on saline soils

Photo credit: Scientific American

Gardening on towers and sacks. Photo: Amy Yee

Vertical Gardens Beat Soil Made Salty by Climate Change

Saltwater is shrinking Bangladesh’s arable land, but a simple approach of planting crops in containers shows surprising success

By Amy Yee


The soil in Chandipur village in southwest Bangladesh has become increasingly salty because of incursions of seawater. The situation became particularly acute in the aftermath of Cyclone Aila in 2009, which brought storm surges that broke embankments and flooded farmland. After 2009 vegetable crops planted in the ground there yielded only meager returns—if they didn’t fail completely.

Sack gardening in Uganda - eggplants - Photo Vermicomposters - African_Gardens_Uganda_bag_garden_Douglas copy.jpg
Sack gardening in Uganda – eggplants – Photo Vermicomposters – African_Gardens_Uganda_bag_garden_Douglas copy.jpg

But for the past three years hundreds of villagers have enjoyed the bounty of so-called vertical gardens—essentially crops grown in a variety of containers in backyards and on the rooftops of their humble homes. Despite their modest size, these gardens produce quite a bit.

Working with local nonprofits WorldFish trained about 200 villagers in four districts in saline-affected areas of southwestern Bangladesh to make vertical gardens. Others not in the program have copied their neighbors’ designs after seeing how well they worked. WorldFish plans to expand the program to include 5,000 people over the next two years.

Sack gardening - onion - Photo Ville Farm - 625641_134848003355532_1593377365_n copy.jpg
Sack gardening – onion – Photo Ville Farm – 625641_134848003355532_1593377365_n copy.jpg

Growing the vertical gardens is a relatively straightforward process. Villagers harvest soil after the rains, around November, and use it later during planting season. They put the soil into containers and mix it with fertilizer made of dried water hyacinth, soil, coconut husks and cow manure. The containers range from plastic rice and concrete sacks to large, specially constructed “towers” made of simple plastic sheets encased by bamboo rings.

Gardening on garbage big bags - Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n copy.jpg
Gardening on garbage big bags – Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n copy.jpg

To prevent waterlogging, the containers are raised off the ground on bricks and filled with brick chips that improve water circulation and drainage. Small holes are cut into the sides where short-rooted vegetables such as Indian spinach and tomatoes can grow. Long-rooted vegetables such as gourds grow on top. These sacks can produce up to eight kilograms of vegetables in one season with an investment of 100 to 150 taka (about $1.30 to $2) per bag. The tower variety of container measures more than 1.2 meters across and can produce more than 100 kilograms of vegetables. One tower requires an investment of about 900 to 1,000 taka (around $11.50 to $13.00) to buy materials and seeds. WorldFish provides seeds and some materials to villagers in the first year.

Read the full article: Scientific American


101 stories of hope, innovation, and success, in creating a better food system.

Photo credit: desertification.wordpress.com

Food production in a small backyard: Jojo Rom’s riser in Davao City, The Philippines

101 Facts That Make Us Hopeful About the Future of Food

This week, Food Tank is highlighting stories of hope, innovation, and success, in creating a better food system. From women’s land access in Chad and urban green spaces in Australia to chefs in the United Kingdom and the United States implementing local, sustainable food sourcing—there are hundreds of innovations giving us hope about the future of food.

Food Tank is featuring 101 bright spots in the food system that we hope will inspire eaters, businesses, researchers, scientists, funders, donors and policy makers to create—and support—a more sustainable food system.

Read the full article: FoodTank


We need a programme to promote sacks gardening at a global level

Photo credit: Avantgardens

Sacks gardening in Kibera, Kenya


by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)


Smallholders and rural producers have a vital role to play in overcoming global hunger and poverty, and new and varied partnerships are needed, with particular emphasis on the interests of women, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on February 17th, 2010.  He also confirmed that the growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction is helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

* Sacks - Malawi - Photo Heifer - MW201204-320-e1365708582234-682x1024.jpg
* Sacks – Vegetables on sacks in Malawi – Photo Heifer – MW201204-320-e1365708582234-682×1024.jpg


Despite the hardships of the global recession, one saw an upturn in investment in agriculture, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next years, he said, thereby underscoring that “we need to continue creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, nutritional health and self-reliance. In this respect we must give pre-eminence to the interests of women, who juggle their time between food production, processing, marketing, child care and balancing the household budget”.

In every developing country people are suffering from the high food prices.


* Sack - Garbagenwealth GoodHealth - 58318_103530029804304_2040917991_n.jpg
* Sacks – Gardening on big bags – Garbagenwealth GoodHealth – 58318_103530029804304_2040917991_n.jpg


Taking into account that most of the rural women in the drylands spend the major part of their daily life with small-scale agricultural activities, it goes without saying that, when creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, the best return on investment will come from the creation of small kitchen gardens close to their houses.

* Sacks - Photo Crops in pots 386314_302266149815757_262706507105055_825194_1086186138_n.jpg
* Sacks – Students setting up a sack garden in Karachi (Pakistan) -Photo Crops in pots 386314_302266149815757_262706507105055_825194_1086186138_n.jpg


There is no need to offer them some financial resources.  Funding to start up a family garden can be done as a “micro-credit”, not with a certain sum of money, but in the form of the necessary materials and equipment. Success stories have shown that, in rural areas, offering a family garden to women is the easiest and most efficient way to combat hunger and poverty.

However, in urban areas the situation is quite different. With their extremely low income and having barely a patch of arable land, many of the urban families are confronted with some form of hunger and malnutrition.  In Nairobi (Kenya), hundreds of residents of the slums have adopted a new form of intensive gardening: growing vegetables and herbs in sacks.


* Sacks - potatoes - Photo Farm Curious - 81135230757539134_dRGYJxyM_f.jpg
* Sacks – Potatoes and other vegetables on plastic and burlap sacks – Photo Farm Curious – 81135230757539134_dRGYJxyM_f.jpg


Previously, women in densely populated cities planted vegetables on small plots of barren land. Nowadays, the novel form of gardening in sacks or all kinds of containers can be introduced in every urban area.  Indeed, as finding even small patches of arable land in a city or a town is becoming almost impossible, sacks or other containers, taking up less space than small-scale gardens, are an interesting solution for food production.


* Sacks (big bags) Treehugger vacant-lot-lfa.jpg
* Sacks – An urban garden on big bags –  Treehugger vacant-lot-lfa.jpg


With only a small budget, NGOs can easily start up a sacks gardening project with a small number of women and later extend invitations to more women, and even schools, to join the group.  This seems to be a fantastic way for almost every urban family or school to have access to affordable vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Wherever needed, a short training in sacks gardening can be planned. Women and children can learn in the shortest time these simple gardening techniques of container gardening, in particular those of water harvesting, soil fertilization and adequate irrigation.


* Sack - veggies - Photo Terry Schreiner - 574890_3304491894160_1114278384_n.jpg
* Sack – Onions and herbs on a plastic sack – Photo Terry Schreiner – 574890_3304491894160_1114278384_n.jpg


As sacks gardening can provide a sustainable source of vegetables and fruits, one can foresee a growing success of this novel form of gardening both in rural and in urban areas. NGOs and foundations can help women and schools to fence their gardening plots and to store irrigation water (not drinking water).

With a limited number of sacks of vegetables family members or school children do not fear to be hungry.  It would be a remarkably easy way of food production in refugee camps, where every family could have a small number of sacks close to the tent.


* Sacks - garbage - Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n.jpg
* Sacks – Gardening on garbage big bags – Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n.jpg


The success of similar projects in developing countries on all continents should encourage NGOs, foundations, banks and international agencies like FAO, WFP and UNHCR to invest in this efficient way of combating hunger and poverty.

If there is really a growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction, helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next years, like Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said, then it should not be so difficult to set up a programme to promote sacks gardening at a global level.


Imagine all the people … (John LENNON).

First help the local people to decent food

Photo credit: WVC 1997

Photo taken at the start of the community garden photographed 12 years later by Willemien (see photo of 2009-02 in Niou). At the first training session, the local women learn how to apply the soil conditioner TerraCottem.

Do hungry people need trees or a garden?

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)

Four years ago, a friend has sent a message, in which a short paragraph got my special attention:

The …………………… (name) Movement started a project in the Senegal many years ago. I participated in the information campaign. The field workers planted about 20.000 Acacia trees. Visiting the project one year later they saw that all the little trees dried out.  The local people answered that they had not enough water for the trees; they used it for their cows and goats.  But how could we plant 20.000 trees with …………. (name of a technology)?  It would be too expensive!

Here is my reply to him:

Dear Friend, You are completely right.  All those big projects are doomed to be unsuccessful, simply because a number of limiting factors (like water) will always hinder the achievement of the goals.

Instead of spending all the good money at reforestation without taking care of the hunger and poverty of the local people, foreign aid should concentrate on agro-forestry, creating small family gardens and surround these with fruit trees (these are TREES too).

Photo credit: Willemien Maastricht
Photo credit: Willemien Committee Maastricht-Niou

2009-02 – Burkina Faso, Niou village, Jardin des Femmes: community garden combined with mango trees, created in 1997 by the Belgium TC-Dialogue Foundation in cooperation with the Committee Maastricht-Niou for the local village women’s association Gueswende.

We should not look first at economic return on our investment, e.g. planting trees and shrubs for biofuel, but first of all eliminate hunger and diseases in a region, which is a conditio sine qua non to count on the collaboration of the local population at bigger reforestation projects in the future.

How can we ever justify that we ‘help‘ the local people if our main objective is to gain ‘something’ for ourselves?

For me, there is only one solution: first help the local people to decent food and then see how they can really help us to create return on investment.

Photo credit: Willemien Committee Masstricht-Niou
Photo credit: Willemien Committee Masstricht-Niou

2009-02 Burkina Faso: Jardin Kabouda, a community garden created with the support of the Committee Maastricht-Niou. A splendid example of combating hunger, child malnutrition and poverty.

Unfortunately, it has been and still is always business as usual, even for some international organizations, surviving thanks to the unsolved problems like hunger, child malnutrition and poverty, for which billions of dollars are repeatedly collected, without changing much at the grassroot level.

I get tears in my eyes, thinking at all those poor people out there, seeing how billions are spent year after year at what is called combating the problems.

Hunger, child malnutrition and poverty should be combated in the field itself, at the grassroot level, by offering people a chance to grow their own fresh food and fruits in a private family (kitchen) garden or in a community garden (see photos above).

We will never win that war if we continue to ship only food (the ammunition) to the frontline, not the necessary weapons (a fence, fertilizers, seeds, …) to create small gardens, the ideal platform for self-sufficiency.

For sure: victory can be ours!  Let us make the right strategic move.


Yes, the hungry can feed themselves !

Photo credit WVC 2011-09 – Bottle towers for growing vegetables and herbs in a minimal space, anywhere on earth.

Container gardening against hunger and child malnutrition

Author: Willem Van Cotthem


No one can deny that container gardening is “an easier ballgame” than growing plants in the ground, particularly in the drylands. There are many advantages in avoiding plant growth in a poor dryland soil by using a better substrate in containers (improved soil without any pests, bigger water retention capacity by limiting evaporation, less weeds, more oxygen, etc). Most people are not aware of the fact that plants can do with limited ground space, even grown in competition with other species in a container.

Not only “savvy families” are beginning to combine container gardening and cultivating fresh food. It is more and more recognized that this type of gardening is a key for combating hunger and child malnutrition. Indeed, everyone on this globe, in rural areas and in urban ones, can grow his own fresh vegetables and some fruits in all kinds of containers (pots, bottles, boxes, bags…).

Many city dwellers, thinking they are excluded from gardening, will appreciate the reward of vegetable gardening in a condo or apartment. For them, container gardening can open up a new world of producing their own food.

Clay pots being too expensive for people in developing countries is a wrong argument, sometimes used against container gardening. There are plenty of plastic pots and bottles, plastic and metal boxes, plastic shopping bags and woven bags everywhere. One sees them littered all over the world. So, why not using them for food production?

Read the full article: https://medium.com/desertification-drought/container-gardening-against-hunger-and-child-malnutrition-a400bcfa4cb

From child malnutrition to family gardens

Training of local teachers and engineers for building a school garden in the Sahara desert in Dahla (S.W. Algeria) – Photo credit WVC 2007-04

Child malnutrition, nutritional programmes, stop-gap measures and container gardening in family gardens

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)


Strongly concerned about the problem of child malnutrition in developing countries, in particular in the drylands, I read with great attention IRIN’s article on ‘GUINEA: Child malnutrition – moving beyond stop-gaps’ <http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=88233>

To make things clear, I republish here the definition of Malnutrition terms used in the text:

Wasting is the main characteristic of acute malnutrition. It occurs as a result of recent rapid weight loss, malnutrition or a failure to gain weight within a relatively short period of time. Wasting occurs more commonly in infants and younger children. Recovery from wasting is relatively quick once optimal feeding, health and care are restored. Wasting occurs as a result of deficiencies in both macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) and some micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Chronic malnutrition, on the other hand, is commonly referred to as “stunting”, i.e. a failure to grow in stature, which occurs as a result of inadequate nutrition over a longer time period. It is a slow, cumulative process, the effects of which are not usually apparent until the age of two years. Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is the most dangerous form of malnutrition. If left untreated, SAM can result in death.

Source: Action contre la faim

In this article on child malnutrition IRIN said that nutrition experts in Guinea are studying options for treating moderately malnourished children as funding shortages disrupt normal programmes using fortified flour. Local health centres ran out of supplies and had to use corn-soya blend (CSB), which is normally only used in cases of moderate acute malnutrition and provided through the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

It is said that WFP seeks funds to maintain CSB stocks in Guinea, although humanitarian workers and nutrition experts underline the need to find alternative and long-term solutions and a more sustainable strategy.

IRIN also confirmed that local nutrition workers are debating the viability of using ‘Plumpy’nut’ or using local foods, prepared specially for children’s nutritional needs.

Sheryl Martin of Helen Keller International in Guinea told IRIN: “Stop-gap measures may be better than nothing but a plan is needed to assure adequate funding for the CSB …………………” “We are all frustrated by the lack of funding and are doing the best we can in the short term.

According to IRIN, Kasraï, Head of Action contre la Faim (ACF, Action against Hunger) stated that it is important to use an integrated approach – not only therapeutic feeding but also programmes to address the principal causes of undernutrition in Guinea, by boosting people’s livelihoods, ensuring proper breastfeeding and weaning practices and improving home hygiene and access to health services, sanitation and safe water. “The challenge is in finding a reliable way of ensuring that moderately malnourished children receive fortified [with vitamins and other micronutrients] and high-caloric diets in the home.

Mamady Daffé, Health Ministry head of nutrition, underscored that the combination of poverty and a lack of knowledge of children’s nutritional needs contributes to child malnutrition. He said even if families understand children’s nutritional needs, many do not have the means to meet them. “People’s living conditions must improve. Without this we will not be able to tackle malnutrition,” he told IRIN. “The cost of living is up; people cannot buy what they need to eat properly.”

As you can see, there are a lot of interesting ideas and views in this article.  Trying to summarize the points made by different people and groups, I came to the following personal conclusions:

Together with the nutritional experts, the humanitarian workers and the ACF (see above) I believe that child malnutrition in developing countries (not only in Guinea) can only be reduced or extenuated if alternative and long-term solutions can be combined in a integrated approach to develop a sustainable strategy.  The funding of stocks of CSB is only a small part of this approach.

  • Boosting livelihoods of every family living in poverty and threatened by hunger and malnutrition should be based upon the following major fields of activity:
  • (a)   Improvement of home hygiene and health services.
  • (b)   Production of local fresh food, applying container gardening in a family garden for every affected family.
  • (c)    Alleviation of poverty.

The best practices for improving home hygiene and health services are well known.  Funding of these practices is a conditio sine qua non.

Sustainable production of fresh food in a small family garden or a school garden can be achieved with a minimum of financial resources.  One can always start with small-scale pilot projects to show the efficiency of this method and then apply it gradually at a larger scale until chronic hunger situations in the country are completely extenuated.

It should not be too difficult to find donors interested in partnerships for the build-up of such a strategy.  The growing interest in container gardening, recently shown by global attention for “sacks gardening”, indicates time has come to accept that locally producing fresh food, full of macronutrients, vitamins and micronutrients, is far more preferable for meeting the children’s needs than continuing delivery of fortified flour, corn-soya blend (CSB), Plumpy’nut or any other sophisticated therapeutic foods, used to treat malnutrition.

If one wants to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty, using an integrated approach, therapeutic feeding should surely be maintained as a safety belt for acute malnutrition situations, but more importance should be given to addressing the basic causes of hunger and poverty.

That’s where family gardening and school gardening, with container gardening in all its inexpensive but very efficient forms, are coming into the picture.  Give every family, every school a chance to produce in its own small garden vegetables and fruits, and there be no deficiencies of macro- and micronutrients anymore.  Mothers having at least one decent meal every day will be happier with improved breastfeeding. Vitamin deficiencies will not weaken their babies anymore.

Let us foresee for a moment that people and school children will take good care of their own kitchen garden and produce a bit more vegetables or fruits than what they need.  That surplus can be taken to the market and offer opportunities for a growth of the annual income.

Alleviation of poverty can thus be incorporated in a sustainable strategy.  No more expensive nutritional programmes, no more need for stop-gap measures, no more child malnutrition?  It sounds unbelievable, but small-scale pilot projects have shown that it can be achieved in the future.

Why not giving it a chance?  Seeing is believing.

Development project of SOLID OPD (Spanish)


Solid OPD es una Organización Privada de Desarrollo que asesora y facilita el desarrollo
sostenible de cadenas productivas y sus actores en la región Ayacucho, Perú.


MÓDULO 1 : Manual para productores de tara de la región Ayacucho

Producción de plantones de tara en un vivero familiar

La presente cartilla ha sido desarrollada en el marco
del Consejo Regional de la Tara Ayacucho – CORETARA,
por la necesidad de los actores de la cadena productiva
de tara, en especial de los productores, con el objetivo
de fortalecer sus conocimientos y habilidades en
las actividades de manejo agronómico en un vivero,
actividades muy importantes que esperamos se reflejen
en mejores ingresos económicos y mejores condiciones
de vida de las familias productoras.
Esta cartilla contiene conocimientos y experiencias de
profesionales, técnicos y productores de tara en la
región Ayacucho; por eso, practica los procedimientos,
técnicas y recomendaciones en tu chacra para
obtener un producto de calidad.
Las actividades en el vivero permiten al productor realizar
un adecuado manejo agronómico, controlando el
ingreso de luz, agua de riego, reduciendo el ataque de
plagas y enfermedades tanto en el almácigo como en
las camas de crianza, para lograr un mejor crecimiento,
desarrollo y mayores rendimientos de tara.

The (un)sustainability of food aid programs, an interesting discussion (Willem Van Cotthem)

It all started with a quote of the actor Robin WILLIAMS, recently shared on my Facebook page: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone, it’s not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.

A comment of John Richard PENDERGAST (London, UK) ignited an interesting discussion about the significance and lack of recognition for methods and techniques to help stop hunger and malnutrition :

29-7-2013. Hi Willem, Can you please tell me (why) people have not taken my ideas forward to help stop people dying from HUNGER, even though I’m offering my 3Rs Plastic Container Gardening ideas to the world for FREE, so that one day it might become part of Governments WORLD AID programme right now and in the future. (http://youtu.be/rQfno80fmtE)

What is the PROBLEM with people not using my ideas? 

Is it because I’ve got a young black naked child on the intro-page of my website (www.recycling.moonfruit.com), scraping the earth for something to eat, with the words Making Globalisation Work for the POOR on it ? 

Or is it because I’m offering a different way to grow something to gardeners who already know how to grow their own food?

Or is it just because it’s too much of a high price to help save lives, even though it’s for next to nothing, because it’s all made from waste.

I know lives are being lost when they could have been saved.  What more can one man do without help from like-minded people, trying to save millions of lives if we can in our own ways ?

Here is my short reply to him :  Yes, John, That’s what happens to great ideas. Anyway, keep up the good spirit, be patient, for Rome and London haven’t be built in one day (or even two).

John PENDERGAST’s reaction was :

30-7-2013. Hi Willem, Yes I know things don’t happen overnight normally.  Over (16) years now I have been telling so many people like yourself that my 3Rs Plastic Container Gardening systems works.  And you have proved it by using my ideas in your own way.   You would have thought someone out there,  who is already involved in trying to help save lives, would have taken my ideas forward, just like my friend Dr Job S. Ebenezer is doing in his group Technology For The Poor. 

Album:Photos from John Richard Pendergast's post in CONTAINER GARDENING AND VERTICAL GARDENING
Album: Photos from John Richard Pendergast’s post in CONTAINER GARDENING AND VERTICAL GARDENING

Maybe if we, and lots of other people, make comments on say the World Food Programme or the DFID, someone might get the message and start up some projects with our help.”


This was a sparkling for my more consistent reply : “Sorry, John, But for many years (1992-2006), as the representative of the Belgian scientists at the desertification convention UNCCD, I showed, to all the delegates of the countries and the international aid organizations, with presentations and poster stands various effective methods and techniques to combat desertification, hunger and malnutrition. Not even a handful of them have reacted in a constructive way. One of the most positive reactions was that of UNICEF Algeria, setting up a project of “Family Gardens in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria” in 2005-2007. For a reason still unknown to me, who was their own scientific consultant, this successful project was suddenly stopped in 2008, although all the UNICEF reports were extremely positive.

2007 - Family garden in the Sahara desert (S.W. Algeria) - UNICEF-project (Photo WVC)
2007 – Family garden in the Sahara desert (S.W. Algeria) – UNICEF-project (Photo WVC)

Many people commented already on this strange attitude and decision. The common idea in all these comments is : (1) if UNICEF Algeria has built successfully almost 2000 family gardens (kitchen gardens) to help the refugees in the Sahara desert to grow fresh food full of vitamins for their needing children, (2) if UNHCR and FAO delegations in the refugee camps have seen this success story and even asked to construct a similar garden in their headquarters in Rabouni (Tindouf area), why didn’t these UN organizations synchronized their efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in a sustainable way by building a family garden for every family in the camps ? Why do they prefer to continue the monthly shipment of truckloads of food over a distance of 800 km in the desert (and this for already 37 years (since 1975-1976 !).

Can someone tell me what the meaning is of the word “(un)sustainability” ? Here, I rest my case.”

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