Fall Armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (Smith)


The fall armyworm can colonize over 80 different plant species including many grasses, and crops such as alfalfa, soybean, sorghum, and corn.  Fall armyworm is more likely to be an economic pest in corn and vegetable crops. Fall armyworms are similar in size and shape to other moths in the cutworm family.  They are grayish in color with a wingspan of about 1.5 inches.
Upon arrival to a new field, the female moth deposits egg masses on green plants including important crop hosts.  The eggs hatch about five to seven days after oviposition and the small larvae then begin to feed on plants near the ground or in protected areas such as the whorl of corn plants.  They usually go unnoticed until they are approximately an inch long.  The larva goes through six instars (about 15 to 18 days) before burrowing one to three inches into the soil to pupate.  Adults emerge about one to five weeks after pupation depending on soil temperature.

Adult stage: Adult moths are 20 to 25mm long with a wingspan of 30 to 40mm. Forewings are shaded grey to brown, often mottled with a conspicuous white spot on the extreme tip. Hindwings are silvery white with a narrow dark border. Adults are nocturnal and most active during warm, humid evenings. Females lay eggs in clusters of fifty to a few hundred and can lay up to 2000 eggs in a lifetime. The average adult lifespan is estimated to be 10 days.

Egg stage: Eggs are white, pinkish or light green in color and spherical in shape. Clusters of eggs are frequently covered in moth scales or bristles giving a fuzzy appearance. Eggs are usually laid on the underside of leaves.

Larval stage: Larvae generally emerge simultaneously 3 to 5 days following oviposition and migrate to the whorl. Mortality rate following emergence is extremely high due to climatic factors, predators, and parasites. There are six larval instar stages. In the 2nd and 3rd instar stages larvae are often cannibalistic, resulting in only one larva in the whorl. Mature larvae are 30 to 40mm in length and vary in color from light tan to green to black. Larvae are characterized by several subdorsal and lateral stripes running along the body. Dark, elevated spots (tubercles) bearing spines occur dorsally along the body. Larvae of fall armyworm can be distinguished from larvae of armyworm and corn ear worm by a distinct white inverted Y-shaped mark on the front of the head. They have four large spots on the upper surface of the last segment. Larvae mature in 14 to 21 days after which they drop to the ground to pupate.

Pupal stage: Pupation occurs a few centimeters (2 to 8cm) below the soil surface. Cocoons are generally oval and 20 to 30mm in length. Pupae are reddish brown and measure 13 to 17mm in length. Pupation usually takes 9 to 13 days, following which adults emerge.

  • In optimum conditions the entire lifecycle can be completed in 30 days. Maize crops can normally support two generations.
  • Optimum temperature for larval development is 28۫ C, although the egg stage and pupal stage require slightly lower temperatures.
  • Protracted periods of extreme cold will result in death of most growth stages. The fall armyworm has no diapause mechanism and therefore is only able to overwinter in mild climates and recolonize in cooler climates in the summeConfirmation

Host range

The fall armyworm has a wide range of hosts including maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane, cotton, alfalfa, peanuts, tobacco, and soybean, in addition to various wild grasses. However, gramineous plants are preferred.

  • Mechanism of damage:Damage is caused by loss of photosynthetic area due to foliar feeding, structural damage due to feeding in the whorl, lodging due to cut stems, and direct damage to grains due to larvae feeding.
  • When damage is important:Severe infestations are uncommon and most plants recover from partial foliar feeding. Under severe infestation complete defoliation of the maize plant is possible. Damage is most severe when worms cause direct damage to the ear. Under severe infestation larvae are frequently observed migrating in large numbers to new fields similar to the true armyworm. Late planted maize and advanced growth stages are more vulnerable to fall armyworm damage.
  • Economic damage:Under severe infestation yield loss ranging from 25 to 50% has been documented.


  • Regularly monitor leaves and whorls for presence of larvae and signs of crop damage.
  • Look for masses of larvae migrating between fields.
  • Pheromone traps can be used to determine incidence of adult moths and disrupt mating during the whorl stages.

Cultural control

  • Plant early to avoid periods of heavy infestation later in the season.
  • Plant early maturing varieties.
  • Rotate maize with a non-host.
  • Reduced tillage methods often result in an increase of natural predators and parasitoids. However, in areas where fall armyworm infestation is high, disking or plowing can effectively reduce the survival rate of pupae in the soil.

Biological control

  • Numerous parasitic wasps, natural predators, and pathogens help to control the population of fall armyworms.
  • The egg parasitoidTelenomus remus is frequently introduced to effectively control fall armyworm and other Spodoptera 


  • Insecticide application should be considered when eggs are present on 5% of seedlings or when 25% of plants show signs of feeding damage. In order to be effective, insecticide application should commence before larvae burrow into the whorls or ears and insecticide spray should penetrate the crop canopy.
  • Insecticides recommended for control ofSpodoptera species include various pyrethroids, carbamates and organophosphates. However, insecticide resistance has been widely reported.

Climate change in Agriculture: embark upon the cause and effect for food security and solution to revert the warming world through Adaptation-Mitigation options

Agriculture as a cause of Climate change

According to intergovernmental panel on climate change, Agriculture is one of the world’s largest industries; agricultural land alone covers 40-50% of the world’s land surface. The sector accounts for roughly 14% of global greenhouse gas per year that makes agriculture is a major contributor to climate change (IPCC 2007).

According to the Stern Review, in 2000, about 35% of greenhouse gas emissions came from non-energy emissions: 14% were nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture. Total global greenhouse gas contribution of agriculture from both direct and indirect sources reached up to 32%; the most prominent sources includes: land conversion to agriculture, nitrous oxide released from soils, methane from cattle and enteric fermentation (flatulence-produced methane emissions), biomass burning, rice production, manure, fertilizer production, irrigation, farm machinery and pesticide production. About 74% of total agricultural related greenhouse gas emissions originate in developing countries.

Livestock sector expansion also contributed to overgrazing, land degradation, and an important driver of deforestation in addition to its methane and nitrous oxide emissions from ruminant digestion and manure management, and is the largest global source of methane emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions footprint of livestock sector varies considerably among production systems, regions, and commodities, mainly due to variations in the quality of feed, the feed conversion efficiencies of different animal species and impacts on deforestation and land degradation. Besides the livestock production, the waterlogged and warm soils of rice paddies make rice production system a large emitter of methane from agriculture.

Effect of climate change in agriculture

The cumulative impact of climate will have economic consequences and potentially large implications for the wellbeing and sustainable development of rural populations.  Fundamental to this are a wide range of cross-sectorial impacts affecting health, water and energy resources, ecosystems, and land use. The impacts of climate change to agriculture over the next 50 to 100 years may include:

  • Changing spatial and inter-temporal variability in stream flows, onset of rain days, and dry spells (Strzepek and McCluskey, 2006 ),
  • More frequent floods and droughts, with greater erosion rates from more intense rainfall events and flooding (Agoumi, 2003),
  • Increased crop water requirements from higher temperatures, reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, with likely more negative impacts on dryland than irrigated agricultural systems (Dinar et al., 2009),
  • Positive and negative production and net yield changes for key crops including maize, wheat, and rice, among others, over different time periods, resulting in changes in crop and management choices (e.g. irrigation, crop type) (Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn, 2006 ),
  • Potentially lengthened growing seasons and production benefits to irrigated and dryland systems under mild climate scenarios (Thornton et al., 2006 ),
  • Increased heat and water stress on livestock, with possible shifts from agriculture towards livestock management (i.e. stock increases) under increased temperatures with a different mix of more heat resistant species than today and possible benefits to small farms (Seo and Mendelsohn, 2006 ; Dinar et al., 2009).
  • Higher temperatures in arid and semi-arid regions will likely depress crop yields and shorten the growing season due to longer periods of excessive heat.

Climate change will not equally affect all countries and regions, even if Africa represents only 3.6% of emissions, the (IPPC, 2007) report highlighted that Africa will be one of the continents that will be hard hit by the impact of climate change due to an increased temperature and water scarcity. The report pointed out that there is “very high confidence” that agricultural production and food security in many African countries will be severely affect by climate change and climate variability.

Climate change will likely have the biggest impact in equatorial regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. This means that countries already struggling with food security are likely to find they struggle still harder in the future. World Bank (2009) study that focuses on developing countries estimates that without offsetting innovations, climate change will ultimately cause a decrease in annual GDP of 4% in Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that an increase in average global temperatures of just two to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce crop yields by 15-35 percent in Africa and western Asia, and by 25-35 percent in the Middle East. While an increase of two degrees alone could potentially cause the extinction of millions of domestic and wild species that have a biodiversity and food security potentials.

Adaptation of Agriculture from climate change

The vulnerability of a system depends on its exposure and sensitivity to climate changes, and on its ability to manage these changes (IPCC, 2001). Three intuitive approaches appear to have informed the prioritization of adaptation programs of actions and strategies to climate change, namely: a) social vulnerability approach (addressing underlying social vulnerability); b) resilience approach (managing for enhanced ecosystem resilience); and c) targeted adaptation approach (targeting adaptation actions to specific climate change risks).

Climate change adaptation enhanced by altering exposure, reducing sensitivity of the system to climate change impacts and increasing the adaptive capacity of the system while simultaneously explicitly recognizing sector specific consequences. With this respect, adaptation in the agricultural sector seen in terms of both short-term and long-term actions. The provision of crop and livestock insurance, social safety nets, new irrigation schemes and local management strategies, as well as research and development of stress resistant crop varieties form the core of short-term responses. Long-term responses include re-designing irrigation systems, developing land management systems and raising finances to sustain adoption of those systems.

Safety nets are likely to become increasingly important in the context of climate change as increased incidence of widely covariate risks will require the coverage and financing that these sources may provide. Some of the options for adapting agriculture to climate change have related cost for Agricultural research, Irrigation efficiency, Irrigation expansion and development of Roads.

Improving the use of climate science data for agricultural planning can reduce the uncertainties generated by climate change, improve early warning systems for drought, flood, pest and disease incidence and thus increase the capacity of farmers and agricultural planners to allocate resources effectively and reduce risks. Better use of assessing risks and vulnerability and then developing the safety nets and insurance products as an effective response is already being piloted in some areas with fairly positive results (Barrett et al. 2007).

Mitigation of Agriculture for climate change

Climate change mitigation refers to an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (FAO, 2011d). In other words, mitigation means taking action to reduce the causes of climate change by limiting the amount of heat trapping gases that emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere. Agriculture could increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The agricultural sector: high mitigation potential with strong adaptation and sustainable development co-benefits.

Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture sector includes reduction of emissions, avoided the emissions and creating sinks that can remove emissions. Lower rates of agricultural expansion in natural habitats, agro-forestry, treating of degraded lands, reduction or using more efficient use of nitrogenous inputs, better management of manure, and use of feed that increases livestock digestive efficiency are some of the major mitigation options in agriculture.

soil carbon sequestration have nearly 90% of agriculture’s climate change mitigation potential could be realized, if carbon markets could introduce to “ provide strong incentives for public and private carbon funds in developed countries to buy agriculture-related emission reductions from developing countries. Soil carbon sequestration by improved land use and management can increase and maintain greater soil Carbon stocks (i.e., sequester C) include a variety of practices that either increase the amount of C added to soils (as plant residues and manure) and/or reduce the relative rate of CO2 released through soil respiration. Soil carbon sequestration practices include: 1) improved grazing land management, 2) improved crop rotations, 3) improved fallows, 4) residue management, 5) reduced tillage, 6) organic matter amendments, 7) restoration of degraded lands, 8) rewetting of cultivated organic soils and (9 Agroforestry. More over using improved nutrient management could increase the plant uptake efficiency of applied nitrogen, reduce N2O emissions, while contributing to soil C sequestration. Agroforestry systems tend to sequester much greater quantities of carbon than agricultural systems without trees. Planting trees in agricultural lands is relatively efficient and cost effective compared to other mitigation strategies, and provides a range of co-benefits important for improved farm family livelihoods and climate change adaptation.

Livestock improvements brought about by more research on ruminant animals, storage and capture technologies for manure and conversion of emissions into biogas are additional contributions that agriculture can make towards mitigating climate change. The anaerobic digestion of manure stored as a liquid or slurry can lower methane emissions and produce useful energy, while the composting solid manures can lower emissions and produce useful organic amendments for soils. To reach the full potential of agriculture in climate change mitigation, transformations are needed in both commercial and subsistence agricultural systems, but with significant differences in priorities and capacity.

In commercial systems, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, as well as other negative environmental impacts, benefits by increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The sustainable intensification of production, especially in developing countries, can ensure food security and contribute to mitigating climate change by reducing deforestation and the encroachment of agriculture into natural ecosystems. Mitigation of climate change through agriculture is an environmental service that smallholders can provide and is often synergistic with improvements to agricultural productivity and stability.

Climate smart agriculture as a way forward

Climate-smart agriculture is a practice that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals. Efficiency, resilience, adaptive capacity and mitigation potential of the production systems can be enhanced through improving its various components. The future of agricultural production relies on both designing new ways to adapt to the likely consequences of climate change, as well as changing agricultural practices to mitigate the cli-mate damage that current practices cause, all without undermining food security, rural development and livelihoods.

Major transformation of the agriculture sector will be necessary and this will require institutional and policy support. Better-aligned policy approaches across agricultural, environmental and financial boundaries and innovative institutional arrangements to promote their implementation is crucial. Enabling policy environment to promote climate-smart smallholder agricultural transformations is greater coherence, coordination and integration between climate change, agricultural development and food security policy processes.

In farm decision-making and practices, the adaptation and mitigation measures are often the same agricultural practices that also benefit farmers by increasing productivity and resilience. However, there may be important trade-offs too. In these situations, where climate-smart practices entail costs for the farmers and these changes are deemed to bring substantial benefits to the society, the farmers facing extra costs should be compensated through different payment mechanisms, rewarding these farmers for the environmental service they provide. With this prospect climate change creates new financing requirements both in terms of amounts and financial flows associated with needed investments, which will require innovative institutional solutions. In synthesizing potential synergies between adaptation and mitigation in smallholder agricultural transitions.

3-D Printer for Small Holder African Farmers and Agricultural Development  

A Program for labour saving agricultural technologies for smallholder women farmers

 The overall goal of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program has been kickstarted by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway.

The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide which aims to operate as an open-innovation research platform to harness advances in rapid prototyping so that improved labour-saving technologies can be more effectively developed for and by women smallholder farmers.


The need for labour-saving agricultural technologies for smallholder women farmers

The overall goal of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program has been kickstarted by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway. The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide.

Over 1000 million smallholder farmers (predominantly women) are farming using labour intensive agricultural hand tools. Such agricultural tools include tools for tasks such as weeding, planting, harvesting and crop/food processing. Smallholder agricultural systems remain largely dependent on human labour, having minimal access to alternative energy sources for cultivation and agri-processing such as draught animals or fossil-fuel powered mechanization.

Routes out of poverty for smallholder rural communities will require a swathe of innovations that improve the labour productivity of their agricultural systems. Smallholder farmers living on less than a dollar a day face this challenge in an era when energy demand and energy costs are increasing to their disadvantage. The innovation challenge is how to enable smallholders to generate more income and agricultural produce while reducing the labour burden on women and rural children so that their livelihoods can improve.

Harnessing user-led innovation of women smallholder farmers

User-led innovation refers to incorporating the opinions, knowledge, and circumstances of end users into the designs of products that those people will be using. Sounds like common sense, but traditional manufacturing often has difficulty applying special customizations since it focuses on mass production to keep cost effective. The plan is to start in Tanzania; women farmers will be involved in the design of the tools they need and prototypes will be printed. A very few tools could be functional in plastic format, like small shovels and germination equipment. Most of farming is a bit more intensive though, so the prototypes will be taken to local blacksmiths to copy, likely with casting.

User-led innovation is increasingly used to develop consumer products  (toys, sports equipment, etc.) and rapid prototyping using 3D printers is now widely used by industrial designers.By linking user-led innovation approaches with rapid 3D prototyping the design process for agricultural tools can be turned upside down. Women smallholder farmers lacking formal education can design agricultural hand tools and household food processing equipment to meet their own needs. Local tool manufacturers (artisans, blacksmiths) can copy plastic prototypes and develop their own modifications to ensure that agricultural tools are suited to both smallholder farmer needs and purchasing power.

Facilitating rural enterprise & labour-saving impacts through 3D printing rapid-prototyping technologies

The 3D4AgDev Program aims a participatory technology development program with women smallholders farmers so that the farmers can develop their own agricultural tool and labour-saving innovations. Labour saving tools for women smallholders can have major impacts, including leading to higher yields, higher incomes, more time for other activities, and reductions in harmful child labour in rural areas. Through linking the women smallholder farmer groups to rapid-prototyping user innovation processes, there is significant potential to improve the status of rural women through fostering an enterprise-oriented “maker culture” for agri-tool innovations.



Un-tapping the potential of #LocalFood to Improve Food and Nutrition security in #Ethiopia

Stereotypical View of Okra


Okra, also known as Ladies Fingers, Gombo, Bendi or Gumbo, appears to have originated from West Africa, probably somewhere around Ethiopia, and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians as far back as the 12th century B.C.

Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus, rose of Sharon, and hollyhock. Okra or ladies finger is an important vegetable of the tropical countries and most popular in India, Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc. Though virtually not grown in Europe and North America, lots of people in these countries have started liking this vegetable due to the presence of good amount of vitamins.

The plant can be grown throughout the year and resembles cotton in its habit. It is an annual vegetable crop grown in the tropics of the world. It can be grown on all kinds of soils. However, to get the best results, it requires a friable well-manure soil. Okra used in countries like India in huge amount, okra accounts for 60 per cent of the export of fresh vegetables. India exports okra mainly to West Asia, Western Europe and the US. The demand for fresh okra is more in the overseas markets.

Okra pods are available year round. Okra is a very healthy green vegetable that contains many important minerals, vitamins, electrolytes and antioxidants which are essential to good health. Read on, to learn various okra health benefits.

Nutritional value of okra, scientific evidence

Okra is low in calories and is a good source of many nutrients including vitamin B6 and C, fiber, calcium, and folic acid.

Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectin’s. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra. Like soybean oil, okra seed oil is rich (60 to 70%) in unsaturated fatty acids. Okra mucilage refers to the thick and slimy substance found in fresh as well as dried pods. Mucilaginous substances are usually concentrated in the pod walls.


Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), Fresh, raw pods:

Nutrition value per 100 g.  (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 1.5% 31 Kcal
Carbohydrates 7.03 g 5.4%
Protein 2.0 g 4%
Total Fat 0.1 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 9% 3.2 g
Folates 88 mcg 22%
Niacin 1.000 mg 6%
Pantothenic acid 0.245 mg 5%
Pyridoxine 0.215 mg 16.5%
Riboflavin 0.060 mg 4.5%
Thiamin 0.200 mg 17%
Vitamin C 21.1 mg 36%
Vitamin A 375 IU 12.5%
Vitamin E 0.36 mg 2.5%
Vitamin K 53 mcg 44%
Sodium 8 mg 0.5%
Potassium 303 mg 6%
Calcium 81 mg 8%
Copper 0.094 mg 10%
Iron 0.80 mg 10%
Magnesium 57 mg 14%
Manganese 0.990 mg 43%
Phosphorus 63 mg 9%
Selenium 0.7 mcg 1%
Zinc 0.60 mg 5.5%
Carotene-ß 225 mcg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 516 mcg


Health and Medicinal Value: Scientific Evidence


  • The fiber content of okra has many high qualities; it helps in maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Okra helps to reabsorb water and traps excess cholesterol, metabolic toxins and excess bile in its mucilage and slips it out through stool. Because of the greater percentage of water in the bulk, it prevents constipation, gas and bloating stomach problems.
  • This is a very good vegetable for weight loss, as it is a storehouse of health benefits, provided it is cooked on low flame, so that the okra health benefits are retained. This way the invaluable mucilage obtained from okra, is not lost due to high heat.
  • To add volume and bounce to your hair, you can use this hair care tip. Boil horizontally sliced okra, till the brew becomes slimy. Then let it cool, add few drops of lemon to it and use it as a last rinse. This will bring bounce and volume to your hair.
  • The mucilage and fiber present in okra, helps in maintaining blood sugar levels and regulating their absorption in small intestine.
  • Okra facilitates in propagation of good bacteria known as probiotics. These bacteria are similar to the ones proliferated by yogurt in the small intestine, and helps in biosynthesis of vitamin B complex.
  • Protein and oil found in the seeds of okra serves as a good source of high quality vegetable protein. It is rich in amino acids like tryptophan, cysteine and other sulfur amino acids.
  • Okra is a very good laxative, as it helps in treating irritable bowels, healing ulcers and soothing the gastrointestinal track.
  • Okra is good for summer heat and sun stroke treatment.
  • Okra is good for atherosclerosis, and is good for asthma.
  • It can help in prevention of diabetes.
  • Okra Is High In Foliate (Folic Acid) an Important Vitamin for Preventing Birth Defects


Okra in ETHIOPIA: Berta Community

Berta is one of the five local ethnic groups found in Benishangulumuz regional state. According to 2007 national census survey (CSA, 2007) report around 173,743 Berta communities found in the region. This local community resides along the Ethiopia Sudan border and they shared same ethnic group in the other side (Sudan) of Ethiopia-Sudan border. Berta community use some special local foods like ocra ( kenkase) , hibiscus (kerkada)and bamboo shoot as a stable food recipe in the area.

The Berta community usually uses okra as a wet to eat food prepared from sorghum and maize, sorghum and maize are the two main stable crops cultivated in the area.

Besides using okra for household consumption, there is a great demand for the plant in the local market to be used for the town communities like in Asosa and also substantial amount of it is cross to Sudan with rewarding price.

The Berta community proudly reported that the reason behind resisting from the high risk of malaria case in the area, for their digestive system and general healthy condition is their food habit of using okra in their food.

Future Direction

As we can see Okra is very important crop for the local Berta community and research papers show that okra is become known in western and North American dishes. However there is no significant promotion and research done in Ethiopia to promote and enhance the food value and market of okra. Future research strategies should give emphasis on promoting local food like okra that have play significant role in improving nutritional content of the Ethiopian dish.

Research and development focuses on traditional food plants and on essential oils shall be one of the Ethiopian national agriculture research systems program in addressing the national calorie deficit , malnutrition and for the treatment of life style diseases that are recently become prevalent  in urban parts of the community.

Since processed food items derived from traditional crops like have a potential export market value, on the quest of developing traditional and indigenous plants that have a great medicinal value for fighting diabetes, nutritional dense in micronutrients and treating the case of different cancer cells could be a source of generating additional income if they are properly researched, developed and marketed.


Reading material reviewed

How to Plant and Grow Okra | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2325331_plant-grow-okra.html#ixzz1LISuMOn0











ICT for Agriculture: A lesson for Ethiopian Research and Extension System

Application of Information and communication technology for agricultural Knowledge management can play a pivotal role in enhancing agricultural productivity and addressing the problem of food insecurity. If properly managed, it enables appropriate knowledge and information to reach knowledge intermediaries and smallholder farmers in a timely manner. Such delivery of knowledge and information undoubtedly minimizes the risk and uncertainty smallholder farmers face from production to marketing of their produce. But, to effectively engage in agricultural knowledge management, adequate mechanisms are needed for generating, capturing, and disseminating knowledge and information through the use of effective processes and institutional arrangements.

Information and communication technology (ICT) can play a critical role in facilitating rapid, efficient, and cost effective knowledge management. However, ICT application in Ethiopia remains low in comparison with several African countries. For instance, in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries, smallholder farmers get technology-related advice as well as location-specific market information on inputs and outputs through ICT kiosks. Furthermore, mobile telephone service is being successfully used to deliver agricultural information to users.

In Ethiopia, public agricultural extension services have been in action for about half a century. Studies show that Ethiopia has the largest agricultural extension system in Sub-Saharan Africa, and third largest in the world after China and India (Swanson and Rajalahti, 2010). According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF 2010), a total of 8,500 farmer training centers (FTCs) have been established and 63,000 field extension workers (known as development agents-DAs) have been trained. The current extension approach, therefore, follows FTC-based extension system.

To speed up technology adoption, the government of Ethiopia should harnessing its public extension service delivery system and particularly the agricultural extension system and provide an enabling framework for utilizing advances in information and communication technology to deliver agricultural extension services. Using available ICTs will not only improve information and knowledge management for extension workers and farmers but optimize and rationalize public resources devoted to agricultural extension services.

The FTCs are positioned to facilitate agricultural knowledge and information exchange among researchers’ extension workers and farmers. Woreda level agricultural offices are responsible for managing the operation of FTCs with the support of zonal and regional agriculture bureaus and are the frontline administrative structure for implementing agricultural extension services in the country. So far the main method for linking different actors including: agricultural researchers, development agents and farmers working at different level merely depend on traditional communication channels.

 ICT can play a crucial role in benefiting the resource-strapped farmers with up to date knowledge and information on agricultural technologies, best practices, markets, price trends, and weather conditions.

Experts in public and private research and extension system could easily connect, collaborate and established working online and offline platform using the ICT tools. The experiences of most countries indicate that rapid development of ICT, which facilitates the flow of data and information, has tremendously enhanced the knowledge management practice in agriculture.

However, currently, among the various ICT related initiatives, radio is widely used to share and inform users on agricultural issues, including new and upgraded farming techniques production management, market information, and other issues. Due to its strategic importance in reaching the majority of the smallholders, only attempts are being made to strengthen the delivery of knowledge and information through this media.

Countries Experiences in using ICT for Agriculture

ICT kiosks: success story in India

eChoupal is an initiative of ITC Limited (a large multi business conglomerate in India) to link directly with rural farmers for procurement of agricultural produce like soybeans, wheat,coffee, and prawns. eChoupal was conceived to tackle the challenges of Indian agriculture, characterized by fragmented farms, weak infrastructure, and the involvement of numerous intermediaries.

The company has already established over 10,000 eChoupal kiosks (centers), across several agricultural regions of the country each with a computer and Internet access where the farmers can directly negotiate the sale of their produce online with ITC Limited. These eChoupal centers also enable farmers to obtain online information and recommendations on good farming practices. In addition, they can place orders for agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers. This helps farmers to improve the quality of their produce and realize better prices. Each ITC Limited kiosk is run by a villages, generally within about a 5 km radius. These farmers bear some operating cost but, in return, earn a service fee for each e-transaction done through their eChoupal.

Case Study : M-Farm Ltd in Keyna

There is a small set of new, successful Kenyan start-ups in mobile farming. An example is M-Farm Ltd., a “software solution and agribusiness company” whose product concept is based on the necessity of providing relevant, ready-to-use information to farmers across the nation as a whole. Developed in 2009 and led by Jamila Abass, M-Farm has started its operations with the mission of empowering Kenyan farmers, whose problems include misbehavior of middlemen with respect to the price of produce, ineffective mechanisms for information on market prices, and the relatively high cost of farm inputs.

To alleviate these problems, the company developed an SMS-based technology, through which farmers only need to send an SMS, to access several services in m-farming: they can get information pertaining to the retail price of their output, buy their farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favorable prices, and be matched with optimal buyers for their products. The product was designed to address informational asymmetry and a lack of coordination, which minimize the bargaining power of farmers in their interaction with middlemen. By providing a SMS-based technology for information and communication, M – Farm attempts to provide an easily accessible solution to the problem: the platform also enables farmers to sell collectively, and aggregate their orders when they need to connect with farm input suppliers.

The rates of adoption of the M-Farm platform are remarkable, especially for a new venture focused on the specific segment of the national farming community. As reported by CEO Jamila Abass, M-Farm recruited more than 3000 subscribers (adding to the initial 2000) in the first month after that project was launched. Abass reports that most of the individuals subscribing to M-Farm doubled their profits as a result of the application, and created new, stable market relations with other customers of the same platform.

aimed at reaching these goals: for example, the RapidSMS case cited above is aimed at the improvement of child health and nutrition, and therefore relates directly to MDG no. 4, as well as to no.1 (eradicating global poverty and hunger). The case of WelTel Kenya1, aimed at combating HIV/AIDS as per MDG no.6, constitutes remarkable progress towards the use of mobiles in this field, given its capability of acting on therapy – rather than solely on prevention, as many ICT-based toolkits deployed in the past. The MDGs constitute, therefore, a useful framework to tailor development projects, and to establish specific targets for mobile-based intervention.

 Case Study : M-Krishi – TCS’ Mobile Agro-Advisory Service in India

Conceived in 2006, for agents operating in agricultural markets in India, M-Krishi (“M” stands for “Mobile”, and “Krishi” means “agriculture” in several Indian languages) is a mobile platform developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), in order to provide personalized advice to farmers on low-end mobiles. This experience mirrors at least two of the traits that we have reviewed in the Sub-Saharan African context: firstly, the necessity of targeting agricultural markets as a specific segment of the economy, and secondly, the choice of providing a custom mobile app based on low-end technologies, due to the low propensity of developing county farmers to purchase high-tech mobiles. What makes the M-Krishi experience unique is that this platform provides personalized advice to farmers. As a result farmers gain access to information on the weather, soil, fertilizer and pesticides that correspond to their plot of land.

The initiative for M-Krishi stemmed from appraisal of farmers’ needs, which clearly addressed the necessity of an integrated system to answer specific queries. The product has been conceived as a mobile agro-advisory system that would allow farmers to send queries to agricultural experts in their local language, and receive information from them in the same language, overcoming the barrier of illiteracy often found with respect to ICT projects in developing nations.

The business impacts reported at M-Krishi are quite impressive: according to TCS, expert advice to farmers using the service has increased yield by 20%, and reduced pesticide costs by almost 40%. Furthermore, TCS reports increased awareness of farmers of new technologies such as Integrated Pest Management, which is likely to result in further yield increases. Further, seeing an opportunity to reduce costs, stakeholders approached the company to start paid pilots in order to reach more farmers.

Case Study : Intuit Fasal in Bangalore

Conceived in 2010, Intuit Fasal is an initiative in Bangalore, southern India, at the laboratories of Intuit, an American software company primarily focused on developing applications for small businesses. Deepa Bachu, the director of emerging market innovation at Intuit, developed the concept of Intuit Fasal (where Fasal means “harvest” in Hindi) in order to maximize the power of technology for optimizing agricultural markets in Karnataka. Fasal is a free SMS-based product that enables farmers to connect with potential buyers and to access real-time price information. Developed on the basis of an ad hoc algorithm, Fasal functions as a “basic supply-and-demand calculator”: once farmers have registered for the service, a profile of their produce and activity is captured, and the service starts sending personalized messages. The system knows when the farmer is ready to harvest, and starts providing several things: price information, advice on techniques and connection with potential local buyers.

What makes Fasal special is its capacity of exploiting the resources and intelligence of a global software innovator, traditionally focused on business segments, to develop agricultural markets in a developing nation. This service has reached more than 500,000 users who earn an average of 20% more income because of the technology. Once again, the traits of innovation revealed above with respect to m-agriculture are portrayed by Fasal, whose complex algorithm does not need complex devices to be operated: simple mobile phones are sufficient for the use of this platform, whose informational activity is performed entirely through the use of voice message and SMS.

ICT4AGR IN ETHIOPIA: The way forward

Effective knowledge and information management in the agricultural sector will be achieved when the right knowledge and information is delivered to the farmers and other stakeholders at the right time in a user-friendly and accessible manner. To realize this, farmers should be involved in the knowledge management process as knowledge generated in a participatory manner has a greater likelihood of being accepted and acted upon by the farmers. This participatory approach will also enable the integration of traditional or tacit knowledge of farmers with the modern forms of knowledge, and further enhance the utilization of knowledge disseminated to smallholder farmers.

Implementing modern approaches to knowledge management in the Ethiopian agriculture sector will not be without challenge. While recognizing that the country has several institutions and organizations engaged in the creation and dissemination of agricultural knowledge and information,

 Effectiveness is inhibited by the coverage and inadequate usage of ICT. Ethiopia is currently far behind several African countries in the coverage and usage of ICT services, and efforts are needed to scale-up investments in physical ICT infrastructure and services across the country. At present, radio stands out as the most utilized medium among the various ICT platforms. In the many countries reviewed however, other modern and innovative ICT-based knowledge management systems have been fully embraced to generate and disseminate agricultural information to stakeholders along the agricultura value chain. Some initiatives aimed at using modern ICT tools such as web portal are underway albei at small-scale. Government should capitalize on the potential role that ICT can play in improving the productivity and output of smallholder farmers and should implement bold measures to harness and turn the potentials into real development benefits.

The major challenges inhibiting the use of ICT in disseminating agricultural knowledge and information which includes the low level of access to ICT infrastructure and services, need to be addressed. The existing potential for extending the current ICT infrastructure to reach rural farmers, coupled by the presence of wide area radio service coverage across the country, should be exploited to implement ICT-based knowledge and information dissemination in the short-term. Policy and investment priorities that government and its partners should consider in order to promote cost-effective knowledge management in agriculture have been highlighted. Priorities include extending the existing ICT infrastructure to reach FTCs and woreda agricultural offices, establishing rural ICT kiosks establishing and strengthening community radios, integrating ICT at all levels of education, and making ICT hardware affordable to the users. Mobile phone platforms offer good opportunity for reaching farmers and knowledge intermediaries, and their use for disseminating knowledge and information should be explored and enhanced and design of interventions should benefit from existing lessons and experiences of many countries in Africa and Asia. These initiatives, we believe, will assist the government to rationalize its expenditures in the sector, streamline the agricultural extension system, speed up agricultural transformation and attain the objective of doubling agricultural production and productivity by the end of the GTP period in 2015.

Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture to fight hidden hunger: Implication for Ethiopia

Malnutrition continues to be an obstacle for economic growth and human well-being in many African countries. Despite a high level of commitment, many countries in Africa are not on track to achieve the nutrition-related Millennium development goals by 2015, such as halving child nutrition, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health. An IFPRI Policy Note highlights some of the factors which inhibit the reduction of malnutrition, mainly due to a lack of political commitment. The cross-sectorial nature of nutrition with linkages to health, agriculture, education, infrastructure, and social development complicates planning processes. Another report indicates that nutrition is not prioritized because policymakers view it as an outcome from, rather than an input into, human development.

It is estimated that one – third of the world’s population are affected by deficiencies of one or several micronutrients. The most prevalent deficiencies are: anemia and iron deficiency affecting 1.6 billion people; iodine deficiency with 1.9 billion people at risk; and vitamin A deficiency affecting 190 million children under 5 years of age (WHO 2004; WHO 2008; WHO 2009). Deficiencies of zinc, folate, and B-vitamins are also prevalent but the extent is less well known. Low intakes and/or low bioavailability of micronutrients from monotonous plant based diets lead to micronutrient deficiencies often in the most vulnerable population groups such as women and young children. Micronutrient malnutrition causes reduced physical and cognitive development of children and increased morbidity and mortality in children and adults.

Cost of Hunger in Africa
Today, there are more stunted children in Africa than 20 years ago. 69 % to 82 % of all cases of child undernutrition are not properly treated. Most of the health costs associated with undernutrition occurs before the child turns one.

Between 7 % – 16 % of repetitions in school are associated with stunting. Stunted children achieve 0.2 years to 1.2 years less in school education. 8 % to 28 % of all child mortality is associated with undernutrition. Child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced national workforces by 67 % of working-age populations suffered from stunting as children. Undernourished children are at higher risk for anaemia, diarrhoea, fever and respiratory infections. These additional cases of illness are costly to the health system and families. Undernourished children are at higher risk of dying.

Stunted children are at higher risk for repeating grades in school and dropping out of school. Additional instances of grade repetitions are costly to the education system and families.
If a child dropped out of school early and is working in he or she may be less productive, particularly in the non-manual labour market. If he or she is engaged in manual labour he/she has reduced physical capacity and tends to be less productive. People who are absent from the workforce due to undernutrition-related child mortalities represent lost economic productivity.

Control and prevention strategies
Strategies to prevent and control micronutrient malnutrition aim at increasing the micronutrient intake by dietary diversification, supplementation, fortification and Bio-fortification. These approaches should be regarded as complementary with their relative importance depending on local conditions and specific requirements.

Dietary diversification aims at adding micronutrient dense foods, such as animal source foods, fruits and vegetables to diets based on staple food crops. The major constraints to dietary diversification are the availability and accessibility of micronutrient dense foods, especially in poorer settings as well as the need for behavior change and education.

Supplementation is the provision of relative large doses of micronutrients in form of pills or syrup to treat or prevent deficiencies. The most common supplementation programs include the provision of iron and folate to pregnant women and vitamin A for young children. Expensive supply and poor compliance are the major limitations of this strategy.

Fortification of foods with micronutrients is a preventive strategy which has been successfully used in many countries including well known programs such as salt fortification with iodine and wheat flour fortification with iron and folate. Guidelines to plan and implement efficient programs are available (WHO and FAO 2006). A major drawback of food fortification is that rural populations with limited access to processed foods can often not be reached. For these populations living predominantly on staple food crops Bio-fortification is a promising approach.

Bio-fortification is the process of increasing the level and/or bioavailability of essential nutrients in edible parts of crops by conventional plant breeding or transgenic techniques. Conventional breeding has been the primary approach to enhance staple food crops with iron, zinc and provitamin A carotenoids. Rice, wheat, maize, pearl millet, the common bean, sweet potato and cassava are the main targeted crops of HarvestPlus, the CGIAR’s (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Bio-fortification Challenge program (Pfeiffer and McClafferty 2007; Bouis and Welch 2010). Three prerequisites have been identified to make Bio-fortification successful: i) a bio-fortified crop must be high yielding and profitable to the farmer; ii) the bio-fortified crop must be shown to be efficacious and effective reducing micronutrient malnutrition in target populations, and iii) the bio-fortified crop must be acceptable to farmers and consumers in target regions (Hotz and McClafferty 2007).
For bio fortified crops to be efficacious and effective, not only the enhanced concentration of the micronutrients in the edible part of the crop is important, but also the bioavailability of the micronutrients. In addition, the effect of food processing and preparation on micronutrient concentration and bioavailability needs to be considered.

Linking Nutrition to Agriculture: Nutrition sensitive interventions

Nutrition by nature is a multifaceted, multisectoral issue. Interventions from a variety of sectors should contribute to sustainable improvements in nutrition. Direct interventions improving nutrition are mostly found in the Health domain and Indirect interventions contributing to improved nutritional outcomes can be found in the domains of Agriculture, Economic development, Social development, Social protection, Education, Women and Gender Affairs, Water and Sanitation, etc.

Nutrition sensitive interventions address the underlying causes of malnutrition, while nutrition specific interventions address the direct causes. Nutrition sensitive interventions are never typically in themselves a sufficient intervention to remedy malnutrition.


• Increasing (staple) food production, increasing food availability, lowering food prices
• Diversification of agricultural production
• Micronutrient-rich crops
• Crops/varieties with reduced anti-nutritional factors
• Animal derived foods with higher bio-availability of micronutrients
• Plant breeding for elevated levels of micronutrients (bio-fortification)

Post-harvest processing and food processing

• Reducing food losses
• Extending shelf life
• Increasing food availability
• Adding value
• Maintaining (micro-)nutrients
• Reducing anti-nutritional factors

Recent Development in Ethiopia

Special attention to fight malnutrition is given by policy makers and non-government organizations in as a recent development. Different kinds of intervention including media campaign on feeding children and mothers, nutrition education, nutrition specific interventions to affected population and nutrition sensitive agriculture are materialized.

To make nutritional poor agricultural commodity modified for better nourishment bio fortified crops like orange flesh sweet potato and quality protein maize are promoted to the farming community. In addition to diversification of household produced by giving special intervention to agricultural enterprise which has ignored in previous agricultural development and extension programs mainly backyard agriculture as a source of nutritionally dense green leafy vegetables.

The way forward

Food insecurity and malnutrition is a cumulative effect of previous miss matched development interventions of decades and Even if some efforts made in recent development for giving attention to mainstream a nutrition sensitive agriculture and nutrition sensitive agricultural value chain development is needed. More initiative and programs should be developed so find a social viable and sustainable solution for the multi-dimensional problem of malnutrition in Ethiopia.

India strengthens ties with CGIAR institutions in Ethiopia and Kenya

Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda (extreme right) visiting a farmer’s field near Holetta in Ethiopia. Photo: ICRISAT
Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, paid a visit to Ethiopia and Kenya to gain an understanding of the work being carried out by CGIAR centers based in Africa and to identify best practices and information that can be used to strengthen the ongoing developmental programs in the state of Karnataka in India.

Interacting with representatives of the centers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus in Addis Ababa on 24 December, the Minister said, “Though the state of Karnataka made significant progress in improving the productivity of agriculture, in recent years, growth had stagnated. Intensive cultivation had led to a rapid decline in soil nutrient levels, leading to micronutrient deficiencies.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of ICRISAT and the State agricultural department, some of these issues were identified and corrective actions were taken. Karnataka has now returned to a positive growth rate in agriculture. This demonstrates the need for science-based interventions in identifying problems and in implementing appropriate solutions,” he added.

Mr Byre Gowda also stressed on the importance of improving agriculture in developing countries such as India and Ethiopia despite its diminishing share in GDP due to the sector’s crucial role as a source of livelihood for a majority of the poor people.

The interactions gave the Minister a clear overview of various projects and activities that the centers are pursuing in Ethiopia. Among the activities that were found to be highly relevant to the conditions in Karnataka include efforts on sustainable intensification through expansion of small-scale irrigation and strategic improvements in rainfed agricultural systems by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI); the soil health program of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF); mapping of soil nutrient status using satellite imagery by the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) in collaboration with US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with support from the Canadian International Development Agency and efforts to improve resilience of dryland systems by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

Mr K Byre Gowda interacts with representatives of CGIAR centers with country offices in Ethiopia. Photo: ICRISAT
Mr Byre Gowda’s visit focused on wide ranging discussions with the representatives of eight CGIAR centers based in Ethiopia – ICRISAT, ILRI, IWMI, ICRAF, CIMMYT, ICARDA, Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The Minister also visited the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and met with its Director General Dr Fentahun Mengitsu, who briefed him about the Institute’s research network and major programs and those implemented by the Government of Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia has made significant progress in the past 10 to 15 years and is one of the few countries in Africa that is spending more than 10 per cent of the national budget on agriculture,” Dr Mengitsu explained. He went on to elucidate on his country’s historical relationship with India and its contribution to capacity building. The sustainable land management initiative, similar to the watershed programs in India, is one of the flagship programs currently being implemented by the Government of Ethiopia to support smallholder farmers.

Concluding the meeting, the Minister said: “Farmers in India and Ethiopia are facing very similar problems. Some of the problems that India is facing now could be Ethiopia’s problems in the future. There are lessons that each of us can borrow from the other’s work. A strong collaboration between the two countries will be mutually beneficial”.

The visit was organized by ICRISAT on behalf of the Consortium of CGIAR centers that is working closely with the Government of Karnataka, Ministry of Agriculture in implementing the “Bhoochetana Plus” program.

Mr Byre Gowda also visited farmers’ fields and a commercial flower farm near Holetta, in Ethiopia.

In Nairobi, Kenya, the Minister interacted with representatives of CGIAR centers located in the country. He toured the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) campus and interacted with the local farmers.

The visit was facilitated by Drs Moses Siambi, ICRISAT’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA); KPC Rao, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT; and NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist – Breeding, ICRISAT.