Reporting Agriculture for the 21st CenturyThe New Agriculturist


Mature cotton boll (credit: FiBL) Cotton fibre is the fabric of life in many farming families. Globally, more than 50 million farmers grow it, but many receive a low price for their product. However, there is a fast-growing niche for organic, or low-input cotton, that is beginning to interest many small-scale farmers, offering promising developments.

Kale leaves are tied ready to be packed and trucked to markets across Kenya Kale, known as sukuma wiki, is one of Kenya's most important vegetable crops. However, obtaining good quality kale seed is a problem. Working with farmers from Kinale, Kenyan scientists have identified five lines of improved kale seed for testing by farmers. With training and support, farmers are also being encouraged to set up commercial seed production.

Field of buckwheat (credit: Zhang Zongwen, Bioversity China) First domesticated on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, buckwheat is a hardy and nutritious crop, which is important for communities in the Himalayan foothills. Classed as a minor crop, farmers in the remote uplands of China are now heartened to know that the crop is back in fashion and can earn them a tidy income.

The dried white Babati grain (credit: CGIAR-ICRISAT/Peterson Githaiga) Although Babati - in the Arusha region - is the most important pigeonpea area in Tanzania, yields have been severely affected for many years due to fusarium wilt. However, through participative research and crop selection programmes, farmers are beginning to reap the benefits.

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January 2007