Agriculture

It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive resource here regarding addressing agricultural-related needs in a developing country or in a crisis situation. Instead, this page focuses on where to find in-depth information (web sites, books, journal articles and other publications) on this subject. This page was authored by a volunteer from the AWN community. Updates and new pages are welcomed!

On this page:

  • Agriculture (cultivation)
  • Seed distributions
  • Animal husbandry

 

Agriculture (Cultivation)

Agriculture can refer to both cultivation as well as animal husbandry.  These are the two main livelihoods of rural households and often the primary source of income for many developing countries.  On this page, we will use it to mean cultivation.

There are numerous agencies working in agriculture.  The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is often considered a lead agency.  Their agriculture page is a bit overwhelming but chock full of information and has many external links to explore: www.fao.org/ag.

The FAO Agricultural Support Systems Division is a bit more focused, though still has large amounts of information to sift through: www.fao.org/ag/ags/index.html.

 

Seed Distributions 

Seed distributions need to consider the normal seed supply as well as the immediate provision of seed.  While most farmers will use part of their harvest as seed, special consideration must be taken when this is not possible and with vegetable seeds.  When seeds are procured for distribution, the procurement process should take into account local seed sources and make use of them.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has developed a system of distributing seeds using a voucher system whereby farmers use vouchers to “purchase” the types of seeds they need from local suppliers.  This gives them more choice, makes the aid more appropriate, and adds an element of sustainability by supporting a long-term source of seeds rather than competing with it.

CRS has published several very useful guides that are downloadable: www.crs.org/publications/agriculture.cfm.

"Seed Provision During and After Emergencies" is an excellent guide published by the Overseas Development Institute as their Good Practice Review Number 4, in English and French.  It is downloadable for free, in English, at www.odihpn.org/publistResults.asp (select "Good Practice Reviews" from the drop-down menu) or go to www.odihpn.org and click on Publications, then Good Practice Reviews. You have to sign in to get to the electronic version of the document, or you can order hard copies by email.

If seeds and tools distributions may be needed in your area, it is a good idea to order enough hard copies of the guide you decide to use, to distribute to all relevant agencies, including the government Ministry of Agriculture if appropriate. That way, there is a good chance of all concerned organisations agreeing to a coordinated seeds and tools campaign which is designed to an agreed standard based on sound research.

 

Animal Husbandry

Most rural households depend at least to some extent on animal husbandry.  Pastoralist and agro-pastoralist societies depend heavily on animal husbandry.  Most aid programmes in this area have focused on restocking and de-stocking herds.  More recently, they have tried to address more complex issues of water, land access, animal health, and market access.

If anyone knows of a good, simple guide for animal-based livelihoods programmes, please let us know.

Oxfam has a web page with several resources addressing assistance to pastoralist communities:  www.oxfam.org.uk/what_we_do/issues/pastoralism/index.htm.  This website also has many external links to other sites with useful information on animal husbandry.

If you would like to volunteer to be responsible for this page's information, please see the AWN volunteer guidelines and follow the directions to express interest. Or, if you would like to contribute an item to this page, simply post your question, comment or suggestion on this subject directly to the AWN Forum.

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