11 November 2010 Farmers in 43 African countries can now consult a “quick reference calendar” developed by the United Nations agriculture agency for advice on the most appropriate crops to plant, based on climatic conditions and soil types in the areas where they live and other factors.
The web-based tool, developed by experts in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), covers more than 130 crops from beans to beetroot, to wheat and watermelon.
Donors, aid agencies, government workers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with African farmers will also be able to use the tool to enable them to provide suitable advise.
The FAO crop calendar is especially useful in case of an emergency such as drought or floods or for rehabilitation efforts following natural or man-made disasters.
As well as crops, it advises on tried and tested seed varieties that are adapted to the soil and climate conditions of each area.
“Seeds are critical for addressing the dual challenges of food insecurity and climate change,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.
“The right choice of crops and seeds is crucial both for improving the livelihoods of the rural poor and hungry and for dealing with climate change,” he said in a news release.
There are 283 agro-ecological zones covered in the calendar, representing the vast richness and variety of the African ecology as well as challenges of land degradation, sand encroachment and floods.
An estimated 50 per cent of the global increase in yields over the past decade came from improving the quality of seeds. The other 50 per cent was the result of better water management and irrigation practices, according to FAO.
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