Goat Farming As a Business

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8676978Introduction

Goat farming in Zambia is set to grow in importance with huge demand from Saudi Arabia, which desires to import one million Zambian goats annually. But at the moment, Zambia only has about four million goats – and that’s not enough to meet the new demand.

Goats don’t require a high initial investment in comparison to other livestock in Zambia. This is great for those contemplating to go into Goat farming as a business or those Goat farmers that wish to expand their herds; to take advantage of the business opportunity that Saudi Arabia presents.

Goats are hardy and easier animals to look after, which can survive under harsh environments. Goats are reared under extensive farming conditions, mainly for meat and to a lesser extent for milk. To some extent productivity of these goats is low due to various factors such as high kid mortality and lack of good animal husbandry practices. Goats also provide skins of commercial importance and manure for gardens (and crop fields). In other parts of the world goats are kept for their wool (mohair).

Human populations are growing, and creating a significant and increasing demand for additional animal protein foods. The goat can play an important role in meeting these demands. This calls for farmers to put value in their goat enterprises by shifting from subsistence production to commercial production. It is easier to increase the population of small ruminants (goats and sheep) than large stock. In economic terms the opportunity costs are low for goat production.

“The goat was probably the first animal to be domesticated around 9000-7000
B.C. This long association between goat and human indicates the variety of
functions the goat can provide.”

This write-up has been written to provide information to farmers who are in need of knowledge to start a goat enterprise on a commercial basis, and goat husbandry. The information is not completely comprehensive, but combines experiences from authors and farmers.

Types of Breeds
The vast majority of goats in Zambia are indigenous breeds and these are mainly found in Southern, Central and Eastern provinces.
· Average birth weights of kids range from 1.5kg to 2.5kg. (up to 3kg)
· The indigenous breeds are well adapted to their respective environments.

Other breeds found in Zambia include exotic types, the Boer goat (mainly for meat) with a mature weight of 65kg. The Saanen goat is for milk production and produces an average of 3.5litres of milk per day. There is also the Angora goat for mohair production, and the Kalahari, bred for meat.

Management of Does and Bucks

1.0 Management of Females (Does)

Young females should be mated as from the age of 12 months. Good nutrition ensures that the animal grows faster and ready for mating. It also increases fertility and litter size. If young animals are mated when they are very young (less than 8 months) they will remain stunted the rest of their life and will have poor reproductive performance. A well-managed female can produce kids for about eight years.
Pregnancy in goats lasts between 145 –150 days (five months). A mature female can only mate when she is ready (on” heat”). The heat period lasts between 24 –26 hours. During this time she should receive the male. The presence of the male in the flock triggers heat. Coming on heat also depends on the nutrition of the animal. Signs, which may indicate that the animal is on heat:
· Shaking of the tail
· Mounting other animals

. Seeking males
· Continuous bleating
· Mucous discharge from the vulva
Pregnant females should be separated from the main flock for close monitoring, at least two months before kidding. This also reduces the loss of kids. At this stage they will need quality feed supplements to enhance feed reserves in the body. This will ensure a healthy kid and enough milk.

1.1 Management of Males (Bucks)
· Male goats are known to be fertile at an earlier stage than females. In such circumstances males have to be raised separately from females to avoid unplanned mating.
· Bucks have to be kept in good condition and fed at all times.
· For breeding purposes, bucks with horns have to be used, so as to avoid haemophrodism (bisexual), which comes with the use of hornless/polled bucks.
· Bucks can be selected at an early age. A male kid born weighing about 2.5kg or more kg
could be selected for future breeding. Heavier and fast growing bucks should be selected.
Select bucks from twin births so as to increase the chances of twinning.
· Males not suitable for breeding should be castrated or culled.

Breeding

Breeding Systems
The breeding system is an important aspect of goat production in terms of meat and milk
production. It has a significant influence on immediate and long-term flock productivity.
Crossbreeding:
This involves the mating of different breeds to combine characteristics found in the different breeds and to make use of the “hybrid vigour”. In simple terms this means that the offspring performs better than the parents. Crossbreeding is one of the methods used in meat and milk production. It can be disastrous, if not done properly, leading to the disappearance of the existing genetic pool.

          

                A                                 B
(Boer Goat male) X (Indigenous female goat)
                           

                          ⇓

 

                       AB (Crossbred)

 

 

 

Pure breeding:
· In this system purebred females (does) are run with purebred males (bucks) to maintain the desired traits (colour, size, meat and milk qualities) of that particular breed.

Mating Systems
It is important for farmers to know the different mating systems that can be applied to their breeding flock.

Random mating – is letting any number of bucks to run with a flock of females uncontrolled.
Advantages of random mating
1) Simple
2) Cheap
3) Goats can kid any time, therefore a farmer can sell any time.
Disadvantages
1) High risk of inbreeding
2) High risk of spread of diseases.

Assortive mating – is putting the best females to the best buck. This is better than random mating
Advantages of Assortive mating

1) High quality breeds

2) Maintains genetic base

Disadvantages

1) Unavailability of appropriate breeding stock

2) Difficult to implement in communal setups
3) Lack of technical skills, including records

 Selection and Culling

Selection: is a process of choosing the animals with desirable characteristics to be parents of the next generation.

Culling: It is the process of removing unproductive animals (old goats, animals with poor mothering abilities, poor reproductive performance, and animals with chronic sicknesses) from the flock.

Mating Ratio

In a controlled mating system:

 A male goat should run with females for 36-42 days. The reason being that a female which misses mating or coming into heat has a second chance within the mentioned period.

 A mature buck can be given 40-50 females to service. A young buck can be given 25-30 females. The effectiveness of both male and females depends on their body condition at mating.

Breeding calendar
Below is a calendar that can assist the farmers to plan their flock breeding cycles. This helps the farmer to plan when to purchase inputs, market and to carry strategic operations.

 Month 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12
Selection of
breeding
stock
Mating
starts
(Puttin
g the
buck
to the
female
s for
42
days)
End of
mating
Separate
the
pregnant
and the
non
pregnant
Supplement
and
vaccinate
against
pulpy
kidney all
pregnant
females
Kidding
starts
End of
kidding
Care of kids Vaccination
against Pulpy
kidney
Weaning
Flushing of
females
Flushing
Routine management of the flock-Dipping, dosing,

Kid Management

It is important to take good care of kids so as to reduce mortalities and improve kid growth rate. A reduction in kid mortality translates into an increase in flock size and consequently the increase in offtake.
Kidding seasons
· Kidding should coincide with times of abundant feed availability so that the does will be producing enough milk for the survival of the kid.
· This is usually in the December –to February period.
· Sometimes goats may kid when the condition of the range is not good that is in winter. In such cases it is always important to make sure that the doe is adequately fed and is producing enough milk.
Kid-Rearing
1. Preparation
· Kidding area should be clean with dry bedding (Stover or hay).
· The doe may be kept in the kidding area for a few days before kidding

The signs of a goat that is about to kid are:
1) Restlessness

2) Separating itself from the flock

3) Discharge of mucus from the vulva,

The advantage of separating pregnant does from the rest of the flock is to ensure undisturbed birth process and creates good bonding between the doe and kid.
2. At birth
To allow bonding the doe must clean and groom her kids and remain undisturbed for two to four hours.
When to intervene in the birth process:
· When there is mal-presentation or difficulties in kidding.
· When the kid does not bleat or breathe because the doe failed to clean it, remove the membrane over the nostrils.

Cutting the navel and application of iodine. Iodine application is not necessary if bedding
is clean.
· When there is no bonding between the doe and the kid
3. Kid Housing
Keep the kids at home for the first few weeks to about one month (especially if the does have to travel long distances to browse and water). The kids require warm and dry conditions during their first four weeks of life. Housing should protect kids from heat, cold or even spread of diseases among kids.
An example of kid housing is the Kid boxes. The kid box has the following: made of wood or bamboo measuring, 500-600mm long, 400-500mm wide and 300-400mm deep. Bedding in the box should be kept clean and fresh. This makes it easy to detect diarrhoea. The kid can be kept in the box for three days and moved thereafter.
4. Feeding kids
· Kids should suckle the first milk (colostrum-cinsema) within the first six hours of birth
which is rich in antibodies that increase the immunity of the kid. If the doe is not producing enough milk for her kid, fostering or bottle feeding is recommended.
· From about 3 weeks of age kids start nibbling grass and leaves. This is important for rumen development.
· They should be allowed to browse/graze from no later than one month. Effective grazing and browsing starts at 6-7 weeks.
5. Identification
It is important to have identifications for individual animals as this makes record keeping easier. There are a number of methods that can be used. These include ear tagging, ear notching and attaching names to animals. It is also a government requirement that all the animals have standard identification for traceability when exporting livestock and livestock products.

6. Health Care In Kids

 A clean environment will reduce the incidence of diseases. A farmer should always be on the lookout for diarrhoea & for respiratory problems- coughing or nasal discharge
Prevention is better than cure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
· Make sure kids get colostrum within six hours of birth
· Make sure bedding is clean and dry
· Do not confine many kids in a small area
· Avoid damp conditions and excessive heat or cold
· Avoid overfeeding kids with milk as this result in scours. To improve the general health of the kids ensure the following; to the whole flock:
· Dry sleeping places
· Clean drinking water (about 5litres per animal per day)
· Adequate feeding (3-5% of their body weight per day)
· Control of internal and external parasites

7. Predation

. Ensure that the kids are housed to protect them from being eaten by jackals, eagles and other dangerous animals.
· Do not allow kids to browse in dangerous places unattended

8. Weaning

· This should be done when the kids are hundred days old on average and weighing between 8-12 kilograms
· The most common weaning method in goats is complete separation of the kids and the does.

It is however critical to vaccinate the kids and the does against pulpy kidney (PK) just before weaning as this stresses them, making them vulnerable to PK.
· Weaning enables the does to be in good body condition in preparation for the next mating season
9. Castration
This is the severing or cutting of the spermatic cords so that the animal cannot mate with the females. Castration improves the quality of meat by reducing the characteristic smell of the entire male. There are three main methods of castration used in goats i.e. the rubber ring, knife/razor and burdizzo.

Conclusion

Proper care of both the female goat (doe) and the male goat (buck) is of paramount importance to ensure the success of the farm business.

References

Charray, J., Humbert, J.M and Levif J. 1989. Manual of sheep production in
the humid tropics of Africa. Translated by Alan Leeson. Published by C.A.B
International. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.

Devendra, C and McLeroy, G.B.1982. Goat and sheep production in the
Tropics. Intermediate Tropical Agriculture series

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CROP ROTATION AND SOIL FERTILITY

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Introduction

Crop rotation is “The practice of alternating the annual crops grown in a specific field in a planned pattern or sequence so that the crops of the same species or family are not grown repeatedly without interruption on the same field”.
-US National Organic Program definition-

OR leaving soil in the best position it can be for continuing/next crops – that includes cover crops, rotations, green manures, catch crops etc.

BENEFITS OF CROP ROTATION
Preventive Pest Management
Crop rotation may limit the growth of populations of agricultural pests including insects, nematodes, and diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi through regular interruption and replacing crop host species with different plant species that do not serve as hosts. The use of specific crop and cover crop rotations may also be used to control pests through allelopathy, an interference interaction in which a plant releases into the environment a compound that inhibits or stimulates the growth or development of other organisms.
Reduced Weed Competition
Carefully designed crop rotations may also serve to outcompete problematic weed species through shading, competition for nutrients and water, and/or allelopathy.
Distribution of Nutrient Demand Placed On Soil by Crops
Different crops place different nutrient demands on the soil.
Making Efficient Use of Nutrient Inputs
Cropping species that access nutrients from different depths within the soil horizon may make the most efficient use of nutrient inputs. Efficient use of agricultural nutrients may further prevent nutrient losses/leaching and associated environmental pollution.
Nitrogen Fixation
Annual cover crop rotations using nitrogen-fixing (legume) cover crops may contribute significant amounts of nitrogen to succeeding crops as well as adding organic matter to the soil.
Improving Soil Quality
Cover crop rotations allow soils to remain undisturbed for various periods of time during which the processes of soil aggregation can take place. The use of a perennial grass rotation lasting 6 months to one year or more may significantly contribute to organic matter accumulation, stimulate soil biological activity and diversity, and improve soil physical properties.
Increased Crop Yields
The rotation effect – Yield of crops grown in rotation are often higher than those grown in monocultures, even when both systems are supplied with abundant nutrients and water.
Growing a diversity of crops in a given year spreads out labour needs throughout a season. The diversity of crops reduces the economic risks caused by variations in climate and/or market conditions.
TEN BASIC PRACTICES OF CROP ROTATION
Rotate the location of annual crops each year. This is especially true for crops in the Solanaceae family (e.g., peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.). Do not follow one crop with a closely related crop species, as pests and diseases are shared by closely related crops. When growing a wide diversity of crops, attempt to group crops into blocks according to the following criteria:
(1) Plant family
(2) Similar timing/maturation periods
(3) Type of crop (i.e., root vs. fruit vs. leaf crop)
(4) Crops with similar cultural requirements (e.g., irrigation, plastic mulch, dry farmed, planted to moisture crops, etc.)
(5) Follow nitrogen-fixing cover crops and/or legume forage crops (e.g., clover, alfalfa) with heavyfeeding crops (e.g., corn) to take advantage of nitrogen supply.
(6) Follow long-term crop rotations (e.g., 1-year perennial rye rotation or pasture rotations) with disease-sensitive crops (e.g., strawberries).
(7) In diverse annual production systems, heavy-feeding crops (crops with high nutrient demands) should be followed by medium-light or shallow-rooted crops, followed by deep-rooted crops.
(8) Always grow some crops that will produce and leave a large amount of residue/biomass that can be incorporated into the soil to help maintain soil organic matter levels.
(9) Grow deep-rooted crops (e.g., sunflower, fava beans, etc.) that may access nutrients from lower soil horizons, alleviate soil compaction, and fracture sub-soil, thus promoting water infiltration and subsequent root penetration.
(10) Use crop sequences known to aid in controlling weeds.
(11) Use crop sequences known to promote healthy crop growth (e.g., corn followed by onions followed by Cole/Brassicaceae crops) and avoid cropping sequences known to promote pests and diseases (e.g., monocultures in general or peas followed by potatoes specifically).

SUMMARY

In conclusion, crop rotation is primarily about a cultural system that is based on natural principles. It is about building a fertile living soil and an environment that supports the healthy growth of plants and natural biological control—a situation where synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are unnecessary and even counterproductive.
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USES OF MULCHES IN SOIL MOISTURE CONSERVATION

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456575INTRODUCTION
Mulch is a protective covering, usually of organic matter such as leaves, straw, or peat, placed around plants to prevent the evaporation of moisture, and the growth of weeds. The word mulch has probably been derived from the German word “molsch” meaning soft to decay, which apparently referred to the gardener’s use of straw and leaves as a spread over the ground as mulch.
Mulching (1) reduces the deterioration of soil by way of preventing the runoff and Soil loss, (2) minimizes the weed infestation and (3) checks the water evaporation. Thus, it facilitates for more retention of soil moisture and (4) helps in control of temperature fluctuations, (5) improves physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, as it adds (6) nutrients to the soil and ultimately (7) enhances the growth and yield of crops. Further, reported that mulching (8) boosts the yield by 50–60% over no mulching under rain-fed situations.

CLASSIFICATION OF MULCHES
Advancement in plastic chemistry has resulted in development of films with optical properties that are ideal for a specific crop in a given location. Horticulturists need to understand the optimum above and below ground environment of a particular crop before the use of plastic mulch. These are two types.
Photo-degradable plastic mulch: This type of plastic mulch film gets destroyed by sun light in a shorter period.
Bio-degradable plastic mulch: This type of plastic mulch film is easily degraded in the soil over a period of time.

COLOR OF FILM
Soil environment can be managed precisely by a proper selection of plastic mulch composition, colour and thickness. Films are available in variety of colours including black, transparent, white, silver, blue red, etc. But the selection of the colour of plastic mulch film depends on specific targets. Generally, the following types of plastic mulch films are used in horticultural crops.
1. Black plastic film: It helps in conserving moisture, controlling weed and reducing outgoing radiation.
2. Reflective silver film: It generally maintains the root-zone temperature cooler.
3. Transparent film: It increases the soil temperature and preferably used for solarisation.
Apart from the above classification there is another way of classifying Methods in mulching:
1. Surface mulching: Mulches are spread on surface to reduce evaporation and increase soil moisture.
2. Vertical mulching: It involves opening of trenches of 30 cm depth and 15 cm width across the slope at vertical interval of 30 cm.
3. Polythene mulching: Sheets of plastic are spread on the soil surface between the crop rows or around tree trunks.
4. Pebble mulching: Soil is covered with pebbles to prevent transfer of heat from atmosphere.
5. Dust mulching: Interculture operation that creates dust to break continuous capillaries, and deep and wide cracks thus reducing evaporation from the exposed soil areas.
6. Live vegetative barriers on contour key lines not only serve as effective mulch when cut and spread on ground surface, but also supply nitrogen to the extent of 25 to 30 kg per ha, besides improving soil moisture status.

EFFECTS OF MULCHES ON SOIL MOISTURE CONSERVATION
Water is essential for growth and development. It is also a major cost in agricultural systems. The success of many agricultural forms relies on conservative and efficient use of water. Moisture retention is undoubtedly the most common reason for which mulch is applied to soil.
Ingman claimed that the use of things made with plastic or plastic components have become a routine part of our daily lives. In a similar way, over the past 50 years world agricultural systems have rapidly adopted the use of many types of plastic products to grow the food we eat because of the productive advantages they afford. Plastic use in agriculture (plasticulture) continues to increase every year in the ever-diminishing supply of petroleum. There is a common lack of awareness
regarding what plastic mulch is, and also a lack of applied research of its use in agricultural communities. However, the use of plastic mulch may actually be one of the most significant water conservation practices in modern agriculture: quite possibly surpassing the water savings of drip irrigation. Even though most of the world’s use of freshwater is spent for irrigation purposes, little research explores how plastic mulch use as a water conservation practice may influence the current and future status of water resources. He used a multidisciplinary approach to understand why Chinese farmers on the margins of the Gobi desert continue to use plastic mulch, and in particular, how its use may relate to water conservation. Next, the study asks to what extent the plasticization of agriculture may influence the income and standard of living for agricultural communities. He was able to prove the role of plastic mulch in conserving soil moisture.
Mulch is used to protect the soil from direct exposure to the sun, which would evaporate moisture from the soil surface and cause drying of the soil profile. The protective interface established by the mulch stops raindrop splash by absorbing the
impact energy of the rain, hence reducing soil surface crust formation. The mulch permits soil surface to prevent runoff allowing a longer infiltration time. These features result in improved water infiltration rates and higher soil moisture. An auxiliary benefit of mulch reducing soil splash is the decreased need for additional
cleaning prior to processing of the herb foliage. Organic and inorganic mulches have shown to improve the soil moisture retention. This increased water holding ability enables plants to survive during dry periods. The use of plastic mulch can be improved if under-mulch irrigation is used in combination with soil moisture monitoring.
The influence of rainfall events is not as great when plastic mulch is used, necessitating active irrigation management. Under mulch, irrigation of vegetable crops has been shown to improve crop yields more than overhead irrigation systems.
Mulch enables the soil moisture levels to maintain for longer periods. In some cases while providing improved moisture conditions within the soil, the mulch changes microclimate so that it uses more water, thus negating the initial benefits. Plastic mulch conserved 47.08% of water and increased yield by 47.67% in tomato
when compared to nonmulched control. Plastic mulching resulted in 33 to 52% more efficient use of irrigation water in bell pepper compared to bare soil.
The conservation of soil moisture through mulching is one of the important best management practices (BMP). The microclimatic conditions are favourably affected by optimum degree of soil moisture. When soil surface is covered with mulch helps
to prevent weed growth, reduce evaporation and increase infiltration of rainwater during growing season.
Different mulching materials helped bell pepper (C. annuum cv. California Wonder) to perform better at water deficits from 25–75% and plastic mulch had highest water use efficiency. Treatment receiving mulch recorded significantly higher net

Source: Best Management Practices for Drip Irrigated Crops
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Sustainable Integrated Pest Management for Tomato

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Tomato damaged by Black Mold

INTRODUCTION

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the coordinated use of pest and environmental information with available pest control methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. IPM is a sustainable approach to pest management that uses knowledge of pest, crop and environmental conditions to select the best combination of the following IPM tactics:

  • Cultural control – modifying farming practices to decrease pest problems
  • Biological control – use of beneficial organisms to regulate pests
  • Chemical control – use of chemical pesticides appropriately
  • Physical control – killing pests directly or by disrupting their environments

TOMATO PESTS AND THEIR CONTROL

Insects - Nematodes Affecting Tomatoes

Insects/ Nematodes Affecting Tomatoes

Cutworms are green or brown caterpillars that curl into a C shape when disturbed. They eat young plants at the soil line at night, and can leave a healthy seedling cut off entirely and lying on the ground.

Controls: Eliminate weeds around garden beds at least two weeks before planting. Hand-picking cutworms at night may help, or you can protect seedlings with cardboard collars or one or more toothpicks (inserted close and parallel to the stem).

Aphids affect tomatoes, especially vigorously growing ones.

Controls: A handful of aphids won’t hurt a healthy tomato plant, but if new leaves are curling or the shoots are coated in aphids, crushing aphids by hand or blasting them off with a strong jet of water will control them.

Hornworms are voracious eaters of tomato plants and fruit. They are large (1” to 4”) green caterpillars with a prominent horn on the tail end; they will eat leaves, small stems, and fruit, sometimes stripping young plants entirely. The mature caterpillars drop to the ground and pupate in the soil over the winter.

Fruitworms, also known as corn earworms, are about an inch long, pale green or brown, sometimes striped. They burrow under the stem end of tomato fruit to create messy warrens full of brown frass.

Controls: Hand-picking caterpillars in the early evening, when they are most active, is quite effective.

Rototill or thickly sheet-mulch beds to destroy pupae between seasons. Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad sprays, both organic, can help with control. General predators, such as praying mantises or wasps, also reduce populations.

Stinkbugs are an annoyance to tomato growers, as their feeding can cause corky white patches under the skin of ripe tomatoes. These patches don’t peel easily when cooking or canning the fruit.

Controls: Hand-pick stinkbugs or snip them with garden shears; a bucket of soapy water held under them can help, as they often drop when disturbed. Eliminate weeds around garden beds at least two weeks before planting. Insecticides are not recommended.

Snails and Slugs can be a problem, especially if plants are on or near the ground. They rarely bother foliage on mature tomatoes, but they can eat large chunks of ripening fruit if they have easy access.

Controls: Keep tomato plants and especially fruit off the ground by using cages or staking.

TOMATO DISEASES AND THEIR CONTROL

Fungal and Bacterial Pathogens of Tomatoes

Fungal and Bacterial Pathogens of Tomato

Early Blight is a common leaf spot caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. Dark brown spots with broad yellow haloes appear on the leaves, and concentric rings can be found in the spots under bright light.

Stems and fruit can also be infected. It often progresses from the bottom of the plant upward. Cool humid weather or overhead irrigation encourage Early Blight, which is spread by splashing water and germinates on moist leaves.

Controls: Avoid getting water on the leaves whenever possible, change the locations where you plant your tomatoes, mulch well around each plant, and clear away all dead or infected plant material at the end of each season. Picking off infected leaves may slow the progression of the disease until the weather is more favourable.

Speck and Spot are bacterial diseases with similar symptoms, causing small black specks or patches on leaves, stems, and fruit. They can be distinguished from Early Blight by the water-soaked appearance of the spots, and the fact that the spots don’t cross the larger veins. Like Early Blight, these bacterial diseases are spread by water, and they can overwinter in soil and on debris from the previous season.

Controls: Prevent and control these diseases as you would Early Blight, above. Bacterial spots stop spreading in dry, warm weather. Chemical controls are usually not needed.

Late Blight is caused by Phytophthora infestans, a fungal disease most famous for the Irish potato famine. It is just as serious in tomatoes, causing dark green to purple-brown water-soaked spots that grow quickly on leaves and stems. The underside of infected leaves will sometimes have whitish powdery spores. Fruit turns brown but stays firm. The fungus thrives during periods of high humidity and mild temperatures (60-78° F). Once it gets going, it can kill a plant very rapidly and spread to other tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes.

Controls: Avoid sprinkler irrigation, very dense planting, or other things which keep humidity high.

Remove volunteer potatoes or tomatoes, and clean up debris at the end of the season. Mulching may help prevent initial infection.

Fusarium Wilt is caused by a soil-borne fungus (Fusarium oxysporum) which infects the roots and stems of tomatoes. Leaves yellow and wilt without spots, sometimes only on one side of the plant, and brownish streaks creep up the inside of the main stem and into the branches. Symptoms are worst in warm weather, especially as the first fruits are getting large. It is usually fatal to infected plants.

Controls: Fusarium can survive a long time in the soil, and it is spread by shoes, garden tools, and anything else which moves soil around. The typical solution in an infected garden is to grow resistant varieties (look for an F or FF on the variety label); no systematic resistance trials have been done for heirloom varieties. Cleaning up all tomato debris, including old roots, and solarizing the soil may help.

Verticillium Wilt (Verticillium dahliae) is similar to Fusarium Wilt, and it can be difficult to tell them apart, though Verticillium prefers cool temperatures rather than warmth.

Controls: Management is the same as for Fusarium Wilt; resistant varieties carry a V on the label.

Powdery Mildew can appear in late summer or fall as the nights cool, but it rarely causes much damage.

Irregular yellow blotches with a faint coating of white powder form on the leaves, and eventually cause brown dead patches.

Controls: No control is necessary on mature plants, but in the case of young or severely affected plants, sulphur dust provides good control.

SUMMARY

Pesticides and application costs are nearly 25% of tomato grower’s expenses. Despite all the planning and preparation that goes into planting a garden, insects and diseases can still frustrate even the best gardeners.

REFERENCES

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)- Rodents

Pests and Diseases for Home Gardeners

Precautions & Application Tips on Specific Pesticides

For a Pdf version of the above article click on this link Sustainable-Integrated-Pest-Management-for-Tomato-18-05-2019

How to Start an Ostrich Farm

 

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Common Ostrich

Introduction

Cows and maize are often the first images that come to mind when thinking about farms, but many non-traditional types of farms also exist. Ostrich farming is one type of agriculture that can have many advantages.

The ostrich (Struthio camelius) is a member of the ratite family (flightless birds). The ostrich is indigenous to Africa, Syria and Arabia; at present wild ostriches are only found in Africa. The first wild ostrich was tamed in 1863. A new branch of agriculture was established in the Karoo and Eastern Cape due to the farming of tamed ostriches. A severe drought in 1865 was an incentive for farmers to keep ostriches, which are adapted to survive in arid areas, in order to supplement their income. According to research, ostriches produce meat and consume resources at a ratio that is much more profitable than beef cattle. An ostrich farm requires only a small area of land and can generate revenue in several different ways.

Ostrich farming cannot be compared with chicken farming and it is thus important to take note of the finer points of this new farming type in order to ensure good results

Area of Land

Locate an area of land that can be used for the ostrich farm. Ostriches require between one and three acres of land in order to run and remain healthy. Build a simple shelter to protect the birds from harsh weather, and construct a fence to prevent the ostriches from escaping.

Where to get Stock

Purchase ostriches for the farm. Select from unhatched eggs, young chicks or adult ostriches. Unhatched eggs and young chicks are relatively inexpensive but require a significant amount of time and expertise to raise properly. Adult ostriches can begin producing new eggs quickly yet are more expensive to purchase initially.

Flock Size

The guidelines on the utilization of pasture by breeding birds prescribe a minimum area of 10 ha per breeding ostrich for an 8-month period. Research shows that breeding ostriches can be kept at higher densities and still have acceptable production rates. The number of birds in a breeding herd will be determined by both the camp size and the condition of the vegetation. However, it is important to remember that there is an interaction between flock size and the various reproduction parameters. When a flock consists of too many birds per flock (e.g. 230 birds per hectare), total and average egg production, fertility and hatchability will decline.

Breed

Choose a type of ostrich to raise. Red neck, blue neck and African black ostriches are the three general types of birds. Red neck and blue neck ostriches are often large and aggressive, while African black birds are smaller and easier to manage. The African black ostrich is often recommended for first-time farm operators. Commercial ostrich production is based largely on flocks that are mated in a male to female ratio of approximately 6:10 in large paddocks.

Crossbreeding

Crossbreeding of divergent types in farm animals is often seen as a method to improve general productivity (and with it profitability). Advantages in crossbreeding that could be utilized are hybrid vigour (heterosis), as well as size differences between male and female lineages (also known as sexual dimorphism). Hybrid vigour is defined as the advantage of the crossbred genotype over the average of the pure breeds from which it was derived (also known as mid-parent value). This is particularly applicable to traits that are of relatively low heritability, such as survival and early growth in ostriches.

The advantage of sexual dimorphism has a bearing on breeds in which the males are relatively heavy, which can be used on considerably lighter females (thus with lower maintenance requirements). The progeny from such a cross thus grows better than the pure progeny from the female lineage, whereas the feeding costs for the maintenance of female animals are less. Because the male:female ratio in ostriches is so narrow (in other words relatively many males per female are required), this principle will not hold the same advantages as for other farm animals with a wided male to female ratio.

Behaviour of Breeding Ostriches

Adult breeding ostriches display characteristic behaviour during the breeding season. Broody behaviour displayed by the female demonstrates her readiness to mate. This is characterized by the female walking with her wings stretched out alongside her body and shaking them gently, keeping her head close to the ground and pecking at the soil aimlessly. ‘Clucking’ is observed when a female indicates her solicitation and receptivity to a male. The breeding male is the more aggressive of the two sexes, with typical territorial behaviour displayed during the breeding season. The change in colour of its beak and shins from pale pink to deep red is interpreted by ostrich farmers as a sign of readiness for the coming breeding season – breeding birds are generally put into breeding camps shortly after this change in the colour of the shins. The reproductive behavioural display of males (or ‘kantling’ display) is characterized by the male sitting on his hocks, and swaying from side to side, with outstretched wings alternately touching the ground. During the display the neck is usually pulled backwards, with the head positioned near the back of the bird. The length and frequency of mating sessions may differ among males, and even for a single male. Mating will occur more often in spring months (September-November), while peak egg production occurs in late winter-early spring (August September). A mating session can last 30 to 90 seconds, with the male mating several times a day with any one female. A male mounts a female from behind, and the condition of the feathers on her left back side is often used as an indication of mating. The male will search for a suitable place to create a nest for the female, normally after the first mating has occurred. The hen usually lays her egg in the early morning (before 8am) and late afternoon (after 4pm). Both cock and hen sometimes display clucking/broody behaviour next to a nest; it is usually associated with the presence of eggs or the male’s solicitation towards the female to produce an egg.

Nutrition

The ostrich is a monogastric animal and the nutritional requirements of the birds are defined according to these guidelines.

Commercial guidelines for minimum composition of feeds for different production stages

Type of
feed
Minimum
crude protein
(g/kg)
Minimum
lysine
(g/kg)
Maximum
moisture
(g/kg)
Minimum
crude fat
(g/kg)
Maximum
roughage
(g/kg)
Calcium Minimum
phosphate
(g/kg)
Min
(g/kg)
Max
(g/kg)
Max

(g/kg)

Min

(g/kg)

Pre-Starter 190 10 120 25 100 12 15 6
Starter 170 9 120 25 100 12 15 6
Grower 150 7.5 120 25 175 10 16 5
Finisher 120 5.5 120 25 225 9 18 5
Slaughter bird 100 4 120 25 250 8 18 5
Maintenance 100 3 120 20 300 8 18 5
Breeder 120 5.8 120 25 240 25 30 5

 

The digestive tract of the ostrich comprises of the bill and beak, gullet (oesophagus), glandular stomach (proventriculus), stomach (ventriculus), small intestine (duodenum), large intestine (colon + caecum) and cloaca. The most important nutritional components that should be included in ostrich feeds are energy (carbohydrates and fat), protein (amino acids), minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

The most important elements in ostrich feeds that contain the necessary nutrients include energy sources (concentrates and roughage), protein sources, and mineral and vitamin mixtures.

These basic constituents should be provided to the bird in the correct ratio to satisfy its specific needs at the various production stages, and in order to ensure optimal production and health. In many instances, birds are kept on pastures and shortages are supplemented by the provision of concentrated feed mixtures that are adapted to make up the shortfall in nutrients that the bird requires. Provide a sufficient supply of food and water for the ostrich farm. Large birds can drink several gallons of water each day. Ensure that the water is kept fresh. Purchase feed that is specially formulated for ostrich nutrition. Alternately, plant crops and grasses for the ostriches to eat.

Ostrich Production

Determine which ostrich products to sell in order to produce revenue from the farm. Ostrich meat and ostrich hide are the two most important sources of revenue for the ostrich farmer, representing approximately 90% of the total income from a slaughter bird. Feathers make up the remainder of the income. Good quality feathers are mostly harvested from adult breeding birds. Given the importance of meat and skins, the production of as many chicks as possible surviving to slaughter age is obviously of vital importance for a good monetary yield. Growth and feed conversion are also important for effective production of meat and skins of an acceptable size. Regarding the quality of skins, the absence of skin damage and the size and form of the nodules represented by the feather follicles are important. The eggs of ostriches can also be sold and do not require the slaughter of the bird.

Summary

Ostrich farming consists of different systems, one or more of which can be practised concurrently on the same farm. Considering factors such as farm size, farm location, climatic conditions and the skills of the manager, the appropriate system should be chosen for a specific enterprise.

Because management plays such a vital role, the producer should decide which functions the ostrich should perform itself and which functions will be performed artificially, e.g. the incubation process and rearing of chicks. From the age of three months to slaughter, factors such as farm size and availability of home-grown fodder will be of great importance in the choice of a specific system. Feed cost in this phase is the single most critical factor and may be as high as 70% of the total direct costs.

With regard to biosecurity it is important to limit movement of ostriches. In this aspect a closed system, where the chicks can be reared from day-old to slaughter, is the best option to prevent disease spread and risk. There are experts who can support producers make the optimal choice for their own circumstances. Not only is it advisable to approach experts in the choice of a system during planning of an ostrich enterprise, but it is strongly recommended that experts are regularly consulted for advice – to ensure optimal profitability`.

References

Du Preez, J.J. Jarvis, M.J.F. Capatos, D. 7 De Kok, J 1992. A note on growth curves of the ostrich Struthio camelus Animal Production (British) 54: 150-152.
Jarvis, M.J.F. 1998. Options for growth rates and slaughter ages. In Huchzermeyer et al (Editors). Proceedings of the 2nd International Ratite Congress, Oudtshoorn, South Africa: 24-27.
Jarvis, M.J.F. 1998. The subspecies and races of ostriches and their present status in the wild. In Huchzermeyer et al (Editors). Proceedings of the 2nd International
Ratite Congress, Oudtshoorn, SA: 4-8

The Role of Research and Development in Agriculture

crop-trials

Crop Trials Being Carried Out

WHAT IS RESEARCH?

Research can be understood to be a series of Tests, Trials or Experiments. In other words to conduct research implies to inquire systematically about a given situation.

Research is important in the development of technology and implementation of new ideas. Most firms, universities and corporations have Research and Development Departments that steer companies into the future and remain competitive.

In agriculture, research is thought of mainly as trials and these are mainly conducted in the field.

Research can further be broken down into Research Programme and Research Project.  Programme involves many different kinds of research, while a project looks at one specific area.

Research can be categorised into 4 categories:

  • Exploratory – aimed at discovery of new ideas, techniques and machines.
  • Confirmatory – aimed at verifying some past findings based on the protocol that was used in the earlier research.
  • Diagnostic – aimed at identifying the cause of a given problem/or providing solutions.
  • Adaptive/modification – research aimed at changing or modifying the technology to suit a given environment or situation.

THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH

Existing technology and knowledge will not permit the necessary expansions in food production to meet needs. Low-income developing countries such as Zambia are grossly underinvesting in agricultural research compared with industrialized countries such as the USA, even though agriculture accounts for a much larger share of their employment and incomes. Their public sector expenditures on agricultural research are typically less than 0.5 percent of agricultural gross domestic product, compared with about two percent in higher-income developing countries and two percent to five percent in industrialized countries.

Investment in agricultural research must be accelerated if developing countries are to assure future food security for their citizens at reasonable prices and without irreversible degradation of the natural resource base. Accelerated investment in agricultural research is particularly important and urgent for low-income developing countries, partly because these countries will not achieve reasonable economic growth, poverty alleviation, and improvements in food security without productivity increases in agriculture, and partly because so little research is currently undertaken in these countries. The negative correlation between investment in agricultural research and a country’s income level is very strong. Poor countries, which depend the most on productivity increases in agriculture, grossly underinvest in agricultural research.

Agricultural research has successfully developed yield-enhancing technology for the majority of crops grown in temperate zones and for several crops grown in the tropics. The dramatic impact of agricultural research and modern technology on wheat and rice yields in Asia and Latin America since the mid-1960s is well known. Less dramatic but significant yield gains have been obtained from research and technological change in other crops, particularly maize.

Large yield gains currently being obtained in many crops at the experimental level offer great promise for future yield and production increases at the farm level. In addition to raising yield levels, research resulting in tolerance or resistance to adverse production factors such as pests and drought, leading to biological and integrated pest control, and to develop improved varieties and hybrids for agroecological zones with less than optimal production conditions reduces risks and uncertainty and enhances sustainability in production through better management of natural resources and reduced environmental risks.

Accelerated agricultural research aimed at more-favoured areas will reduce pressures on fragile lands in less-favoured areas. Future research for the former must pay much more attention to sustainability than in the past to avoid a continuation of extensive waterlogging, salination, and other forms of land degradation. But, a continuation of past low-priority on less-favoured agroecological zones is inappropriate and insufficient to achieve the goals of poverty alleviation, improved food security, and appropriate management of natural resources. More research resources must be dedicated to less-favoured areas, those with agricultural potential, fragile lands, poor rainfall, and high risks of environmental degradation. A large share of the poor and food insecure reside in these agroecological zones.

The low priority given to research to develop appropriate technology for less favoured agroecological zones in the past is a major reason for the current rapid degradation of natural resources and high levels of population growth, poverty, and food insecurity. Much more research must be directed at developing appropriate technology for these areas. Out migration is not a feasible solution for these areas in the foreseeable future simply because of the large numbers of poor people who reside there and the lack of alternative opportunities elsewhere. Strengthening agriculture and related non-agricultural rural enterprises is urgent and must receive high priority.

Following on the tremendous successes popularly referred to as the Green

Revolution, the international agricultural research centres have recognized the importance and urgency of research to assure sustainability in agricultural intensification through appropriate management of natural resources. Thus management of natural resources and conservation and enhancement of germplasm are given high priority in current and future research by the centres.

Declining investment in agricultural research for developing countries since the mid-1980s by both developing-country governments and international foreign assistance agencies is inappropriate and must be reversed. While privatization of agricultural research should be encouraged, much of the agricultural research needed to achieve food security, reduce poverty, and avoid environmental degradation in developing countries is of a public goods nature and will not be undertaken by the private sector. Fortunately, while private rates of return may be insufficient to justify private-sector investment, expected high social rates of returns justify public investment. The major share of such investment should occur in the developing countries’ own research institutions; there is an urgent need to strengthen these institutions to expand research and increase the probability of high payoffs.

Research institutions in the industrialized nations have played an extremely important role by undertaking basic research required to support strategic, adaptive, and applied research by the international centres and developing countries’ own research institutions and by providing training for developing-country researchers. Collaboration among developed country research institutions and developing countries’ own research institutions is widespread, but further strengthening is required to make full use of the comparative advantages of each of the two groups for the ultimate benefit of the poor in developing countries.

All appropriate aspects of science, including molecular biology-based research, must be mobilized to solve poor people’s problems. Almost all of the investment made in genetic engineering and biotechnology for agriculture during the last 10 to 15 years has been focused on solving problems in temperate-zone agriculture such as herbicide resistance in cotton, longer shelf life for perishable products such as tomatoes, and a variety of other problems of importance in the industrialized nations. If we are serious about helping poor people, particularly poor women, and if we are serious about assuring sustainability in the use of natural resources, we must use all appropriate tools at our disposal to achieve these goals, including modern science. For example, modern science may help eliminate losses resulting from drought among small scale farmers. Drought-tolerant varieties of maize that poor farmers can grow could potentially be developed, along with crop varieties with tolerance or resistance to other adverse conditions, including certain insects and pests.

While some argue that it is too risky to use genetic engineering to solve poor people’s problems because we may be unaware of future side effects, we believe that it is unethical to withhold solutions to problems that cause thousands of children to die from hunger and malnutrition. Clearly, we must seek acceptable levels of biosafety before releasing products from modern science, but it is critical that the risks associated with the solutions be weighed against the ethics of not making every effort to solve food and nutrition problems.

Effective partnerships between developing-country research systems, international research institutions, and private and public sector research institutions in industrialized countries should be forged to bring biotechnology to bear on the agricultural problems of developing countries. Incentives should be provided to the private sector to undertake biotechnology research focused on the problems of developing-country farmers. Failure to expand agricultural research significantly in and for developing countries will make food security, poverty, and environmental goals elusive. Lack of foresight today will carry a very high cost for the future. As usual, the weak and powerless will carry the major burden, but just as we must all share the blame for inaction or inappropriate action so will we all suffer the consequences.

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Onion Production (Allium cepa)

zambia-profit-farmer2Introduction

Onion (Allium cepa) cultivation in Zambia dates back to more than 50 years ago. It belongs to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. It is a culinary ‘must use’ for Zambian diets and more than 10 million kg is consumed annually. There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornaments, vegetables, spices, or as medicine. There are over 120 different documented uses of the Alliums. This article aims to provide preliminary information on the cultivation, harvest and post-harvest of onions for profitable onion production.

Site Selection

Onions should be grown on friable soils, which contain high amounts of organic matter and have good water-infiltration rates and good moisture-holding capacity. The soil should not be compacted, and the pH should be 5.8 to 6.6. Sandy loams and muck soils are often used for onion production. For sweet Spanish onion production, soils with low sulfur levels (below 40 ppm) are recommended.

Land Preparation
Land preparation is the activities that are undertaken to produce a soil condition that is suitable for optimum crop production. This usually involves land clearing, ploughing, harrowing, rotovating and bed-shaping. Drains should also be constructed to prevent waterlogging of fields. For onions, land preparation is very critical, especially if the crop is to be direct seeded, and must result in a soil that is crumbly and of fine tilth.

Variety Selection

Bulbing of onions is primarily induced by photoperiod or day-length. Both long day and intermediate day onion varieties are recommended for in Zambia. In addition, onions are classified by skin color (red, white, brown, or yellow), taste (sweet or pungent), and shape of the bulb (round, flat, or globe).

Recommended onion varieties for growers in Zambia.
Planting Method Type Variety Days to Maturity
*indicates hybrid variety
Sets N/A Early Yellow Globe 90
Sets N/A Ebenezer 90
Sets N/A Southport Red Globe 90
Seeds/Transplants Storage Trailblazer* 103
Seeds/Transplants Storage Hendrix* 107
Seeds/Transplants Storage Fortress 110
Seeds/Transplants Storage Spartan Banner 80* 115
Seeds/Transplants Storage Vega* 125
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Alisa Craig 95
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Candy* 105
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Expression 105
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Spanish Medallion 110
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Exacta* 110
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Red Sky* (red bulb) 103
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Redwing* (red bulb) 115
Seeds/Transplants Sweet Spanish Mercury* (red bulb) 115

 

Planting and Fertilization

Onions can be started as transplants or sets. Transplants are seeded in the greenhouse 10 to 12 weeks prior to planting in the field. Because onions are a cool-season crop, they can be transplanted as early as mid-March. When producing transplants in the greenhouse, the plant tops should be trimmed to a 4-inch height to produce a stout, sturdy transplant. Sets are small dry onion bulbs produced the previous year. They can be planted later in the year than transplants and still produce a marketable crop.

Growers generally plant 75,000 to 120,000 onions per acre in single rows with 2 inches between plants in the row and 24 inches between rows. For large sweet or Spanish onions, the in-row spacing would be 4 to 6 inches between plants. If you are not limited by equipment space restrictions, multiple rows of onions (up to four) can be planted on raised beds covered with black plastic mulch. In this case, two drip tapes are placed 2 inches beneath the soil to facilitate production and harvest operations.

Fertilizer application rates should be based on an annual soil test. If you are unable to conduct a test (including a test for calcium), the recommended N-P-K application rates are 60-80-80 pounds per acre banded at planting or 120-160-160 pounds per acre broadcast prior to planting. For sweet onions, a spring application (early May) calcium or potassium nitrate should be side dressed at 100 pounds per acre.

Pest Control

Weed control can be achieved with herbicides, cultivation, and a good crop-rotation system. Several pre-plant and post-emergence herbicides are available for onions, depending on the specific weed problem and the stage of onion growth. If infestation levels are mild, early cultivation can minimize weed problems.

Several onion diseases can cause crop losses, especially downy mildew, purple blotch, and white rot. Many of these diseases can be prevented by using a good crop rotation system, high-quality soil with good air drainage, and disease-resistant onion varieties.

Insects can be a major problem in onion production. Onion maggots and thrips have the potential to reduce or destroy crops in any given year. Monitoring insect populations will help you determine when you should use pesticides and how often you should spray.

When using any pesticides in your enterprise, remember to follow all label recommendations regarding application rates and personal protection equipment (PPE) requirements. Also remember that any Worker Protection Standards (WPS) apply to the owner as well as to employees.

Harvest and Storage

Onions are usually harvested when one-third to one-half of the tops have fallen over. Bulbs are generally pulled from the soil after being loosened with a disk. They are then topped approximately 1 inch above the bulb. To prevent rot organisms from entering the bulb, onions must be adequately cured (drying of the cut top or neck area) in the field, in open shade, or by artificial means before being placed in storage. Curing may require two to four weeks, depending on weather conditions. In high humidity and wet regions, onions are usually removed from the field for curing. To ensure that you are marketing a high-quality product, grade onions by size and colour and check them for insect damage. Onions that are maintained at 32°F and 65 to 70 percent relative humidity can be stored for approximately one to eight months, depending on variety.

Conclusion

It is vital to undertake studies on onion because increasing knowledge about this crop will not only address issues of poverty, but will also lead to development of sustainable value chain which is important in sustaining firms and industrial competitiveness.

References

Maynard, D. M., and G. J Hochmuth. Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers. 5th ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2006.

Pennsylvania Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations. University Park: Penn State Extension, 2012.

Swaider, J. M., and G. W. Ware. Producing Vegetable Crops. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001

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Overview of the Fisheries Sector in Zambia

Introduction

While agriculture is the most important source of livelihood, Zambia has 15 million hectares of water in the form of rivers, lakes and swamps, which provide the basis for extensive freshwater fisheries. However, demand for domestic fish for consumption still outstrips production. The sector, because of its mostly rural setting, continues to contribute significantly to rural development in terms of employment and income generation and reducing poverty. It is estimated that the sector supports more than 300 000 people deriving their livelihood directly as fishers and fish farmers, or indirectly as traders, processors and other service providers.

The contribution to GDP of fisheries and aquaculture as a subsector of the agricultural sector has averaged 3 percent out of the 18 percent share that agriculture, forestry and fishing contribute to GDP.

Zambia has 15 million hectares of water in form of rivers, lakes and swamps. The fisheries of Zambia are classified into major and minor fisheries (which include fisheries of small water bodies). There are 11 main fisheries; four belong to the Congo River basin and seven to the Zambezi River basin. The fisheries in the Congo basin include Bangweulu, Mweru-Luapula, Mweru Wantipa and Tanganyika. Kafue, Kariba, Lukanga, Upper Zambezi, Lower Zambezi, Itezhi-tezhi and Lusiwashi belong to the Zambezi basin. The Congo basin fisheries accounts for approximately 43 percent of annual production. Fishing in Zambia is carried out by two distinct groups: industrial operators and traditional or artisanal fisheries.

However, the future of the sector now depends on raising the scale of operations. This will require attracting investments in the sector to help realize the country’s fisheries and aquaculture potential, by transforming the agricultural output mix, thus supporting the country’s food needs and contributing significantly to growth of exports.

1.0 Demand and Supply for Fish

Population density, supplies and income determine the demand for marketed fish. The current estimates for annual fish production from capture fisheries ranges between 60 000 and 70 000 tonnes, with an estimated 5 000 produced through aquaculture. The national demand for fish is conservatively estimated at 120 000 tonnes/year, and this gap between supply and demand is foreseen to increase further with population growth. Investment opportunities therefore exist to produce more fish on a sustainable basis with the development of aquaculture and rational management of capture fisheries. Industrial fishing activities are limited to Lake Tanganyika and Kariba, and are associated with production of kapenta.

2.0 Fish Exports

Exports in limited quantities are usually carried out by individuals for target markets. Regional export markets are mostly for consumption, while international markets trade in ornamental species. Regional destination markets include Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of South Africa and Zimbabwe. At international level, and specific to live fish for ornamental purposes, the common destinations are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, UK, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the United States of America.

Table 2.3.8.a: Exports of Fish Products from Zambia to the rest of the World (in USD ‘000’)

Product 2007 2008 2009
Live Fish 287 266 636
Fish, cured or smoked and fresh meal fit for consumption 76 836 241
Fish, fresh, whole 16 66 2
Fish, frozen, whole 9 76 33
Fish fillets and pieces, fresh, chilled or frozen 0 1 32
TOTAL 388 1,245 944

Source: COMTRADE, 2010

Table 2.3.8.b: Fish Exports and Import in Zambia for the Period 2000 – 2010

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Exports (metric tonnes) 263.46 239.47 1,810.22 665.59 394.40
Imports (metric tonnes) 4,625.55 4,241.55 3,240.70 2,784.09 3,622.97

Source: Department of fisheries, 2009

Zambia’s current supply of fish does not meet the domestic demand and as such the market is a ‘sellers’ market and therefore requires little additional effort. Since health and safety requirements for exports to regional and other fish markets are not restrictive, anyone with cold storage, packaging and transportation facilities can export.

 INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE FISHERIES SECTOR

1.0 Cold storage and fish Haulage

The long distance between catchment and consumption areas and limited cold storage and transport facilities means that 65 percent of production is dried, most of which is kapenta, smoked or simply sun-dried, and rarely salted breams. This creates immense opportunities in cold storage and haulage of fresh fish using refrigerated trucks.

2.0 Aqua-culture

Zambia is a country richly endowed with natural resources ideally suited to aquaculture production. Aquaculture promotion in Zambia has a long history, dating back over forty years. Considerable work by the Department of Fisheries in cooperation with international assistance agencies and NGOs in promoting aquaculture practices in the country has resulted in some 6 000 small-scale farmers now operating over 13 000 fish ponds throughout the country. At the same time, 16 large commercial fish farmers have taken up the activity in the Copper belt, Lusaka and Southern Provinces, where ideal conditions for such business exist. The subsector produces about 5 000 tonnes per year of fish. Of this, 75 percent comes from small-scale aquaculture, while commercial fish farmers produce the other 25 percent. Aquaculture is expanding in all nine provinces of the country, and as a result, Zambia is now one of the largest aquaculture producers in sub-Saharan Africa.

This presents immense investment opportunities as the government has stepped up efforts to promote aquaculture as it believes that exploitation of opportunities in aquaculture will reduce pressure on capture fisheries and provide opportunities for increased incomes for the rural poor. Further, the development of commercial-scale aquaculture will contribute positively to economic growth.

Other emerging research opportunities include the ecology of exploited species, fisheries ecology, bio-economics, fisheries economics, limnology, fishing gear, fishing technology, systematics and fisheries law. Fisheries research in Zambia has mainly dealt with the two areas of fish biology and ecology.

3.0 Education

Training in fisheries aims at meeting the aspirations of the industry and to provide skilled workers capable of participating in development programs. The Department of Fisheries has been providing tertiary training since the early 1990’s, however the level of training is limited and does not meet the needs of the growing industry technologies. Most of this training is provided through the extension services provided by the department of fisheries. Investment opportunities are therefore available for the private sector to meet this industry and technological gap.

1.0 Fish Ornaments

Owing to the large variety of types of fish in Zambia, opportunities exist for the processing of fish for ornamental purposes. The rare and beautiful fish which are less than 20 centimetres long can be bread and kept in aquariums for sale.

2.0 Fishmeal

Owing to the fact that the demand for fish in Zambia is greater than the supply, it is very rare that fish is processed into fishmeal for the production of animal feed. The little fishmeal that is produced is on a subsistence level and comes from the residue that remains from the sun-drying of fish.

Fishing Regulations in Zambia

The Department of Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is mandated through the Fisheries Act, Cap 200 of the Laws of Zambia, to manage the fisheries resources of the country. In order to ensure the sustainable utilization of the fisheries resources in line with the provisions of the Act, the following control measures are employed:

  • Annual Fishing Closure, from 1 December to 28 February the following year. This coincides with the rainy season and was introduced to protect the breeding of the commercially preferred species (mostly Tilapia species) whose breeding peaks in this period. The flooded plains provide ideal breeding grounds and nurseries for the juveniles.
  • Mesh size restriction of not less than 50 mm for all stationary gillnets. This restriction allows for new recruits to attain a minimum size before being exploited.
  • Introduction of permanently closed areas as sanctuaries and breeding grounds for commercially important species.
  • A complete ban on use of some destructive fishing methods such as forcefully driving of fish into set nets (locally known as kutumpula), use of explosives, use of weirs targeting migratory fish, and beach seine nets operated in shallow waters, which incidentally destroy fish nests and foul the water by stirring up silt.

Conclusion

Zambia has the potential for further development of the fisheries sector. If this sector is fully developed, it has the potential to contribute to the economic growth of Zambia.

With increasing global demand and greater local consumption of fish, there is a strong commercial market in the area and income earned from this sector would be higher than that earned from agriculture.

It can also transform the lives of smallholder farmers in rural communities thereby improving household income and food security.

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Plant Breeding, Genetic Engineering and Quality of Cultivars

INTRODUCTION

AMONG the variety of agricultural and technical factors that determine the quality of field crops, fruit and vegetables, the choice of a specific cultivar by the grower, i.e., the choice and combination of genes controlling economically important traits, may be considered the most initial step for defining quality and productivity. It is the factor that determines farmers’ potential output long before any other agricultural measures are taken and even before the seed is sown in the field or greenhouse. As a consequence, the breeding of a cultivar that is adapted to specific demands of the farmer and the consumer may be considered as a preharvest factor per se, even if certain quality characters of this cultivar apply to postharvest stages.

The classical approach for breeding cultivars is to select suitable phenotypes or mutants, which are then crossed, selfed, cloned or combined with populations depending on their reproductive biology (Table 2.1). A major drawback of this approach is that for most agronomically important traits, the phenotypic variance is the base for selection, which, however, is not only composed of the genotypic variance but also comprises an environmental component as well as interactions between genotypes and environment. This tends to obscure selection progress and is one of the reasons why breeding for quantitatively or polygenically inherited traits is so tedious and time-consuming.

Table 2.1. Approaches in Plant Breeding

Classical Breeding

• Selection of phenotypes

• Intercrossing, selfing, vegetative cloning of favourable phenotypes

• Inbred line or population or clonal varieties

Marker-Assisted Selection

• Mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL) (e.g., solids content and pH of

tomato pulp, chips quality of potato, β-glucan content of barley)

• Selection of genotypes instead of phenotypes

Genetic Engineering

• Gene suppression by antisense or cosuppression

• Expression of foreign genes (constitutive or tissue-specific)

• Overexpression of native genes

 

In addition, a combination of positively acting polygenes of one specific genetic background is difficult if not impossible because of recombinational dispersion of genes in each sexual generation. Biotechnology and molecular biology have provided exciting new tools to the plant breeder, which may help to circumvent some of the obstacles in the breeding of complex traits.

BIOTECHNOLOGY AND PLANT BREEDING

Plant breeding has been impacted during the last two decades by a number of technological developments that may enrich plant breeders’ repertoire to achieve breeding progress more quickly or conveniently or even allow them to design plant traits that were impossible to create by classical breeding methods. Besides classical breeding methods, biotechnological breakthroughs like in vitro fusion and regeneration of plant cells, and marker-assisted selection (MAS) of monogenic traits as well as the tracing of quantitative trait loci (QTL) by use of molecular genomic markers have gained increased importance for plant breeding (Table 2.1). In tomato, e.g., QTL for quality traits such as soluble solids content, fruit mass, fruit pH, and fruit shape have been mapped (Grandillo et al., 1996). In potato, traits such as chip colour, tuberization and tuber dormancy may be traced by molecular markers. For these characters, between 5 and 13 QTL have been identified. In some cases relatively high individual effects of a single QTL were found. Also, the total phenotypic variation of a given trait that could be accounted for by combined assessment of these QTLs was in the range of 50% or higher, which demonstrates the potential of molecular markers as a selection tool for tracing quantitatively inherited traits.

Limitations of MAS relate to the fact that applicability of these markers often depends heavily on the specific experimental population in which they were identified, as well as on the extent of marker polymorphism, linkage disequilibria and linkage phases among the individuals under selection. In addition, specific marker technology and know-how is required for routine marker-assisted selection programs, rendering the cost efficiency of MAS uncertain for crops that are not of major economic importance.

As a more recent achievement, transformation methods enabling the transfer of any isolated gene into virtually any important cultivated plant species have opened the toolbox of genetic engineering as a novel opportunity to the plant breeder. Plant transformation technology allows breeders to circumvent some restrictions of classical breeding methods.

In particular, gene technology offers the breeder the following promises:

  1. The manipulation of native and the introduction of foreign specific genes not only allow for modification of simply inherited traits like herbicide tolerance and virus and insect resistance, they also open new horizons for directed adjustment of even traits that display very complex inheritance in native systems. Thus, in some instances approaches of factorial instead of quantitative genetics may be sufficient for the breeder to cope with the improvement of specific quality or even yield-determining characters.
  2. Genetic engineering provides “added value” by transferring specific genes to cultivars that have been subject to intensive breeding efforts and, thus, are highbred already with respect to yield, uniformity, disease resistance, and so on. This aspect cannot be underestimated since any modern cultivar is defined by a complex of characteristics that have been assembled during years or decades of breeding work. In classical breeding new or better characteristics have to be introduced by crosses, giving rise to sexual recombination and, as a consequence, to dispersion of the valuable trait complexes in the progeny. In addition, undesired genes from the donor cross parent are also introduced, which have to be eliminated by successive backcrosses to the cultivar parent. It is for this reason that plant breeders tend to prevent the introduction of “exotic,” i.e., agronomically unadapted donor genotypes into their highbred elite gene pools. The addition or modification of single genes to elite lines by genetic engineering would help to alleviate these difficulties.
  3. Genetic engineering speeds up the breeding process and provides better cultivars to farmers and consumers with less effort of labour and time. There is expectation that the concerted use of biotechnological methods may substantially shorten the breeding cycle for a given crop, which presently is in the range of 10–15 years or, for some woody fruit species, extends to 25 years. This time span appears quite large if one considers the need for the breeder to adapt his breeding goals to the rapidly changing requirements by growers, industry, traders and consumers.

CONCLUSION

It should be stressed, however, that biotechnological methods such as genetic engineering are not, and most probably will not become, self-sufficient in breeding better cultivars. Rather, they may provide additional tools to the breeder who will still have to apply classical breeding methods, which continue to constitute the backbone of plant breeding.

The genetic engineering approach relies on (1) a detailed knowledge of the biochemical pathways that generate the quality trait, (2) the isolation of genes that have an impact on these pathways, and (3) the transfer and expression of one or several of these genes into crops in order to specifically modify the trait of interest. A number of strategies are available to genetically engineer a trait.

First, if the plant to be modified expresses a gene leading to undesirable characteristics, this gene may be shut down by introducing the same gene once more into the plant but in the opposite direction so that transcription of the native gene is neutralized by its antisense counterpart.

Gene silencing can also be achieved by introducing a truncated version of the native gene in either direction, a phenomenon that is called cosuppression. Second, if expression and not suppression of genes is desired, then novel genes that are not originally owned by the plant may be introduced from any source organism and may be expressed either constitutively or specifically in a tissue or developmental stage. Finally, the plant’s own genes may be expressed more abundantly by inserting additional copies of them or by combining these genes with different promotors which drive gene expression more efficiently than the gene’s native promotor.

REFERENCES

Shewfelt, R. L. 1985. Postharvest treatment for extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Food Technol., 40(5): 70–72,74,76–78, 80 and 89.

Shewfelt, R. L. 1999. Fruit and vegetable quality, in Fruit and Vegetable Quality:

An Integrated Approach, R. L. Shewfelt and B. Brückner, eds., Technomic

Publishing Co., Inc., Lancaster, PA.

Shewfelt, R. L., Erickson, M. E., Hung, Y-C. and Malundo, T. M. M. 1997. Applying quality concepts in frozen food development. Food Technol., 51(2):

56–59.

Simmonds, N. W. 1979. Principles of Crop Improvement, Longman, London.

Sloof, M., Tijskens, L. M. M. and Wilkinson, E. C. 1996. Concepts for modelling the quality of perishable products. Trends Food Science Tecnol., 7: 165–171.

Steenkamp, J. B. E. M. 1989. Product Quality: an Investigation into the Concept and How It Is Perceived by Consumers. Ph.D. thesis, Agricultural University

Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Economic Impact of Aflatoxin Contamination in Groundnuts Production

Introduction

Aflatoxin is known in chemistry science as a mycotoxin that, thus a micro dangerous chemical substance produced as a secondary metabolites by Aspergillus Flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus fungi. These fungi are widely studied due to their effect on humans and animals, as well as the economic implications thereof (Galvez et al, 2003; Chinnan & Resurreccion, 2013; Kaaya, 2014).

Aflatoxin, like foot-and-mouth disease, hinders the export of African products and agricultural produce to lucrative European, US and rich Asian markets. Often the communities have little knowledge of the existence of such problems and their socio-economic impact. In general, the communities do not have solutions to the problems caused by these diseases, as they do not fully understand them.

Economic Impact of Aflatoxin Contamination in Groundnuts Production

Aflatoxin has been identified as the major problem in groundnuts trade for African countries who are losing about $760 million annually due to contamination of groundnuts (FAO, 1997; Kaaya, 2014).

Smallholder producers suffer the biggest losses both socially and economically, as they lose much of their produce to rotting and contamination caused by moulds and fungi. They are also prone to diseases caused by consuming higher level of aflatoxin.  About 40 percent of burden of diseases in Africa South of Sahara are related to consumption of high levels of Aflatoxin (Kaaya, 2014; Williams et al, 2004).

It is expensive to remove aflatoxin in contaminated groundnuts, raising processing costs. This promotes cost transfer behaviour amongst value chain actors. On the other hand, about 40 percent of disease burden in Africa is related to Aflatoxin contamination, affecting farm labour especially for smallholder farmers, reducing their time and cash investment in their farming businesses, and a threat to their health. Aflatoxin is linked to liver cancer, kwashiorkor, retarded growth in kids and animals, malaria and HIV. Due to pronounced health risks, many countries and trading blocs have imposed strict control measures on international groundnuts trading to safeguard their citizens and improve food safety. However, aflatoxin contamination can be reduced to acceptable levels through raising awareness amongst smallholder producers, investing in quality management as well as crafting and implementing favourable policies that encourage investment in aflatoxin mitigation.

Aflatoxin as a chemical substance is difficult to destroy without destroying the contaminated food. Once groundnuts are contaminated, it will be difficult to eliminate aflatoxin from them. Food processing usually requires low to medium temperatures of between 0 to 180° to cook or roast. Aflatoxin can only be eliminated at temperatures of over 480° (Kaaya, 2014).

Processing aflatoxin contaminated nuts into consumer ready products does not eliminate aflatoxin in groundnuts. If the groundnuts have high levels of contamination, then the end product will also contain higher levels of toxic substances. This in turn exposes the consumers of such products to higher levels of intoxication by aflatoxin and increases the risks of contracting aflatoxin related diseases.

The major economic effect of aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts to smallholder groundnuts farmers in developing countries, including Mozambique is poor marketability of their produce in international markets and poor prices in domestic markets that lead to lower net income to producers and other chain actors.

Taking the case of Zambia, groundnuts is considered one of the most important legumes cultivated on larger farm land area and as a replacement cash crop in place of tobacco that is now facing more stringent regulation in the international markets. Groundnuts are considered a very important source of protein for lower income families in both urban and rural areas, as well as smallholder producers (Times media group, September, 2014). However, higher levels of aflatoxin contamination hinder the exportation of surplus or tradable groundnuts to lucrative markets. Like in Mozambique, less than 5 percent of groundnuts produced are controlled for aflatoxin in the domestic markets, exposing domestic consumers to higher negative health risks (Times media group, 2014). Lack of control by the ineffective Bureau of standards in Zambia and Mozambique means that aflatoxin contaminated ready-to-eat products, floods the domestic markets in both countries. These products can be locally produced or imported.

Aflatoxin contamination lowers the net revenue of all market participants, in an effort to reduce contamination and improve quality of the groundnuts available for processing. This is caused by purchase price dynamics and sorting cost, as in most cases off grades are discarded. Poor post harvesting practices by smallholder producers increases the risk of purchasing sorted but aflatoxin contaminated nuts that will require further processing. The risk factor forces most traders to buy unsorted nuts at lower prices and do the sorting and grading. Higher costs often lead the traders to engage in cost shifting behaviour (Economic Research International, 2012).

Price shifting behaviour often affects two ends; the producer-end through lower prices for their produce and the consumer end through higher product prices due to higher production costs. However, in organic produce marketing linked to ‘fair trade’ markets (often), smallholder groundnuts farmers get higher prices and a premium for supplying quality graded produce that are traceable  back to the producer to certify for quality compliance. Consumers consider organically produce food to be safe and are often willing to pay a higher price for the right quality.

Recommendations

To improve competitiveness in African groundnuts value chains, a number of sticking issues affecting both domestic and international trades must be resolved. The most critical issues border on raising awareness of aflatoxin contamination on groundnuts and the socio-economic impact to smallholder producers.

Smallholder farmers’ awareness and understanding of aflatoxin issues and how they affect their livelihood is critical to aflatoxin mitigation. At present, only 5 percent of groundnuts smallholder producers are knowledgeable on the effect of aflatoxin to their health and rural economies. Health issues can be a driver of behaviour change amongst smallholder farmers, especially aflatoxin links to liver cancer and HIV, two well-known killers in rural Mozambique (SATH, 2014).

A three pronged approach to reduce the impact of aflatoxin contamination can help reduce the socio-economic impact on the whole chain actors. The approach may focus on raising awareness amongst smallholder groundnuts farmers and equipping them with post-harvest knowledge to reduce contamination and infection throughout drying, sorting, selecting, de-shelling and storage. Post-harvesting handling techniques must also be perfected by transporters, traders and processors of consumer ready goods.

Several measures can be applied to reduce contamination, including good agricultural practices, control of moisture and temperature in storage. Total Quality Management toolkit, also known as the ‘Blue Box’ has been successful used by Intertek on World Food Program consignments to keep aflatoxin contamination to desired levels (SATH, 2013; Intertek, 2012).

Quality control by traders and processors is critical in improving aflatoxin compliance in groundnuts. If all trades enforce quality guidance in their business processes including buying policies and practices. It is paramount to incentivize quality compliance when purchasing groundnuts from smallholder producers. This will complement the knowledge empowerment programs aimed at raising awareness of the existence of aflatoxin and its socio-economic impact to smallholder producers and all other actors in the groundnuts value chains.

Governments and regional regulatory institutions must critically look at policy measures that can be used to incentivize or encourage investment in aflatoxin mitigation, improvement of trading in aflatoxin compliant groundnuts, both internationally and intra-regionally. This might include harmonization of aflatoxin maximum acceptable levels applied in the region, as well as procedures for sampling and testing. Administrative documentation can also be simplified to improve free flow of groundnuts in the region.

Policies by individual countries might be used to incentivize private sector companies’ engagement in aflatoxin mitigation by investing in the whole groundnuts subsector to become aflatoxin compliant. This will speed up sector-wide compliance and improve competitiveness in both domestic and international markets. Holistic aflatoxin mitigation, though it will not completely eliminate contamination, will reduce the level of contamination of acceptable regulated levels that reduces health risks and increase Africa groundnuts acceptability in international markets. This will boost Mozambican and Zambian economies through increase forex inflows from exports.

Conclusion

Aflatoxin contamination is the major challenge on groundnuts trading by African countries that produce about 95 percent of the world groundnuts crop. In Southern Africa, in particular Mozambique and Zambia, there is poor awareness of aflatoxin contamination and its socio-economic effects to smallholder farmers. Contaminations that emanate from farm gate affect the whole supply chain. However, more contamination occurs on post-harvest handling and management of groundnuts at all levels of the supply chain. The more the produce exchanges hands and change storage conditions, the more the produce is exposed to contamination risks.

Contaminated nuts fetches less in local markets and are not accepted in the international markets due to strict control levels by the individual countries and trade blocs like the EU and South Africa. Reducing contamination and correct management of the crop at both farm levels will increase the value of the crop, acceptability and quality of final products produced from safer groundnuts. Farmers can do more by improving their farming practises and post-harvesting handling of their produce.

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Benefits of Bee keeping

Pollination

Bee Sucking NectarBees are active pollinators. Most plants require effective pollination for their survival.

Bees are the most preferred pollinating insects. Extensive and proper pollination can bring about larger harvests of fruits, vegetables, and crops.

Having bees nearby can bring a marked improvement in the quality and quantity of vegetables, fruits, or flowers you and your neighbours grow.

Research shows that the dollar value of pollination by domesticated bees and beekeepers to a range of agricultural crops in the U.S.A. alone is measured in the millions of dollars per year.

Stress Reliever

Although there may not be any specific scientific claims to prove it, yet, beekeepers feel bees help them reduce their personal stress levels. Visitors enjoy just watching the bees coming in and going out of their hives with all their hustle and bustle.

Educational

Beekeeping is very educational for adults and children. You can learn many things from watching bees as they follow specific patterns of work.

Different categories of bees have assigned duties. Keeping a regular watch on beehives, observing bees, drones, and worker bees going about their work can teach us valuable lessons on work and time management.

Gifts

Beekeeping helps you to be able to shower your friends and relatives with various exclusive gifts at a fairly low cost. Gift items from your beehives could include bottled honey, beeswax, cosmetics, home-made candles and even lip balm.

Health Products

You can use the bee products available from your bee colonies to maintain your health. A regular supply of fresh, pure honey collected from your own beehive is just the start.

Many people believe that propolis (a glue produced and used by bees to maintain their combs) is good for you.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – Rodents

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A Rat In Search of Food

Introduction

Integrated Pest Management is an approach to pest management designed to manage pests and diseases with as little damage as possible to people, the environment and beneficial organisms.

Farmers aim at producing high yields and profits from their crops but their efforts are reduced by pests and disease infestations and damage.

Managing any vertebrate pest requires a preventative approach and with mice and rats, it begins prior to harvest. Even if rodent activity appears lower, preventative management still needs to be considered to prevent future damage.

The Types of Damage Caused by Rodents

  • Loss of volume or weight due to their feeding
  • Loss in quality caused by droppings, urine, and hairs
  • Damage to containers such as bags, that results in spillage
  • Health hazards to people who handle the stored products, certain species of mice and rats are carriers of diseases such as plague, weil’s disease (Leptospiral jaundice) rat-bite fever, and salmonella.

While they are different species of rodents with slightly different habitats, the management approach for all is the same. All mice and rats in storage facilities can cause a significant amount of damage.  Nearby corn or soybean fields can provide a fall food source for mice and rats that will then move into the storage facility or the barn.

Controlling vertebrate pests requires multiple approaches, which in general include exclusion, habitat modification, repellents, trapping and rodenticides. In an open and large scale commercial setting, exclusion, trapping or repellents are not effective. This leaves habitat manipulation and rodenticides, and both are needed for a successful mice and rats abatement program.

Habitat modification such as a close mowing of grass in row middles and ditches late in the fall provides a two-fold management purpose – reduce favorable habitat for mice activity and expose rodents more readily to predators that help with population management. Cleaning up fencerows to reduce habitat is also needed.

Rodenticides are another approach in management programs, as they provide the quickest and most practical means of bringing large populations of mice and rats under control. Bait should be applied when dry and fair weather is predicted for at least three days. If there is a great deal of alternate food (fallen mangoes in a block or nearby field corn), baiting might need to be done more than once to be most effective. If mice and rat populations are very high, a second rodenticide application might be needed. As with any pest management program, but especially when using rodenticides, the risks to non-target organisms needs to be taken into account and prevented.

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