AG: Agriculture Department
AGA: Animal production/health
AGE: FAO/IAEA Joint Division
AGN: Nutrition and consumer protection
AGP: Plant production/protection
AGS: Infrastructure, agro-industries
COAG: Committee on Agriculture
In the coming "century of cities", a major challenge will be providing adequate quantities of nutritional and affordable food to urban inhabitants, especially the poor. See
Fertilizer use to grow, but more slowly
A new study forecasts world fertilizer use in agriculture to increase from the current 135 million tonnes a year to between 167 and 199 million tonnes in 2030. The forecast growth rates - of 0.7 to 1.3% a year - are much lower than those of the past four decades, which averaged 5.5%. The study's authors, including our
Plant Nutrition Management Service
, set out to quantify the amount of fertilizer needed to support FAO projections of agricultural commodity production in 2015 and 2030. Their findings take into account the "likely future path of global agricultural production and resource use" - including incentives to improve the efficiency of fertilizer use in developed countries.
Oil palm could eliminate vitamin A deficiency
There's follow-up to our February news on a
cold-tolerant oil palm
that offers African countries a rich source of edible oil and, with it, vitamin A. A recent misson by FAO's
Crop and Grassland Service
(AGPC) found the palm flourishing in Zambia's Luapula Valley following its introduction in 1994. Properly managed, the hybrid yields nine litres of oil three years after field planting, and is expected to produce 20-30 litres at year six (the local
palms begin production at about year eight, with one third the oil yield). AGPC says local production of palm oil could eliminate vitamin A deficiency, which affects more than 50% of local children.
Drug residues in livestock products
The International Atomic Energy Agency and FAO have launched a research programme to help developing countries monitor veterinary drug residues in livestock and livestock products. The joint FAO/IAEA
Training and Reference Centre for Food and Pesticide Control
says many countries do not have effective regulatory control over the increasing use of veterinary drugs, including growth promoters. The new programme will develop and validate ELISA-based screening assays for a range of residues, identify appropriate confirmatory assays, and develop sampling protocols and laboratory quality assurance procedures.
Toward safer knapsack sprayers
Manual knapsack sprayers are one of the most dangerous means of applying pesticides to crops. But they are also cheap, which is why low-income farmers in many developing countries continue to use them, despite serious risk to themselves and the environment. To minimize that risk, FAO's
Agricultural Engineering Branch
is working to eliminate cheap sub-standard equipment from the market. It has already published a set of standards for "portable, operator-carried" agricultural sprayers, and hosted in May 1999 a working group of the International Organization for Standardization concerned with developing test procedures and norms.
New programme on sustainable land use
Land and Water Development Division
has joined IFAD in a programme for improved land use in the tropics and sub-tropics. Focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean, the programme will explore links between land degradation/desertification, loss of biological diversity, and carbon sequestration capacity in major land use systems. Expected outputs include a catalogue of land management practices that maintain productivity, provide economic benefits for rural people and protect the environment. The programme is linked to FAO/IFAD collaboration in implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification. See also
Conservation in Latin America
Low-cost milk processing
In the absence of costly stainless steel equipment for pasteurizing and packaging fresh milk, dairy producers in many developing countries resort to heating their milk in "boilers". This process affects the product's nutritional properties and flavour, limits shelf-life and exposes the milk to contamination during subsequent, manual packaging. Now, FAO's Animal Production Service (AGAP) is promoting a low-cost system - called MILKPRO - that feeds raw milk into sachets that are then sealed, treated at 65°C in a batch pasteurizer, and coolled in a chilling unit. AGAP says the system, which it recently field-tested in Kenya, allows producers to directly market their milk to nearby urban centres. For further information, contact
Crop and grassland information: update your bookmarks...
FAO Crop and Grasslands Service
has re-designed its Web site, introducing a smart new graphic interface and fresh information on the work of its specialist groups on horticultural, industrial and field food crops, and pasture and grasslands. New features include a
tropical grass and legume database
, searchable by genus, Latin name and common name (data was extracted from the two FAO publications,
Tropical Forage Legumes).
, a database on rice and its production factors and technologies, developed by the
International Rice Commission
CD-ROM on livestock and environment
A new CD-ROM provides a range of text and multimedia information from FAO's
Animal Production and Health Division
(AGA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Aimed at development agents, researchers and training staff,
Farmers, their animals and the environment
contains information - much of it drawn from AGA's Web site - organized in nine categories: livestock production systems, animal genetic resources, breeding, feeds and nutrition, pastures and forages, livestock and the environment, grazing and range management, work animals and health and diseases. Further details from
FAO, IRRI strengthen collaboration on hybrid rice
FAO and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have agreed to increase collaboration in hybrid rice development and use. In China, widespread adoption of hybrid rice - which yields up to 20% more than conventionally bred varieties - has allowed the country to increase rice output and to boost farmers' incomes by diversifying agricultural production on two million hectares of former ricelands. FAO, IRRI and several Asian countries are already collaborating on hybrid rice through an international task force (
) created in 1995, while the Asian Development Bank is funding a project, prepared by IRRI and FAO, on development and use of hybrid rice in Asia.
Intensified campaign against rinderpest
An international panel of livestock disease experts has called for intensified efforts to wipe out remaining pockets of rinderpest. The experts met in May at the Rome headquarters of FAO, which is leading a campaign to eliminate the disease through the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP). They found that while considerable progress had been made, epidemiological investigations and disease control action were needed in the three areas of rinderpest endemicity - southern Sudan, southern Somalia and Pakistan/Afghanistan - and in three "uncertain" areas: the Arabian Peninsula, the "Kurdish triangle", and the Russian Federation's far east. Get more details on
GREP and rinderpest
New version of FAO MicroBanking System
FAO is preparing a major upgrade to its
, a DOS-based software package that has helped automate banking operations in 28 countries, to the benefit of an estimated three million clients. AG's Rural Finance Group is now working with the German development agency, GTZ, on a Windows NT-based version, which is expected to be more flexible than the original, produce a greater variety of management reports, and allow local technical support. For more information, visit
Seed network for Asia and Pacific
An inter-governmental meeting organized by FAO's
Seed and Plant Genetic Resources Service
in Bangkok in May has recommended creation of a Seed Network for Asia and the Pacific (SNAP) to help strengthen local seed production and distribution systems. Constituted under FAO aegis and involving governmental and NGO institutions, the network will coordinate working groups for developing inventories of locally adapted plant genetic resources, harmonizing seed rules and regulations, strengthening seed supply and marketing, supporting seed technology development, disseminating information on training, and improving disaster preparedness and response.
Free as the breeze, on the roof of the world...
Wild donkeys, or
on the Tibetan Plateau, western China. From a photographic essay published by our Grassland and Pasture Crops Group -
© FAO, 1999