11 November 2010, Rome – FAO has launched a quick reference calendar covering 43 major African countries that advises which crops to plant when, according to the type of agricultural zone from drylands to highlands.
The web-based tool, developed by FAO experts, covers more than 130 crops from beans to beetroot to wheat to watermelon.
It is aimed at all donors, agencies, government extension workers and non-governmental organizations working with farmers on the continent.
The FAO crop calendar is especially useful in case of an emergency such as drought or floods or for rehabilitation efforts following a natural or manmade disaster.
“Seeds are critical for addressing the dual challenges of food insecurity and climate change,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.
“The right choice of crops and seeds is crucial both for improving the livelihoods of the rural poor and hungry and for dealing with climate change.
To be able to make that choice, you have to make sure seeds and planting materials are available and accessible at the right place and at the right time.”
Rich African ecology
There are 283 agro-ecological zones covered in the calendar, representing the vast richness and variety of the African ecology as well as challenges of land degradation, sand encroachment and floods.
An estimated 50 percent of the global increase in yields over the past ten years has come from improving the quality of seeds. The other fifty percent has come from better water management and irrigation practices.