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close this bookAmaranth to Zai Holes, Ideas for Growing Food under Difficult Conditions (ECHO; 1996; 397 pages)
View the documentOther ECHO publications
View the documentAbout this book
View the documentAcknowledgements
close this folder1: Basics of agricultural development
Open this folder and view contentsBackground in agricultural development
close this folderSelecting suitable tropical crops
Open this folder and view contentsTechnical note: selecting the right crop for your location in the tropics or in the subtropics
View the documentTechnical note: Comparison charts of tropical crops
View the documentWhat seed would you take to an uninhabited tropical island?
View the documentHow can I garden in the hot humid tropics?
View the documentResource centers for agricultural development
Open this folder and view contents2: Vegetables and small fruits in the tropics
Open this folder and view contents3: Staple crops
Open this folder and view contents4: Multipurpose trees
Open this folder and view contents5: Farming systems and gardening techniques
Open this folder and view contents6: Soil health and plant nutrition
Open this folder and view contents7: Water resources
Open this folder and view contents8: Plant protection and pest control
Open this folder and view contents9: Domestic animals
Open this folder and view contents10: Food science
Open this folder and view contents11: Human health care
Open this folder and view contents12: Seeds and germplasm
Open this folder and view contents13: Energy and technologies
Open this folder and view contents14: From farm to market
Open this folder and view contents15: Training and missionary resources
Open this folder and view contents16: Oils
Open this folder and view contents17: Above-ground (urban) gardens
View the document18: What is ECHO?
View the documentAdditional ECHO publications
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes - issue 52
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes: issue 53
Open this folder and view contents28 additional technical notes about tropical agriculture
Open this folder and view contentsPrinciples of agroforestry
Open this folder and view contentsGood nutrition on the small farm
 

Selecting suitable tropical crops

THE MOST-ASKED QUESTION. What question do we receive the most frequently from ECHO's network? Easily it is some variation of, "What crops can people consider for the region where I work?" This is usually followed by some description of climate, soils, etc. Often some especially difficult condition is outlined-too much or too little rain, farms that are too small, steep, rocky, hot, infertile, swampy, or remote.

This is also one of the most frustrating questions to try to answer. We asked Dr. Frank Martin to put together something that would help you answer the question for yourself. He found it the most difficult assignment we have given him. "It should be possible to characterize soil and climate so that areas that are similar, even though widely scattered, could use the same technology. In practice this has proven very difficult." He knows of two large projects which tried to accomplish this, but neither turned up anything that appears to be useful. "The old- fashioned technique of a variety trial is still the best method to determine the value of a particular crop for your region."

The article that follows contains three levels of complexity. In one table, the most complex, he pulls together 140 crops, including both annuals and perennials, and vegetable, field and fruit crops. It will be useful as a rough screen to chose or eliminate crops you might consider. Other tables list several plants based only on rainfall amount and distribution and on temperature. No attempt was made to prepare an exhaustive list. For each of these climates, he has chosen several useful and probably familiar plants that would be well worth a try.

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