DCFRN hints



Save and edit this resource as a Word document.

A. Low-cost high-energy feed for the dry season

Do you ever have a problem feeding your cattle or sheep during the dry season when normal feed supplies become scarce?

High-energy livestock feed that you buy is expensive. You may wonder whether or not there is some kind of high-value feed that you could make yourself that would not cost nearly as much. George McPherson of the BBC reports that the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has developed a kind of silage that would cost far less than feed you buy. It is cassava silage.

He reports that Caribbean farmers make it in a 200 litre (44 gallon) drum with a lid. They slice up fresh cassava roots into slivers and put them in the drum. As they fill it, they pack the cassava in ever so tightly. When it’s full, they wax or grease the lid around the top and screw it down so it’s airtight. Inside the drum, the cassava ferments and turns into very high-value, high-energy feed that you can use for your sheep, or, with some roughage, for your cow. The important thing is, of course, that you keep it just like this until you need it, when other feed is running short. Of course, cassava is very low in protein. So for a balanced ration you should give your animals a high-protein feed as well, such as leucaena leaves and branches, pigeon pea hulls, or some high-protein legumes or cereal grain.

B. Grow more food by using water a second time

There are many reasons why it is a good idea to plant trees near your house. Rathindranath Roy is an Extension and Training officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization in Southern India. He says that several fruit trees, nut trees, and legume trees planted near your house can provide food when you have a crop failure with other produce that you usually grow.

Sometimes, however, trees die because they do not have enough water to get started. He believes that more people would plant trees if they could be sure that the trees would stay healthy and grow.

E.S. Thangam is a tree specialist in Madras, India. He has a simple solution to the problem of watering trees to make sure they do not die. He realizes that you may not have much water, and perhaps you must go a long way from home to get it. But what about all the water you throw out after washing, bathing, and cooking? All that water can still be poured on the mulch on the ground beneath your trees. He tells of one man he knows who bathes each day under a different tree—one day under a mango tree, the next day under his nut tree, and so on. Do not waste your wastewater, use it again for the special trees you planted, or even on your vegetable garden.

C. Finding the best place to dig a well

Everyone needs to have a good source of water. Many people are lucky enough to live near a stream, a river, a lake, or a pond, while others may have a spring where they can get their water. If you do not have a water source like that, you may have to collect water whenever it rains, or you may get it from a well.

In Thailand, many farmers dig their own wells. George Atkins asked Witoon Uian-cham-roon, manager of the Appropriate Technology Association, how these Thai farmers know where to dig their wells. He explained how they have done it for hundreds of years. He said that in the late evening when it is cool after a hot day, these farmers go out and walk slowly back and forth in their bare feet. If they suddenly step on a patch of ground that feels warmer than the ground all around that spot, it is very likely that they would get water by digging a well right there. That is the first step.

The next step is to dig a small test hole in that place the next day. It should be about 30 centimetres (1 foot) across and 30 centimetres (1 foot) deep. Then, before it gets dark, they place a clean drinking glass or ja, upside down in the bottom of the hole. If they don’t have a glass container, they use half of a dry hard inner coconut shell which is dry and smooth on the inside. The next morning, if there are drops of water on the inside of the glass or shell, that is the place they will choose to dig their well.

A good way to make sure of this location for a well might be to dig a similar test hole somewhere nearby, where the ground is not warm at night, and see if you get drops of water inside your glass or coconut shell in that location.