This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Many people are now pointing to the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants as the solution to the world’s food problems. These people note that there are several advantages of water as a growth medium. For instance, aquatic animals can convert more of their food into growth since most of them do not need to support their weight. Most fish do not spend energy to regulate their body temperature. In addition, water is a three-dimensional growing space, so yields per unit area can be quite high when compared to land-based farming.These advantages have given aquaculture the label of an “appropriate technology.” But just as solar energy technology can include solar-paneled satellites beaming microwave energy to earth, so aquaculture can be approached from a number of technological starting points. Many appropriate technology aquaculture groups in the United States are working with extremely high densities of organisms in recirculating water systems. Some examples of these “intensive” designs are basement fish tanks, backyard fish farms, dome ponds and greenhouse ponds. Most of these require careful biological monitoring and management (because a small problem in the system can kill all of the fish), and the economics are not yet acceptable.

While the work is certainly important to our urban areas, where little space is available, the high capital and material requirements of such aquaculture strategies make them much less relevant to the developing countries. In fact, many people are convinced that the key to large-scale aquaculture development in the United States as well lies in the enormous potential of farm ponds and reservoirs used for irrigation, fire protection, recreation, livestock watering, etc. Throughout the world, these unused or poorly managed lakes, ponds, streams and rivers represent a vast resource of harvestable waters. At the same time, they are subject to a wide variety.of other uses. As we manage these water resources, our goal must be expanded from short-term production to long-term stewardship which integrates all potential needs. There are many examples of aquaculture which include sewage treatment, mosquito control and aquatic weed control. And aquaculture can play a major role in the maximization of traditional fisheries through spawning and ranching techniques—many coastal and inland fisheries are the best producers of cheap protein because the fish raiser does not have to supply the feed.

The following selections partially reflect these views. Much work remains to be done. If you are trying to decide what growing fish might be like, choose between Fish Culture in Central East Africa (the most extensive), Freshwater Fish Pond Culture and Management, and Elementary Guide to Fish Culture in Nepal. The remainder of the selections cover specific topics in aquaculture and fishing with small booths.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CDs 10-11* or DVD 2):

Aquaculture Practices in Taiwan
Artificial Salmon Spawning
Better Freshwater Fish Farming: The Fish
Better Freshwater Fish Farming: The Pond
Elementary Guide to Fish Culture in Nepal
Fish Catching Methods of the World
Fish Culture in Central East Africa
Fishing with Bottom Gillnets
Freshwater Fish Farming: How to
Freshwater Fish Pond Culture and Management
Freshwater Fisheries and Aquaculture in China
Making Aquatic Weeds Useful
Pair Trawling with Small Boats
Practical Shellfish Farming
Profitable Cage Culture
Raising Fresh Fish in Your Home Waters
Salmon Rancher’s Manual
Tropical Oysters

Freshwater Fish Pond Culture and Management, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-313, book, 191 pages, by Marilyn Chakroff, Peace Corps/VITA, 1976.

The Peace Corps has done a lot of aquaculture work in different parts of the world. Several good local manuals were written in the past by their Indian branch. This latest publication integrates all the freshwater aquaculture projects, with the emphasis on warmwater species of fish. It is introductory in nature, aimed at an audience which did not like math or science in high school. Good illustrations complement the clearly written text. The contents cover the basic subjects important to a fish farmer: why grow fish, pond site selection, planning, construction and sealing, water chemistry and fertilization, fish spawning, stocking, feeding, harvesting, preserving and diseases.

“Freshwater Fish Pond Culture and Management is a how-to manual. It is designed as a working and teaching tool for extension agents. It is for their use as they establish and/or maintain local fish pond operations. The information is presented here to 1) facilitate technology transfer and 2) provide a clear guide for warm water fish pond construction and management. A valuable listing of resources at the end of this manual will give further direction for those wishing more information on various aspects of fish pond operation.” In fact, the resources section is practically impossible to use. It is not at all integrated into the subjects in the text, and most of the references are only available to those with access to excellent libraries. This is the only failing of an otherwise good book.

Fish Culture in Central East Africa, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-312, book, 158 pages, by A. Marr et. al., 1966.

Of these general “how-to” manuals, this is our favorite. More than any of the other manuals, it emphasizes the economic and ecological constraints which demand flexibility by fish farmers. Besides a good summary of the essentials of fish pond management, there is an excellent chapter on growing fish in lakes, reservoirs and seasonal farm ponds. The combination of fish farming and other branches of agriculture is also stressed.

The book has a definite regional focus. Tilapias native to Africa are the considered. Nevertheless, many of the ideas would be applicable in other areas. For instance, three aquacultural practices of wide interest are discussed: the polyculture of ducks and fish, the use of other animal manures as fish food and fertilizer, and the culture of fish in irrigated paddies. Fish such as carp or non-herbivorous tilapia can be stocked any time after the rice has rooted in paddies having a water depth of 30-40 cm or with 10-15 cm of water over the central rice growing area surrounded by a 11/2 m-wide trench, 70 cm deep.

A glossary and 73 illustrations make the text easier to follow, but the last two chapters on biological production and fish biology are a bit dense.

Elementary Guide to Fish Culture in Nepal, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-310, book, 131 pages, by E. Woynarovich, 1976, FAO, out of print.

“Elementary Guide to Fish Culture in Nepal is designed for practical use in the training of extension workers and progressive fish farmers in the techniques of fish culture.” This FAO publication emphasizes the culture and polyculture of the common carp, Cyprinus carpio, Chinese carps and Indian carps. In addition to the usual discussion of pond construction, management and harvest, there is a chapter on the biological background of fish production which includes information more sophisticated than is necessary for the successful management of a pond. There is also a good section on the food value of various feeds made from agricultural by-products. Don’t be fooled by the word “elementary.” While the book includes many simple illustrations, the author’s attempt to cover all ecological processes very briefly can be confusing to someone who does not already know about them.

Freshwater Fisheries and Aquaculture in China, Fisheries Technical Paper No. 168, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-314, book, 84 pages, by D.D. Tapiador, H.F. Henderson, M.N. Delmendo, and H. Tsutsui, 1977, FAO, out of print.

China accounts for more than half the world’s fish production, yet very little was known about its aquaculture efforts until the visit of the FAO mission in 1976.”The particular forms of fish culture practiced in China may not be directly applicable in many countries, particularly outside Asia. But the perspectives of Chinese fish farmers on self-reliance and on the interdependence of aquaculture, agriculture and animal husbandry, and their familiarity with fish and fish behavior under conditions of intensive culture, make their experience most valuable elsewhere.”

“It seemed particularly significant that all of the major inputs, such as feed, fertilizer and fish seed, are produced within the farm …. The use of organic fertilizers and locally-produced feed materials is especially to be recommended for most of the developing countries. Unfortunately, the latter have often elected to adopt commercial fertilizers and feeds simply because it is the practice in the developed countries.”

Many people talk about making full use of water resources, recycling wastes and decentralizing planning decisions. In China they do it on a scale that produces four million tons of fish annually.

Freshwater Fish Farming: How to Begin, Better Farming Series No. 27, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-324, booklet, 43 pages, FAO, 1979.This is a good, simple introduction to fish farming. Rudimentary information is given on building, filling, fertilizing and stocking the fish pond, care of fish and pond, and harvesting. Those undertaking fish culture will need to consult an extension agent or other publications listed in the Sourcebook for further details on many of these topics. Written in easy English with good illustrations.

Better Freshwater Fish Farming: The Pond, Better Farming Series #29, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-322, booklet, 43 pages, FAO, 1981.

This book was written for fish farmers with simple operations who wish to expand their fish ponds. It is assumed that the farmer has built his or her first pond using Freshwater Fish Farming: How to Begin (from this series). However, we feel this would be a good book for the beginner to read before building the first pond. Includes information on site selection and construction details. Clearly written in simple English and well-illustrated.

Better Freshwater Fish Farming: The Fish, Better Farming Series Booklet #30, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-323, booklet, 48 pages, FAO, 1981.

Another booklet in the Better Farming series, this one with basic advice on raising, feeding, and harvesting the fish in ponds. Well-illustrated with text in simple English. Due to the biological complexity of fish ponds and the hazards of disease among fish populations, this booklet is probably of most value as a supplementary reference for fish farming promotion programs. Portions of the booklet can easily be adapted and left with farmers.

Aquatic Weed Control, book, 154 pages, by Chris Seagrave, 1988.

When aquatic plants become too numerous in a stream or a pond, they can begin to cause problems, and the issue of how to control them arises. This manual was originally written for the U.K., Northern Europe and the U.S.A., and the last third of the book is devoted to identification of the types of plants that can be found in those places.

Readers in other parts of the world will find the material on mechanical, environmental, and biological control to be more universally applicable, while chemical weed control is for the most part to be avoided. Mechanical control includes both handtools and mechanical devices to cut the weeds; the chain scythe (see illustration) is perhaps the most widely applicable intermediate technology for this task. Environmental control involves controlling the light, depth of the water, and access to nutrients. Biological control involves the use of certain species of fish, such as grass carp, common carp, silver carp and crayfish.

Making Aquatic Weeds Useful: Some Perspectives for Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09- 315, book, 175 pages, by National Academy of Sciences, 1976.

Aquatic weeds present serious problems to public health, fisheries production, water quality and navigation in the tropics, where they grow most.prolifically. “This report examines methods for controlling aquatic weeds and using them to best advantage, especially those methods that show promise for developing countries. It emphasizes techniques for converting weeds for feed, food, fertilizer and energy production. It examines, for example, biological control techniques in which herbivorous tropical animals (fish, waterfowl, rodents and other mammals) convert the troublesome plants directly to meat.”

The major sections of this book focus on harvesting aquatic weeds either by herbivores, which themselves can be harvested (e.g. grass carp, manatees, crayfish, ducks and geese), or by machines with additional treatment and processing. Throughout the book, the emphasis is on aquatic weeds as a resource rather than a nuisance.

Fishery Development Experiences, book, 160 pages, by W.H.L. Allsopp, 1985.

The author reports on a number of interesting projects to improve fisheries in various ways. These include upgrading support services for artisanal fisheries in the Red Sea, motorizing fishing canoes in West Africa, training for small boat construction in Latin America, credit for marine fishing and aquaculture in Southeast Asia, and others.

Catalogue of Small-Scale Fishing Gear, book, 223 pages, FAO, second edition, 1987.

This remarkable book “deals especially with small-scale fisheries using gears operated from the shore or from small boats in coastal or inland waters. Maximum size of fishing vessels included in this catalogue is approximately 15m length overall, with an engine power of not more than 150 h.p. or 110 kW.”

“… This catalogue is by no means an exhaustive list of all existing types of fishing gear; it merely covers a limited, though quite representative, selection of the main types of gear that have proved profitable in commercial fisheries … confined … to gear made from conventional materials, i.e. nets, ropes and lines, whereas miscellaneous gear such as harpoons, grappling tools and harvesting machines, as well as gear made from unconventional materials such as boughs, bamboo, rattan, etc., have been excluded because their local variations are too numerous.” (See

Fish Catching Methods of the World for more coverage of traditional techniques.)

“It is … hoped that this fairly wide range will enable users to select more efficient gears, adapting them where necessary to the fishing conditions usually encountered. Furthermore, because of the different sources of gear, used in both developed and developing countries, the reader will find new ideas or general principles here, on the basis of which he will improve or adapt his own traditional gear.”

The collection consists of line drawings with technical terms in English, Spanish and French. The technical details of net construction are provided. The major topics are surrounding nets, seine nets, trawls, dredges, liftnets, falling gear, gillnets, traps, hooks-and-lines, and scoop-nets.

Fishing with Bottom Gillnets, FAO Training Series 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-325, booklet, 39 pages, by I. Rosman, 1980, from FAO.

A heavily illustrated manual for use by fishers to make their own bottom-set gillnets and use them effectively. These nets are placed along the bottom and held down with weights. This booklet will be most useful to people who already use other kinds of nets.

Pair Trawling with Small Boats, FAO Training Series 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-326, booklet, 77 pages, by H.S. Noel and M. Ben-Yami, 1980, from FAO.

Pair trawling with small boats uses less energy and smaller engines than single-boat trawling with the same sized nets. Thus it represents an interesting choice of technology for fishers who can’t afford larger boats. Well-illustrated instructions are provided on how to make the trawlnets, as is advice on how to use the nets effectively with very small boats and engines as small as 5hp.

Profitable Cage Culture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-317, booklet, 30 pages, by Gregor Neff and Paul Barrett, 1979.

This is the most in-depth summary of the hows and whys of cage culture available — in part a publicity promotion for their brand of plastic mesh cages. If you keep in mind that indigenous materials can be used for the cage mesh and framing and you have access to alternative feeds, then cage culture can add to your fish raising options. Profitable Cage Culture can give you hints on stocking, harvesting and managing your cages.

Cage Aquaculture, book, 352 pages, by Malcolm Beveridge, 1987.

Here is a welcome book on cage aquaculture, a small-scale technology that is growing in popularity around the world. Cages allow the fish farmer to take advantage of the energy and nutrient flows in natural bodies of water while retaining control of the fish.

The initial chapters “deal with the origins and principles of cage aquaculture, its advantages and disadvantages, bringing out the differences between traditional cage aquaculture and modern cage fish farming, whose growth is a phenomenon of the 1970s and 80s. Then follow detailed chapters on practical aspects of cage construction and factors affecting design and materials; the criteria for site selection in marine, freshwater and heated water environments; a review of the processes for evaluating carrying capacity.”

“Next comes a substantial chapter on such management aspects as stocking densities, feeds and feeding, monitoring water quality, fish husbandry and maintenance of cages and gear. Many potential problems arising from environmental factors or predators are aired, with hints on prevention or mitigation.”

“Finally, the author examines a selection of cage farming industries—some included as being economically important and others for their innovative features. Those chosen are: yellowtail farming in Japan, Atlantic salmon farming in Scotland, tilapia farming in the Philippines, whitefish farming in Northern Europe, and tiger prawn farming in the Indo-West Pacific.”

There are numerous photos and drawings of equipment throughout.

Aquaculture publications from New Alchemy Institute, P.O. Box 432, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA. While this group’s publications are reviewed elsewhere, certain articles merit special attention by prospective fish farmers. Journals 1-4 are out of print.

1) “Midge Culture,” by W. McLarney, J. Levine and M. Sherman, Journal 3 (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 0280), on pages 80-84.

Providing cheap sources of natural protein for fish feed is one way to speed their growth. Bug lights will collect protein-rich insects. An alternative is to raise the larvae yourself. This article tells you how.

2) “A New Low-Cost Method of Sealing Fish Pond Bottoms,” by W. McLarney and R. Hunter, Journal 3 (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-80), on page 85. Also found in Book of the New Alchemists (see review).Various methods have been used to seal the bottoms of ponds to allow them to hold water, but most methods are expensive. Here the authors describe a virtually cost-free method using layers of manure and other farm wastes to create an anaerobic zone impenetrable to water.

3) “Cultivo Experimental de Peces en Estanques,’ Journal 3 (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-80), on pages 8690. Also reprinted in Book of the New Alchemists. This is a translated excerpt from a paper by Professor Anibal Patino R. which presents a plan for tropical aquaculture. For information on obtaining the original paper (in Spanish), write Cespedesia, Jardin Botanica del Valle, Apartado Aereo 5660, Cali, Colombia.

4) “Cage Culture,” by William McLarney, Journal 4 (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-81), on pages 77-82.

Growing fish in floating cages is a traditional technique in Southeast Asia and of recent interest in the U.S. This article describes the reasons and methods for building and stocking cages. It also describes some of the pitfalls.

Fish Catching Methods of the World, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-311, book, 432 pages, by Andres von Brandt, 3rd edition 1984.

This book is a testimony to the ingenuity of fishers in their invention of an astounding variety of fishing gear and techniques to meet different environmental, economic and social requirements. While basically a scholarly treatment of the principles of fishing technology, its comprehensive discussions of both commercial and subsistence technologies present a fascinating tale to the lay reader. Of particular interest are the chapters on fish hooks, traps and nets. The potential utility of this book lies in the large number and variety of methods it presents.

Raising Fresh Fish in Your Home Waters, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-318, pamphlet, 34 pages, by B. Bortz, J. Ruttle and M. Podems, 1977, Barebo, Inc., out of print.

For the reader new to the idea of raising fish, this booklet is useful as a brief introduction to many of the topics of concern to a fish farmer. The central section, “A Catalog of Fish,” is a nice collection of the water quality tolerances and.preferences of the major fish cultured in the U.S. While the pamphlet is written for the North American fish farmer, the sections on pond management are of general interest.

Practical Shellfish Farming, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-316, book, 91 pages, by Phil Schwind, 1977, International Marine Publishing Company, out of print.

This easy-to-read book tells how to grow shellfish along the northeast coast of the United States. Consequently, it looks at the question of local regulations more deeply than would be appreciated by those living in other areas. The lively writing makes these few dull pages barely noticeable. The book’s strength is its discussion of the management of bottom areas or rafts for maximizing shellfish growth. It lacks a good review of the physical characteristics, which influence where shellfish larvae will settle, and imaginative ways to collect these settled larvae.

Tropical Oysters: Culture and Methods, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-320, book, 80 pages, by D.B. Quayle, 1980, IDRC, out of print.

“Bivalve shellfish such as oysters, mussels, and clams are very widely distributed throughout the world and have long enjoyed a high consumer preference and market value in temperate climates. The change of techniques from bottom cultivation to off-bottom or suspended cultures has contributed to considerably increased production in many countries. However, in general, production from tropical countries has been traditionally very limited even though bivalves flourish and reproduce abundantly in warmer climates. In such tropical countries, native oysters are often harvested for subsistence and rural fisheries. They are not a luxury item.

“Only comparatively recently have there been serious attempts at oyster cultivation, but where favourable conditions exist, rapid growth has been observed and marketable oysters are obtained in nine months.” This book provides a good introduction to the methods and considerations for raising oysters in the tropics.

Aquaculture Practices in Taiwan, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-308, book, 146 pages, by T.P. Chen, 1976, Fishing News Books, Blackwell Scientific Publications, United Kingdom, out of print.

T.P. Chen has provided a sampling of Taiwan’s aquacultural practices for 29 species of animals including turtles, frogs, fresh and saltwater clams, shrimp and eighteen species of fish. The major emphases are on milkfish, eels and Chinese carps with a wealth of production statistics and economics. This book is the best source of information on the culture of snakehead (Ophiocephalus), walking catfish (Clarias), mud skipper (Boleophthalmus), Corbicula clams, and the seaweedGracilaria. Publications, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, Swingle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA.

This is the most comprehensive collection of publications concerning the culture of freshwater, warm water fishes. While many of these articles have appeared in scientific or trade journals, most of them would not be difficult for the nonprofessional to understand. Topics include aquatic ecology and marine biology, aquatic plants, baits and minnows, commercial fish production and aquaculture, farm pond management, fishery biology and population dynamics, fish feeds, fish food habits and nutrition, and water quality and waste management.

Foremost among the 300 available papers is H.S. Swingle’s classic “Biological

Means of Increasing Productivity in Ponds,” in which he discusses use of efficient pond fish, polyculture species combinations and stocking rates, control of reproduction, and increasing production of fish food organisms. Swingle’s successful combination of pond ecology with aquaculture has been unmatched and will be the key to future development of appropriate technology in aquaculture.

Auburn also has an international branch for aquacultural development in conjunction with USAID. Some of the publications from these groups would be of local interest to those people living near the various projects in El Salvador, Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines.

The Israeli Journal of Aquaculture: Bamidgeh, quarterly magazine, since 1948.

Now published in a separate English edition, Bamidgeh presents the results of Israeli research in pondfish culture. In recent years, their semitropical systems have centered on carp, mullet and tilapia. Although some of the articles are extremely complex, using sophisticated engineering and ecological analysis, many show practical techniques and equipment that can be useful in other countries. The Israeli communes have never been wealthy, so the scientific approach is based on intermediate-level technology, using a maximum of ingenuity and energetic labor.

The topics covered in this magazine are usually strategies for efficient fish production, such as pest control, safe use of manure fertilizers/feeds, and various species combinations in ponds. This is a magazine for those actually engaged in fish culture, who may want to use agricultural wastes for fish food, culture insect larvae for the same purpose, or start a selective-breeding program to reduce the number of bones in a fish. Particularly interesting recent research has been in all-male hybrids of tilapia, cage culture of carp, and comparison of low-cost aeration systems. If for no other reason, practicing fish culturists might consult Bamidgeh to appreciate the value of good recordkeeping journals. Subject INDEXs are published each year for easy reference.

Salmon Rancher’s Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-319, book, 95 pages, by William McNeil and Jack Bailey, 1975, University of Alaska, free from U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, D.C., USA.

“The North Pacific Ocean is a vast nursery ground for the Pacific salmon that spawn in streams and lakes in North America and Asia. These salmon reproduce in fresh water, but most of their growth occurs at sea. When mature, they return to their freshwater ancestral spawning grounds, where tens of thousands of genetically-separate stocks segregate for reproduction.”

In the past, growing salmonid fishes has required a capital investment beyond the means and interests of most groups. But the chemical imprinting of young fish so that they will return to the hatchery area to spawn after several years in the wild reduces the obstacle of their carnivorous habits. Fish can be spawned, hatched, raised and released from a hatchery to increase their chances of survival. While feeding at.sea (or, in the case of steelhead rainbow trout, in a lake), the fish convert protein unavailable to humans into animal flesh; hence the comparison to range cattle and the term “ocean ranching.”

“Production of healthy fry is the ‘core’ of any salmon aquaculture system because the success of ocean ranching will depend largely upon the quality of juvenile fish released into the ocean. The primary purpose of this manual is to assist salmon ranchers with planning, constructing, and operating systems for artificial propagation of salmon fry.”

Artificial Salmon Spawning, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-309, pamphlet, 21 pages, by William Smoker and Curtis Kerns, 1978, free from Marine Advisory Program, University of Alaska, 3211 Providence Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska 99504, USA.

“This manual is designed primarily for the aquaculturalist who is just getting started …. (It includes) procedures that are least likely to go wrong for the novice egg-taker. Not all have been scientifically tested. But where they have been used, incubators have been filled with live eggs.”


The Book of the New Alchemists describes the Ark, with its indoor fish tanks; see GENERAL REFERENCE.

Permaculture II includes fish ponds in its plan for ecologically-sound development; see AGRICULTURE.

How to Salt Fish and Small Scale Processing of Fish; see CROP STORAGE.

Aquaculture: A Component of Low-Cost Sanitation Technology can be found in the sanitation section of WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION.

Books on small boat design and construction are found in TRANSPORTATION.



 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

“The challenge to forestry of contributing to bettering the condition of the rural poor is … likely to entail a radical reorientation extending from policy all the way through to its technical foundations”Forestry for Local Community Development, FAO

Wood is a basic resource for meeting human needs. It has always been important as a cooking fuel and building material. But throughout history, expanding human settlements have threatened and eventually destroyed forests. To the individual farmer, the forest is often a nuisance to be cleared away so that the land can be farmed. To the villager, the forest is the provider of plentiful cooking fuel. And to the industrialist, the forest is the source of plywood, paper, cardboard, and lumber to meet the enormous demands of industrial societies. The result has been that a potentially renewable resource has generally been exploited as a one-time boon for the first to arrive.

The consequences of unrestrained deforestation are many. The cultivation of hillsides generally leads to rapid erosion of topsoil and loss of productive potential. The removal of trees reduces the soil’s ability to retain water, leading to ever-increasing cycles of flood and drought in the lands below. Inefficient cooking methods and a lack of deliberate replanting of fuelwood trees have forced millions of the poor to spend a large part of each day hunting for fuel and carrying it long distances on their backs. An unequal portion of this burden falls on women. This time-consuming, exhausting work further guarantees their poverty. In search of maximum immediate production from a piece of land, lumbering companies around the world have clear-cut the forests, leaving a devastated landscape vulnerable to erosion, and destroying any potential for sustained production.

“The humid forests of the tropics once occupied at least 1600 million hectares (4000 million acres), and have not only been the main centers for living species on earth, but have held the lands together, moderated and modified world climates, and helped to maintain a desirable balance of atmospheric gasses. Now they are vanishing at an incredible rate. There are reported to be 935 million hectares in actual humid tropical forest, a 40% reduction in total area. They are disappearing at a rate of sixteen million hectares per year ….”

—Ray Dasmann, “Planet Earth—1980”, 1980

Some observers are convinced that the considerable local, national and international problems associated with deforestation will be followed by global climatic shifts if deforestation is not brought under control within the next ten years. World food production is directly threatened by local soil erosion, floods and droughts, and climatic changes that mean shifting rainfall patterns and expanding deserts.

As the problems caused by deforestation are becoming better understood, development planners are scrambling to find temporary and long-term solutions. The skills of the forestry profession are in great demand. Yet on closer examination it becomes clear that more and better-funded forestry programs alone will not be enough. Major changes in attitude and strategy will also be required. In particular, foresters and planners cannot continue forest management focused largely on production for industry. Just as important, forestry programs can no longer be based on the strategy of preventing the community from gaining access to the forest. The FAO book Forestry for Local Community Development marks an historical shift in consciousness, as it describes the strategies and programs that can mean successful sustainable production of forest resources through community involvement. But for the most part,

“In precious few countries have the energies of the foresters been bent upon helping the peasant to develop the kind of forestry that would serve his material welfare. This is why there are so few village wood lots and fuel plantations. This is why so little work has been done on forage trees, fruit and nut orchards. This is why so few shelterbelts have been created …. This is why forestry has been invoked so rarely to reclaim or rehabilitate land. This is why so few of the many possible agro-forestry combinations have been established which are specifically geared to meeting real local needs.

“Agriculture-supportive forestry does not by any means exclude forest industries. Small rural industries are an integral part of agriculture-supportive forestry: fuelwood, charcoal, poles, stakes, fencing, hurdles, screens, farm tools and implements, building materials, simple furniture. But these activities, like all other agriculture-supportive activities, are activities that cannot be carried out on the required scale and in the required manner by a conventionally oriented and conventionally organized forest service. They will only be effective, and will only make sense, if they are carried out by the peasants themselves, for themselves. The role of the forester, wherever he may sit in the organizational structure, can only stimulate, offer guidance and suggestions, impart techniques and carry out training.”

—”Forest Industries for Socioeconomic Development”, by Jack Westoby, 1978, formerly Director, Programme Coordination and Operations, Forestry Department, FAO

The first books in this chapter discuss the extent of the deforestation problem, along with conclusions about sound practices to protect the forests while using them to satisfy human needs. China: Forestry Support for Agriculture offers a fascinating national case study of successful reforestation for maximum agricultural benefit, while Reforestation in Arid Lands represents a general practical manual. Forestry for Local Community Development sheds light on the requirements for successful village wood lots and other fuelwood replanting projects. Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture notes that trees conserve soil far better than row crops on hilly terrain, and argues that conversion to tree crops is the only choice that will maintain the long-term productivity of agriculture in these areas.

As firewood use continues to be a contributing factor in deforestation, the promotion of efficient low-cost locally-built cooking stoves appears to be a cost-effective first step towards conservation in many areas (see the chapter ENERGY: COOKSTOVES). Fast growing tree species are also getting a great deal of attention. The National Academy of Sciences book Firewood Crops is one new inventory of fast growing species, and other books reviewed here cover particular species and growing techniques.

Village forest industries are the final topic in this chapter. Timber drying, through both regular kilns and solar dryers, is an important step in the production of good quality hardwood for tool handles and furniture. The use and repair of chainsaws, and chainsaw attachments for board production, are covered in the last few entries.


Books reviewed in this section

Agroforestry Species: A Crop Sheets Manual
Barnacle Parp’s Chain Saw Guide
The Chainsaw and the Lumbermaker
China: Forestry Support for Agriculture
Constructing and Operating a Small Solar Heated Lumber Dryer
Crosscut Saw Manual
Environmentally Sound SmallScale Forestry Projects
Firewood Crops
Forest Farming
A Forest Tree Seed Directory
Forestry Case Studies
Forestry for Local Community Development
Frame Saw Manual
Land Clearance
Make Your Own Precision Milled Lumber from Logs and Trees: Alaskan MKII
Manual of Reforestation and Erosion Control for the Philippines
Natural Durability and Preservation of One Hundred Tropical African Woods
An Overview of Possible Uses of Sawdust
People and Trees
Planning for Agroforestry
Planting Tree Crops
A Pocket Directory of Trees and Seeds in Kenya
The Propagation of Tropical Fruit Trees
Reforestation in Arid Lands
Savanna Afforestation in Africa
Short-Rotation Forestry
Small and Medium Sawmills in Developing Countries
Timber Drying Manual
Tree Crops
Tree Planting in Africa South of the Sahara
Wood Harvesting with Hand Tools


People and Trees: The Role of Social Forestry in Sustainable Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-316, book, 273 pages, edited by Hans Gregersen, Sydney Draper, and Dieter Elz, 1989, $17.95 from World Bank Publications, Box 7247-8619, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170-8619, USA.

“The distinguishing feature of social forestry, as distinct from industrial and large-scale government forestry, is the involvement of local, generally rural, people in growing trees for their own use. Social forestry is often difficult to identify, since it seldom involves large blocks of trees or ‘forests’. Instead, it involves a few trees here and a few trees there, a small village wood lot, trees along the road or interspersed in the fields. Yet the sum of these small-scale activities by millions of tree planters can be significant.”

This is an excellent compilation of a broad range of material on social forestry. Major topics are social forestry and the environment, the role of trees in agriculture, the fuelwood crisis and improved stoves programs, employment income, planning issues, incentives for local participation, obtaining land, and various aspects of project organization and management.

Many “striking successes came about when programs were redesigned to focus on local participation. Instead of being viewed as government programs in which local people were expected to participate, they were seen as local programs supported by government.”.Particularly illuminating are the examples of problems and successful projects sprinkled throughout the book.

“Whereas individual owners can always protect the crops on their land, protecting trees on lands belonging to village panchayats, railways, the public works or irrigation department, and so on, is difficult, primarily because everyone’s property is no one’s property …. One way to protect the trees, particularly on the roadside plantations, is to allot each tree to someone living close by. Those who protect the tree should also be allowed to share the benefits. In the case of fruit, flower, and seed trees, those who protect the trees should receive a share from the final felling of the trees. Advance publicity of the distribution pattern of benefits likely to accrue will foster the security of ownership so essential for the long-run protection of trees.”

Environmentally Sound Small-Scale Forestry Projects, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-289, book, 109 pages, by Peter Ffolliott and John L. Thames, 1983, $12.95 from VITA; also available in Spanish and French; also available from ITDG and TOOL.

“This manual has been written for community development workers in developing countries who are not technicians in the area of forestry, but who want some general guidelines for planning environmentally sound small-scale forestry projects.” The book opens with a discussion of process for project planning, and the relationship of forestry to the environment. Background for planning is given for multiple-use forestry, harvesting trees for wood products, fuelwood management programs, agro-forestry projects, shelterbelt or windbreak plantings, reforestation and afforestation. We recommend this book as an introduction to forestry principles.

Forestry Case Studies, Peace Corps Case Study CS-3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-292, booklet, 102 pages, 1982, Peace Corps, out of print.

Case studies can be valuable tools to help project planners learn from others’ experiences and their mistakes. Case studies from Peace Corps projects in eight countries are presented, each one ending with a section which evaluates the success of the project and restates factors which seemed beneficial or detrimental. The last chapter is a summary of the factors which seem most important to success.

Forest Farming, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-307, book, 197 pages, by J. Sholto Douglas and Robert de J. Hart, 1984 edition, £7.50 from ITDG; also available from VITA and TOOL.

Forest Farming, co-authored by J. Sholto Douglas (who wrote Hydroponics: The Bengal Method), updates and expands J. Russell Smith’s classic Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (see review). The authors show that “in food productivity alone tree crops can produce 10 to 15 times as much food per acre as field crops.”

The authors discuss the role of forests and tree crops in farming and offer detailed advice and information on various economic species, the use of their products for food and raw materials, planting techniques and suggestions, and guidance for the layout and operation of schemes of forest farming. Douglas and Hart state: “The ‘tool’ with the greatest potential for feeding people and animals, for regenerating the soil, for restoring water-systems, for controlling floods and droughts, for creating more benevolent micro-climates and more comfortable and stimulating living conditions for humanity, is the tree.”Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE

Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-302, book, 408 pages, by J. Russell Smith, 1953, reprinted 1978, Harper and Row, out of print in 1985.

“Forest—field—plow—desert—that is the cycle of the hills under most plow agriculture …. Field wash, in the United States, Latin America, Africa and many other parts of the world, is the greatest and most menacing of all resource wastes …. We are today destroying our soil … faster and in greater quantity than has ever been done by any group of people at any time in the history of the world.”

Written over 25 years ago, this is still considered one of the most important texts on the agricultural potential of tree crops. “Agriculturalists have completely overlooked the abundant food produced by such trees as the oaks, honey locust, persimmon, and walnut, which … can outproduce, acre for acre, the best efforts of the grass family (corn, wheat, oats) on most lands in formerly forested areas. Moreover, tree crops require less care, bind and improve instead of depleting the soil, and provide a permanent source of income which increases annually.”

“If much of the tropic forest is to be preserved, we must make use of tree crops. Tree crops will safeguard fertility while producing food for man. In most cases there can be an undergrowth of leguminous nurse crops of small tree and bush to catch nitrogen, hold the soil, make humus and feed the crop trees—nuts, oils, fruits, gums, fibers, even choice weeds.”

“The crop-yielding tree offers the best medium for extending agriculture to hills, to steep places, to rocky places, and to the lands where rainfall is deficient.”

Most of this extraordinary book consists of descriptions of the characteristics and uses of what Smith felt were the 35 most promising tree types for temperate and tropical climates. His photos and personal observations from years of traveling throughout the world add considerably to the impact of the book.

Forestry for Local Community Development, FAO Forestry Paper No. 7, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-293, book, 114 pages, FAO, 1978, available in English, Spanish, and French, $10.00 from FAO or $14 from UNIPUB.

Here is a summary of what is known about constraints facing the rural poor that affect forestry, programs that address these constraints, and policy measures that have succeeded in different places. The study concentrates on programs in which rural communities process and use the forest products themselves; it excludes large-scale industrial forestry.

“Forestry for community development must … be forestry for the people and involving the people. It must be forestry which starts at the ‘grass roots’.”

“The core of the problem for forest communities is … usually that they derive insufficient benefits from the forest …. This … is often attributable to conventional forest management objectives and administrative practices, an orientation towards conservation, wood production, revenue collection, and regulation through punitive legislation …. The task of forestry for the development of such communities is consequently to engage them more fully, positively, and beneficially in its utilization, management and protection. This may take the form of … logging or sawmilling cooperatives … production of honey … the concurrent production of forestry and agricultural crops, or … grazing of animals …. This can require quite radical reorientation of traditional forestry concepts and practices.”

“A feature of most successful recent community forestry endeavors has been a strong, sustained technical support system, capable of providing advice and.essential inputs such as planting stock, and of maintaining such support through the period necessary to generate forestry as a self-sustaining activity in a particular area”

Key factors affecting success or failure of forestry programs are identified and summarized in seventeen brief case studies.

Highly recommended.

China: Forestry Support for Agriculture, FAO Forestry Paper No. 12, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-286, book, 103 pages, FAO, 1979, $11.50 from UNIPUB.

This is the report of an FAO/UNDP-sponsored study tour in 1977, “to observe and analyze the Chinese approach to forestry development whereby it is integrated into and supports agriculture.”

“Stricken by a series of natural calamities throughout history, China appears determined to tame rivers, regulate water systems, reverse soil erosion, establish a favorable climatological balance and thus banish the feeling of helplessness against natural disasters. Forestry has played a major role in achieving these objectives.”

The participation of the people has been a central concept in China’s forestry efforts. Research activities concentrate on practical problems, and include commune members; much is learned from the practical experiences of field workers. Education of the people is seen as a requirement for successful tree planting programs. As a result the average Chinese is “much more knowledgeable about forestry than the average person in any other country,” and protection of reforested areas is not a problem. Forested lands have doubled since 1949.

Tree planting has had direct economic benefits in the form of timber, fuelwood, livestock fodder, fruit and other products. In some areas shelterbelt forestry is considered the primary factor in dramatic agricultural gains, ahead of irrigation, fertilization, and improved seeds.

Planning for Agroforestry, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-318, book, 68 pages, by Susan Huke and June Plecan, 1988, $4.00 from Save the Children, Attn: John Salamack, 54 Wilton Road, Westport, Connecticut 06880, USA.

This practical handbook, of general value as a reference for planting trees in a rural community, was written for development project managers and fieldworkers who would like to introduce agroforestry activities into their ongoing programs. It is an action-oriented introduction to the topic of agroforestry, written in clear text with clear drawings and photos. There is good advice on working successfully with local communities, and on assisting farmers in planning where to plant what kinds of trees. The establishment of a nursery is also covered. While it is intended for low rainfall areas, much of the material is more widely relevant.

The material on integrating trees with farm crops is helpful as an introduction, but in most cases will need to be supplemented by additional information on specific crop/tree combinations. Appendices provide nursery management and planting information on selected tree species.

Manual of Reforestation and Erosion Control for the Philippines, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-313 book, 569 pages, edited by H.J. Weidelt, 1976,1988 edition DM18 plus postage from GTZ.

Despite its title, only the first 33 pages of this book are specifically for the Philippines. The remaining 500 pages form a general textbook on reforestation and.erosion control, most of which is applicable to other tropical countries.

The main topics covered are establishment, maintenance and protection of forest plantations, compass surveying and mapping, nursery techniques, erosion control, and forest tree seed. Techniques and tools presented are simple and low-cost. Management of natural forests is considered to be outside the scope of this book, and gains only brief mention.

A great deal of good information.

Tree Planting in Africa South of the Sahara, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-312, booklet, 75 pages, by David Kamweti, 1982, The Environmental Liaison Center, Nairobi, Kenya, out of print.

This introductory booklet provides enough general information for someone without prior forestry experience to understand and carry out small tree planting projects. Simple techniques using hand tools are described and illustrated. The tree species and climates described are those of Africa, but people new to the topic of forestry in other areas may wish to use this as an introduction to the topic. The treatment of individual species is limited, so the reader will want to refer to other sources for further details.

Recommended as an introduction to this topic.

Reforestation in Arid Lands, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-300, book, 335 pages, by Fred R. Weber, 1977, revised 1986, $14.95 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in French; also available from ITDG and TOOL.

Though designed for use by people working on reforestation programs in sub-Saharan West Africa, this book would be useful in other arid areas. There are special sections on windbreaks, fire protection and sand dune stabilization. Half of the book contains a directory of 165 tree varieties found in West Africa, and an expanded look at 30 of these, covering details on such topics as seeds, germination techniques, transplanting protection and uses.

“This manual assumes basic familiarity with reforestation terms and methods: for example, it takes for granted that the reader will be familiar with laterite soils and with the use of such forestry tools as climate maps and vegetation charts.”

“Reforestation programs are part of larger conservation efforts. Increasingly they are being conducted with the realization that it is very difficult to separate reforestation from other revegetation efforts—range management, sand stabilization and similar activities. So while reforestation deals mainly with planting trees in locations able to support at least some species, it is important to think broadly of revegetation—planting trees, shrubs, bushes, grasses, and other ground cover in areas which do not have sufficient vegetation.”

Revegetation is a concept that needs wider circulation. The planting of many different suitable types and sizes of vegetation makes the widest possible use of the capacity of a landscape to support plant life. A wide range of plant life also further expands the amount and diversity of animal life that the area can support, and this includes the human animal. A community of plants composed almost solely of trees ignores the potential that shrubs and ground covers can contribute to the productivity of a landscape: animal life, both wild (deer and fowl, for instance) and domestic (such as pigs, cattle and geese) will not do as well when there are only trees.

Reforestation usually creates a place for humans to come and get lumber and.firewood and little else. Revegetation creates a place for a greater variety of plants and a larger number of animals, including humans, to live … and provides lumber and firewood too.

“A conservation project must be supported by the people living in an area, or it will not work. Local people are the ones who may be asked to give land for a project, or to work on it. And often a reforestation effort will have to be supported by people for years before results can be seen. Therefore, a project should not be started before communities are ready to sustain the effort. And to make this commitment, residents must believe that (1) the project will affect their environment and their lives positively, and (2) the results will be worth the effort.”

Savanna Afforestation in Africa, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-320, book, 312 pages, FAO, 1979, Dfl. 47.95 from TOOL.

This is a collection of lecture notes and brief papers for a symposium on the planting of trees in African grasslands. Topics covered include a general discussion of African savanna, species introduction and seed handling, nursery practice, plantation establishment and maintenance, techniques for problem areas, plantation protection, and planning for plantations.

The presentation is academic in style, so that the reader will have to work to get practical information from the text. Still, for those working in forestry projects in tropical and subtropical grassland areas, this may prove a worthwhile book.

Firewood Crops: Shrub and Tree Species for Energy Production, Volume 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-290, book, 237 pages, National Academy of Sciences, 1980, $20.00 from BOSTID, HA-476E, National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418, USA.

“To alleviate the growing shortage of wood fuel is one of mankind’s major challenges. In this connection, firewood research is vital and deserves concentrated financial support. It will take the combined efforts of government, industry, landowners, villagers, researchers, philanthropic institutions and development assistance agencies. Some activities that must be undertaken include:

—Preventing the extinction of existing forests;

—Instituting policies to relieve the often wasteful use of the firewood now available;

—Testing and developing fuel-efficient stoves;

—Instituting policies and programs to encourage the use of alternative energy sources such as biogas and solar heat;

—Testing the cultivation of native tree species for firewood; and

—Testing appropriate new species such as those identified in this report.”

Firewood Crops describes woody species suited for use as fuelwood or charcoal in rural developing areas where firewood shortages are reaching a crisis point.

An introduction by Erik Eckholm points out the urgent need for fuelwood programs throughout the world—and the considerable difficulties in actually implementing them. A chapter entitled “Wood as Fuel” presents an overview of wood energy uses, firewood plantation, fuelwood management, harvesting techniques, species selection, and appropriate research methodologies. The intent throughout is to provide options, not specific recommended solutions.

Approximately 60 species for use in the wet-dry lowland tropics, Savannah.regions, arid areas, and tropical highlands are presented in the main body of the report. There are extensive photographs, references, seed and germplasm sources, and research contacts. For each species listed, other uses besides fuel are also cited.

“Woody plants … can also be sources of: vegetable oil and fruits and nuts for food; edible leaves and shoots for sauces, curries, salads, and beverages; forage for livestock and silkworms; green manure for fertilizing soil; medicines and pharmaceuticals; extractives such as resins, rubber, gums, and dyes …. In times of hardship, (the tree owner) may sacrifice some tree growth to feed his family or animals with the foliage. In some cases, dense forests can produce a great deal of

burnable materials without a living tree being felled. In others, the owner may sell the best farmed trees for timber or pulp and use the remainder as fuel. Having such options is important to a rural farmer, and in this report we note the main alternative uses for the species selected, even if they conflict with firewood use.”

The technical appendices include a master list of firewood species, and firewood success stories from Ethiopia and South Korea.

Planting Tree Crops, Practical Guide to Dryland Farming No. 4, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-323, booklet, 39 pages, 1989, $4.00 plus shipping from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, USA; Indonesian edition from Studio Driya Media, Jalan Hariangbanga No. 2 Pav, Bandung, Indonesia 40116.

One of a series of illustrated booklets on conservation farming, this one is dedicated to tree planting in the tropics. Growing seedlings from seed, air-layering, and grafting techniques are shown. Intended for use by farmers and extension agents.

“‘Air-layering’ is a simple method of reproduction often used for fruit trees.

First, the bark is peeled from a section of a branch of a healthy tree. The peeled section is then wrapped in moist material until new roots are formed. Finally, the branch is cut off and planted.”

Leucaena: Promising Forage and Tree Crop for the Tropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-296, book, 100 pages, by the National Academy of Sciences, revised 1984, $9.00 from BOSTID, HA-476E, National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20418, USA; also available from ITDG and TOOL.

“Of all tropical legumes, leucaena probably offers the widest assortment of uses. Through its many varieties, leucaena can produce nutritious forage, firewood, timber, and rich organic fertilizer. Its diverse uses include revegetating tropical hillslopes and providing windbreaks, firebreaks, shade, and ornamentation. Although individual leucaena trees have yielded extraordinary amounts of wood— indeed, among the highest annual totals ever recorded—and although the plant is responsible for some of the highest weight gains measured in cattle feeding on forage, it remains a neglected crop, its full potential largely unrealized.”

Leucaena varieties can grow in arid areas (though they do best in moist conditions) and can tolerate periods of frost and high winds. It is especially useful in reforestation efforts where it is important to get quick results for ecological or economic reasons.

“There is a rising belief among agronomists and foresters that tree growing, crop production and/or animal raising should be combined to best preserve structure and fertility of fragile tropical soils. Trees provide the ecosystem, and an agricultural crop, livestock rearing, or fish culture can provide income while the trees are maturing. Combinations of many different plant and animal species seem possible, but versatile leucaena appears to be an outstanding candidate.”

“Leucaena helps to enrich soil and aid neighboring plants because its foliage rivals manure in nitrogen content, and natural leaf-drop returns this to the soil beneath the shrubs. Recent experiments in Hawaii have shown that if the foliage is harvested and placed around nearby crop plants they can respond with yield increases approaching those affected by commercial fertilizer.”

The book covers the following topic areas: leucaena botany and cultivation; animal feed; wood products; fuelwood; soil improvement and reforestation; recommendations and research needs; sources of additional information; a list of leucaena researchers; and sources of leucaena seeds, nitrogen fixing inoculant bacteria, and wood samples. An excellent general survey of the potential of leucaena in tropical, sub-tropical and mild temperate climates.

Natural Durability and Preservation of One Hundred Topical African Woods, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-298, book, 131 pages, by Yves Fortin and Jean Poliquin, 1974, out of print in 1985.

This is a report on the preservation requirements of 100 different tropical African woods. “Natural durability” refers to the ability of the wood to resist attack by biological agents—fungi, insects, and marine borers were chosen as specific cases. Many woods have certain uses which require little or no preservative treatment, due to this natural durability.

“The protection obtained from a preservative treatment is determined by the effectiveness of the preservative as well as the method of its application. The choice of a suitable preservative is mainly based on the conditions to which the wood is to be exposed. For example, before the wood is utilized, preservatives made of chemicals dissolved in organic solvents, and non-leachable salt preservatives usually give satisfactory protection.”

The authors mention the hazards of use of some of the chemical preservatives, plus some safety instructions. Non-commercial preservation techniques are aimed at medium to large-scale operations, but small-scale operations will also find the book very useful. Anyone using common African woods will find material of interest in this book. There is an extensive list of sources for further information.

The Propagation of Tropical Fruit Trees, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-310, book, 566 pages, by R.J. Garner, S.A. Chaudhri and the staff of the Commonwealth Bureau of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, 1976, £20.50 from CAB International, Wellingford, Oxon OX10 8DE, United Kingdom; in Americas US $39.00 from University of Arizona Press, 1230 North Park Avenue, Suite 102, Tucson, Arizona 85719-4140, USA.

This is a very welcome addition to the literature on tropical horticulture. This book contains a comprehensive review of the various techniques for the propagation (multiplication) of selected tropical fruit tree species of high economic and nutritional value. The book is divided into two parts—an overview and detailed description of the materials and methods used in tree propagation, and a review of propagation techniques for specific tree species. The book primarily covers simple, low-technology techniques which are easily understood by farmers given adequate training. The text is supplemented by basic line illustrations which are generally adequate for explaining the techniques covered. The book could have been improved by the inclusion of illustrations of the fruit species (i.e., tree profile, fruit.sections, etc.) covered in the second section and the addition of a simple glossary of horticultural terms. Nevertheless, this publication should be of value to agricultural researchers, fieldworkers, and trainers throughout the tropics.

“Many different kinds of intimate protection are used in nurseries. Glass structures, so widely used in temperate zones, quickly overheat in hot sun and are generally unsuitable for use in the tropics. Structures which have proved more useful have been a combination of partial shading overhead with moisture retaining covers below to provide the desired ecoclimate in the immediate vicinity of the plant …. Various materials serve for shading, including lathes, bamboo, banana leaves and palm branches. A favourite use in Malawi is composed of grass woven into two-inch (5-cm) chicken wire.”

“Grafting with detached scions requires extra care in maintaining life in both scion and rootstock throughout the grafting process and until the composite plant is well established. Though it is thus more hazardous than approach grafting it demands less labour per graft and, by its relative simplicity lends itself to standardization essential in the exploitation of mass production techniques. The aim must be simplicity with efficiency ….”

A Pocket Directory of Trees and Seeds in Kenya, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-309, book, 151 pages, by Wayne Teel, 1984, $7.00 from KENGO, P.O. Box 48197, Nairobi, Kenya.

The author has geared this book to those people with limited tree planting experience. The opening 15 pages of general information in a question/answer format provide a good introduction to the topic. The book goes on to list local names, uses, preferred climate, information about the seeds, and sources of seeds in Kenya for 90 tree species. The trees and seeds of each species are clearly illustrated.

With its focus on Kenya, this book will be most useful in that country. However, it may be useful to groups in other areas with similar climatic conditions.

Agroforestry Species: A Crop Sheets Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-319, book, 326 pages, by P.K.R. Nair, 1980, microfiche only from ICRAF, P.O. Box 30677, Nairobi, Kenya.

This is a good reference for those seeking information on the specifics of various crops suited to agroforestry. “Crop sheets” for each of 40 of the most important species provide information on such characteristics as uses and economic role distribution, plant characteristics, climate and soil requirements, nutritional composition, and diseases, as well as further sources of information.

The manual also presents “short notes” on about 50 underutilized and localized species of food crops, fruits and nuts, spices and condiments, beverages, medicinal and aromatic plants, and others. Tree species are also covered, except for tree crops which will be the focus of a future publication from ICRAF. Much of the language used is technical, but a good glossary is provided.

A Forest Tree Seed Directory, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-291, book, 283 pages, FAO, 1979, $25.00 from UNIPUB.

This is a directory of sources of tree seeds of many varieties. It includes an enormous amount of information on tree seeds, including the number of seeds per kg, germination percentage, and seed treatment applied.

A special remarks section covers such things as germination techniques, ordering delays to be expected, quantities available, and rarity of the seed. All of the text is in English, French and Spanish.

Short-Rotation Forestry, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-301, report, 36 pages, by Dr. Geoffrey Stanford, 1976, $5.00 from Greenhills Environmental Center, 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, Texas 75249, USA.

“Coppicing” has a long history in Europe. It consists of growing young trees very close together, and harvesting the growth after 3-5 years during the winter season. New growth comes up from the stump and the cycle is repeated.

This report contains an overview of coppicing history, principles, and yields.

Coppicing “was not just a way of increasing the yield of fuelwood from stumps near to the village, it was a means for securing construction timber of the right size other than by selection from a natural mixed forest. These coppices also furnished the wood for the enormous quantity of baskets, barrels, tubs, and pails.”

“Coppicing has two important advantages over mature timber: firstly, the yield/hectare/year can be many times greater; and secondly, repeated harvestings at intervals of 3-7 years provide a much shorter-term return on invested capital.”

Wood Harvesting with Hand Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-322, book, 155 pages, International Labour Office, 1987, available from ILO.

To match the shift towards forestry that benefits rural communities, this book explores hand tools that in many cases will be the most affordable choices for people. There is a drawing and description of each tool and its function and maintenance. Among the unusual items are skidding sulkies, wheeled sets that can be attached to logs to aid in their transport. Safe and effective tree felling techniques are discussed. Methods are suggested to minimize wood wastage.

“Grindstones can easily be made locally from 20 litres of good quality cement and 50 litres of quartzitic sand with 1 mm or smaller particle size. The sand must be sieved (e.g. with mosquito netting), be washed and clean from clay or salt. In addition, an iron tube or rod is needed, about 60 cm length and 2 cm diameter with a nail welded to its middle.”

Land Clearance: Alternative Techniques for Removing Bees & Bushes, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-295, book, 66 pages, 1981, ITDG, out of print in 1985.

This thorough review of the options available for land clearance could be a model text for matching technology to task in a rational manner. Includes labor and capital requirements (in 1981 prices), ecological and safety considerations, clear illustrations of all tools considered, and a brief bibliography.


Crosscut Saw Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-306, booklet, 27 pages, by Warren Miller, 1978, U.S.D.A. Equipment Development Center, stock no. 001-001-00632-7, 1988 edition $2.00 from USGPO.

The large hand-operated crosscut saw is still commonly used in developing countries. A well-filed and cared for saw can perform remarkably well. “Only in recent years was a chainsaw developed that could beat a topnotch bucker in a contest. There is a record of a 32-inch Douglas fir log cut in 1 minute 27 seconds by one bucker.” This manual will show you how to properly straighten, set, and file a large saw to make it operate smoothly and effectively.

Barnacle Parp’s Chain Saw Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-284, book, 281 pages, by Walter Hall, 1977, Rodale, out of print in 1985.

The subtitle accurately states that this book helps you in “buying, using and maintaining gas and electric chain saws.” These are very useful tools where large amounts of timber need to be felled, rapid cutting and processing is important, and a shortage of labor exists.

Basic parts, accessories, safety, and sharpening are presented. Manufacturers’ addresses, specifications of currently available chainsaw and periodicals are listed. A very good section on the use of chainsaws is matched with clear descriptions of repair procedures.

The Chainsaw and the Lumbermaker, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-285, booklet, 28 pages, Haddon Tool, out of print.

In the few rural parts of the temperate zones where forests are extensive, trees can be cut or bought and used as a low-cost construction material. While trees are usually sawn at a mill, a tool like the “Lumbermaker” described in this booklet can be used with a chainsaw to produce rough-cut lumber. The “Lumbermaker” allows one person to make straight cuts for boards by guiding the chainsaw along a piece of milled lumber (standard two-by-four) which is nailed to the log. The booklet shows how to use the “Lumbermaker” to saw boards of various sizes using different methods of attaching the guide board to the log. Also included are suggestions on sawing angles, braces, making a jig for cross-cutting, and simple log cabin construction. The “Lumbermaker” is a simpler attachment than that used for the Alaskan sawmill (see next review).

The price of the “Lumbermaker” in January of 1980 was $45.00. Matched with a chainsaw, it may have a place in the South, between the two-person hand pit saw and the small motorized sawmill. Easily transported, it would seem most applicable in areas where transport of logs to a small mill is impractical. Chainsaws, however, make a wider cut and thus waste more wood than either of the other alternatives.The “Lumbermaker” will certainly be most widely used in parts of the U.S. and Canada where wood is still abundant and chainsaws have become widely owned tools in an affluent consumer society.

Make Your Own Precision Milled Lumber from Logs and Trees: Alaskan MKII, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-314, promotional literature (leaflets and booklets), 1976, Granberg/Firmont Inc., California, out of print.

The Alaskan Mill is a marvelous tool for accelerating forestry operations in.developing countries, allowing for intermediate level, small-scale wood processing and lumber production. This device consists of an attachment to a standard gasoline powered chainsaw (6 horsepower minimum gear drive, with 2:1 gear ratio), which enables the users to cut lumber of any assortment of sizes from rough timber. One person to 3-person mills are available. According to reliable estimates, an average of 1000 board feet (approximately 2.25 cubic meters) of finished lumber can be achieved daily with the one person operation.

Small and Medium Sawmills in Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-321, book, 149 pages, FAO, 1982, $16.00 from UNIPUB.

This is a guide for planning, setting up, and running saw mills. The mills described here are beyond the financial resources of most Sourcebook users, involving startup capital investments of several hundred thousand dollars. However, the framework for analysis and planning presented here can be applied to much smaller sawmilling operations.

Part 1 covers sources of raw materials, marketing, industrial machinery and processing, cost estimates, financial projections and analysis, financing, and other factors relevant to sawmill start-up and operation. Part II presents three sawmill case studies.

Frame Saw Manual, FAO Forestry Paper 39, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-317, book, 105 pages, FAO, 1982, available from FAO.

“This manual deals with the construction and operating principles of the frame saw. Many different kinds and makes of frame saws are in use. A very common type of Swedish origin, originally made in 1946, has been chosen as the example in this manual. Today’s modern frame saw has the same basic function, although capacity, infeed and sawing accuracy is increased.”

Many frame saws are in use in developing countries. The frame saw is a small-scale mechanized saw used in sawmills, with multiple straight blades held in a frame, hence the name. The frame dimensions determine the maximum width of the logs that can be cut (varies from 18″ to 34″)

The outer edges of a log are removed using one frame. while another is used to cut the remaining core of the log into planks. Adjustments, safety, and maintenance are all covered.

Suggestions are provided for handling irregularly shaped logs. Well-illustrated.

Timber Drying Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-311, book, Big pages, by G.H. Pratt, second edition 1986, £20.00 from BRE Bookshop, Building Research Establishment, Garston, Watford WD2 7JR, England.

This book is a “… complete guide to all methods of drying timber. With a total of more than sixty illustrations, this book represents the culmination of nearly fifty years of research on timber drying at the Princes Risborough Laboratory.”

It covers such topics as timber moisture, kiln operation, drying damage, air drying timber, kiln types, drying various types and loads of timber, and other drying methods (including vacuum, steam, vapor, and press methods, plus solvent and.salt seasoning) for both small and large-scale drying operations.

“Experience has shown that satisfactory kiln drying can usually be best accomplished by gradually raising the temperature and lowering the humidity of the circulating air as drying proceeds …. It has already been indicated that the rates at which different timber species can safely be dried, and the air conditions to which they can be subjected without suffering damage, vary very considerably, and the treatment should, therefore, depend to a large extent on the species that is being dried.”

The appendices cover most of the woods of the world and describe in detail the proper drying procedures for each type of wood. Other technical sections give specific details on testing humidity of wood and air, and redrying timber treated with chemical preservatives. There is an excellent section on troubleshooting timber drying problems, complete with tables of symptoms and cures.

The basic principles of kiln drying described here apply to small and large-scale operations, solar and traditional heating systems, and community or commercial undertakings.

Highly recommended.

Constructing and Operating a Small Solar Heated Lumber Dryer, Forest Products

Utilization Report No. 7, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-288, report, 12 pages, by Paul Bois, 1977, single copies free (limited supply) from USDA, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, One Gifford Pinchot Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.

This report briefly describes the construction and operation of a small solar lumber dryer, designed for cold and temperate latitudes (modifications may be required for tropical operation). The advantage of this solar dryer is that hardwood lumber can be dried in it to a significantly lower moisture content than by air drying alone. Very dry wood is important for uses such as furniture.

Three photos and three small sketches of construction details are provided. The dryer uses an air collector and a fan to circulate the air. Not intended for large, high-speed drying operations. The dryer has a capacity of 750-850 board feet of 8-foot lengths of hardwoods, requiring about 80 days to dry.

An Overview of Possible Uses of Sawdust, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 08-315, book, 197 pages, by G.J. Arends and S.S. Donkersloot-Shouq, 1985, TOOL/CICAT/CICA, Dfl. 10.50 from TOOL

This unusual book does for sawdust what Rice Husk Conversion to Energy did for rice husks: compile and illustrate the many possible technologies that allow this material to be productively used. Both materials tend to be produced in large, unwanted piles at (rice and saw) mills. Both are bulky and expensive to move, and thus the best uses tend to be nearby or on site.

Sawmill operators may find this book valuable as a source of ideas for how to convert their waste problem into a resource for both their own operation and the surrounding community.

“As early as the beginning of the 19th century, people tried to make briquets from sawdust. First binders such as tar, resins, clay, etc. were used. However, none of these processes have attained any particular importance, because of the cost involved. In those days, briquets pressed without a binder were usually not successful, because temperature and pressure were too low. In the l950s, several economical methods were developed to make briquets without a binder.” These involved high temperatures and pressures. Examples of this and other equipment are provided.


Fuel-efficient cooking stoves and improved charcoal kilns can both reduce the pressure on remaining trees; see ENERGY: STOVES.

The Draft Horse Primer contains 22 pages on the techniques and equipment used in logging with horses; see AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

Crop Drying, Preservation, and Storage


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

“Experience has taught the small grower in the developing countries that, if produce is stored, it goes bad. This has two effects: a sufficient quantity is grown to feed the family for about three or four months; immediately after harvest (sometimes before it has been dried thoroughly), when there may he a temporary glut of food and prices are low, produce is sold to traders; moreover, in many areas the farmers are in debt to the traders and any produce surplus beyond their own food requirements is immediately sold to meet accumulated debts. Thus one of the major contributory factors responsible for the economic nonviability of farming areas is the farmer’s inability to handle and store food efficiently so that he can sell good quality produce when it is scarce and commands a high price. The standard of living in a rural community depends not only upon the range of foods grown, the capacity to grow in quantity, but also upon the facilities for efficient handling, drying, storage and marketing ….

In Latin America it has been estimated that there is a loss of 25 to 50 percent of harvested cereals and pulses; in certain African countries about 30 percent of the total subsistence agricultural production is lost annually, and in areas of Southeast Asia some crops suffer losses of up to 50 percent.”

—Handling and Storage of Food Grains in Tropical and Subtropical Areas, FAO.

Many observers view effective farm level grain storage as an opportunity to reduce food losses and increase farm family income and security at the same time. Landless laborers may also benefit from good storage, as grain prices flatten out and in-kind wages can be protected from losses in their homes. Centralized government grain storage facilities frequently have proven to be a disappointment, suffering from poor quality control on incoming grain (with resulting high in-storage loss rates) that leads to low prices paid to the farmers. Even with smoothly functioning large-scale grain storage facilities substantial losses may have already taken place at the farm level before the grain ever reaches the centers.

Several studies of farm level grain storage losses in recent years have concluded that losses in the areas studied were much lower than previously supposed. Studies of this sort have some difficult methodological challenges to overcome, and the complete picture is not yet clear. Certainly there are farmers in some places with particular crops that are experiencing very low storage losses, while some farmers in other places are having high losses with other crops. People interested in this topic should carefully investigate the extent of local losses before launching programs.

Readers who are in a position to help develop or implement appropriate technology solutions in their communities should turn first to two excellent books that detail for different crops the points in the harvest, handling, and storage sequence where losses are most likely to occur. Post Harvest Food Losses in Developing Countries takes a look at the potential for reducing losses of a wide variety of foods, while Handling and Storage of Foodgrains in Tropical and Subtropical Areas is the better technical reference book, concentrating on grain storage. Another valuable source of ideas on how to approach storage problems is Appropriate Technology for Grain Storage, which describes a successful effort to pool community knowledge of grain storage problems and apply it to develop several solutions tailored to local circumstances.

Proper drying is considered the biggest single factor in determining whether grain will be effectively stored without damage. Simple direct solar drying already plays a major role in preserving a large portion of production in the South. Usually grain is dried while it stands in the fields, or it is spread out on concrete surfaces, roads, baskets, plastic sheets, or the ground itself.

The standard alternative to such methods has been the fuel-burning artificial dryer. In these units, large quantities of grain can be dried with greater speed and greater control over drying rate and product quality. These dryers require a high capital investment and ever increasing operating expenditures for fuel, but have relatively low labor costs. There are also a number of small artificial dryers that depend on wood, rice straw, or rice hulls for fuel (see Drying Equipment for Cereal Grains and Other Agricultural ProduceSimple Grain Dryer, and Small Farm Grain Storage).

Solar agricultural dryers have received much attention in recent years. (See Survey of Solar Agricultural Dryers for a collection of different designs.) They are cheaper to operate than fossil-fueled dryers, requiring no fuel, and they are more easily made with low-cost local materials. There are two general varieties of solar dryers. The simplest (for certain crops such as corn) are raised bins with roofs, that protect the grain from rain and attack by small animals and rodents. They allow air to flow through wire mesh or woven walls to slowly dry the grain. These are “indirect” dryers that depend on air heated by the sun rather than direct exposure to the sun. They are widely used, low-cost, and effective for corn (maize). Much work has been done recently on different dryers that are enclosed with glass or plastic coverings to trap the sun’s heat, raising the temperature and lowering the humidity of the air which passes over the crops. Such dryers have a higher cost per unit of drying surface area than the other simpler systems. They offer some protection from dirt, insects, animals and rain (an advantage over ground-spread systems in which the grain must be quickly gathered up whenever rain threatens). For grain drying, however, enclosed solar dryers have a very small capacity compared to what is usually needed, and cost much more than a basic flat surface.

For fruits and vegetables, the temperatures achieved in an enclosed solar dryer make thorough drying possible when open air drying may not be rapid enough. Drying could extend the low-cost availability of a number of tropical fruits such as mangoes. In many countries these fruits ripen during a very short period, creating a temporary glut.

The appeal of solar dryers in the South will depend very much on the local situation—traditional drying practices, crops produced, food price fluctuations over the year, and weather during the harvest season. (No solar drying system works well under continuously cloudy, humid conditions. When harvests coincide with the beginning of a rainy season, a fueled dryer may be necessary.) In many areas, flat drying surfaces may be better investments than solar dryers. On the other hand, dryers made of local materials (e.g. bamboo, wood, adobe) and clear plastic sheeting or low-cost glass need not be very expensive.

In the United States, solar grain drying systems at the farm level are under active testing, and the results to date suggest that they will soon be widely used. These dryers are replacing expensive fossil-fuel burning dryers, and the costs of converting to solar drying can be balanced against reduced fuel bills. Most of these U.S. solar drying systems use large electric fans to circulate air. Two of the publications in this chapter describe these systems.

There are many good quality storage bins that can be made out of locally available, low-cost materials, that will successfully protect properly dried stored grain from moisture, mold, insects, rodents and birds. One such bin is the bissa, which appears to be well suited to storage requirements in Sri Lanka (see Evaluation of the Bissa). Lightweight metal bins have proven effective in Guatemala, India, and other countries (see Guide to the Manufacture of Metal Bins). Other traditional and low-cost storage bins are described in Post Harvest Food Losses and Handling and Storage of Food Grains.

In certain climates, some fruits and vegetables can be stored in underground structures and pits. Canning, drying and pickling are other options for fruit and vegetable preservation. The capital costs of containers and the energy requirements for canning make this option out of reach for family level food preservation in most cases, but canning can still be the basis for successful small industries. Drying may be the lowest cost, most widely relevant strategy, especially for fruit preservation. Publications on all of these topics are included in this chapter.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 9* or DVD 2):

Appropriate Technology for Grain Storage
China: Grain Storage Structures
Construction of a Brick Hot Air Copra Dryer
Cookbook for Building a Solar Crop Dryer
Dry It You’ll Like It
Drying and Processing Tree Fruits
Drying Equipment for Cereal Grains and Other Agricultural Produce
Evaluation of the Bissa
Fish Processing
Food Drying
Fruit and Vegetable Processing
Guide to the Manufacture of Metal Bins
Handling and Storage of Food Grains in Tropical and Subtropical Areas
Home Scale Processing and Preservation of Fruits and Vegetables
How to Build a Solar Crop Dryer
How to Dry Fruits and Vegetables
How to Make a Solar Cabinet Dryer for Agricultural Produce
How to Salt Fish
Manual on Improved Farm and Village Level Grain Storage Methods
Postharvest Food Losses in Developing Countries
Potential of Solar Agricultural Dryers in Developing Areas Preservation of Foods
Principles of Potato Storage
Rural Home Techniques: Food Preservation
Simple Grain Drier
Small Farm Grain Storage
Small-Scale Processing of Fish
Solar Drying: Practical Methods of Food Preservation
Solar Grain Drying
Stocking Up
Storage Management
Storage of Food Grain
Storing Vegetables and Fruits in Basements Cellars Outbuildings and Pits
Sun Dry Your Fruits and Vegetables
A Survey of Solar Agricultural Dryers


Postharvest Food Losses in Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-276, book, 202 pages, National Academy of Sciences, 1978, out of print.

This valuable, informative book examines the potential of food loss reduction for each of the major food crops, on the small farm or small operator level. Includes cereal grains (e.g. rice, maize, millet, sorghum, wheat), grain legumes.(e.g. beans, peanuts, soybeans), perishables (e.g. cassava, yams, bananas, potatoes) and fish. Losses are identified at each step of harvesting, processing and storage, and low-cost technology options for reducing these losses are discussed.

For the world as a whole, attention to food losses affecting small farmers holds the greatest potential for benefiting the largest numbers of people. The authors note that improvements must take into account social and cultural factors. Increased losses are often associated with the new high yielding varieties, as they overwhelm traditional processing and storage systems.

Education, training and extension are only briefly discussed. Some important issues are raised, such as the need for improved communication between policymakers and village leadership to insure the development of programs in harmony with village needs. Highly recommended for the general reader involved in rural development work. Very helpful in understanding the factors affecting food losses, and the opportunities for low-cost technology solutions. The technical vocabulary is not difficult, but the language used may still present problems to the non-native English speaker.

Handling and Storage of Food Grains in Tropical and Subtropical Areas, FAO Plant Protection Production Series No. 19, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-269, book, 350 pages, by D.W. Hall, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),1970, latest edition 1980.

This is the best technical reference book on grain storage, providing a good summary of the relevant scientific work up to 1970. It will be valuable for anyone working on grain drying and grain storage problems. The text is in readable (not too technical) English.

“This manual describes the causes of grain loss, deterioration and contamination, methods of drying and storage, the design of small and large storage facilities, and also methods of fungus, insect and rodent control.” For all of these topics, the author notes traditional local practices which should be more widely encouraged, in addition to relatively simple improved practices.

“Current knowledge of modern handling and storage techniques is derived from industrial counties, which are mainly in the temperate regions of the world. This knowledge has only limited application under the climatic conditions of tropical countries.”

“Indigenous farmers always have their own methods for assessing the amount of moisture in grain. Some of these provide a fairly reliable estimate of the grain’s suitability for safe storage. These methods include pressing the grain with the thumb nail; crushing the grains between the fingers; biting the grain; rattling a number of grains in a tin; obtaining the ‘feel’ of the grain by smelling a handful and shaking it; or by plunging the hand (fingers extended) into … a sack or heap. With long experience a man can judge whether the grain or kernel is suitable for storage

…. However … inconsistency can arise due to differences of opinion when the person concerned feels ill.”

“The mixture of wood ash or sand with food grains is carried out in many areas …. This method appears to rely for its effectiveness upon the fact that the materials used fill the intergranular spaces and thereby restrict insect movement …. Mineral dusts … scratch the thin waterproofing layer of wax which exists on the outside surface of the insect cutical, allowing loss of water which leads to death.”.

“Condensation problems, especially in metal silos, occur in the tropics particularly in areas where the sky is clear during both day and night …. Metal silos should be light in color to reflect most of the incoming radiation during the day. The major temperature changes normally required to cause condensation can be avoided by providing adequate shade to prevent large gains of energy in the grain.” The author does support the use of some insecticides which are now known to be more dangerous and undesirable than previously supposed in 1970.

Highly recommended.

Appropriate Technology for Grain Storage, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-262, book, 94 pages, by the Community Development Trust Fund of Tanzania, out of print.

This report documents a very important example of a successful strategy to stimulate villagers to create their own appropriate technologies for grain storage. The wealth of knowledge held by the Tanzanian villagers about their own specific local problems in grain storage emerged from dialogues with a team of outsiders (Tanzanians and foreigners). Potentially relevant experience from external sources was made known to the villagers, who criticized, modified and added to this store of possibilities. The villagers then designed three sets of improvements that matched different needs within the village. The outsiders thus served as resource people and facilitators, yet left the choice of actions to the very people who would best know what constraints they faced and what they could realistically afford to do The entire process stimulated an awareness among the villagers of the high level of their own collective knowledge and capability of solving their own problems.

“The team aimed not to impose an alien analysis of the problem on the villagers but to work from the basis of their perceived and understood reality …. The villagers already had ‘parts’ of solutions to their storage problems. It was the aim of this project to reinforce these existing solutions so that they would be more effective, not to replace them with new solutions.”

“Villagers found it hard to understand that the team had not brought a solution to the storage problem, that it did not want simply to convince or force them to do something, and it did not have some gift for them …. It was only after having carried a certain line of design (the Nigerian crib) forward in discussions for several weeks only to drop it when the villagers brought up serious criticisms, that the team’s credibility was finally established. It was then clear that the team did not have a vested interest in any particular design.”

Village discussion groups told the visiting team that home drying of grain was an essential element of any improved storage system. The grain could not be dried in the fields because the farmers could not prevent the destruction of the crops by wild pigs. Preventing the pigs from entering the fields would require a level of cooperation that the villagers said they realistically did not yet have. “Such an example highlights three important reasons why the dialogue approach places such a problem area as grain storage in the context of the total village reality. 1)

The significance of some seemingly technical detail of a development problem can easily be misunderstood. For instance, a well meaning expert might have argued that farmers should not harvest their maize while moist; they should let it dry in the fields, and then store it in such and such a way. Such an unfortunately common ‘outside’ approach would be bound to fail because it lays down rules for the farmers and takes no account of the reality of wild pigs. 2) The dialogue approach generates awareness of interrelated development problems that can be taken up in turn.

For instance, the planning committee of the project village has already discussed block.farming in relation to the problem of protection against pigs … 3) By pursuing problems back to their origins, discussion groups confront what are sometimes called ‘limit situations’, that is, points where they quite genuinely say, ‘Tumeshindwa!’ (‘We have failed!’). By defining and objectifying limit situations and then by focusing human energy on them, they are ultimately overcome. It is the experience of bursting through a previously limiting situation that constitutes the liberating effect of adult education.”

An excellent example of technical assistance in the context of real community participation. Highly recommended.

Small Farm Grain Storage, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-278, set of three volumes, “Preparing Grain for Storage,” “Enemies of Stored Grain,” and “Storage Techniques and Models,” 500 pages total, by Carl Lindblad and Laurel Druben, 1976.

Spanish version – Almaceniamento del Grano (one volume, all-inclusive, 331 pages).

English editions also available from TOOL. This three-volume set of books was prepared to be used by local development workers, based on materials developed by the Peace Corps and other organizations. It is simpler but not as comprehensive as (and much more expensive than)

PostHarvest Food Losses in Developing Countries (1978) by the National Academy of Sciences, and Handling and Storage of Food Grains in Tropical and Subtropical Areas (1975) by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Using a format of plain language and informative illustrations, the handbook gives some background to the world’s grain storage problem; presents construction plans for grain dryer and storage facilities; offers information on insect and rodent control (with and without the use of poisons); provides shortened, illustrated versions of text material to serve as guidelines for extension agents who wish to prepare their own materials.

“A main aim of the manual is to present its material in a form as close as possible to the way in which the extension agent needs the information in order to pass it on successfully. Ideally, the only adaptations an extension agent should have to make using the material are to translate it (not in all cases) and/or to add culturally specific illustrations or photos. Or the manual material can be used as a base for audio-visual presentations. The idea is for the manual to serve as an idea facilitator and communication link between the development worker and his audience.”

The authors explain the storage problem; the characteristics of grain and how these affect grain storage considerations; grain, moisture and air and the interaction between these; and important notes on the preparation of grain for storage.

There is a major section on grain dryers (95 pages) which includes complete production and operating instructions for 3 different solar dryers, pit & above ground oil barrel dryers, and improved traditional units such as the maize (corn) drying and storage crib (made of bamboo). Instructions for sun-drying using plastic sheets, and descriptions of the University of the Philippines and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) rice dryers are provided.

Storage methods are covered in 150 pages, including use of the following: baskets, cloth or burlap sacks, airtight structures, underground pits, plastic sacks, metal drums and bins, earthen structures, cement and concrete structures, and ferrocement pits and bins.

Manual on Improved Farm and Village-Level Grain Storage Methods Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-274, book, 243 pages, by David Dichter and Associates, 1978.

This handbook provides a good explanation of the important considerations that are keys to better grain storage. The introduction also describes the grain storage problem quite well. Photos and text for the construction of 4 different small storage containers are provided. The descriptions, however, are too wordy and not always well matched with the drawings. Standard designs for sun dryers are also shown, but no cost or output figures are given. As a resource for equipment, this handbook is not as complete as we’d like to see.

The text, which could be shortened considerably, takes the form of lectures with questions and answers. It is intended to be used as a training manual for extension workers in a standard extension effort (in which grain storage designs are chosen by a central agency for dissemination). The book does emphasize the importance of understanding the principles of good grain storage and basing improvements on traditional techniques, rather than the transfer of an alien grain storage technology.

Storage of Food Grain: A Guide for Extension Workers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-281, book, 33 pages, by Abdel-Hamid F. Abdel-Aziz, FAO, 1975, out of print.

Based on an FAO farm and community grain storage project and the Save Grain Campaign in India, this short book is intended to help extension personnel in planning and implementing extension programs for improved grain storage at the farm level. (Some 70% of India’s grain is consumed at the farm level, never entering urban markets.) There is little technical information presented; rather, the material covered is the organization rather than the content of an extension effort.

The author takes a conventional information transfer extension approach, but he is sensitive to the value of traditional techniques. He urges creation of a range of storage options for farmers of different income levels, including full use of traditional systems with any necessary improvements. The author stresses practical skills training over scientific explanations; he may even be underestimating the importance of understanding principles. A variety of helpful communication aids and strategies are presented.

Guide to the Manufacture of Metal Bins, plans, 17 pages, and Domestic Grain Storage Bins, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-285, booklet, 25 pages, Save Grain Campaign, India, out of print.

Complete technical drawings for making four sizes of sheet metal grain storage bins. The booklet gives step by step instructions to be used with the plans. Capacity of the bins ranges from 0.4 cubic meters (230 kgs of paddy or 300 kgs of wheat) to 1.35 cubic meters (750 kgs of paddy or 1000 kgs of wheat). The lightweight bins are easily transported when empty, and can be lifted by one person. These bins were developed by the Indian Grain Storage Institute as part of the nationwide Save Grain Campaign..

China: Grain Storage Structures, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-295, book, 127 pages, FAO, 1982. This is a review of storage structures visited by an FAO study group in 1979.

The primary type is a unique clay/straw silo based on a traditional Chinese building technique, in which bundles of straw soaked in wet clay are worked together to form solid, well-insulated walls. Originally built in small sizes (e.g. 4m diameter, 2m high, 25 cubic meter capacity), these were later built in much larger sizes (260 cubic meter average capacity). 70,000 large units were built during the 20 years prior to 1979.

The advantages of these silos are claimed to be:

“—low cost per ton stored grain (usually half the cost of warehouses);

—locally available material (no steel, cement, etc.);

—no specialized labour required (regular labour of a grain depot can build);

—earthquake resistance (claimed, to some extent);

—lot sizes convenient (50-250 tons/silo normally);

—protection of stored grain is good.”

Details of this construction technique are described, along with photos and drawings.

Evaluation of the Bissa: Au Indigenous Storage Bin, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-266, paper, 38 pages, by K.B. Palipane, 1978, available on request from the Rice Processing R&D Centre, Paddy Marketing Board, Jayanthi Mawatha, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

This paper describes and evaluates the traditional Bissa rice storage bin used by farmers in Sri Lanka. Results of a careful test of the structure are presented. Drawings for construction are included. The bin is made of woven sticks plastered with clay, with a thatched roof

In Sri Lanka, only 40% of the total rice production is marketed; consequently, there is a high level of on-farm storage for seeds and family consumption. “In improving farm level storage, it is always better to improve and popularize the already existing permanent storage structures, which can be fabricated from material easily available at farm level at a low cost and also whose design and operation is known.”

The Bissa is a permanent structure with a capacity from 1/2 ton to 10 tons. A 5-ton Bissa is estimated to require 164 person-hours for construction, plus the use of local materials, for a total cost in Sri Lanka of $50. The total maintenance, depreciation, and loading/unloading costs for 1 year are about $1.75 per ton. Properly dried paddy (rice) is generally stored for 6 months without any significant loss of quality or quantity.

“The majority of the farmers do not adopt any pest controlling practices because according to them, the damage due to insect attack is negligible if clean dry paddy is stored in the structure …. A main defect of this structure is that it has no facilities for aeration to bring down temperature rises.” Some minor changes are proposed.

“According to the farmers, a properly maintained Bissa will last for over fifty years.”

A good example of a successful, low-cost traditional grain storage bin that could be relevant in many other countries.

Storage Management, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-293, book, approximately 100 pages, by Malcolm Harper, 1982, International Labor Office, out of print.

These materials are intended for use in training managers of agricultural cooperatives, with 35-40 hours (6-7 days) of instruction. Participants are expected to gain an understanding of how to evaluate costs, benefits and risks of storage estimate the amount of space needed; choose between storage methods; keep good records; measure grain moisture content and temperature; and control pests. Includes a good collection of common problems and typical tasks for students to perform.

Storing Vegetables and Fruits in Basements, Cellars, Outbuildings and Pits, Home and Garden Bulletin No. 119, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-294,17 pages, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, revised September 1973, out of print.

An introduction to storage cellars and pits, for use in vegetable and fruit storage in areas where the winter temperatures average 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less (SAC).

Principles of Potato Storage, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-290, book, 105 pages, by Robert Booth and Roy Shaw, International Potato Center.

A thorough reference book on storage from the main international center devoted to the study of the potato; this is the place to look first on this topic The principles are explained, and the technologies embodying these principles range from very simple and low cost to complicated and more expensive. Management and economics are also discussed.

Fruit and Vegetable Processing, Food Cycle Technology Source Book No. 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07- 297, booklet, 67 pages, UNIFEM, 1988, from UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, Room FF-614, New York, New York 10017, USA.

A review of many options for fruit and vegetable preservation, along with illustrations of some small-scale equipment. Products include preserves, pickles, drinks, wines, vinegars, and salted and dried foods. Seven case studies of projects are presented.

Home-Scale Processing and Preservation of Fruits and Vegetables, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-270, booklet, 68 pages, Central Food Technological Research Institute, 1977 (7th edition).

This Indian publication is a very useful one, both for the material it contains and for the model it presents to other countries. A basic introduction of home-scale food processing technologies (canning, drying, and pickling) is combined with specific fruit and vegetable recipes, a detailed glossary in several important Indian languages, and access information for equipment and supplies.

The wide array of preserved food options is designed to be tasty, reduce produce losses, and improve nutritional levels. Products include cashew apple.extract, mango leather, jackfruit nectar, guava cheese, papaya pickles, and bamboo chutney. Processing time adjustments for higher altitudes are included in the detailed processing charts. The authors also describe a low-cost, complete community canning unit.

“An effort has been made to present information in a simple and comprehensive manner, so that an average housewife can use it without any difficulty. It can be used by home science and catering institutions as well as agricultural extension agencies.”

Stocking Up: How to Preserve the Foods You Grow Naturally, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-292 book, 532 pages, edited by Carol Hupping, 1977.

Rodale Press’s bestseller, written for U.S. readers, nevertheless has some information relevant to developing countries. Drying of fruits and the production of fruit leathers, underground storage of fruits and vegetables (in cold areas), pickling, making jams and jellies, making fruit and vegetable juices, the production of cheese and yogurt, and the smoking of meat and fish are covered. The varieties of quits and vegetables are only those common to the U.S. Although limited by the absence of much of the equipment used in the examples, alert readers in developing countries will find some hints and nuggets of information not found in the other books on these subjects.

Putting Food By, book, 565 pages, by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughn, and Janet Greene, 1975.

Here is a basic food preservation manual for the U.S. reader, with information on canning, freezing, drying and curing of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. Although freezing equipment and canning supplies (especially lids and jars) are relatively more expensive in developing countries (and thus impractical in most places), some of the other techniques are widely relevant. Root cellars, for example, are of interest in mountainous regions such as Nepal and the Andes. Some but not all of the fruits and vegetables covered are found in developing countries. The final section includes recipes for making soap, sausages, cottage cheese and many meals that use the foods preserved with the methods in the book.

Preservation of Foods, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-289, book, 86 pages, by Agromisa, 1984.

A review of techniques for long term food preservation, including canning with glass jars or tins, drying, salting, pickling, jam and juice making, and smoking (meat and fish). The varieties of fruits and vegetables covered are those common to Western countries.

Food Drying, publication IDRC-195e, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-287, book, 104 pages, edited by Gordon Yaciuk, 1981, IDRC, out of print.

These conference papers examine a variety of traditional and improved technologies for drying rice, potatoes, vegetables, fish and coffee. The Indonesian paper comes to the interesting conclusion that additional investment in concrete floors for sun drying of rice is superior to investment in artificial dryers. Authors from Thailand and the Philippines, in contrast, support.some specific artificial dryer designs that they believe to be advantageous.

Dry It, You’ll Like It, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-264, book, 74 pages, by G. MacManiman.

This book covers drying for food preservation. Dried food is nutritionally better than canned food. No preservatives, chemicals or electricity (freezer) are required. Dried food takes up 1/6 or less of the usual storage space required, and can usually be stored a couple of years.

This is a simple little book with general instructions for all food drying. Specific information is given for most American fruits, vegetables, and some herbs. Two pages on meat and fish are included, along with recipes.

Plans for a food dehydrator using simple tools and made largely of wood are complete and easy to follow. It does require some source of low heat that remains constant near 100 degrees Fahrenheit—the dehydrator could possibly be suspended over a wood-burning stove while other cooking is taking place.

How to Dry Fruits and Vegetables, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-272, leaflet, 12 pages, 1976, Action for Food Production (AFPRO), Technical Information Service, New Delhi, India, out of print.

The purpose of this booklet is to give practical information to people in the rural areas of India “on how to dry fruits and vegetables, which can then be preserved from times of plenty to be used in the lean seasons of the year. It can also be used as a handbook to teach village level Community Development workers.”

The information is comprehensive, with tables on preparation hints, treatment before dehydration, dehydrated product yields, description of dried condition, and specific fruit and vegetable refreshing data. Heavy emphasis is given to treatment of various fruits with sulphur, which prevents discoloration during the drying process and provides some protection against insects in storage. (We, however, do not feel that it is yet clear whether the widespread use of sulphur is justified, due to the added expense and potential health side effects of this preservative—editors.)

Drying and Processing Tree Fruits, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-286, booklet, 20 pages, by D. McGeorge McBean, CSIRO, Australia, 1976, out of print.

This describes the important considerations in the sundrying of apricots, peaches, nectarines, pears and prunes during hot dry weather on open wooden trays, as is done in Australia. The use of sulphur is expected and described.

“Halved fruits are placed close together and one layer thick on self-stacking wooden trays …. They should be made of relatively knot-free softwood which has been smooth sawn or dressed so as to prevent particles of wood from becoming embedded in the soft fruit tissue. The use of hardwood results in staining of the fruit.. .The drying-yard should be established where fruit is exposed to direct sunlight for as long as possible during the day and where prevailing winds blow directly across the trays. It should not be near roads or pathways used by wheeled vehicles as this will result in dusty and dirty dried fruit …. Trays of fruit are generally placed directly on the ground but it has been shown that fruit dries a little faster if it is suspended up to one metre above ground level … probably due to convective wind currents carrying moisture away from the drying surface of the fruit. Elevation of trays results in cleaner dried fruit and also appreciably reduces backbreaking labour during spreading and picking up …. If heavy dews are likely (particularly if associated with poor drying conditions during the day) trays should be stacked at night.”

It is recommended that only properly ripe fruit of the same size be dried together, so that a full tray will be dry at the same time. Bruised, damaged, and over-ripe fruit, if included, will reduce the quality of the product, increase the chance of insect infestation, and be likely to stick to the wooden trays.

Sun Dry Your Fruits and Vegetables, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-282, booklet, 26 pages, U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture, 1958, out of print in 1985.

This illustrated step-by-step guide was written for extension workers in simple English. Other than simple household equipment, the only items required are wooden trays, and for some fruits, a large box to cover the trays while sulphur is burned inside. The booklet emphasizes the need for cleanliness and hot, dry air that circulates freely. A chart gives directions for many different fruits and vegetables. Steaming is recommended prior to drying for most vegetables. A step-by-step description of the use of sulphur when drying some fruits is provided, as are notes on the preparation of dried food for use.

A Survey of Solar Agricultural Dryers, Technical Report T99, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-283, book, 144 pages, 1975.

This book focuses on experiments with the use of small-scale agricultural dryers in rural areas of developing nations. Includes a representative sample of different types of dryers; emphasizes local improvements and adaptation. There are 24 case studies of different dryers in a variety of countries; each one has photos, full construction drawings, and the address of the people involved.

The dryers included are used for: coffee, grapes, fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains, herbs, flowers, and lumber. They are divided into natural and sun dryers, direct solar dryers, mixed mode solar dryers, and indirect solar dryers. Highly recommended.

Potential of Solar Agricultural Dryers in Developing Areas, paper, 8 pages, by T.A. Lawand, 1977, included in Technology for Solar Energy Utilization, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 23-563, UNIDO, 1978 (see review).

This paper, presented to a UNIDO conference in 1977, summarizes the principles of solar dryers, as well as surveying various types of dryers from around the world. Some of the examples: a grape drying rack from Australia a cabinet dryer from Syria, a glass-roof greenhouse dryer from Brazil, a wind-ventilated dryer from Syria, and a lumber seasoning kiln from India. There is also a bibliography. This is a condensation of the information contained in the more complete

Survey of Solar Agricultural Dryers from Brace Research Institute (see review). Lawand hopes to stimulate people to adapt these designs and develop their own to fit local conditions. A good introduction to the subject.

How to Make a Solar Cabinet Dryer for Agricultural Produce, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07273, booklet (#L-6), 11 pages of text, diagrams and charts, 1965 (revised 1973).

“The dryer is essentially a solar hot box, in which fruit, vegetables or other matter can be dehydrated.” It dries produce cheaply for storage, without insect or dust contamination, and reduces moisture content to the lowest necessary level. The dryer is a rectangular container, insulated at the base and sides, with a transparent roof and circular air flow. The framework can be made of virtually any material— woven bamboo, metal, plywood, adobe, or brick. Insulation can consist of “locally available materials such as wood shavings, sawdust, bagasse, coconut fiber, reject wool, or animal hair.”

The capacity of the dryer is 7.5 kg per square meter of drying area. Brace’s prototype units have dried 3 kgs of onions or okra in 2 days. A model in Syria cost $14.00; one in Barbados cost $23.00 to build. Brace estimates the annual operating cost at $6.89. The temperatures inside reach 70-80 degrees Centigrade, so the dryer can also be used for warming foods and other materials. A production drawing for this dryer can also be obtained from Brace (see below).

Production Drawing for a Solar Cabinet Dryer, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-273, 1972.

This is drawing #T-85 from Brace, designed for use with the booklet listed above.

Solar Drying: Practical Methods of Food Preservation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-296, book, 127 pages, International Labour Office, 1986.

This manual on solar drying is primarily of interest for its coverage of techniques of preparing food for drying. The drying of fish, vegetables, fruits and grains are all covered. Also presented is information on the theory and practice of drying, with coverage of both traditional sun drying and solar drying using covered dryers. These solar dryers are not well presented, nor do they represent the best selection of proven models. We recommend that readers interested in building dryers themselves consult A Survey of Solar Agricultural Dryers (see review), which has a far better selection.

How to Build a Solar Crop Dryer, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-271, plans, 9 pages, New Mexico Solar Energy Association, out of print.

Detailed plans for building a crop dryer. Air is drawn in at the bottom, heated by a collector, and then sent up through the drying chamber. An adjustable vent allows control of temperature (which may reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit). The unit is 4 feet wide and has 36 square feet of drying area, enough for almost 2 bushels of food.

Although the cost is estimated at $60.00, the design can be varied to use cheaper local materials. It is suitable for drying small amounts of fruits and vegetables. Very simple.

Cookbook for Building a Solar Crop Dryer, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-284, booklet, 18 pages, by Arnold and Maria Valdez, 1977, out of print.

A short set of plans with instructions for making a solar fruit and vegetable dryer out of wood, glass, corrugated metal and metal lathe. The design is similar to that in How to Build a Solar Crop Dryer.

Construction of a Brick Hot Air Copra Dryer, Technical Bulletin No. 9, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-263, booklet, by S. Mason, 1972, Papua New Guinea.

“The purpose of this bulletin is to assist the indigenous copra owner who has had no experience in construction work, to construct his own drier, so that a better quality copra can be produced more economically”

“The drier consists of a brick building with a minimum of timber exposed in areas subject to the heated air flow from the firebox. Fuel such as wood or coconut shells is fed into the firebox at the front of the drier. The heat from the fire warms a mild steel radiating plate on the hot air chamber which in turn heats the air within the drier.”

This dryer was designed to have an output of six 155-pound bags of copra per week. Construction details, materials list, glossary of technical terms, drawings of the dryer, and drawings of a wooden mold for making individual bricks are all provided. This manual does not tell you how to make the bricks. “Selection of Materials for Stabilized Brick Manufacture Technical Bulletin #5 should be studied to assist in selecting materials suitable to make bricks” (see review).

One limitation of this leaflet is that the assembly drawings are hard to read. However, this appears to be a sound design, one that the author claims prevents accidental fires.

Solar Grain Drying: Progress and Potential, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-280, booklet, 14 pages, by G. Foster and R. Peart, 1976, Office of Communication, U .S. Department of Agriculture, out of print.

This booklet describes studies of solar grain dryers, particularly for rice and corn, from the midwestern United States. The dryers are made of inflated polyethylene (soft plastic) shells to heat air as in a greenhouse; the air was then pumped through the grain.

These tests were primarily to determine the feasibility of solar grain drying. Details of the designs are not given. The booklet does offer general descriptions of grain drying systems.

The Performance and Economic Feasibility of Solar Grain Drying Systems, Agricultural Economic Report No. 396, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-275, booklet, 33 pages, by Walter G. Heid, Commodity Economics Division, Economics, Statistics and Cooperatives Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, February 1978.

This is a summary of the performance of various types of solar grain drying systems from the midwestern U.S. All are for large-scale, temperate climate agriculture. Some of these dryers use electric air blowers and/or auxiliary electric heating. There is a short explanation of the various parts of a crop drying system. Tables compare size, capacity, performance from tests, and costs of 8 now in use.

The emphasis in this paper is on economic evaluation (rapidly becoming more favorable to solar drying since this report was published), rather than on the principles of operation.

Drying Equipment for Cereal Grains and Other Agricultural Produce, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-265, plans, 11 pages, by Keith Markwardt, CARE, Manila, Philippines, out of print.

The agricultural dryer described in these plans was built by a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. It consists of three components: 1) a concrete and brick furnace 48″ by 24″ which uses rice hulls for fuel; 2) an 8′ by 16′ drying bed; and 3) a gasoline, diesel, or electric powered fan which blows heated air from the furnace through the perforated floor of the drying bed. The dryer has been used for fish, copra, and a variety of grains and vegetables. Drying capacity varies with type of produce. One batch (50 cavan, or 2500 kg) of paddy dries in approximately 6-8 hours at an operating cost (including engine fuel, maintenance, and depreciation) of about $3.00.

The advantage of this design is the use of rice hulls (plentiful in many rural areas) to cheaply fuel the furnace. The builders estimate that this dryer can be constructed for about $500 in the Philippines. Such a dryer might best be used by a cooperative, allowing farmers to collectively meet this initial investment and take advantage of the high capacity and low operating costs.

Simple Grain Drier, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-277, 2 descriptive articles plus complete dimensional drawings and photos, 15 pages total, by W. Chancellor, U.C. Davis, out of print in 1985.

This information includes clear production drawings and a report from field tests in Asia.

“Local availability of drying facilities not only can reduce spoilage losses in storage but can also promote increased production through strengthening the practicality of double cropping in irrigated areas where the offseason crop is harvested in humid weather.”

This dryer has the following elements: “a horizontal metal surface placed over a fire pit; use of animal power to stir the shallow layer of grain placed on the metal surface; grain temperature, and thus the rate of moisture evaporation, controlled by adjusting the rate of fuel use.”

The dryer is made mostly of sheet metal, and is of simple design. It is easy to build and requires no special skills to operate. It can be disassembled for easy transport and storage. The stirring blade is attached to the smoke stack base with a wooden bearing. A durable thermometer is needed, but the operator can estimate temperatures from the smell and feel of the grain. Cost of all materials was approximately $160.

This unit is for use in humid or rainy conditions when sun drying would not be effective. “In tests using rice straw as the fuel, it was determined that the straw contained in the grain bundles brought to the threshing site would provide enough fuel to complete the drying operation.” Grain dried by this process did not germinate, however, so this should not be used for seed.

More than one animal is needed, to allow the animals to rest alternately. Two persons are required. The 16-foot diameter design is capable of drying 1000 lbs. Of rice at a time, reducing moisture from 24% to 14% in 4 hours. 160 lbs. of moderately.dry straw was used as the fuel.

Small-Scale Processing of Fish, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-291, book, 118 pages, by the International Labour Office, 1982.

People involved in technical support to small fisheries may find this a useful reference. It covers a spectrum of techniques and technologies that range from virtually no-cost procedures to substantial investment in equipment. Salting, drying, fermenting, smoking, boiling and canning are discussed, along with general guidelines to reduce spoilage before, during and after processing. A variety of simple smoking kilns is shown. An attempt is made to assess the costs of the various processing techniques and technologies.

How to Salt Fish, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-288, pamphlet, 9 pages, by D. Casper, VITA, reprinted in Village Technology Handbook.

“The process of salting fish is influenced by weather, size and species of fish and the quality of the salt used. Therefore, experience is needed to adapt the process outlined here to your situation …. Salted fish, if properly packed to protect it from excessive moisture, will not spoil.”

This article covers the complete process—preparing the fish, salting, washing and drying to remove excess salt, and air drying. It is a simple process requiring only knives, waterproof vats, and large amounts of salt. Curing in the brine takes 12-15 days in warm weather, up to 21 in cold weather. Six days of warm weather are required for drying.

Rural Home Techniques, Volume 1: Food Preservation, FAO Economic and Social Development Series #51, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-267, leaflets, total of 60 pages, 1976.

Economics and Social Programmes Service, FAO, out of print; may be available in the future from UNIPUB. This is the first of a planned series of Food and Agriculture Organization

(FAO) publications on equipment and techniques related to food preparation, handling, and storage. Drawings illustrating the steps in the preservation of fish and meat are presented, with text in English, Spanish, and French. Includes cleaning, filleting splitting, dry salting, wet salting, smoke drying, sun drying, and storage of fish, and salting, salt-drying, rendering fat, and storage of meat. Drawings of all the tools needed include 10 different simple designs for smoking ovens made of commonly available materials.

Fish Processing, Food Cycle Technology Source Book No. 4, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 07-298, booklet 91 pages, UNIFEM, 1988, from UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, Room FF614 New York, New York 10017, USA.

This is a review of simple methods of fish processing, with illustrations of dryers and smokers. Three case studies of projects are briefly discussed.


Village Technology in Eastern Africa reviews some of the simple food preservation and storage technologies affordable at the village level; see BACKGROUND READING.

Rural Women: Their Integration in Development Programs and How Simple Intermediate Technologies Can Help Them suggests the use of enclosed solar dryers, black plastic sheets for direct drying, and improved grain storage units; see BACKGROUND READING.

Low Cost Rural Equipment Suitable for Manufacture in East Africa includes designs for a solar dryer and a grain storage crib; see AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

Rice: Post Harvest Technology describes the technical requirements for rice drying and storage; see AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

Plans for Low-Cost Farming Implements includes drawings of platform carts with drying pans for crop drying in areas of frequent rains, crops can be brought in under a protective roof quickly; see AGRICULTURAL TOOLS.

Agricultural Tools


This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

There are a number of appropriate technology principles that specifically concern agricultural tools. Such tools should be produced within the country, in part simply because of the large numbers involved. They must be repairable at the local level. With much of agriculture characterized by short intense periods of activity, farmers cannot afford delays caused by equipment failures.

The FAO book Farm Implements for Arid and Tropical Regions includes a list of important general principles for appropriate agricultural tools, some of which go beyond the general criteria for appropriate technology.

“Such tools should be:

a) adapted to allow efficient and speedy work with the minimum of fatigue;

b) not injurious to man or animal;

c) of simple design, so that they can be made locally;

d) light in weight, for easy transportation (there are also considerable advantages when threshers, winnowers, and machines such as coffee hullers can be easily moved to where they are needed;

e) ready for immediate use without loss of time for preparatory adjustments;

f) made of easily available materials.”

Appropriate agricultural tools and equipment should contribute to the broad objective of increasing the viability of the small farm. Where small farmers are currently employing traditional technologies that are inefficient, they often cannot improve this technology because of the leap in scale and capital cost to commercially available equipment. It is therefore the goal of intermediate technology proponents to help fill this gap with good quality tools and equipment that are affordable and suited to the scale of operations of the small farmers.

There is a tendency for equipment development and commercial firms to concentrate their energies on tools that are affordable only to the wealthier farmers. This happens in part because of a focus on what technically could be done, without attention to financial constraints faced by the typical small farmer. Contributing factors include the inappropriate application of industrialized, extensive farming strategies to small intensive farming communities, and the failure to include the small farmer in the process of identifying helpful new technologies that can truly fit into the existing farming system. The result is usually either outright failure of innovations to attract interest or the consolidation of landholdings by wealthier farmers taking advantage of the technology newly available. The position of tenant farmer may become worse, and that of small farmer in general is not improved. Appropriate technology advocates must be careful to avoid repeating these mistakes.

The degree of concentration of land ownership is a key factor in determining if there are opportunities available for appropriate technology strategies in a community. Agricultural technologies developed with and for the smallest farmer can certainly strengthen the viability of their farms. But if most families have no land at all, land reform and the establishment of rural industries may be far more important steps in a positive community development program than the improvement of agricultural tools and equipment.

In most of Asia and much of Latin America, farms are quite small. Under these conditions, most mechanized equipment will not increase the amount of food produced, but will only decrease the amount of labor required. Productivity per acre or hectare may in fact decline if these large tools require extra space to maneuver and wide lanes to drive or roll over. The appropriate tools under such circumstances, even if supported by unlimited resources, would be very different than those used in the United States, where the amount of cultivated land per capita is relatively large.

From the national perspective, support for communities of small farms should bring significant benefits. Whereas it has been widely assumed that only the large farm could efficiently increase national food production in the struggle against hunger, mounting evidence from many countries indicates that the small farm has higher yields per acre and plays a crucial role in the distribution of food. Small farms also make the best use of national capital resources:

“To maintain … a rational growth of capital in a low-income economy, small farms are better suited than large ones, for the small farmers do not experience the same pressure to substitute capital for labor; no one wants to mechanize himself out of a job.” (Folke Dovring, in Agricultural Technology for Developing Nations).

People interested in improving local agricultural equipment should be looking for technologies that accomplish one or more of the following:

1) Remove labor bottlenecks in the agricultural calendar that are limiting production (e.g., short periods of time when all available labor is fully employed, such as during planting or harvesting).

2) Replace or speed up activities that are extremely inefficient in the use of time (e.g., traditional hand-milling). This can free time for more productive activities.

3) Increase the productivity of land (e.g., with irrigation weeding, natural fertilizers)

The effectiveness of efforts to create relevant new tools can be increased by.concentrating on some key agricultural activities. Irrigation is the biggest single factor in increasing crop yields. The successful widespread use of hand pumps for small-plot irrigation in Bangladesh is a very interesting development. Water-conserving irrigation methods in arid lands have similar potential benefits. Animal-drawn plows, cultivators and carts tend to satisfy the equipment needs of small farmers using both intensive and extensive techniques. Good quality hand tools should not be overlooked. Equipment that helps to conserve expensive fertilizers and pesticides will reduce cash costs and have beneficial environmental effects. Greenhouses can conserve water, and in temperate climates, they offer an early start on the growing season. Crop processing equipment, including threshers and mills, can reduce losses caused by traditional techniques and save much low-productivity labor time. Very small-scale equipment of this kind could allow the small farmer to retain full crop production instead of paying 10% or more to the mill owner. Crop storage is a prime area for improvement as a significant percentage of food produced on small farms may be lost due to poor drying and storage. Low-cost, small-scale storage bins are particularly promising (see CROP DRYING AND STORAGE chapter). In many areas it is difficult to move agricultural inputs to the farm, harvested crops from the fields to storage, and surpluses from the farms to markets. Appropriate transportation technologies are thus of great importance to the farmer (see TRANSPORTATION chapter).

Many of the books in this chapter make recommendations as to the kinds of agricultural tools and equipment most needed by small farmers in developing countries. Encyclopedic listings of commercially available equipment are contained in Tools for Agriculture and two other books. These and the books documenting older small-scale equipment contain a wealth of ideas that may stimulate the imagination of readers. Rural Africa Development Project describes a method of identifying labor bottlenecks in the agricultural calendar.

A group of excellent books on the use of draft animals are reviewed. Animal-drawn equipment, carts, harnesses, and draft animal training techniques are well-covered in these comprehensive volumes.

Solar photovoltaic irrigation pumps are discussed in several entries, including information on cost and output. (Hand and foot-operated pumps for irrigation have made an impact in some countries such as Bangladesh; these pumps are covered in the WATER SUPPLY chapter. Wind-powered irrigation pumps are to be found in the ENERGY: WIND chapter.)

On North American family farms, the partner is often expected to act as a mechanic and handy-person during daily farming activities. The well-equipped farm workshop and multiple skills have continued to play a powerful role in generating farm equipment innovations. Mechanics in Agriculture is a text for vocational courses teaching the skills commonly required on these farms.

A large number of small engines are used in the South for power tillers, irrigation pumps, crop processing and other applications. The two books on small engines should be helpful references for maintenance and repair of many of these power units.

Most of the remaining entries are plans for threshers, winnowers, corn shellers and so forth, all of them hand or foot-operated, that can be produced in small workshops by local craftspeople.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CDs 7-8* or DVD 1-2):

Adjustable Width V-Drag Ditcher/Bund Former
The Agribar Operator’s Manual
Agricultural Technology for Developing Nations
American Farm Tools
Animal Power in Farming Systems
Animal Traction in Africa
Animal Traction
The Animal Drawn Wheeled Tool Carrier
Animal Drawn Wheeled Tool carriers: Perfected Yet Rejected
Appropriate Industrial Technology for Agricultural Machinery and Implements
Bell Alarms and Sack Hoists in Windmills
Cassava Grinder
Cereal Processing
Chain Link Fence Making Machine
Chitedze Ridgemaster Toolbar
Clod Crushers Two Designs
Dibble Sticks Donkeys and Diesels
The Draft Horse Primer
Eight Simple Surveying Levels
The Employment of Draught Animals in Agriculture
Farm Implements for Arid and Tropical Regions
A Feeder to Improve the Performance of a Hand Operated Groundnut Sheller
Foot Powered Thresher
Guide Book for Rural Cottage and Small and Medium Industries: Paddy Rice Cultivation
The Handcart Handbook
A Hand Operated Bar Mill for Decorticating Sunflower Seed
A Hand Operated Winnower
The Harness Maker’s Illustrated Manual
Harnessing and Implements for Animal Traction
The Harnessing of Draught Animals
Horse Drawn Farm Implements
How to Repair Briggs and Stratton Engines
IDC Weeding Attachment for EMCOT Plow
IDCBornu Groundnut Lifter and IT Groundnut Lifter
Introduction of Animal Powered Cereal Mills
IT Expandable Cultivator
IT Granule Applicator
IT High Clearance Rotary Hoe
Kabanyalo Toolbar
Lightweight Seeder/Spreader
Making Coir Rope
Mechanics in Agriculture
MultiAction Paddy Field Puddling Tool
Oil Extraction
Oil Soaked Wood Bearings
Old Farm Tools and Machinery
OxDrawn Tie Ridger/Weeder Implement
A Pedal Operated Grain Mill
The Potential for SmallScale Solar Powered Irrigation in Pakistan
Prototype multipurpose OxDrawn Tool
The “Rasulia” Bladed Roller Thresher
Repair and Maintenance of Stationary Diesel Engines
Rice: Postharvest Technology
Root Crop Processing
Rotary Corn (Sorghum) Thresher
Rotary Weeder for Row Planted Rice
Rural Africa Development Project
The Scythe Book
Seed Dressing Drum (Hand Operated)
Single Row and ThreeRow Rice Seeders
Sled Type Corrugator Irrigation Furrow Former
Small Farm Equipment for Developing Countries
Small Gas Engines
Small Scale Maize Milling
Small Scale Oil Extraction from Groundnuts and Copra
Small Scale Processing of Oilfruits and Oilseeds
Small Scale Solar Powered Irrigation Pumping Systems
Solar Photovoltaics for Irrigation Water Pumping
Solar Water Pumping: A Handbook
Tools for Agriculture
Tools for Homesteaders Gardeners and SmallScale Farmers
Treadle Operated Peanut Thresher
The Tropicultor’s Manual: Field Operations
The Weeder Mulcher
The Winnower
Winnowing Fan Tools for Agriculture: A Buyer’s Guide to Appropriate Equipment, Available in the AT Library.INDEX CODE MF 06-256, book, ITDG, 1985, 1992 edition £30.00 from ITDG; also from VITA and TOOL.The 1985 edition of Tools for Agriculture is an impressive compilation of small-scale equipment and tools from all over the world. Compared with past editions and with the now out-of-print Tools for Homesteaders (see next review), there is much more information here from manufacturers based in developing countries.

Each category of tool is introduced with a discussion of key considerations for its use and production. Advantages, costs and benefits, and alternatives are explored. Line drawings of individual items are accompanied by information on capacity and manufacturers’ addresses. Many hundreds of items are covered. The careful reader will find that this book alone can provide a considerable education on the topic.

This is the best book available on agricultural tools for developing countries. Highly recommended.

Tools for Homesteaders, Gardeners, and Small-Scale Farmers (A Catalogue of Hard-to-Find Implements and Equipment), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-257 book, 512 pages, edited by Diana S. Branch, 1978, Rodale Press, out of print in 1985.

“Finding the right tools can be the most critical need for a small-scale farmer or a large-scale gardeners. It can mean the difference between staying on or leaving the land, between a sense of drudgery or a sense of fulfillment, between a successful harvest or a meager crop, between profit or loss.”

“This catalogue will help you to find and use the tools you need to produce food. The tools and equipment described in its pages were selected primarily for their value to the homesteader, truck farmer, and the small-scale organic farmer, but backyard gardeners should also find things of interest.”

This very welcome book is the result of a cooperative effort between the London-based Intermediate Technology Development Group and Rodale Press, an American group which researches and publishes many other titles in the fields of alternative energy sources, organic gardening, and waste recycling. “The idea for this book grew out of the ITDG book, Tools for Agriculture: A Buyer’s Guide to Low Cost Agriculture Implements” (see review).

Thoroughly illustrated and referenced, this catalog of over 700 implements from around the world is an impressive accomplishment. Included are tools for cultivation and plowing; implements for draft animals; tractors and accessories; seeders; planters; harvesting implements; threshing and cleaning tools; processing equipment; tools for composting, mulching and handling sludge; woodlot and orchard equipment; livestock and fish-farming equipment.

The sources for these tools are primarily in industrial countries, although this reflects current manufacturing realities more than any bias on the part of the authors. Most of the best hand tools and animal-drawn equipment for developing countries are included: the Grelinette/U-bar digger, IRRI’s push-type paddy weeder, Jean Nolle’s various tropical cultivators, the Mochudi toolbar, hand corn shellers, CeCoCo pedal threshers and winnowers, etc. Also featured are interesting articles on topics such as renovating old equipment and experimental stationary winch systems for pulling farm implements.

A minor shortcoming of this book is the lack of price information. Even though inflation would make such prices quickly out-of-date, this would be valuable for comparative purposes.

“There is a strong heritage, especially in the United States but elsewhere too, of the farmer as inventor. A large percentage of our inventors came from rural communities, and virtually all the industries which grew up in the United States in the 1800s started on a very small scale, often as one-man operations. Cyrus McCormick, Oliver Evans, Eli Whitney, even Henry Ford—each grew up on a farm. The inventors of tools we still need will most likely come from the ranks of today’s small farmers—and their children.”

A valuable book.

Dibble Sticks, Donkeys, and Diesels: Machines in Crop Production, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-289, book, 329 pages, by Joseph Campbell, available from IRRI Publications, P.O. Box 933, Manila, Philippines.  or individual book here   Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

There has long been a need for a book that takes a broad view of agricultural equipment options, from human-powered to engine-driven, and from traditional to modern, for each of the common tasks in agriculture. The practical reader is particularly interested in the relative costs and productivity of these different options.

Until Dibble Sticks, Donkeys and Diesels appeared, the reader had to make do with either 1) historical pieces that didn’t cover more recently developed small-scale equipment; 2) books that focused on narrower slices of the equipment universe, such as animal-drawn equipment; or 3) the excellent Tools for Agriculture, which is limited to commercially available equipment. This book deserves a place on the shelf alongside Tools for Agriculture for its ability to give the reader a quick understanding of many of the basic elements of technology choice in agriculture.

While there is the strong coverage of Southeast Asian farm requirements that one would expect from the publisher, the author tries to offer a more universal perspective that will be useful worldwide. The author begins with a look at the basics of human, animal and mechanical

power and important considerations that come with different agricultural production systems. He then takes each agricultural task (tillage, planting, fertilization, weed control, insect and predator control, harvesting, grain drying and storage, and transport) and examines the many possible means to accomplish it.

The one vitally important topic that is not included is irrigation pumping. There is a bonus in the discussion of machinery economics, which helps the reader think about the long-term costs of equipment. A brief examination of social consequences provides some useful thoughts on when mechanization is and is not appropriate.

Small Farm Equipment for Developing Countries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-290, book, 629 pages.

Proceedings of an International Conference on Small Farm Equipment for Developing Countries, International Rice Research Institute, 1985, available from IRRI, P.O. Box 933, Manila, Philippines.

A compilation of conference proceedings on various topics, from the history of rice agricultural mechanization in Korea and Japan, to specific discussions of specialized pieces of equipment, to the effective marketing of small farm equipment. The scope is broad but not comprehensive, and focuses almost entirely on Asian experiences.

Specific papers cover issues and consequences of agricultural mechanization, the impact of tractors in South Asia, power-tillers in the Philippines, four-wheel tractors and implements in Thailand, the twin-treadle pump in Bangladesh, the axial low-lift pump in Thailand, rice transplanters, seed/fertilizer drills in India, fertilizer injectors, wheat and rice reapers, power threshers, mechanical dryers, R&D for farm equipment, and the encouragement of entrepreneurship in equipment development and production.

Guide Book for Rural Cottage and Small and Medium Industries: Paddy Rice Cultivation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-245, illustrated catalog, 158 pages, by CeCoCo (Central Commercial Company), 1965 (revised 1975), US $40.00 airmail from CeCoCo, Chuo Boeki Goshi Kaisha, P.O. Box 8, Ibaraki City, Osaka, Japan.

CeCoCo is a unique business enterprise. The main interest of this Japanese firm is promoting food production and employment opportunities in developing countries. This “Guide Book” is a catalogue of the hand and machine implements marketed by CeCoCo for the cottage and small industry sector.

A sample of the contents: rice plant cutter, hand seeder and planter, bird and animal scarer & bang (!), noodle making machine, tapioca & fish processing machinery, peanut digger, coconut husk processing machinery, rattan and bamboo weavers, and hydraulic ram pump.

The catalogue includes a wealth of ideas and implements. CeCoCo has drawn heavily from the Japanese historical experience, in which a feudal agricultural economy was gradually converted into a mixed modernizing one. The Japanese were able to control their own pace of development and filter Western technologies to suit their own needs. There is much of interest in these examples of ingenious labor-intensive, locally-manufactured agricultural equipment marketed by CeCoCo, many of which contributed significantly to Japan’s economic development in the first half of this century.

American Farm Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-262, book, 121 pages, by R.D. Hurt, 1982, $12.95 from Sunflower University Press, Box 1009, Manhattan, Kansas 66502, USA.   or individual book here Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

This readable book has many photos and drawings of equipment related to plowing, harvesting, threshing, winnowing, and seeding operations in the United States. The details on plow and harrow design should be valuable to designers of improved small-farm implements for better seedbed preparation (for higher production per unit of land area).

Appropriate Industrial Technology for Agricultural Machinery and Implements, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-237, book, 159 pages, UNIDO, 1979, Document No. ID/232/ 4, available free of charge from Documents Unit, UNIDO F-355, P.O. Box 300, A-1400 Vienna, Austria.

This publication is for policymakers and planners, offering a systematic look at the kinds of farm equipment needed for different sizes of farms and the levels at which the different ranges of farm equipment can be produced. Some examples are given of production facilities for both simple and complex agricultural tools and equipment, including lists of necessary workshop equipment and anticipated operating costs.

There is no mention of the tradeoffs between employment and mechanization, no effort to examine agricultural equipment that would especially support organic agriculture (e.g., manure spreaders and bug light traps), and no concern with participation of the rural people in the design of equipment.

The authors recognize the importance of good quality tools and implements for the very small farms that predominate in much of the South. They suggest that “in farms below 2 ha, where farming is carried out in a traditional way, using hand tools and animal-drawn equipment with little or no purchase of inputs … the mechanization policy should be based on: improved supplies of high-yield seeds and fertilizers and single or double cropping; high-quality hand tools such as spades, spading forks, digging hooks and hoes, shovels, ploughs, and single-wheel hoes; animal-drawn ridgers, cultivator ploughs and seed drills; low-cost, simple power tillers; effective irrigation and water supply by means of windmills with up to 5 ft (1.5 m) lift or small electric or diesel pumps of up to 15 ft (4.5 m) lift; hand-drills, sickles, scythes, forks, and rakes; hand-operated threshers, crushers, etc.; storage bins of up to 3 ton capacity.”

The authors also support the concept of local production of basic tools by rural artisans, with the more complicated equipment to be produced by urban or rural industrial establishments. They note that “government policies must be reoriented to assist artisans in the rural areas. Major efforts are needed to encourage and revive production of hand tools by village artisans through provision of loans at concessional rates, technical assistance, provision of simple design and marketing assistance.”

Farm Implements for Arid and Tropical Regions, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Development Paper No. 91, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-242, book, 159 pages, by H. Hopfen, 2nd edition 1979, $12.25 from UNIPUB; also available from TOOL.   or individual book here Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

This is a significant resource book. The more important hand tools and animal-drawn machinery suitable for arid and tropical regions in developing countries are presented in clear descriptions and illustrations. Excellent coverage of the historical development of specific tools, such as the evolution of the moldboard plow from ancient to modern times. Included are tillage implements (from simple hand spades to water buffalo-powered cultivators), seeders, sprayers, harvesters, threshers, winnowers, handling and transport equipment, and workshop/maintenance tools.

The author stresses: “A great variety of implements has been developed indigenously all over the world, reflecting the experience handed down for many generations. The introduction of new techniques has the best chance for success when there is a full appreciation of local conditions and traditions before and during the process of introducing new ideas and improvements on the old ones.”

“While this publication doesn’t claim to be exhaustive, it aims to show how improvement in output can be obtained in areas where it is most needed. It is in fact oriented toward dry-farming tools, rice-growing implements and those used for row crop planting in tropical areas. The implements discussed are not necessarily representative of those found in all areas, but have been chosen because they are common in certain countries; some show how simple modifications can be made to improve performance; others provide examples of the more effective types which have been developed and which could profitably be introduced into areas where they are unknown.” Highly recommended.

Agricultural Technology for Developing Nations: Farm Mechanization Alternatives for 1-10 Acre Farms, Proceedings of a Conference, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-234, May 1978, John Deere and Company, Illinois, out of print.

This collection of papers and panel discussions presents the perspectives of a range of people: World Bankers, multinational agricultural machinery manufacturers, agricultural economists, agricultural engineers and others. Useful as background reading on some of the most promising types of mechanization (broadly interpreted to include animal-drawn equipment) and some of the problems that either prevent or follow mechanization.

For mechanization: “When we began to look at agriculture in other parts of the world, we began to realize that the classic notion that labor is displaced when you increase the number of tractors does not show up in the statistics in a number of countries.”

Against mechanization: “… although mechanization raises the productivity of labor, in the conditions prevailing in most Latin American countries its benefits have gone mainly to swell the profits and rents of the large landlords and the wages of the few tractor drivers and other machinery operators …. It may be roughly estimated that about three workers are displaced by each tractor in Chile, and about four in Colombia and Guatemala.”

What to mechanize: “Mechanization seldom contributes much to the level of crop yields, except in the form of pumps for irrigation.” “In Japan … the thresher was more beneficial to farmers than the power tiller.”

Ensuring socially useful mechanization: “To maintain … a rational growth of capital in a low-income economy, small farms are better suited than large ones, for the small farmers do not experience the same pressure to substitute capital for labor; no one wants to mechanize himself out of a job.”

Rural Africa Development Project: An Example of Farm Land Survey Techniques Using Local Resources, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-285, handbook, 26 pages of text and 19 pages of sample charts, by R.D. Mann, 1974, £11.95 from ITDG.

Report by an ITDG joint project in Zambia. Presents a technique that uses local people without special agricultural training to determine the details of the farming calendar, including the cropping sequence and labor bottlenecks.

“Development plans are missing a link with the dominant type of production unit in agriculture, the smallholder.” The author attempts to develop a methodology for determining the needs and circumstances facing the small farmer. He notes that the small farmer “himself is the key to essential information about his activities and his whole environment. His short term and long term memory are excellent, and the data gathered will be meaningless if put through a computer.”

The report includes a method for the production of charts which enable the survey team to combine the variables of climatic patterns, crop planting and harvesting, livestock enterprises, off-farm equipment, and more on a single calendar chart. This makes the labor bottlenecks quite evident. Sample questionnaires and charts are included.

A farm-machinery-needs survey system is then described and used in combination with the labor chart to provide “guidelines on which action is taken in engineering development, farm-level testing and modification of equipment, and training procedures for initiating rural craftsmanship and small-scale local manufacture in rural areas” (see following entry).

An interesting model of a low-cost survey technique.

Horse-Drawn Farm Implements, Part II: Preparing the Soil, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06271, book, 84 pages, by John Thompson, 1979, out of print; parts 1,3, and 4 still available from John Thompson, 1 Fieldway, Fleet, Hants., United Kingdom.

Each of John Thompson’s books on historical agricultural implements gives a sense of the many variations once used. Preparing the Soil is a look at animal-drawn cultivators, harrows and rollers. Readers interested in ideas for low-cost harrows and rollers in particular will find them here. Old illustrations are combined with text from agricultural handbooks and encyclopedias of the last century.

Old Farm Tools and Machinery: An Illustrated History, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-250, book, 188 pages, by Percy Blandford, 1976, $36.00 from Gale Research Company, 835 Penobscot Building, Detroit, Michigan 48226-4094, USA.   or individual book here Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

This book covers tools and machinery from small farms in Great Britain, Europe, and the United States from the past hundred years. The author briefly looks at animal power gears, carts, steam engines, and the early tractors. Of greater interest, and complete with illustrations, are the chapters on agricultural equipment, most of it capable of being animal-drawn. These include a variety of plows, a cable plow pulled by a stationary steam engine, an excellent collection of seeding devices, manure and fertilizer spreaders, spades, forks, rakes, hoes, harrows, cultivators,

reaping machines, hand harvesting tools, mowing machines, and tools related to dairy production. There are thirty photographs and more than 150 simple line drawings. The brief text and drawings are usually enough to communicate the basic ideas and principles used in this book, but you wouldn’t be able to make any of this equipment from this information alone. Nevertheless, the book is a great source of ideas.

The Employment of Draught Animals in Agriculture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-241, book, 249 pages, CEMAT, 1968, English translation 1972 by FAO, $19.50 from UNIPUB, also available from TOOL.

“This manual is mainly concerned with the application of animal draught equipment, a form of agricultural mechanization predominant in the tropical regions of Africa.”

The difficulties and disadvantages of introducing engine-driven equipment have become evident in many parts of the world, most notably in Africa, where draft animals historically have been rarely used. Animal-drawn equipment for mechanization appears to represent the more appropriate technology for many of these areas.

This book begins with draft animals (power, training, housing, feeding, harnessing methods). There is an extensive and very good section on animal-drawn implements with valuable notes on animal power gears. Following this is a discussion of the rural skills and equipment available for implement and harness production and repair. The final section presents economic considerations and includes a simple method for calculating the costs of animal power.

An excellent book.

Animal Traction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-287, Peace Corps Appropriate Technology for Development Series Manual M-12, book, 244 pages, by Peter R. Watson, 1981, available to development workers from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order no. ED241772) and NTIS (accession no. PB85 245074/AS).  or individual book here   Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

“This manual is a practical guide to the selection, care, and training of draft animals, and to the equipment and field techniques used in animal powered farming systems …. It is also a guide to animal traction extension, describing how instructors can teach these skills to farmers and other agents.” No prior experience with draft animals is assumed in this clearly written and comprehensive book. Includes a brief discussion of some of the possible drawbacks to introducing animal traction to new areas.

Animal Traction in Africa, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-265, book, 490 pages, by Peter Munzinger 1982, DM60 (approximately US $22.50) from GTZ; also available in German and French.    or individual book here  Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

This lengthy volume contains a thorough compilation of facts, some of them surprising, on draft animals as they are currently used in Africa. “The situation of dairy cows in Africa differs so fundamentally from that of dairy cows in Europe that values determined in Europe can only be applied to Africa with extreme caution. The milk yield of the African cows is considerably lower, with an average of between 2 and 5 liters per day …. With an additional supply of nutrients for the animals’ working requirements, there is no reason to assume that there may be a milk loss given the relatively low yields. Investigations in Senegal revealed that the weight development of Djakore calves whose mothers were used for draught work and received a working ration was significantly better than that of calves whose mothers did not work.”

The equipment section offers some new insights as well. Chapters on crop growing, economic aspects, and sociology round out the general treatment of the material. These are followed by four case studies of draft animal use in different African countries.

Most of the material here is relevant anywhere draft animals are now used or may be used in the future.

Harnessing and Implements for Animal Traction, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-294, book, 243 pages, by Paul Starkey, 1989.

One of a series of books produced as revisions to Animal Traction in Africa (see review), this is the best reference yet on harnesses and implements, drawing from much recent experience in Africa. The author dampens some of the recent enthusiasm about “improved harnesses,” noting that the claims for improved performance have often been poorly documented, while he knows of no examples in which “improved harnesses” have been widely accepted by the farmers for whom they were intended. Also covered is equipment for transport (packs and carts), and unconventional equipment that serves a variety of purposes. The author has years of direct experience in this work, and has thoroughly reviewed the literature allowing him to provide a state-of-the-art view from the practitioner’s perspective.

One of the things that confounds researchers in this field is the difficulty of obtaining precise comparative measurements of power output and efficiency –given the differences between animals and soils– and the imprecise nature of the tasks of field preparation. This topic is explored usefully in a discussion of working rates..The book concludes with an exploration of the problems of local production of equipment.


Animal Power in Farming Systems, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-293, book, 363 pages, edited by Paul Starkey and Fadel Ndiame, 1988, DM 48.00 from GATE.  or individual book here  Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

Conference proceedings of a 1986 meeting of people involved with animal traction in Africa, with papers in English and French describing experiences in Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and other locations in West Africa. The audience for this book is limited to readers who are already heavily involved with animal traction projects as these proceedings suffer from the usual limitations of the genre (unrelated, overlapping articles). The general reader is directed to the other recommended books in this section on animal traction.

The Draft Horse Primer: A Guide to the Care and Use of Work Horses and Mules, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-240, book, 400 pages, by Maurice Telleen, 1977, $17.95 from Rodale.   or individual book here Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

The work horse “is a source of power that reproduces itself, with good care is self-repairing, consumes home-grown fuel, and contributes to the fertility of the soil. Horse farming and organic farming are very coortable with one another.”

This book is interesting for several reasons. First, it shows that some North Americans have either stayed with horse-drawn farming equipment (e.g., the Amish) or are now going back to it. (In the United States, “the demand for draft horses has risen significantly since 1960”). Second, it captures some of this practical wisdom which normally passed from farmer to farmer. The author draws from his own experience and brings together “material from booklets published by our land grant schools during the twenties and thirties when they had an active interest in heavy horses as a major source of agricultural power.”

Telleen discusses the breeds of draft horses used in the United States, what to look for when buying, and basic care of these animals. He presents 70 pages on animal drawn machinery, 50 pages on harnesses and hitches, and 22 pages on logging with horses. Because horse-drawn equipment has historically been far cheaper than mechanized equipment, a smaller farm can finance it.

A thoughtful book that illuminates the potential role of the draft horse in a small-scale, ecologically-sound agriculture.

The Harness Maker’s Illustrated Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-246, book, 333 pages, 1977, $20.00 from North River Press, Box 309, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520, USA.  or individual book here  Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

This is a reprint of a book first published in 1875, when animal-powered transport was normal in the United States. It describes how to make harnesses for horses and mules. “This book originated from a desire to furnish harness makers with a condensed practical guide suited to the workshop, office, salesroom and stable. It treats leather as furnished to the harness maker by the currier, its texture, strength, adaptability for specific uses; how to cut, fit, and finish; measuring for a harness; complete tables for lengths and widths for cutting the various classes in use, whether for carriage, farm, or road; bridles, halters, horse-boots, mountings, bits, etc.”

The language used is slightly out-of-date and may at times present trouble to the reader. The instructions on horse harness construction and design are excellent.

The Harnessing of Draught Animals, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-270, 92 pages, by Ian Barwell and Michael Ayre, 1983, £7.50 from ITDG; also available from TOOL.

The type of harness used has a significant effect on the useful power that can be obtained from a draft animal (oxen, horses, donkeys, mules). This volume summarizes what is known about different improved harnesses in basic principles and in a variety of design examples. Improved harnesses could mean that a single animal could accomplish the job now performed by two animals, in certain situations, or that a single animal or team of animals could cover a larger area, travel a longer distance, or pull a heavier load than was previously possible.

The Animal-Drawn Wheeled Tool Carrier, Information Bulletin 8, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06264 booklet, 13 pages, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), 1983, out of print.

Wheeled tool carriers represent an important innovation in equipment for use with draft animals. Different attachments are fitted to the basic unit for the different operations of plowing, harrowing, cultivating, etc. The major drawback of the tool carrier is that it costs too much for most small farmers. This short booklet nicely introduces this tool, with many photos to illustrate the many applications.

Animal-Drawn Wheeled Toolcarriers: Perfected Yet Rejected, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06292 book, 161 pages, by Paul Starkey, 1988, DM 24.50 from GATE.    or individual book here  Village Earth receives 15% of each order.

One of the most notable books published on appropriate technology in recent years, this volume demands attention because it does two things extraordinarily well. First, it provides an exhaustive review of the worldwide developments of a single technology: the animal-drawn wheeled tool carrier. The sheer comprehensiveness of this review is impressive and constitutes a challenge to other authors writing on other technology topics as well. Secondly, this is a widely relevant, cautionary tale about technology development and how a “successful” label circulates much faster than disappointing field results.

This is the story of a very promising technology that has never quite bridged the gap to become adopted by and affordable to local farmers. The wheeled tool carrier is a multipurpose agricultural tool with a range of attachments. It has capabilities that generally exceed those of traditional technologies while being far less costly than engine-driven mechanized equipment. Thus it falls neatly into the category of intermediate-level technology. Yet this device, with variations that have been tried in thirty different countries, has never convinced local farmers that it was worth the full expense.

To date about 10,000 wheeled toolcarriers of over 45 different designs have been made. Of these, the number actually used by farmers as multipurpose implements for a period of several years is negligible. The majority have either been abandoned or used as carts. Interestingly, lighter, cheaper toolbars without wheels have been far more successful, with some 350,000 sold worldwide.

The hows and whys of this tale should be important to all who would work on appropriate technology development. Small-farmer participation in research has evidently been lacking, limited to field testing of subsidized equipment. It is likely that designers emphasized durability at the expense of affordability. In seeking multifunctionality, too many compromises were made, with the result that for most applications the tools are overbuilt and too heavy. Perhaps most fundamentally, this was a technology developed by engineers and research institutions, not entrepreneurs and farmer/inventors, and kept alive by subsidies and research funds without regard for the kind of poor investment that it really represented for farmers. The lack of market demand was never believed to be a fair indicator of farmers’ views on the technology.

There is much more to the story, and we recommend it highly.

The Agribar Operator’s Manual: Field Operations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-29 l, book, 55 pages, by R.K. Bansal, 1989, $5.80 to less-developed countries, $17.40 to highly developed countries, Rs. 84 in India, from ICRISAT, Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh 502 324, India.

This manual, intended for use by farmers, does a nice job of illustrating the multiple uses of a toolbar. The many photos and drawings assist the farmer in changing the tools on the toolbar and using each configuration properly and effectively. Whereas toolbars have never caught on the way their creators had hoped, this is an interesting example and a thought-provoking case. A good idea book for people who might wish to further explore variations and applications of the toolbar concept.


The Tropicultor’s Manual: Field Operations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-278, booklet, 62 pages, by R.K. Bansal, 1985.

The most famous wheeled tool carrier is probably the tropicultor, developed by Jean Nolle. This booklet of photographs with English instructions shows the operator how to attach the various tools and use the unit to perform all needed field operations.

Carts, AGL No. 44, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-233, dimensional drawings, 8 pages, 1973, ITDG, out of print in 1985.

Detailed drawings are given for 3 different cart designs. The method of fabrication is clear from the drawings. The first two designs require the use of the ITDG Metal Bending Machine (see review) for fabrication of the wheels; the third design uses old car wheels. The first two designs use wood block bearings. The bodies of all 3 carts are made of wood. Carrying capacity is given as 700 and 1400 lbs. (318 and 636 kg) for the first two carts; no capacity information is given for the cart that uses old car wheels.

The Handcart Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-269, booklet, 48 pages, by David Tresemer, 1985, $4.50 plus postage and handling from Ag Access, P.O. Box 2008, Davis, California 95617, USA.

“Use it to move dirt and rocks; transport firewood; harvest produce; carry transplant trays, soil and compost; move light, bulky loads (hay, brush, leaves) and heavy bulky loads (lumber, trash, ladders, furniture); and transport small animals and feed. This cart can also serve as a portable tool chest, sawhorse, and stepstool.”

This is a small and informative report based on the author’s extensive research and testing of specially designed multi-purpose handcarts. It is filled with contemporary photos, historical illustrations, and detailed line drawings to enable readers to construct their own carts and related equipment. The topics covered include the elements of a good cart, using a cart effectively, how to build your own cart improving an existing cart, and accessories to increase the cart’s usefulness.

The author is co-founder of Green River Tools, a trading company based in Brattleboro, Vermont, which specializes in manufacturing quality handtools from all over the world. This company is dedicated to providing durable tools which increase productivity, improve and maintain the user’s health and enhance the environment. They also distribute a number of provocative research reports (many written by David Tresemer) on a variety of topics, including acid rain, tropical deforestation, beneficial birds, tool design to fit the human hand, and natural growing media. A catalogue and publication list is available from the address listed above.

Agricultural Green Leaflets, Available in the AT Library.

The following plans were offered by ITDG but are out of print in 1985. Most of these tools were designed for agricultural conditions in Africa.

These leaflets were originally intended for distribution to experienced agricultural engineers in the field, and the descriptive text is often brief. This is unimportant in most cases, but for some of the equipment, the precise use is unclear to anyone unfamiliar with African agricultural practices. Construction details are quite easy for anyone to understand.

Kabanyalo Toolbar, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 5 pages.

This is a locally-built (and locally repairable) steel plow that also functions as a cultivator/weeder. A simple skid is used instead of a depth wheel.

Chitedze Ridgemaster Toolbar, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 6 pages, origin: Malawi.

This is a locally-built and repairable combination steel plow, ridged and cultivator. “The unique design of this toolbar is that it combines lightness with adequate structural strength, the main parts being fabricated from rectangular hollow section mild steel.”

Prototype Multi-Purpose Ox-Drawn Tool, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 3 pages, origin: Nigeria.

This is a prototype of a tool to be used for ridging, splitting ridges, cross-tying, weeding, and breaking capped soil in the furrows. The tool frame was designed with an offset beam to avoid blockage when lifting groundnuts. The share is adjustable to allow these different operations to be carried out.

Clod Crushers, Two Designs, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 3 pages, origin: Malawi.

“These two simple and cheaply-constructed implements are used for reducing the size of dirt clods in cultivated land prior to ridging up the soil.” They are both.animal-drawn, and use wooden pegs on rollers to break up the clods as the implement rolls over them.

Ox-Drawn Tie-Ridger/Weeder Implement, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 3 pages, origin: Malawi.

“This implement is an attachment only, designed for use with the ‘EMCOT’ ox-drawn ridging plow.” It can be used for cross-tying during ridging and for both cross-tying and weeding after ridging. Precisely what “cross-tying” means is not made clear for anyone unfamiliar with the technique. Ridging and cross-tying, it is claimed, have resulted in substantial crop yield gains on certain free-draining soils in Africa. This attachment (with the EMCOT plow) cut the labor requirement for use of this technique in land preparation and weeding by an estimated “60% when compared with cultivation by hand.”

Fabrication is straightforward and uncomplicated, requiring some welding.

The instructions for field use are vague.

IDC Weeding Attachment for EMCOT Plow, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 3 pages, origin: Nigeria.

“This attachment enables weeding in ridged row crops to be carried out by animal power instead of by hand.” However, this is only an attachment to be used with the EMCOT plow. “The tool … can be adjusted for height and also for width according to the row spacing. The sides of the ridges are remade by the ridger body following behind.” Essentially, the attachment consists of two steel blades that are pulled along through the earth on the sides of the ridges.

Adjustable Width V-Drag Ditcher/Bund Former, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-230, dimensional drawings, 3 pages, origin: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

“This implement is used for making irrigation ditches, and can also be used to construct low-height contour embankments for border irrigation. When making earth ditches for conveying water to crops or drainage channels, a furrow is first opened with a plow (running down and back the required number of times according to the depth required) along the line of the ditch. The V-Drag is then used with the runner board riding in the furrow bottom, the crowder board deflecting the soil sideways. Weight can be added by the operator standing on the runner board.

The depth of cut can be increased by placing additional weight towards the front of the implement and/or lengthening the hitch.” Animal-drawn.

Sled-type Corrugator Irrigation-Furrow Former, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-231, dimensional drawings, 3 pages, origin: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

“The function of this implement is to make small furrows, or corrugations, for distributing water over a field. The corrugations are run down the slope of the land. This implement can be used after the field has been broadcast seeded or before row-crop planting. The implement design shown can be modified in size to suit animal-draught or tractor-hitching as required.” This tool is essentially a sled with four runners that is dragged (loaded) over a field.

Single-Row and Three-Row Rice Seeders, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-231, photoprints, 3 pages, origin: Zambia.

Photoprints only. Two pages on the single-row seeder and one page on the triple row seeder. This set of plans asks for more local imagination and ingenuity than most ITDG plans do—somewhat hard to understand.

These implements carry out direct seeding of rice fields. They have probably little or no application to Southeast Asia, for example, because they were designed to allow a person to cultivate a larger area (such as in sparsely populated areas of Africa). Where available land is already under intensive cultivation, such equipment would probably lower the total production per unit of land.

Rotary Weeder for Row-Planted Rice, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-231, photoprints, 1 page.

A single page with four photos. The rotary weeder is a very simple piece of equipment, only about 11/2 feet long at the bases with a long handle. Measurements are English units only. Two rotary, star-blade clusters are pushed along between two rows. A blade follows the two clusters.

Multi-Action Paddy Field Puddling Tool, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-231, photoprints, 1 page, origin: Japan.

Photoprints with English units only. Some imagination would have to be used by whomever would build from such plans. However, the basic principles are quite clear from the photoprints. Ox-drawn. Apparently, the farmer simply follows along behind, controlling the animal only. Some weights may need to be attached for effective use.

Cassava Grinder, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-231, dimensional drawings, 10 pages, origin: Nigeria.

The exact application of the cassava grinder is not made explicit. No text is included, only assembly instructions. This is a bicycle-pedal, chain-driven grinder. Production is straightforward; certainly possible on a local level.

Rotary Corn (Sorghum) Thresher, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-231, dimensional drawings, 10 pages, origin: Nigeria.

This set of plans has no real text, only a few words with each drawing. Harder to understand than most ITDG plans. This unit, operated with a hand-crank, is actually for guinea corn (sorghum). Probably operated by two people.

IDC-Bornu Groundnut Lifter and IT Groundnut Lifter, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06231, dimensional drawings, 8 pages, origin: Zambia and Nigeria.

This set of dimensional drawings has two items. The IDC-Bornu groundnut lifter is only an attachment for an EMCOT plow. It is pulled by a draft animal, with two depth wheels and a plow-like bar for lifting up the groundnuts.

The IT groundnut lifter is a complete piece of equipment in itself. “A lightweight lifter suitable for groundnuts grown on 75 cm spaced ridges in sandy soils. Suitable for manufacture by village blacksmiths.” The minimum equipment required would be a forge, anvil, hammer, tongs, chisel, and punch. This groundnut.lifter has no wheels. A flat bar is dragged across the ground, with a person steering it from behind. Animal-drawn.

IT Granule Applicator, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-232, dimensional drawings, 14 pages, origin: Nigeria.

This fertilizer applicator fits on a toolbar in place of a mechanical weeder. These plans include a calibration chart for the applicator at various flows and row spacings.

Some of the drawings are not very clear, but the unit should be reproducible. The materials and dimensions can be altered to fit local conditions.

IT Expandable Cultivator, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-232, dimensional drawings, 7 pages, origin: Nigeria.

“A lightweight cultivator designed for weeding of crops planted in 70-90 cm spaced rows in sandy soils, to be pulled by one or two oxen or donkeys. Tines are individually adjustable for depth, making the implement suitable for flat or ridge cultivation.” The width is also adjustable for the unit as a whole.

This design requires a lot of hole drilling or punching, and thus accuracy in measurement.

Seed Dressing Drum (Hand-Operated), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-232, dimensional drawings, 5 pages, origin: Malawi.

Fertilizer and seed are poured into the top of the drum; it is rotated 20-40 times, and the mixture is poured out from the bottom. “It was found that this drum had a capacity of 30 lbs. (13.6 kg) of soya beans or maize, and 38 lbs. (17.2 kg) of fertilizer when filled correctly. In a durability test, a total of 1.5 tons of fertilizer was mixed without signs of damage. The drum was also used for seed-dressing of groundnuts and maize with satisfactory coverage performance and no apparent adverse effect on germination.”

The fairly simple design can certainly be made by local draftspersons with very few tools.

IT High-Clearance Rotary Hoe, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-232, dimensional drawings, 7 pages.

“This animal-drawn implement is designed for seeding of crops grown on ridges at 75-90 cm spacing. It cultivates both sides of one ridge at a time and therefore, unlike cultivators drawn between the ridges, does not require straight and parallel ridges for efficient weeding …. This implement is not suitable for use in very hard soil conditions. It can be used in wet soil and has been used successfully for weeding cotton while water was standing in the furrows.”

The Weeder-Mulcher, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-232, dimensional drawings, 8 pages, origin: India.

“This animal-drawn self-cleaning weeder was originally developed for use in sugar-cane plantations (by the Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research). It is designed to destroy weeds, leave a mulch on the soil surface to conserve moisture and give a high work output per day (up to 5 or 6 acres of row crop work per 8 hour day). It can be used on most row crops with a spacing of 30 inches (75 cm) or more …. The blades.can easily be replaced by a village blacksmith.”

Foot-Powered Thresher, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-232, drawings, 5 pages.

This treadle-operated thresher was designed for rice. Five workers and a thresher can handle 1000 kg of dry paddy or 500 kg of wet paddy daily. The plans are easy to understand. “A bit complex for manufacture at the village level, but easy enough for a simple machine shop.”

The “Rasulia” Bladed Roller Thresher, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-233, dimensional drawings, 4 pages, origin: India and Iran.

This implement was seen in use in Iran, and subsequently built in India by Ed Abbot at the Friends’ Rural Development Centre in Rasulia. It is pulled by a draft animal, with the driver seated on the unit. It is estimated to be 60% more efficient than the traditional Indian method of using bullocks to trample the harvested crops.

Uses wooden bearings which are not described.

Harrows: High-Clearance Peg Tooth (East Africa), Triangular Spike Tooth (India), Flexible Peg Tooth (Iran), and Japanese Harrow, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-233, drawings, 8 pages.

These harrows can all be pulled by animals. The function of a harrow is to prepare seed beds by breaking soil clods, cover seeds after broadcast seeding, and control weeds. Several of these harrows are designed to leave weed residue on the soil surface to conserve moisture.

The Scythe Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-273, book, 128 pages, by David Tresemer, 1982.

This is a detailed guidebook for the scythe, a traditional cutting tool for moving hay, cutting weeds, and harvesting small grains. The author presents his extensive research on European and North American designs and covers the equipment, sharpening, techniques, uses, and accessories in detail. The book is loaded with illustrations, historical references, and anecdotes encouraging a resurgence in the popular understanding and use of this versatile tool. The lightweight “Austrian-style” version, with a straight snath (or handle) and razor-sharp hammered blade, is favored over the “American” version, with its curved snath and stamped blade. For parts of the world where increased productivity in agricultural operations (such as grain harvesting, forage cutting, or composting) is called for without resorting to power equipment, the scythe may become a valuable intermediate technology option.

“The most elaborate and most beautiful invention for laying out grain more neatly to the side in scything is the grain cradle …. It was really a different tool, quite like a scythe in principle, but with a rack of three to five wooden tines curved to follow the shape of the blade. At the end of the stroke, the straws would be bunched together and supported by the tines. The cradler would then tilt the whole thing to the left and let the cut grain slide out in a neat bundle. In the middle of the nineteenth century there were a million cradle scythes being used in the northeast United States alone ….”

Rice: Postharvest Technology, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-253, book, 394 pages, edited by E. Arguello, D. De Padua, and M. Graham, 1976, IDRC, out of print in 1985.

This large volume covers all the technical aspects of rice postharvest technology: harvesting, threshing, drying, storage, parboiling, milling, and handling. It also describes “some of the anatomical and biochemical properties of the rice grain in relation to postharvest processing problems.”

This book was compiled from material used in a training course on post-harvest technology in the Philippines. It is not an appropriate technology manual but rather a reference book on the current state-of-the-art equipment for rice processing operations. It could be useful to small independent groups and university-based organizations that need to know as much as possible about the principles used in the standard commercial designs while working to develop lower-cost alternatives that will benefit even the smallest farmers.

Winnowing Fan, VITA Technical Bulletin No. 39, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-260, 4 pages, out of print in 1985.

A portable machine from the Philippines for winnowing rice. This design is hand operated, but it could be adapted to use pedal power or a small engine. The drawings and text are easy to understand.

The Winnower, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-261, booklet with dimensional drawings and assembly information, 35 pages, 1984, TOOL, out of print.

The authors claim the winnower is easily produced, operated, and maintained. It is operated with a hand crank, but could certainly be adapted to use a pedal-powered chain-drive system. Dimensions and materials are given for each part of the winnower. This unit was designed from an earlier prototype with consideration given to conditions in developing countries.

A Hand-Operated Winnower, Rural Technology Guide No. 11, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-281, booklet, 26 pages, by J. Beaumont, 1981, free to recipients of British aid, £1.62 to others from NRI.

This design for a simple enclosed winnowing fan for separating grain from chaff can be made of wood or sheet metal with simple tools. “This winnower was designed for use with the hand-operated sunflower seed decorticators developed by TPI but it can be used for a wide variety of materials.” Photos, drawings, and step-by-step instructions are provided.

A Pedal-Operated Grain Mill, Rural Technology Guide No. 5, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-272 booklet, 32 pages, by G.S. Pinson, 1979, £0.80 from NRI.

Complete instructions for the production of a grinding mill for grains and legumes. The mill and supporting stand are used with an ordinary bicycle, which can be quickly connected and disconnected. The rear bicycle wheel drives a rotor at about 5000 rpm to break up the grain. Wire mesh controls the size of the flour product. “The mill works best on hard, brittle grains such as maize (corn), millet and sorghum and on legumes such as soya beans.” Although the mill is of steel construction, it is intended for use over brief periods to meet the daily needs of individual households. It is not designed for continual, intensive use. No cost estimates are provided. An alternative wooden frame using some bicycle parts is shown. Design modifications could eliminate the more difficult metalworking tasks (lathe and milling work), and also reduce some ofthe other costs. Some field reports indicate excessive tire wear is a problem with the bicycle-attached version.

Small Scale Maize Milling, Technology Series Technical Memorandum No. 7 Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-297, book, 143 pages, ILO/UNIDO, 1984.

Traditional techniques of corn (maize) milling have the twin disadvantages of being quite time-consuming and may be inefficient in converting raw material into usable product. This book will give you a useful overview of such topics as the approximate output of the various choices of technology and the space requirements for establishing a new milling operation. Much of this information, however, is better covered elsewhere, especially in the manuals that specifically cover commercially available equipment.

Cereal Processing, Food Cycle Technology Source Book No. 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-299 booklet, 69 pages, UNIFEM, 1988, from UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, Room FF-614, New York, New York 10017, USA.

This volume contains only brief coverage of the rather broad topic of small-scale technology for cereal grain processing with some illustrations. Of greatest interest are the sixteen short case studies of projects that attempted to improve local processing technologies.

Bell Alarms and Sack Hoists in Windmills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-238, booklet, 16 pages, by H. Clark and R. Wailes, 1973, Newcomen Society, out of print.

This is a study of the clever ways in which two important functions were accomplished in windmills and watermills: 1) warning the miller when the grain was low (using bells); and 2) lifting the heavy sacks of grain and flour inside the mill (using hoists that took power off of the windmill or watermill via a drive shaft).

Introduction of Animal-Powered Cereal Mills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-295, book, 70 pages, by Wulf Boie, 1989, DM 19.80 from GATE.

Grinding grain is a very time-consuming daily task for people, particularly women, in many parts of the world. Traditional technologies such as hand-operated stone mills, stone mortars, and pounders suffer from low productivity, while motorized mills are often far away and may cost the customer too much in cash or a percentage of the crop. In West Africa, a customer base of 1000 to 1500 people is needed to support a motorized mill. This book looks at an experimental animal-powered mill as another choice of technology that can operate on a smaller scale in a village with as few as 100 people.

This mill system, which has been tried in five West African countries, involves production by local craftspeople and modifications to meet local preferences regarding the final milled product. Maintenance is greatly simplified as compared with motorized mills. Most of the mills are being operated by women’s cooperatives.

The first part of the book is devoted to general considerations important to the successful introduction of these mills and the organization needed to operate them.

The second part covers the design and construction of the mill. The basic design is much simplified compared to conventional animal power gears, which require very strong components that are difficult to make. “In comparison with conventional power gears, the principle of the ‘runner wheel power gear’ has the following main technical advantages: 1) for the often problematic first gear stage of the power gear, a concrete path that can be easily constructed locally and a universally available car wheel are used; 2) since the grinding unit runs round in a circle with the animal, long subterranean shafts and cardan joints can be dispensed with, and 3) the frictional wheel principle effectively protects the power gear (as well as the machine) against overload.”

Root Crop Processing, Food Cycle Technology Source Book No. 5, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06300, booklet, 74 pages, UNIFEM, 1989, from UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, Room FF-614, New York, New York 10017, USA.

The technology choices for the small-scale processing of tropical root crops such as potatoes, cassavas, and yams are summarized with drawings of simple equipment from around the world. Four short case studies of development projects on improved processing techniques are included.

A Feeder to Improve the Performance of a Hand-Operated Groundnut Sheller, Rural Technology Guide No. 4, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-267, booklet, 17 pages, by G.A. Collins, L.D.G. Coward and G. Pinson, 1977, free to recipients of British aid, £1.00 to others, from NRI.

This is a construction manual for a device that controls the number of groundnuts (peanuts) dropped (fed) into a hand-operated groundnut sheller. The result is less effort in use and fewer broken kernels. Drawings and instructions are clear, and the feeder should be easy to make if the metalworking tools are available.

Wood could be substituted for many of the steel parts, but the authors do not discuss this. The feeder is designed to be attached to existing models of groundnut shellers.

Treadle-Operated Peanut Thresher, Complete Technical Drawing No. 20, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-258, five 24′ by 36′ sheets of technical drawings with three pages of instructions, ITDG, out of print.

This is a simple piece of equipment, but the tolerances are small enough to require relatively accurate crafting. Probably best if built by a small workshop that would produce dozens of units. Standard sizes of lumber are used (English measurements only). The plans may need to be adapted for the use of locally available materials.

A Hand-Operated Bar Mill for Decorticating Sunflower Seed, Rural Technology Guide No. 9, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-282, booklet, 31 pages, by J. Beaumont, 1981, free to recipients of British aid, £1.78 to others, from NRI.

A simple machine to remove hulls from sunflower seeds which can be made in a workshop. Requires bearings, pulleys, steel and wood as materials and a lathe and welding set as tools. Drawings, photos, and step-by-step instructions are included.

“This type of decorticator is suitable for removing the husk from the smaller, high oil-bearing types of sunflower seed. It will process about 20 kg (40 lbs.) of seed per hour.” To be operated by 1-2 persons.

Small Scale Oil Extraction from Groundnuts and Copra, ILO Technical Memorandum No. 5, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-274, book, 111 pages, 1983.

A look at the steps involved in removing oil from peanuts (groundnuts) and dried coconut (copra) using small-scale mechanized equipment, this volume should be helpful in either starting a business or in identifying where in the process technical improvements may be made. “It provides detailed technical and economic information on small-scale oil extraction mills using either small expellers or power hanis, and processing between 100 tonnes and 220 tonnes of materials per year. An eonomic comparison between these small-scale plants and medium to large-scale plants is provided.”

The traditional technologies of rural areas are either ignored or only briefly mentioned. “An animal-powered ghani (oil press) can process 5 to 15 kg of seeds at a time. An improved version of the ghani has been developed in India. Known as the Wardha ghani, it is larger and more efficient than the traditional ghani and can crush charges of seed of up to 15 kg in approximately 1.5 hours or close to 100 kg”

Small Scale Processing of Oilfruits and Oilseeds, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-288, book, 100 pages by Hans-Jurgen Wiemer and F.W.K. Altes, 1989, DM 24.50 from GATE.

Producing oil from oilseeds has traditionally been very time-consuming while freeing only a relatively small percentage of the total oil available. This book discusses the development of attractive alternatives to the traditional techniques that can theoretically free up the time of rural people, especially women, for more productive activities. Depending on which technology is used and who owns it, some or all of the cost of milling may be paid for in kind with the extra oil extracted.

This thorough and recommended reference takes the reader from basic project considerations, particularly social factors, through the various oilseeds and oil fruits, to an examination of a variety of small-scale technologies. This is a good place to look at a variety of hand-operated presses. Case studies are provided.

Oil Extraction, Food Cycle Technology Source Book No. 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-298, booklet, 47 pages, UNIFEM, 1987, from UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, Room FF-614, New York, New York 10017, USA.

A short overview of small-scale technologies for oil extraction from oil seeds and nuts. Includes eight case studies of projects.

Mechanics in Agriculture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-249, book, 702 pages, by Lloyd J. Phipps, 1983.

This is a comprehensive text for courses in vocational agriculture, divided into five parts: equipping and using a farm workshop, engines and implements, buildings, electrification, and soil and water management. Illustrations and excellent instructions on the use of all kinds of hand and power tools make this an encyclopedia of modern American farm mechanics. The text is particularly strong on explanation of principles of operation, maintenance, repair, and safety for tools and implements. Though it was compiled for use by American secondary school students entering a capital and energy-intensive agriculture, the book covers many topics of interest to agriculturalists everywhere. Examples include repairing and sharpening hand tools; making sketches and reading blueprints; understanding concrete; soldering and oxyacetylene welding; blacksmithing and working sheet metal; using rope and leather; and fundamentals of engines and electric motors.

A good reference book.

Small Gas Engines, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-255, book, 256 pages, by James Gray and Richard Barrow, 1976,1988 edition $24.00 (paperback) or $29.00 (clothbound) from Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632, USA.

Small gas engines are very common in most parts of the world. They are used in motorcycles, electric generators, water pumps, rototillers, winnowers, boats and many other devices.

This book introduces the theory of small gas engine operation. It does a detailed and thorough job of presenting the basics of repair and maintenance. Understandable to the beginner and also valuable to those who already know something about the subject.


How to Repair Briggs and Stratton Engines, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-247, paperback book, 182 pages, by Paul Dempsey, 1984, $9.95 for paperback, $12.95 hardbound, from TAB Books, P.O. Box 40, Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania 17214, USA.

Briggs and Stratton engines power small pumps and agricultural implements all over the South. Though it is written for North Americans, this book could be valuable wherever these small engines are being used.

The author “describes repair and maintenance procedures for all current and many older Briggs and Stratton engines. These procedures extend to all phases of the work, from simple tune-up and carburetor repairs to the serious business of replacing main bearings and resizing cylinder bores. The material is organized by subject and by engine model and divided as much as possible into steps that are easy to follow.” Clear line drawings and text explain the basics of four-cycle internal combustion engines and the adjustment and repair of ignition systems, carburetors, and pull-starters. The section on engine disassembly and overhaul includes standard machining clearances and dimensions as well as replacement part identification numbers.

Repair and Maintenance of Stationary Diesel Engines, Rural Mechanics Course 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-301, by John van Winden, 1990, book, 144 pages, Dfl. 14.00 from TOOL.

This reference book was developed for use in a four-year course for rural mechanics. It provides the necessary information for technical training on water and air-cooled 1, 2, 3, and 4-cylinder stationary diesel engines, including dismantling, checking parts and repairing certain elements, reassembling, and proper operation and maintenance.

The excellent and numerous illustrations provide a clear idea of how small diesel engines work and the most common repair steps. Included is a useful guide to starting and running problems.

Small type and regular use of technical terms will present challenges to readers uncomfortable with English, making this book perhaps most valuable as a teaching tool for instructors rather than a textbook for students.

Readers already knowledgeable about the operation and repair of small gasoline engines will find much that is familiar here. They will benefit from the clear portrayal of the systems that are unique to diesel engines.

Small-Scale Solar-Powered Irrigation Pumping Systems: Technical and Economic Review, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-275, book, 188 pages, by Sir William Halcrow and Partners in association with ITDG, September 1981, World Bank, out of print.

An extensive examination of the technical and economic feasibility of both solar photovoltaic pumps and solar thermal irrigation pumps for use by small farmers in developing countries. Equipment options and performance are discussed.

With the conclusion that these pumps are much too expensive at present, attention is given to exploring various assumptions about future costs of solar pumps vs.engine-driven pumps.

A shorter, easier to read summary of the issue that draws on much of the same material is contained in Solar Photovoltaics for Irrigation Water Pumping (

The Potential for Small-Scale Solar Powered Irrigation in Pakistan, IDS Commissioned Study #1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-283,41 pages, by Michael Howes, December 1982,

$4.50 plus $1 postage (or £2.25 plus £0.50 postage) from Publications Office, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE, England.

This report on 14 solar irrigation pumps in Pakistan concludes that significant price reductions (from 1982 levels) will be necessary before such pumps can be expected to be economically competitive with other high-cost alternatives currently in use (animal-powered Persian wheels, diesel deep tubewell pumps) in Pakistan.

Solar Photovoltaics for Irrigation Water Pumping, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-276, working paper, 17 pages, by Urs Rentsch, 1982, Swiss Francs 6.00 from SKAT; also from ITDG.

This is a good summary of the equipment-matching and financial requirements necessary for irrigation pumps driven by solar electric cells. The author concludes that with liquid fuel cost increases and dramatic solar cell cost declines, photovoltaic pumps would become competitive with small engine-driven pumps for small plots with low pumping heads. This combination of circumstances is still many years away, however. If solar cell costs dropped to zero, the costs of solar pumps would be at a minimum of about $3/peak watt due to the costs of the structure, wiring, motor, pump, transportation and installation. The capital costs of the solar pump, even under these favorable assumptions, would be as much as 50 times as great as those of a manually operated pump. “The Rower pump, for example, costs about US $10-13, while a corresponding solar pump would cost at least US $600” (at $3/peak watt). Credit and subsidies would be required for small farmers to be able to afford the pumps.

Solar Water Pumping: A Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-296, book, 130 pages, by Jeff Kenna and Bill Gillett, 1985, £12.50 from ITDG.

Small PV solar water pumps offer the promise of directly converting renewable energy sources into valuable agricultural production and better health through improved water supply.

“This book describes the technology and, most importantly, it shows that there are some conditions under which solar pumps already can provide the best solution to local water needs. Furthermore, it quantifies these conditions, and it offers a methodology which water supply specialists can use to compare and evaluate available pumping options. The reader is led step by step through the necessary analyses, including determination of pump requirements, specification of solar pump performance, and comparison of economic data. As a result, he or she can obtain a clear picture of the viability of solar pumping.”

Costs for photovoltaic cells are continuously dropping, and the cost estimating procedures shown here can be used with current prices substituted.

Lightweight Seeder/Spreader, Plan No. 596, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-248, 2 pages, by Clarence A. Martin, $1.50 from Popular Mechanics.

These are brief but complete plans for the standard American lawn seeder/fertilizer spreader. It may have some value with modifications for seeding.grasses in small farming operations or for other seeding activities. The distribution and rate of seed flow could be modified for other seeding needs.The seeder is made of 18-gauge aluminum, bent, drilled, and screwed together. Uses two small wheels.

Chain Link Fence Making Machine, VITA Technical Bulletin No. 25, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-259 20 pages, $5.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in Spanish and French; also available from TOOL.

These are step-by-step instructions for making and using a hand-operated machine to make chain link fencing. There are drawings and photos. “The machine here is designed to produce fencing up to 244 cm (96 inches) but can be varied to produce fencing of any height. The size of the openings (can be varied) …. The machine described here requires number 12 or 14 wire but could be modified to take larger wire.” A very clever, easily made device.

“In Botswana, the machine has become the basis of a small fence manufacturing business which serves as a source of employment and produces fencing which is far more affordable locally than is the imported fencing which was the only material previously available.”

Of course this unit requires the use of wire (probably imported in most countries). For most fencing needs, traditional alternatives exist and are probably more appropriate. Barbed wire should also be cheaper as it uses much less wire per linear foot of fence.

Oil Soaked Wood Bearings: How to Make Them and How They Perform, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-233, leaflet with drawings and text, 10 pages, information from tests done in Zambia, ITDG, out of print.

The authors consider the characteristics of wood to be used, how to determine the size of the bearing required, and oil-soaking in the case of high-moisture content of the wood to be used. The oil used was groundnut (peanut) oil or discarded engine oil. Three types of wood bearings are presented and evaluated: solid block, split block, and bush bearings. “The drilling of radial holes for lubrication purposes is only recommended by Pearson for the bush type of bearing. He found that if lubrication holes were drilled in block bearings, not only were the bearings weakened but also the holes acted as dirt traps.”

Hardwood is required. The bearings are well-suited to low-speed applications such as in carts and water wheels. Highly recommended.

Making Coir Rope, Technical Bulletin No. 44, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06-260, leaflet, 8 pages, VITA, out of print in 1985.

A step-by-step presentation of the process of making coir rope from coconut husks. The necessary equipment can be made out of wood, and most of this equipment is shown: a fiber combing board for separating fibers, hand-cranked single and multiple twisting reels, and a strand block and strand guide for the final steps in rope making. The text is at times confusing and misleading, and the reader will have to be careful. Some of the basic concepts can also be applied in making wire rope.

Eight Simple Surveying Levels, Agricultural Green Leaflet #42, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 06233, drawings with text, 17 pages, ITDG, out of print in 1985.

These levels, made of wood and rubber or clear plastic tubing, were built and evaluated by an ITDG team. Details are given on the construction, accuracy, and usefulness of each device. All the levels are made using simple hand tools and are cheap and easy to construct. These levels are quite sufficient for most rural drainage, irrigation, roadmaking, building and other earthmoving work where extreme accuracy is not needed.


The Rower Pump describes a low-cost, hand-operated pump that is used very successfully in small-plot irrigation in Bangladesh; see the pumps section of WATER SUPPLY.

Greenhouses used for both food production and home heating are described in ENERGY: SOLAR.

Small Farm Development: Understanding and Improving Farming Systems in the Humid Tropics estimates the effects of various small-scale power sources added to small farms; see AGRICULTURE.

Surface Irrigation contains drawings and photographs of low-technology and mechanized equipment for use in land preparation for irrigation and water control; see AGRICULTURE.

Grain storage bins and dryers are shown in CROP STORAGE.

Small-scale milling equipment driven by waterpower is described in many of the entries in ENERGY: WATER.

Aspects of Irrigation with Windmills and Syllabus for Irrigation with Windmills are in ENERGY: WIND.

Sustainable Agriculture

This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Productive agricultural land is the most fundamental resource for all rural communities and nations. An agriculture which forms a basis for rural and national self-reliance in food production depends upon equitable distribution of this resource. Without secure access to land, the tenant farm family is not in a position to carry out many of the long-term improvements (such as terracing, composting, and tree planting) that may be needed, nor are they in the position to benefit from the multitude of small farm programs sponsored by national agriculture departments and international and bilateral aid agencies. The landless farm laborer is often ignored entirely, though he or she is most vulnerable to unemployment from mechanization. Participation in agricultural production, it has been repeatedly demonstrated, is the only clear guarantee of participation in food consumption.

The concentration of land holdings in a few hands appears to be a major engine of environmental destruction as well, forcing subsistence cultivators onto marginal lands and hillsides. The loss of topsoil that follows is swift and often irreversible. Deforestation becomes a way of life as existence is scratched from the land in a capital-consuming, desperate process.

The amount of productive land lost to deforestation and desertification is staggering, and the rate of loss is increasing. A central concern of agriculture must therefore be a sustainable resource base—soil conservation, an assured supply of nutrients, and a buffer from the inflationary costs of inputs that accompany the fossil fuel-based agriculture of the rich countries. The elements needed for ecologically responsible agricultural systems exist in most parts of the world. In developing such approaches, indigenous agricultural systems deserve special attention, for they often reflect important ecological interactions and yield a variety of crops.

In any agricultural system, crop diversity is usually a key to sustainability. There must be a balance between production of cash crops for income, and production of subsistence crops for direct consumption. Cash crops can allow a greater flexibility and access to crucial tools and inputs that would otherwise be unobtainable, and they usually mean a higher value production from a particular piece of land. Yet cash crops often bring with them dependency on global market forces for the sale of produce and for the supply of fertilizers. They also tend to bring a reduction in crop diversity. All of these factors significantly increase the risks facing farmers. Cash crops can lead to a mixing of agricultural soils for short-term gain, reducing both short-term food supplies and long-term productivity of the land. Cash cropping also contributes to the concentration of landholdings, displacement of tenant farmers, and abandonment of traditional social mechanisms of redistribution and collective welfare.

The social aspects of the organization of agriculture are major considerations in the search for appropriate agricultural strategies. What does a new agricultural system do to social relations, the extent to which extended families continue to take responsibility for all their members? What does a new agricultural system do to the composition and character of rural communities?

In recent years there has been a rethinking of the role of the small farmer in agricultural research. There is now strong evidence that to be successful, research programs must include small farmers in thinking about what changes might be tried, and in testing and evaluating proposed improvements in the farming system before widespread dissemination is attempted. When typical farmers are partners in the research teams, experience has shown that innovations coming out of the research program are far more likely to be acceptable.

When all of these concerns are taken into account, several avenues for appropriate technologies seem evident. There is a need for increased emphasis on intensive food production. Growing fruits and vegetables in home gardens can be done by nearly every family. Relatively high production can be obtained from a small area, and the increased variety in the family diet has clear nutritional advantages.

Farming systems that combine agriculture with forestry bring a varied and higher total production from multiple tiers of plants and trees. Reduced pest problems result, as a more diverse plant environment offers less shelter to pests and more to their predators. More stability over time is also assured as differing crops provide protection from weather and market fluctuations. Alternating tree crops with row crops enables a sustainable productive agriculture as protected topsoil and variety of plant life mean that soil fertility can be maintained. The addition of animals, including livestock, fish, and bees into these farming systems can also be important in providing additional food, income and fertilizer.

These complimentary themes can be found throughout the entries included in this chapter; more synthesis needs to be done in actual programs. As You Sow paints a saddening picture of the negative social consequences in small communities that have accompanied the transitions from family farms to huge agribusiness operations in California. This process of decay through growth in landholdings involves a substantial reduction in the number of opportunities for rural people to develop basic business, managerial, and entrepreneurial skills.

The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey provides excellent advice to anyone gathering information, emphasizing “cheap, practical, and fast …. Grubbing out information infields, market places, bars, and fly-ridden tea shops. ” The same techniques can be applied in urban areas as well. If your project requires effective information gathering, you must read this piece.

Small Farm Development is an exceptionally valuable and highly readable book. It illuminates the dynamics, characteristics, and constraints of small farms in the tropics. It should be required reading for those working on farming systems, tools and equipment, and related activities such as farm co-ops.

Two Ears of Corn is filled with valuable advice on how to successfully work with a local community to improve agricultural practices. Training and Visit Extension documents a low-cost extension approach which can help farmers improve their basic practices with almost no cash investment, yet with a high chance of achieving higher production. This approach relies heavily on village-level workers with a low educational background, a strategy somewhat similar to the use of “barefoot doctor” health workers.

Many of the publications included offer insight and practical considerations relevant to the creation of sustainable agricultural systems and agroforestry combinations. The journals also provide contact with the worldwide network of enthusiastic and imaginative people working in this field.

Reference books on soils, seeds, crops and fertilizers are reviewed. Soil testing, seed production, composting and soil conservation (controlling erosion and gully formation) are some of the topics covered here. The proper protection of workers from pesticides is addressed by several books, while Integrated Pest Management reviews the techniques used to control pests while minimizing pesticide use.

Three volumes introduce the technical considerations for small-scale irrigation efforts. Irrigation is the biggest single factor in raising farm yields. As its proper planning from a technical and environmental viewpoint call be quite complicated, these are welcome references.

Intensive gardening is the topic of ten entries. The manuals from Bangladesh, Peru, Jamaica, and the Philippines are highly recommended references, to go with How to Grow More Vegetables from the United States.

The last section includes a number of books on raising animals under various climatic conditions. The final entry in this group is the encyclopedic Tropical Feeds, a unique reference covering nutritional content and uses of 650 tropical feeds, most of them plants.

All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CDs 4-7* or DVD 1-2):

Agricultural Extension
Agricultural Extension: The Training and Visit System
AgroForestry Systems for the Humid Tropics East of the Andes
An Agromedical Approach to Pesticide Management
Alternative Agriculture
Animal Husbandry in the Tropics
Approved Practices in Soil Conservation
The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey
As You Sow
Backyard Composting
The Basic Book of Organic Gardening
Basic Soil Improvement for Everyone
The Complete Better Farming Series
The Book of Geese
China: Recycling of Organic Wastes in Agriculture
Code of Practice for Safe Use of Pesticides
Composting for the Tropics
Composting in Tropical Agriculture
Composting: Sanitary Disposal and Reclamation of Organic Wastes
Conservation Farming for Small Farmers in the Humid Tropics
The Design and Optimization of Irrigation Distribution Networks
Environmentally Sound Small Scale Agricultural Projects
Farm Management Research for Small Farmer Development
The Farmer’s Guide
A Farmer’s Primer on Growing Rice
Fields and Pastures in Deserts
Friends of the Rice Farmer
Gardening for Better Nutrition
Gardening with the Seasons
Goat Health Handbook
Growing Garden Seeds
Guide for Field Crops in the Tropics and Subtropics
Guide for Small Holder Coffee Farmers
Guidelines for Watershed Management
Gully Control and Reclamation
Handbook of Tropical and Subtropical Horticulture
The Homesteader’s Handbook for Raising Small Livestock
How to Grow More Vegetables
How to Make Fertilizer
How to Perform an Agricultural Experiment
Illustrated Guide to Integrated Pest Management in Rice in Tropical Asia
Insights of Outstanding Farmers
Integrated Farm Management
Integrated Pest Management: A Catalogue of Training and Extension Materials
Integrated Pest Management
Intensive Gardening for Profit and Self Sufficiency
Intercropping in Tropical Smallholder Agriculture with Special Reference to West Africa
Introduction to Soil and Water Conservation Practices
Irrigation Principles and Practices
Jojoba and Its Uses
Jojoba Happenings
Jojoba: A Guide to the Literature
Keeping Livestock Healthy
Leucaena Based Farming
Lost Crops of the Incas
Managing Pests and Pesticides in Small Scale Agriculture
Manual for Calculation of Check Dams
More Water for Arid Lands
The Nursery Manual
Operation and Maintenance of Small Irrigation Schemes
Permaculture II
Pigs and Poultry in the South Pacific
A Planning Guide for SmallScale Livestock Projects
Practical Poultry Raising
The Rabbit as a Producer of Meat and Skins in Developing Countries
Rabbit Production
Raising Goats for Milk and Meat
Raising Healthy Cattle Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Goats Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Pigs Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Poultry Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Healthy Rabbits Under Primitive Conditions
Raising Poultry the Modern Way
Raising Rabbits
Raising the Home Duck Flock
The Samaka Guide to Homesite Farming
The self-sufficient Gardener
Sheep Health Handbook
Simple Assessment Techniques for Soil and Water
Small Farm Development
Small Farm Weed Control
Small Plastic Greenhouses
Small Scale Irrigation
Small Scale Pig Raising
Soil Conservation
Soil Tillage in the Tropics and Subtropics
Soils Crops and Fertilizer Use
Surface Irrigation
Technology Applications Gap
Test the Soil First
Training and Visit Extension
Tropical Feeds
Tropical Legumes
Tropical Vegetables
Try the Rabbit
Two Ears of Corn
Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value
Understanding Small Farmers
Understanding Traditional Agriculture
The UNICEF Home Gardens Handbook
Vegetable Production Under Arid and SemiArid Conditions in Tropical Africa
Vegetable Seeds for the Tropics
Vetiver Grass
The Water Buffalo
The Winged Bean

Small Farm Development: Understanding and Improving Farming Systems in the Humid Tropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-214, book, 160 pages, by Richard Harwood, 1979, Westview Press, out of print.

The author states, “In our impatience with ‘backward’ small farmers and in our haste to rapidly ‘commercialize’ them, we have overlooked key aspects of their farming systems that could enhance efforts to increase food production and improve rural well-being. To accomplish the development of a greater number of the world’s small farms, shifts in emphasis must be made in our thinking, in our technological research, and in our communications with farmers.”

Better understanding and analysis of the bulk of the small farm production systems in the South is the theme of this important book. The author discusses with great depth and sensitivity the issues and options facing resource-limited small farmers in the tropics. He suggests that a “purposeful blending of traditional and modern technologies may well prove the key to starting the most disadvantaged farmers along a more rapid development path.”

In the first part of his book, Harwood presents an overview of small farms from subsistence hunting-gathering to primary mechanized operations. He endorses a development approach of scientists, extension workers, and farmers working in close cooperation in farming areas. “The agricultural development specialist must remain constantly aware of—and on guard against—the natural tendency to superimpose his own values on those of the farmer. The reality that faces the farmer who ekes out his existence from a mere half-hectare of poor land can only be understood—if it is seen as he sees it.”

The second part of the book reviews critical factors in small farm development which are often overlooked or given little emphasis in development programs. Some examples of these factors include:

Animals in Mixed Farming Systems:

“Despite the almost universal interest of farmers in mixed crop-animal systems professionals in both crop and animal production commonly pursue research in pure crop systems or pure animal systems, without reference to the interactions between the two that increase the productivity of both. Fortunately, most farmers have no such inhibitions or prejudices. Science should do more for them.”

Noncommercial Farm Activities:

“Fence rows are often used for noncommercial plantings as well as for their primary functions as field boundaries, enclosures for containment or exclusion of grazing animals, and erosion controls. There is evidence to indicate that the plant diversity and permanence of the fence row makes it a refuge for beneficial insects and predators. The relative rarity of pest outbreaks in highly diversified small farm areas where hedgerows and farmyard plantings are extensively used may be due to the net benefits of these traditional features.”

Other chapters deal with resource and economic limitations of intensive and multiple cropping systems; economic determinants and resource optimization of micro-enterprises; farm mechanization requirements; and stability in farming systems. An excellent annotated bibliography is also included. Technical charts and graphs are balanced by photographs of farm families at work. All in all, this book is a fine blending of reasoned arguments for new directions in agricultural development projects. It should receive wide circulation among agriculturalists and development workers concerned with agriculture in the humid tropics of the South.

Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05- 224, book, 264 pages, by Roland Bunch, 1982, $7.95 from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, USA; also available in Spanish and French; also available from TOOL.

A program beginning with a redefined goal of agricultural improvement which emphasizes the development of indigenous participation and capability rather than simply introducing production-raising techniques is more likely to yield long-term benefits, according to this guide for village-level program leaders. The importance of small-scale, local cultural values, feedback, and non-paternal methods of leadership is established in an informative, insightful text which draws from examples of both failures and successes throughout the world’s villages. Includes advice for program planning, encouraging participation, technology choice, employee policy, socio-cultural surveys, marketing, and eventual phase-out of outside assistance. Applicable to non-agricultural programs also.

Highly recommended.

Understanding Small Farmers: Sociocultural Perspectives on Experimental Farm Trials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-258, paper, 9 pages, by Robert Rhoades, 1982, from International Potato Center, Aptdo. 5969, Lima, Peru; or order publication no. PNAAN869, $1.17 from AID Document and Information Handling Facility, 7222 47th St., Suite 100, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815, USA.

This is a good quick introduction to the reasons why understanding the farmer’s perspective is vitally important to the success of efforts to develop improved agricultural practices through farm trials. The author points to seven essential questions: “1. Is the problem to be solved important to farmers? 2. Do farmers understand the trials? 3. Do farmers have time, inputs, and labor required by the improved technology? 4. Does the proposed technology make sense within the present farming system? 5. Is the mood favorable for investing in certain crops in a region? 6. Is the proposed change compatible with local preferences, beliefs, or community sanctions? 7. Do farmers believe the technology will hold up over the long term?”

“In the end, the acceptability of a technology depends on what the farmers actually do. This may not, as we have stressed, be the same as what they have told us. We can discover this only in a final stage of farmer testing where farmers themselves take over the new technology and incur all risks, costs, and benefits. Until this final step is taken, all other evaluations remain only suggestive of the technology’s potential.”

Insights of Outstanding Farmers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-238, book, 114 pages, IRRI, 1985, $8.30 to highly developed countries, $2.50 to developing countries, plus $1.00 surface mail or $3.00 airmail postage, from Publications Office, International Rice Research Institute, P.O. Box 933, Manila, Philippines.

IRRI has brought together the stories of 14 outstanding rice farmers from different countries in this excellent book. These people provided their own background information and were interviewed for additional details. The result is a fascinating view of the circumstances, thinking and decision-making of these farmers. Many of them are very systematic in experimenting in their own fields. While these people are more representative of “leading” farmers than “average” farmers, their stories give the reader a better understanding of the small rice farmer and the technological changes that may benefit her or him. |

Readers with varied interests in rural development will find this a revealing book.

Farm Management Research for Small Farmer Development, FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin 41, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-280, book, 145 pages, by John I. Dillon and J. Brian Hardaker, 1981, $16.00 from UNIPUB.

Persons working on the improvement of small farm equipment, the development and introduction of new varieties and techniques, and any other innovations that affect the small farm as an enterprise will find this a valuable reference. The reader is reminded that small farmers usually make efficient use of their available resources, that important crop-crop and crop-animal interactions exist on most small farms, and that a good understanding of existing farming systems is necessary before potentially useful improvements can be identified. Most of the manual explains the elements essential to good survey strategies and techniques, interpretation of data, modeling of farm activities, and economic/financial evaluations of alternative choices.

This book should help the reader to systematically identify research project possibilities that are likely to lead to useful and economically viable technologies. This approach is far more likely to succeed than the common practice of choosing topics based on incomplete information and incorrect assumptions about what farmers are actually doing.

Agricultural Extension: The Training and Visit System, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05- 127, booklet, 55 pages, by Daniel Benor and James Harrison, 1977, $6.95 from World Bank Publications, Box 7347-8619, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170-8619, USA.

The System “has been put into operation in areas where the need is to improve the level of agricultural production by large numbers of farmers cultivating mostly small farms using low-level technology and usually traditional methods …. The cost to farmers is very small …. The smaller cultivators, who have an abundant supply of labor, may benefit at least as much as the larger farmers.”

This low-cost extension system “uses village-level workers with comparatively low educational standards supported by subject matter specialists ….”

“In the Seyhan project in Turkey, farmers increased cotton yields from 1.7 tons to over 3 tons per hectare in three years. In Chambal, Rajesthan (India), farmers increased paddy yields from about 2.1 tons to over 3 tons per hectare in two years. Combined irrigated and unirrigated wheat yields in Chambal, Madhya Pradesh (India), rose from 1.3 tons to nearly 2 tons per hectare after one season and have since risen higher.”

The author describes the common problems with extension programs: multiple roles (not just agricultural) expected of the extension worker, excessively large area of assignment for each worker, and theoretical pre-service training with no in-service training.

For a reformed extension service, the author recommends that extension workers report directly and only to the agricultural department, spend full time on agriculture, and make regular visits to farmers. “Contact farmers must be willing to try out practices recommended by the extension workers and be prepared to have other farmers visit their fields. But they should not be the community’s most progressive farmers who are usually regarded as exceptional” and are not often followed by their neighbors.

After the simpler field management practices have led to higher incomes, extension workers should recommend to farmers “the minimum quantity of fertilizer which would noticeably increase their net yields and incomes, and teach the farmers how to make the best use of this amount—for example, when and how to apply it, and how to combine it with organic fertilizers.”

“To remain effective, extension must be linked to a vigorous research program, well-tuned to the needs of the farmers. Without a network of field trials upon which new recommendations can he based and without continuous feedback to research from the fields, the extension service will soon have nothing to offer farmers, and the research institutions will lose touch with the problems real farmers face.”

Training and Visit Extension, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-256, book, 202 pages, by Daniel Benor and Michael Baxter, 1984, $17.95 from World Bank Publications, Box 72478619, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170-8619, USA.

This volume contains a more complete description of the extension system presented in Agricultural Extension: The Training and Visit System. The T&V system is essentially an intelligent simplification of conventional extension structures to create closer links between farmers and researchers, and, in particular, to make better use of farmers’ resources with basic agricultural practices that require little or no investment of cash but some additional labor (e.g., “better seed, seedbed preparation, cultivation and weeding”).

The initial dramatic success of this system in Turkey and India has led to a great deal of interest in applying it elsewhere. In some countries, a tendency to adopt the name and some of the form, but not the substance of the system, has meant disappointing results.

The successful functioning of an extension system requires more than simply a good organizational structure. In apparent recognition of the many forces that affect and hamper the effective functioning of the T&V system, in this volume the authors give considerable attention to the essential elements of the system that cannot be changed without diminishing its effectiveness. “Leadership of the extension service must be strong, active, innovative, and field oriented …. For T&V extension to have an impact, research must support it strongly, coordinate with extension, and tackle farmers’ immediate problems; production recommendations taught to farmers must be relevant to their needs and resource conditions, be economically viable, and require only inputs that are actually available; and regular and special training of extension staff must be timely and specific to their needs. Most importantly, hard decisions have to be made in setting priorities, requiring concentration of efforts on a small number of feasible goals and a commitment to this system of professional agricultural extension. If any one of these requirements (or any of a number of other basic features of the system) is ignored, or is weak relative to others, the impact of the entire system is compromised.”

There is much good advice here that is relevant to all kinds of appropriate technology development and extension activities.

Agricultural Extension, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-230, book, 308 pages, by Michael Gibbons and Richard Schroeder, 1984, available free of charge to development workers from Peace Corps; available to others from ERIC (order no. ED241775) and NTIS (accession no PB85 247278/AS).

Agricultural extension used to be conceived of as a one-way flow of technical information from a central source to the farmer to encourage him or her to undertake “correct” agricultural practices. This volume provides convincing evidence and examples of why it is important to understand the farmer’s position and viewpoint, and to work with the farmer to identify priorities for improvements, before any “answers” are proposed. This volume emphasizes that small farmers are expert at what they do and are very familiar with the micro-environmental details of their land. Full of good advice based on long experience, this book should help new fieldworkers avoid many of the mistakes that have bedeviled agricultural extension programs in the past.

Alternative Agriculture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-277, book, 448 pages, by the Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods in Modern Production Agriculture, National Research Council, $22.95 to U.S., $26.25 overseas, from National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20415, USA.

Alternative agriculture has moved from the fringe to the mainstream with this study that has worldwide significance. The U.S. Government’s National Research Council has issued a very enthusiastic report on the growing movement among farmers to “take greater advantage of natural processes and beneficial on-farm biological interactions, reduce off-farm input use, and improve the efficiency of their operations.”

Alternative agriculture is defined as “… any system of food or fiber production that systematically pursues the following goals:

• More thorough incorporation of natural processes such as nutrient cycles, nitrogen fixation, and pest-predator relationships into the agricultural production process;

• Reduction in the use of off-farm inputs with the greatest potential to harm the environment or the health of farmers and consumers;

• Greater productive use of the biological and genetic potential of plant and animal species;

• Improvement of the match between cropping patterns and the productive potential and physical limitations of agricultural lands to ensure long-term sustainability of current production levels; and

• Profitable and efficient production with emphasis on improved farm management and conservation of soil, water, energy, and biological resources. “The history and evolution of U.S. agriculture and the economic and environmental consequences of prevailing practices are first reviewed. Next is a presentation of the basic science underlying the most common practices of alternative agriculture: crop rotations, alternative crop nutrient sources and management strategies, integrated pest management, biological pest control, and alternative animal management systems. An evaluation of the economic potential of alternative agriculture follows.

“The report concludes with 11 case studies describing 14 farms managed with an efficient combination of alternative and conventional practices. Detailed descriptions of the practices and financial performance of five crop and livestock operations, seven fruit and vegetable farms, one western beef operation, and one rice farm are presented. The case studies provide insights into the operation of alternative farms in different regions producing different crops by the use of different methods. Each farm is tailored to the limitations and potential of its soil, water, and climate and the local economy.

“Farmers have a history of adopting new systems. While much work remains to be done, the committee believes that farmers, researchers and policymakers will perceive the benefits of the alternative systems described in this report and will work to make them tomorrow’s conventions.”

Understanding Traditional Agriculture: Bibliography for Development Workers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-273, book, 114 pages, by Hans Carlier, 1987, Dfl. 19.50 or US $8.50 to Europe, Dfl. 22 or US $9.50 elsewhere, from ILEIA, P.O. Box 64, 3830 AB Leusden, The Netherlands.

“Why does science pay so little attention to the wisdom of peasants?”

Conventional agricultural development has proceeded from the notion that traditional agriculture consists of foolish practices carried out by ignorant people. People who have worked with small farmers know that this is not true and that small farmers are very efficient users of the variety of resources available to them. In order to help small farmers, it is necessary to better understand the real constraints and opportunities facing them. The best agricultural development programs involve small farmers directly in their research. There is also much that can be learned from the written reports and studies others have done around the world.

This bibliography is a valuable attempt to begin a worldwide compilation of information sources on traditional agriculture. Hundreds of articles and books, most of them in English, are listed. In some cases, addresses are provided while in others, only the title and publisher are given. Unfortunately, a great many of these entries are articles which will be hard to obtain outside of libraries that have a good collection of periodicals on development issues.

The Technology Applications Gap: Overcoming Constraints to Small-Farm Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-278, book, 144 pages, by Deborah Sands, 1986, from FAO or UNIPUB.

This is a review of the literature, focusing on key problems and mistakes that have repeatedly led to disappointing results in new technology programs. Case studies and recommendations form the core of this book. Perhaps the most interesting case involves the rapid diffusion of beekeeping in a part of Mexico:

“Since the early 1970’s approximately 9000 farm families in Yucatan have developed small-scale beekeeping enterprises which complement subsistence maize production by providing a cash income essential for the household. They produce honey for export using the European bee, Apis mellifera, and the introduced technology of the moveable frame hive. These beekeepers supply between 5 and 10 percent of the honey traded in the international market.”

“The new technology was actively adopted by small farmers with little government promotion or extension support for production. Although the technology was different from anything employed locally, it was easy for the small farmer to adopt. The equipment had been tested and demonstrated to be successful in the region by large-scale commercial producers in the 1960’s. It is relatively simple and can be made locally by village craftsmen. It is divisible so that it can be purchased in small units which allows for incremental investment of scarce cash resources. It generated high yields and the market was relatively stable and accessible to the small farmer. This resulted in good net returns for the farm family to both labor and cash invested.”

“The success of the new technology can be attributed to four basic factors which can serve as general criteria for evaluating proposed technologies developed for small farmers. First, it was profitable under the production conditions of the small farmers. Secondly, it engaged surplus labor and did not conflict with the production cycle or factor allocation patterns of food crop production, the primary agricultural activity of the farm families. Thirdly, the market was established and the marketing conditions were relatively favorable for the small producer. And finally, it met a primary goal within the household economy by providing cash income without threatening the household’s ability to provision itself with staple foods.”

An annotated bibliography makes up the second half of the book.

As You Sow: Three Studies in the Social Consequences of Agribusiness, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-131, book, 560 pages, by Walter Goldschmidt, 1978, Allanheld, Osmun and Company, out of print.

For the past several decades, American agriculture has been held up as a model for poor countries. This approach has been criticized for many different reasons. As You Sow documents the negative social consequences, within the U.S., of an agriculture that increasingly depends on large-scale farms. Goldschmidt notes, for example, that the number of skilled people in communities with small farms is much higher than in communities with a few large farms. Small farms allow the widespread development of entrepreneurial and management skills that are essential to the development of other rural enterprises. Large farms restrict this process, concentrating management and business learning opportunities in the hands of a few.

Environmentally Sound Small-Scale Agricultural Projects: Guidelines for Planning, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-170, book, 103 pages, VITA/CODEL, 1979, revised 1990 edition $12.95 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in French and Spanish; also available from ITDG and TOOL.

A sustainable agriculture must be ecologically sound. Practices that are not will degrade and consume the natural basis of agriculture. This book explains why this is true, discussing basic ecological principles and the implications of human alterations of naturally stable systems. Much of the book shows the importance of water supply, soil, and pest management in good planning.

“What are the effects of using groundwater for irrigation?” “What is pesticide persistence?” These are examples of questions posed and answered, with clear text and line drawings. Questions aimed at the effects of different alternatives are especially useful. For example, when considering chemical pesticides and/or Integrated Pest Management techniques: “Can a species-specific pesticide be used?…Does the project design recognize the possibility that the target species will develop resistance to the pesticide? … Are similar pesticides being used locally for health purposes, such as malaria control? … Are there plants with pesticidal properties which could be used?”

Also included is an “easy-to-use-in-the-field methodology for planning and benefits/costs analysis of small-scale projects.” This chapter emphasizes the importance of intelligent questions, readiness to learn from local experience, and flexibility.

However, this book does not focus on the tropical and semi-arid conditions which are found in most developing countries; and it does not provide specific details on any techniques suggested (such as building terraces for erosion control, or monitoring local conditions).

One Straw Revolution, paperback book, 224 pages, by Masanobu Fukuoka, 1978, $17.95 from Rodale.

This thought-provoking book is considered a classic text for advocates of what has been called “natural farming” or “permaculture” (see review of Permaculture II in this section). The author was trained in microbiology, specializing in plant disease, in industrializing pre-World War II Japan. His studies stressed high inputs of energy, capital, and chemicals to control and, if necessary, combat natural forces. He began to question the wisdom of these practices, and returned to his village to try an alternative approach. Over the years, Fukuoka, through painstaking observation and experimentation, developed a method of farming which mimics the natural succession of plant communities and the self-regenerating aspects of ecosystems. He claims that farming units can produce food and fiber in an almost effortless fashion without chemicals or cultivation.

This low-energy system of agriculture contains the following four principles:

No cultivation—do not turn the soil over, and so avoid injuries that divert productive activity;

No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost—let the plants and animals that make the soil go to work on the soil;

No weeding by tillage or herbicide—use the weeds; control them by natural means or occasional cutting;

No dependence on chemicals—insects and disease, weeds and pests, have their own controls—let these operate, and assist them.

One Straw Revolution is a very readable book, with photos of the author practicing his techniques in the fields. While it is inspirational, some caution should be used in considering its relevance to tropical and developing countries. First, Fukuoka has successfully practiced his “natural farming” only in the temperate climate of Japan. Attempts to make the system work in North America are as yet inconclusive. We have heard of no attempts to promote Fukuoka’s system in the tropics.

Second, the system requires a great deal of patience, perseverance, and knowledge, possibly only gained by years of experience. Most traditional farmers in the South do not have the margin of error for experimentation available to nonconformists in developed countries. The immediate problem for most farmers is one of survival, not sustained yields. However, these farmers often do have highly evolved systems of cultivation and extensive traditional knowledge about soils, plants, and local ecology. Quite often they do practice minimum tillage and marginal use of chemicals. Perhaps a dialogue between concerned scientists, development field workers, small farmers, and natural farming advocates could lead to further refinements and broader applications for farming systems such as this one.

Ideas such as those proposed in this book may be seen by many today as wild and unrealistic. Still, Fukuoka’s methods may yet prove to be the last straw if the world’s heavily subsidized and centralized food and energy systems were to crumble.

Permaculture II: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-201, book, 150 pages, by Bill Mollison, 1980, Australian $20.00 plus postage from Tagari Publications, P.O. Box 1, Tyalgum, NSW 2484, Australia.

Permaculture II is the second, more practical volume in a series of two fascinating publications that present an approach to permanent agriculture. These books are based on the author’s experience in rural Tasmania and the semi-arid areas of Australia. He and his family are part of an intentional community practicing self-reliance in food, energy, and shelter. “Permaculture” is “primarily a consciously designed agricultural system … a system that combines landscape design with perennial plants and animals to make a safe and sustainable resource for town and country. A truly appropriate technology giving high yields for low energy inputs, and using only human skill and intellect to achieve a stable resource of great complexity and stability.”

The author argues for species-diversity in combined agricultural-forestry systems in place of the energy-intensive mechanized monocultures that are standard in developed countries (and increasingly in developing countries). His book is an impassioned appeal with numerous design sketches, references, and anecdotes to back up his points. “Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. We can see the departure from productive permanent systems, where the land is held in common, to annual, commercial agricultures, where land is regarded as a commodity. This involves a departure from a low to a high-energy society, the use of land in an exploitive way, and a demand for external energy sources, mostly provided by the Third World.”

Permaculture II builds upon the philosophy of Fukuoka and his book One Straw Revolution (see review in this section) “of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; of looking at plants and animals in all their function, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”

This is essentially a design and planning workbook which provides practical details of how plant, animal, and human communities can be organized as a unit. Permaculture II claims to be a realistic and optimistic, yet not utopian book.

A strong emphasis is given to water resource management and homesite integration into the overall plan. Mollison’s group employs a method of soil and water conservation known as the Keyline System, with which unproductive and sterile soils can be rehabilitated. Soils are reconditioned by the use of chisel plows and no-tillage implements where tractors or animal traction are available (since these may have been the cause of compacted conditions), or with deep-rooted plants. These efforts, combined with innovative rainwater catchments, contour irrigation dams, ditches, wells, and fishponds, help to provide adequate irrigation water for the next phase of development. Mixed tree crops and field crops are planted successively, as gardens are laid out and kept nourished by plant litter. Planted and built shelters are devised for humans and livestock, and are incorporated into the perennial-based plant community.

This is, of course, an oversimplified account of the Permaculture system, which becomes increasingly complex and organized over time. The author provides only brief overviews of how a Permaculture system might operate in semi-arid and humid areas of the tropics. Since the species selected are applicable to the southern hemisphere and Tasmania specifically, many adaptations would be required before this system could be attempted in other areas. For its insight and inspiration, however, this book deserves wide circulation. Recommended.

Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-270, book, 407 pages, by National Research Council, 1989, $27.95 to U.S., $33.00 overseas, from National Academy Press, 2101Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418, USA.

“At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Incas cultivated almost as many species of plants as the farmers of all Asia or Europe. On mountainsides up to four km high along the spine of a whole continent and in climates varying from tropical to polar, they grew a wealth of roots, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.” “Without money, iron, wheels or work animals for plowing, the Indians terraced, irrigated and produced abundant food for fifteen million or more people ….Storehouses overflowed with grains and dried tubers.” The “Spaniards who conquered Peru repressed the Indians, suppressed their traditions and destroyed much of the intricate agricultural system …. Crops that had held honored positions in Indian society for thousands of years were deliberately replaced by European species … that the conquerors demanded be grown.” “Forced into obscurity were at least a dozen native root crops, three grains, three legumes, and more than a dozen fruits …. This botanical colonialism closed off from the rest of the world a major center of crop diversity.” Fortunately, these species have not actually been lost, and are still cultivated by small communities. These plants have great potential for use in many other places around the world, and the prospects for each species are explored. Color and

black-and-white photos and line drawings provide excellent illustrations. This book was written for use by “administrators, entrepreneurs, and researchers in developing countries as well as in North America, Europe and Australasia … to provide a brief introduction to the plants selected … it is intended as a tool for economic development rather than a textbook or survey of Andean botany or agriculture.”

The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-284, booklet, 40 pages, by Robert E. Rhoades, 1982, $1.00 from International Potato Center, Apartado 5969, Lima, Peru.

This short booklet is an extremely valuable guide to doing effective information gathering among farmers. The same techniques can be applied in urban settings as well. The voice of experience highlights the pitfalls that can ruin the effort.

“The informal survey is in fact a form of appropriate technology: cheap, practical, and fast. If properly executed, such surveys can produce at minimum cost a rich description of life in a farming community; an understanding of how farmers, merchants, extension workers, and others perceive their conditions and make decisions. On top of this, a properly conducted informal survey can give an accurate comprehension of local farming ecology and practices. “And anyone can do it—agronomists, extension workers, biologists, and social scientists. All you need is a little time (a few days to two weeks), pencil, paper, common sense, and a down-to-earth approach to farm people and their circumstances.”

“… (T)he informal survey places project implementors in contact with their clients for the first time and on the clients’ home turf …. (It) is methodologically simple but usually physically tough. And dirty. It normally can’t be accomplished by driving along a main road looking at fields, although a ‘windshield survey’ may be a way to begin. The successful survey may require sloshing through muddy fields, scrambling along rocky paths and dangerous slopes, or whiling away hours in fly-ridden tea shops casually talking with farmers. The surveyors must be country-oriented, grubbing out information in fields, market places, bars, or wherever farmers’ daily routines carry them. Those unwilling to face a few village hardships have no business doing informal surveys.”

“The successful informal survey also requires mental and methodological flexibility. It does not proceed like the formal questionnaire survey where pre-determined hypotheses are tested. Instead, important questions and the direction of study emerge as information is collected …. Secondary materials, especially government statistics, should be taken as suggestive of possible lines of inquiry and not as gospel truth ” “… (S)eek out ‘key informants,’ those talkative individuals with great depth of experience and knowledge about farming. Don’t fall into the bias of interviewing only men.”

This is a very readable piece that we are tempted to continue to quote at length. Highly recommended.

How to Perform an Agricultural Experiment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-188, book, 30 pages, by G. Pettygrove, 1971, revised 1981 edition $7.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in Spanish and French.

“Improved varieties, new fertilizer practices, irrigation, pesticides, new feed mixtures, and improved harvest procedures are just a few of the more important innovations which must be thoroughly tested at the local level before they are passed on to the farmer by extension methods …. The purpose of this paper is to provide local agriculturalists with an understanding of the basic considerations in the design, execution, and measurement procedure of an agricultural experiment.”

The Farmer’s Guide, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-171, book, 1053 pages, by the Jamaica Agriculture Society, 1962, out of print.

Written for use on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, the Guide contains more than 1000 pages of text on topics of interest to farmers in tropical regions, including soil maintenance, irrigation, animal husbandry, a wide variety of field crops, pest control, and much more. Some of the material is now dated. Recommended.

Agro-Forestry Systems for the Humid Tropics East of the Andes, M F 05- 128, booklet, 25 pages, by John P. Bishop, Estacion Experimental Napo/Centro Amazonico Limoncocha, Instituto National de Investigaciones Agropecurias, Apartado 2600, Quito, Ecuador, 1980, out of print.

This is a set of two papers by Dr. John P. Bishop, an agricultural researcher located in Ecuador. Bishop works with traditional farmers, who are called “colonists,” “uncontrolled migrants,” “shifting cultivators,” and other less favorable things. Bishop is convinced that traditional farmers have an understanding of species, soils and ecology that can be put to use in modified “permanent agriculture” models (see review of Permaculture II).

The papers are entitled “Integrated Foodcrop, Swine, Chicken and Fuelwood Production,” and “Integrated Timber and Cattle Production.” The first covers small farmholdings of 1 to 10 hectares. The second describes a supplemental scheme requiring an additional 30-40 hectares. Included are charts of cropping system timelines and systems models. Since this information comes from monitoring real farms, it could be directly relevant to conditions in the delicate humid American tropics and of interest to people in other regions of the world.

Handbook of Tropical and Subtropical Horticulture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-185, book, 186 pages, by E.

Mortensen and E. Bullard, 1964, USGPO Stock No. 044-001-000225′ out of print in 1981; see reviews of Guide for Field Crops in the Tropics and Subtropics and the intensive gardening manuals.

“Based upon an extensive survey of available literature … (this manual) is written in layman’s terms so that it may be understood by the non-specialist who is called upon to work with farm families in solving their agricultural problems. It also serves as a reference and guide for teaching courses.”

“Major tropical fruit, nut, and tree crops are discussed in the second chapter with emphasis on such important points as spacing, pruning, fertilizing, budding, and disease and insect control. A few temperate zone fruits are included to stress that they can be grown only at higher elevations in the tropics due to chilling requirements. Crops are listed alphabetically and scientific names are given for reference purposes.”

“The Handbook continues with a description of all major vegetable crops. Information is presented on seed storage, vegetable varieties, fertilizer recommendations, plant spacing, temperature requirements, soil and cultivation. Major diseases with their controls are presented in a table for easy reference.”

This handbook is heavily slanted toward row-cropping, the use of synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals, and a highly technical approach to agricultural development. The information it provides, however, on plant varieties, nutrient needs, and nutritional content is very helpful to anyone working in the field. To people seeking locally available organic resources and techniques, a great deal of this book must be disregarded. Recommended as a secondary reference resource.

Guide for Field Crops in the Tropics and Subtropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-184, book, 321 pages, edited by Samuel Litzenberger, reprinted by Peace Corps in 1976, out of print.

“In the tropical and subtropical areas of the world, food grains make up the bulk of the diet for most people. Food grains together with fiber and specialty crops are also principal cash producers. It is with these commodities that this Guide concerns itself …. The Guide is designed for use by foreign assistance personnel and cooperators .… The text (composed of 40 chapters) is written in layman’s language … The first four are general introductory chapters and treat rather extensively the important subjects of climate, soil, cropping, and farming systems as related to the tropics and subtropics. The other 36 chapters are divided as follows: 6 on cereal crops, 9 on food legumes, 6 on oil crops, 7 on root or tuber crops and bananas, 6 on major fiber crops and 2 on other cash crops. These chapters do not attempt to deal with the factors of providing inputs such as national supplies of fertilizer, insecticides and fungicides.”

This manual is quite a balanced textbook for development workers with interests or skills in agriculture. Of special interest are the chapters entitled “The Tropical Environment for Crop Production” and “Farming Systems for the Tropics and Subtropics,’ which provide useful information on traditional farming models and tropical ecology.

“There is a possibility that the functions of the slow restoration of soil productivity by native vegetation can be duplicated by man’s management of soils without removing them from continued farming. The first step should be to extend the years of continued crop production by the adoption of technology for individual crops. Such technology is outlined in the 36 chapters on the different crops. An important feature is the addition to soil organic matter by the return of crop residues to the soil and by the use of manures and compost for producing crops. Adequate fertilization will certainly increase substantially the annual addition of crop roots to the total soil organic matter … A second step, when feasible, may be to grow green manure crops to restore soil organic matter. These may follow a regular crop or replace a year of crop production. The green manure crops may be utilized for feeding livestock, but the green manure should be plowed under so that decaying roots and tops will add to fertility. Small farmers are usually not in a position to grow green manure crops. More appropriate would be for them to produce an economic crop as recent research has shown that, with the use of soil amendments, most soils can be maintained in food production returning only crop residues to the soil.”

This book clearly favors field crops and makes little mention of perennials and agroforestry. We do feel that it can be a helpful supplemental handbook for agricultural students, rural development volunteers and extension agents.

Soils, Crops and Fertilizer Use, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-218, book, 103 pages, by Dave Leonard, 1969, free to Peace Corps workers and development organizations in developing countries from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order no. ED241778) and NTIS (accession no. PB85 239184).

Developed for Latin America-based volunteers, this book presents basic information on the physical and chemical characteristics of soils, plant nutrition, and soil fertility. The author is openly skeptical about the practicality of organic fertilizers. He emphasizes the use of chemical fertilizers and soil amendments, such as lime, as a means of achieving higher yields in agricultural development projects.

This book should be used along with a training program consisting of actual field analysis of soil structure and texture, chemical soil tests, and pot or plot trials. This will help avoid wasteful use of chemical fertilizers where no net benefits are likely. Although no previous agricultural education is necessary, the reader should have at least a secondary school command of English.

This manual is way over on the chemical side of the chemical fertilizer/organic fertilizer debate. It should be used as a reference if balanced by other publications that describe the advantages of and techniques for organic fertilizers.

Soil Tillage in the Tropics and Subtropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-255, paperback book, 310 pages, by R. Krause, F. Lorenz, and W.B. Hoogmoed, 1984, DM 33.50 plus postage from GTZ.

“This book is intended primarily for agricultural specialists and their colleagues, extension workers and farmers and also for teachers and students of agricultural engineering and agronomy in the tropics and subtropics. Part I deals with the objectives, principles, and problems of soil tillage in different climatic zones while Part II examines the main implements and systems from the point of view of their purpose, limitations, method of operation and technical data on such topics as linkage and drive systems, etc.”

“In many cases the results of subsoiling are scarcely positive and may even be detrimental as regards not only the soil structure but also the financial benefits. The operation requires a high energy consumption and is effective only when there is a genuine hardpan which can be shattered under dry soil conditions. Subsoiling operations must be given careful consideration, especially in developing countries where only limited energy and equipment are available.”

This book provides very comprehensive coverage of the various aspects of soil tillage—the preparation, maintenance, and ideally, the enhancement of soils for effective crop production and other agricultural uses. The specific implements and practices for primary and secondary tillage, seed preparation, weeding and other related operations are discussed in great detail with clear illustrations. The book focuses on the delicate and diverse soils of the tropics and subtropics and primarily features mechanical means to increase cropping intensity. Handtools and draft animal implements are not reviewed, except for a brief discussion of the rice paddy tools. Despite higher investment costs and potential social problems, mechanical tillage is considered a suitable alternative to handtools and animal power by many agronomists when used in areas where land is extensive and/or labor is not readily available during critical periods. This book is a very helpful addition to the literature on agricultural mechanization, providing a balanced review of environmental impacts and good insights and design criteria for the development of new tools.

Intercropping in Tropical Smallholder Agriculture with Special Reference to West Africa, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-240, paperback book, 312 pages, by Kurt R. Steiner, 1982, GTZ, out of print.

“There are many advantages of intercropping for smallholdings, and this is obviously the reason why farmers have not abandoned their traditional systems in spite of the efforts of extension services to introduce sole cropping.

“The main advantages of intercropping can be summarized as follows:

—better use of limited resources (light, water, nutrients) resulting in higher yields per unit area and unit of time;

—increased yield stability and reduced probability of incomes falling below the subsistence level;

—reduced crop losses due to weeds, pests and diseases;

—contribution towards soil fertility maintenance through reduced erosion and nutrient leaching; and,

—more balanced distribution of labour requirements throughout the season, as labour peaks for land preparation and weeding are reduced.”

This is a valuable reference book for agronomists, extension agents, and agricultural policymakers on the practice of growing several crops on the same piece of land at the same time. The very scientific language and technical illustrations (particularly of the sections reviewing currently available research and literature) make it less appropriate for use by local development workers of farmers. More information on intercropping in West Africa is contained here than has previously been assembled. The author has effectively organized a large body of data and information to make a persuasive case that traditional and improved intercropping

systems are a viable approach to optimizing crop production in West Africa. The book includes an overview of intercropping in small-holder agriculture in tropical Africa, detailed descriptions of the agronomic and socio-economic aspects of this approach, and conclusions and recommendations for further research and extension. This last section is excellent, though lamentably too brief. An appendix contains a number of very useful maps and tables, such as good crop combinations for specific countries and the region. Hopefully, this publication may provide stimulus and helpful guidelines for the compilation of similar information for other countries and regions of the world.

Guide for Small-Holder Coffee Farmers, Job No. Q4217-AGO, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05281, book, 38 pages, by Department of Agriculture, Zambia, 1983, out of print, available in microfiche form from David Lubin Library, FAO.

A set of simple, illustrated instructions showing recommended steps in planting, growing and harvesting coffee. Prepared for small-holder farmers in Zambia; reproduced by FAO.

Better Farming Series, booklets, 29 to 63 pages each, 1979 FAO English edition, $5.00 each from UNIPUB; series also available from TOOL.

Twenty-seven titles have been published in this series of handbooks for a two-year agricultural training course. In each case, the text is very simple, containing only basic but useful information and many drawings. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published this English set. These booklets were originally produced by the Institut Africain pour le Developpement Economique et Social (INVADES) in French for use in Africa. (French language editions are available from INVADES Formation, 08 B.P. 8, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.)

1. The plant: the living plant- the root (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-137)

2. The plant: the stems, the buds; the leaves (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-138)

3. The plant: the flower (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-139)

4. The soil: how the soil is made up (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-140)

5. The soil: how to conserve the soil (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-141)

6. The soil: how to improve the soil (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-142)

7. Crop farming (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-143)

8. Animal husbandry: feeding and care of animals (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-144)

9. Animal husbandry: animal diseases; how animals reproduce (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-145)

10. The farm business survey (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-146)

11. Cattle breeding (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-147)

12. Sheep and goat breeding (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-148)

13. Keeping chickens (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-149)

14. Farming with animal power (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-150)

15. Cereals (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-151)

16. Roots and tubers (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-152)

17. Groundnuts (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-153)

18. Bananas (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-154)

19. Market gardening (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-155)

20. Upland rice (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-156)

21. Wet paddy or swamp rice (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-157)

22. Cocoa (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-158)

23. Coffee (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-159)

24. The oil palm (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-160).25. The rubber tree (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-161)

26. The modern farm business (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-162)

27. Freshwater fish farming (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 09-324)

East African Crops, book, 252 pages, by J.D. Acland, 1971, £8.50 from ITDG; also available from TOOL.

The FAO sponsored this reference book on common field and plantation crops in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Horticultural and fodder crops are not covered. Plant characteristics, ecology, field operations, harvesting, pests and diseases are each discussed for each crop. The length of the text varies, presumably with the crop’s economic importance, from 30 pages for Arabica coffee to 2 pages for pigeon peas. The importance of some of these crops has likely changed significantly since this book was published in 1971.

Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-225, book, 188 pages, National Academy of Sciences panel report, attached summary in French and Spanish, 1975, accession no. PB-251656, paper copies $23 domestic, $46 foreign; microfiche $8 domestic, $16 foreign; from NTIS.

This is a remarkable survey of rarely utilized or under-exploited plants which offer promise as sources of food, forage, or industrial raw materials for developing countries. Compiled by a panel of international agricultural experts. 37 species of cereals, tubers, vegetables, fruits, oilseeds, forage, and miscellaneous crops are presented.

What makes this book especially valuable is the inclusion of selected readings on each crop and personal contacts for research and seed sources. The reader can immediately put the information to use. A sampling of the entries:

Grain Amaranths (Amaranthus species): The seeds of these almost totally neglected Central American grain crops have extremely high levels of protein and the nutritionally essential amino acid lysine, which is usually deficient in plant protein.

Wax Gourd (Benicasa hispida) This large, melon-like vegetable is easy to grow and can yield three crops per year. Its outstanding feature is that the fruit can be kept without refrigeration for as long as 12 months.

Durian (Durio): The common durian is a large, spiny fruit that is enjoyed by many for its taste and disliked by others for its odor. Newly discovered odorless species might be more aesthetically acceptable and could open a world market for this crop.

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis): This subtropical, North American desert plant is unique in the vegetable kingdom; it secretes liquid wax in its seeds instead of the glyceride oils secreted by other plants. Liquid waxes are important in industry. They are difficult to synthesize, and the only other source is the sperm whale. The development of jojoba as a crop promises to provide important economic benefits to arid tropical and subtropical regions.

Tamarugo (Prosopis tamarugo): A hardy, leguminous tree, native to the forbidding Atacama Desert in Chile, tamarugo grows through a layer of salt sometimes 1 meter thick. The nutritional quality of its pods and leaves allows sheep to be stocked at rates approaching those of the best forage areas of the world.

Spirulina (Spirulina platensis and Spirulina maxima): These high-protein algae grow in brackish and alkaline waters. Unlike some other algae, spirulina’s.large clumps make it easy to harvest by net or other simple means. It is palatable and is already eaten in Chad and Mexico.

The Winged Bean: A High-Protein Crop for the Tropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-228, booklet, 27 pages, 1975 (2nd edition 1981), National Academy of Sciences panel report, accession no. PB84-215714/LL, paper copies $15 domestic, $30 foreign; microfiche $8 domestic, $16 foreign; from NTIS.

Edible legumes are excellent sources of dietary protein and oils. This report focuses on the exceptional promise offered by a minor tropical legume that has received little scientific attention. The panel that produced this booklet consisted of people who are familiar with this bean. They are convinced that “with research the winged bean can become a significant food crop in the humid tropics,’ and that this bean may be as important as the soybean in the future. Currently the winged bean is eaten throughout Southeast Asia, although it is not nearly as important a food source there as it could be.

This booklet presents an overview of what is known about the winged bean, its potential and research needs. The booklet is intended for development assistance agencies and institutions concerned with agriculture in tropical countries. A list of researchers who might supply seeds or advice is included.

The winged bean has these characteristics: 1) it grows in humid zones but can also be grown in drier or higher altitude zones (up to 7000 feet); 2) the entire plant is rich in protein, and the tuberous roots have ten times the protein concentration of cassava, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yams; 3) its nitrogen-fixing capacity enables it to grow in poor soils; 4) the whole plant can be eaten and it does not have the bitter, beany flavor of the soybean, but is quite tasty; and 5) it is suited to the small farm, requiring staking and harvesting over many months instead of all at one time.

Tropical Legumes: Resources for the Future, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-223, book, 331 pages, by the National Academy of Sciences, 1979, $12.00 from BOSTID, HA-476E, National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20006, USA; also available from ITDG and TOOL.

This book features over 30 members of the Leguminosae family of plants, commonly known in English as legumes. These highly valued plants can improve soil conditions and are excellent sources of protein. Rhizobium bacteria attached to growths (nodules) on certain legume roots capture nitrogen from the air, which gives the plants the power to grow in areas subject to erosion, low fertility, and other adverse conditions. Root crops, pulses (beans), fruits, forage crops, fast growing trees, luxury timbers, ornamental and miscellaneous species from within this vast plant group are discussed in this well-documented and illustrated text. Brief descriptions of each species—advantages, limitations, and research needs— are provided. There is a very good chapter that illustrates how legumes can be used for green manures, soil reclamation, and erosion control. Also included are charts of comparative nutritional values for the various species; address lists for seed and germplasm sources; and listings of research correspondents around the world.

A National Academy of Sciences panel selected each plant on the basis of:

1. Its potential to help improve the quality of life in developing countries;

2. The present lack of recognition of this potential;

3. Its need for greater attention from researchers and farmers, and increased investment by organizations that fund research and development projects.

Some of the more remarkable species include:

African Yam Bean. “This root crop from Africa produces a nutritious seed, as well as edible tubers and leaves. It can be grown in inherently infertile, weathered soils where the rainfall is extremely high. Although highly regarded among people of tropical Africa, the crop is virtually unknown elsewhere. It has received essentially no research attention or recognition from agriculture researchers.”

Moth Bean. “An exceptionally hardy South Asian legume that thrives in hot, dry, tropical conditions, the moth bean produces nutritious seeds and green pods, leafy forage for hay or pasture, and a soil-building ‘living mulch’ to complement orchard crops and to protect and improve fallow land. Nonetheless the moth bean remains virtually untouched by modern science and unknown outside the Indian subcontinent. It has characteristics that could make it valuable for torrid, semiarid regions throughout the tropics. It is likely to prove very useful in extending agricultural production into marginal regions—especially those bordering tropical arid zones”

Carob. “The sugar-rich, mealy pulp contained in carob pods has for millennia been a favorite of people in hot, dry areas of the Mediterranean basin. The handsome, drought-tolerant carob tree deserves more research and widespread exploitation in semiarid areas, for in addition to pulp it provides a chocolate substitute, high-protein flour, and an industrial gum, as well as shade, beautification, erosion control, and forage.”

Sesbania grandiflora. “This Southeast Asian tree grows exceptionally fast and provides an amazing range of products: edible leaves, flowers, and gum, as well as forage, firewood, pulp and paper, and green manure. It is also used as a shade tree, ornamental, nurse crop, and living fence. It has extraordinarily prolific nodulation and could become valuable for village use and for large-scale reforestation throughout much of the tropics.”

A Farmer’s Primer on Growing Rice, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-236, book, 221 pages, by Benito S. Vergara, 1979, $6.00 ($2.40 for Third World) plus $1.00 surface mail or $5.00 airmail, from IRRI, P.O. Box 933, Manila, Philippines; also available from TOOL.

“A progressive rice farmer should understand why and how the improved rice varieties and farm technology increase production. But recommendations given to farmers often fail to answer questions such as why a farmer incubates seed, why he or she applies fertilizer, or how and when that fertilizer should be incorporated.

“The farmer needs this knowledge to adjust his practices to suit his own unique farm situation.”

More than 150 full-page line drawings illustrate the important basic concepts surrounding rice production, particularly production with the new high-yield varieties. Text is limited to a few sentences explaining each illustration. This makes the book accessible to those who don’t read well. Non-literates will be able to use the book with the help of a fieldworker who can explain the illustrations. The limited text also makes it easy to produce translations of the English version, and a number of such translations have already been published. The illustrations can also be enlarged and used as training aids in a poster format.

This book has proven popular in the field, and we recommend it.

Root Crops, Crop and Product Digest No. 2, book, 280 pages, by Mrs. D.E. Kay, 1985, free to recipients of British aid, £13.50 to others, from NRI.

This book covers 40 varieties of root crops.

One underexploited root crop is the Jerusalem artichoke. It is “relatively free from serious attacks of pests and disease in the field, although if grown where the drainage is poor, root rot, Sclerotium rolfsii can be troublesome …. The tubers are ready for harvesting when the leaves begin to wither and die and are usually lifted manually with a fork as required, since they can be ‘field-stored’ without any deterioration in their quality or flavor. When grown for pig feed, the animals are often turned loose on the plot and root out the tubers.”

Guayule: An Alternative Source of Natural Rubber, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-183, book, 90 pages, by

National Academy of Sciences, 1977, Commission on International Relations, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., out of print.

“This report examines the state of knowledge and the future promise of guayule Parthenium argentatum Gray, a little known shrub native to the desert of southwest Texas and northern Mexico that was a commercial source of natural rubber during the first half of this century.”

This perennial shrub thrives in arid conditions and can survive heavy frosts. Guayule, after thorough drying, has been found to contain as much as 26% rubber. This rubber can be used to make vehicle tires or any other item currently made with natural rubber. It is a promising plant for use in reforestation of desert fringe lands and is easy to grow. Extraction of the rubber is not technically difficult; in fact, small-scale household extraction is possible. The plant can be cut down to the ground and will grow again from the roots.

The book covers: background and history, botanical information, rubber extraction, agricultural production, rubber quality, economics, research needs, selected readings and recommendations. There are no lists of sources for seeds.

“When guayule grows actively, it produces little or no rubber. If the plant is stressed, growth slows and the products from photosynthesis are diverted into rubber production. Thus when growth slows during cold weather or because of reduced moisture supply, the rubber content begins to increase.”

Jojoba Publications, from the Office of Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona, 845 North Park Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85719, USA.

Jojoba, a plant native to the Sonoran desert in North America, produces a liquid wax with a wide variety of potential uses. This liquid wax possesses “qualities not to be found in any other vegetable oil.” One major use is to replace sperm whale oil as a lubricant for high-speed machinery. Historically, the plant has had a wide range of uses among the native American populations in the area.

Much of the research has focused on plantation cultivation of jojoba. Jojoba and Its Uses (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-193, Hease and McGinnies, eds., 81 pages, $5.00 plus $3.00 overseas postage) is a 1972 conference report, including a paper on the potential of using rainstorm runoff farming techniques to increase jojoba yields. A major drawback of plantation cultivation of jojoba is the length of time needed before significant production can be achieved—up to ten years. Recent developments indicate that it may be possible to greatly reduce this gap between planting and full production.

Several bibliographies with over 750 entries were incorporated into one volume (Jojoba: A Guide to the Literature, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-195, by A. Elias-Cesnik, $5.00 plus $3.00 overseas postage) in 1982. The Office of Arid Lands Studies acts as a clearinghouse for information on jojoba activity, and arranges for distribution of jojoba seed. Jojoba Happenings (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-194) is published by John Turner Public Relations six times a year, and is available for $15.00 in the U.S., $20.00 foreign (add $9.00 for airmail) from Jojoba Happenings, 805 North 4th Avenue #404, Phoenix, Arizona 85003-1304, USA. Back issues from 1983 are available for $2.50 each.

Vegetable Seeds for the Tropics, Bulletin 301, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-259, 40 pages, by G.J.H. Grubben, 1978, Department of Agricultural Research of the Royal Tropical Institute Amsterdam, SKAT, out of print.

“This bulletin is meant to give guidelines for local seed growers, for extension workers and for vegetable growers, both commercial and non-commercial, to obtain… the best quality imported seeds and how to improve the quality of the locally produced seeds. It is not a guide for large-scale commercial seed production …. Bad seed gives an irregular stand, weak seedlings, a low yield and an inferior product. Good seed means a good start for a high yield of good quality vegetables.” Climate, day length, seed drying and storage, seed testing, and recommended varieties are discussed. A list of sources is provided.

The Nursery Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-245, book, 456 pages, by L.H. Bailey, 1922, out of print.

This out-of-print classic, first published in 1891, is still an authoritative reference on the propagation of plants by means of seeds, layers, cuttings, buds, grafts, and other techniques. The manual was part of a set of one-volume encyclopedias (known as “The Rural Manuals”) edited by Dr. Bailey for small farmers and agricultural extensionists. The various means of multiplication are defined and described in detail with excellent line illustrations. Also included is an illustrated account of the main diseases and insects of nursery stock, which would be

most useful to commercial growers. In this case, the remedies for specific infestations need to be reevaluated in light of the current understanding and practice in integrated pest management. For example, some of the milder controls such as applying soap or tobacco solution (nicotine sulphate) may well be worth using, while extremely toxic pesticides such as lead arsenic should be avoided. One third of the book contains an alphabetic list of plants with full directions for

propagation of each of them. Unfortunately, given the book’s intended North American audience, crops from other climates are inadequately covered here.

Growing Garden Seeds: A Manual for Gardeners and Small Farmers, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-182, booklet, 30 pages, by Robert Johnson, Jr., 1976, $1.95 plus $2.50 postage and handling from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Organic Seed and Crop Research, Albion, Maine 04910, USA.

The author of this booklet is the founder of a successful small-scale vegetable seed production and distribution company. The booklet is informative and easy to understand and apply. A brief description of the process of selecting, harvesting, and storing seeds is followed by instructions for producing seeds from 33 of the most common vegetables grown in North America and Europe. No special tools, expensive facilities, nor education are necessary to master the techniques described.

“Adaptation, usefulness, and quality characteristics of a vegetable variety can be improved … by selection. The basic type is ‘Natural Selection’, caused by environmental pressures. For example, in the North in a given year, perhaps only half of the plants of a corn crop will produce mature ears and kernels. Naturally, the ears selected for seed would be chosen from these earlier maturing ears. In this way, Nature forces a crop to either adapt or perish.”

“The other type of selection is accomplished by the gardener. For instance not only would one choose for seed ears of corn which did mature well, but further select the most desirable ear types from what are considered to be the best corn plants.” This is of course what traditional farmers have done for centuries in most places.

The main drawback to using this booklet in other parts of the world is that the vegetable varieties are from temperate zones, and many can’t be grown in tropical regions except in highland areas. Groups in developing tropical countries could adapt this information to suit their own conditions, by including other crops and consulting with local farmers and extension agents about the best local practices.

Small Farm Weed Control: An Annotated Bibliography, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-215, book, 175 pages, by J.A.F. Compton, ITDG, out of print.

Weed control can play an important role in raising the productivity of small farms. This bibliography surveys literature on weed control tools and techniques for use in rice paddy, highland and temperate zones, humid tropics, and the semiarid tropics. A useful “Overview” introduces the reader to the options available and provides references to specific reviews within the bibliography. Ordering addresses for copies of the reviewed papers are given for readers who are unable to obtain the documents locally.

Simple Assessment Techniques for Soil and Water, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-213, booklet, 37 pages, Coordination in Development, Environment and Development Program, New York, out of print.

This fine booklet presents procedures for six simple soil and water tests using mostly locally available materials such as tin cans and glass jars. The tests include: soil pH, soil texture, percolation, dissolved minerals (in water), sodium in water, and coliform bacteria. Each test is followed by interpretations of the results. “What is surprising is how much useful information can be gained with so little equipment. These tests deal with significant features of soil and water, and with reasonable care the results can be meaningful and reliable.” Recommended for people doing farming, irrigation, and water supply work. Also good for science teaching.

Test the Soil First, Popular Mechanics Plan No. X630, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-221, 4 pages, by John B. Mullen, 1957, $3.00 from Popular Mechanics.

This article provides a good basic explanation of soil testing, including the preparation of chemical solutions to do tests and the evaluation of test results. No mention is made of local plants which can often be used to measure pH. The author recommends adding chemical fertilizers even when tests for phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen indicate very high levels are already present—a wasteful recommendation. There is also no mention of natural fertilizers or composting.

Basic Soil Improvement for Everyone, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-136, booklet, 31 pages, by James M. Corven, 1983, $3.50 from VITA.

This excellent guide explains the basics of soil management. Advantages and disadvantages are given for various forms of tillage, including u-bar tillage, double digging, chisel plow, and low-till cropping. The importance and methods of composting are presented with special reference to sugarcane trash, forest leaves, paddy husk, and water hyacinth. Mulch, fertilizer and nitrogen-fixing legumes are also discussed. This is a good introductory piece, but it will be useful to consult more specific texts in this section.

Composting in Tropical Agriculture, Review Paper Series No. 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05165, booklet, 36 pages, by H.W. Dalzell, K.R. Gray, and A.J. Biddlestone, International Institute of Biological Husbandry, 1979, out of print.

This book looks at the principles, techniques, and economics of composting as they apply to the specific problems faced by farmers in tropical developing countries.

Composting for the Tropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-164, booklet, 27 pages, edited by V.L. Leroux, 1963, Henry Doubleday Research Association, out of print in 1985.

Dating from British colonial days in Eastern and Southern Africa, this booklet describes three successful composting methods developed in present-day Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The simple but effective methods of three former market gardeners and farmers are presented by the Henry Doubleday Research Association in the hope of sharing practical experience with farmers in other tropical countries.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to tropical agriculture is to maintain soil fertility and productivity at the same time. Often the value of both natural and chemical fertilizers is lost due to rapid processes of decay and leaching. Using sawdust-based composts, these farmers were able to take advantage of the long decay period of sawdust to slow the breakdown and loss of plant nutrients. Thus, these nutrients remained available for food crops.

The information is valuable but may be of limited use in developing countries because sawdust may not be a material readily available to the rural farm population. Also, available sawdust and wood shavings are often used for fuel.

No illustrations are included, but the written descriptions of the processes are easy to understand if the reader has a basic knowledge of agriculture.

Composting: Sanitary Disposal and Reclamation of Organic Wastes, WHO Monograph No. 31, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-166, book, 200 pages, by H. Gotaas, 1956 (reprinted 1971), order no. 1140031, $28.00 (30% discount on orders from developing countries) from WHO; also available from WHO regional distributors; also available in French.

This is a solid, important reference book for anyone seriously interested in composting as part of fertilizer policy. Most of the book deals with fundamentals of composting: decomposition, raw materials, sanitary importance, etc. There are 26 pages on composting methods for villages and small towns. The book also includes a chapter on methods and planning for cities. The facts, figures, and illustrations are comprehensive. Coverage of continuous-operation, low-impact techniques suitable for developing countries, such as the Bangalore/Indore method (see illustration) for handling assorted wastes, is outstanding.

One feature of this recommended manual is a 23-page chapter on methane gas recovery in farms and villages. It contains important information on gas pressure and the biological composition of waste input into digesters, as well as a good general introduction. However, the design itself is an unproven one, and from our experience it’s not very workable in practice.

Backyard Composting, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-134, booklet, 17 pages, by Helga Olkowski, 1975, $1.00 inside U.S., $1.95 outside U.S., from Berkeley Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, California 94702, USA.

This is a brief summary of the Berkeley Fast Composting Method, where organic wastes can yield a nitrogen-rich humus in just 14-21 days. The technique covered in this booklet takes attention and human energy, but its high quality and quick results warrant the effort.

“This compost will provide a plant fertilizer as well as act as a soil amendment and mulch; fly and rodent problems will be kept to minimums; high temperatures will be reached that will kill most plant pathogens and even take apart pesticides.”

The drawings depict the tools needed for this method: a system of bins (at least 3), simply constructed of wood, bamboo, or other available materials, to facilitate storing and turning the organic matter; a pitchfork; and a tool to chop, shred, or otherwise reduce the size of organic wastes for easier decomposition. The raw materials are leafy vegetable material, animal manure, kitchen scraps (or market refuse), and a high-carbon substance such as sawdust, rice straw, corn husks, etc. Often animals kept in cages prove to be the most effective “compost shredders,” and a chopping tool made of a long-handled blade hinged to a block of wood can be very useful. Pitchforks can be manufactured by local blacksmiths.

We recommend this method and booklet to anyone interested in efficient village or city-based compost production.

China: Recycling of Organic Wastes in Agriculture, FAO Soils Bulletin No. 40, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-163, book, 107 pages, 1979, $11.50 from UNIPUB.

This valuable resource book surveys the use and re-use in present-day China of substances such as night soil (human waste), city garbage, and water weeds—which are often ignored or disposed of in both developed and developing countries alike. Good quality photographs, charts, working drawings, and systems diagrams are used to explain the various methods and installations found in China by an FAO/UNDP study team.

Techniques of special interest include:

—The seeding and inoculation of rice paddies with Azolla Pinnata, a small aquatic plant which harbors nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae. These biological fertilizers are cultivated and stored by simple methods.

—The production of fertilizer directly in the fields in silt-grass manure pits. River silt, rice straw, animal dung, aquatic plants, and small quantities of chemical fertilizers (such as superphosphate) are built up in layers in round or rectangular pits and covered by a sealing layer of soil.

—The composting of night soil and city garbage in concrete tanks and mud-plastered piles. High temperatures, conscientious maintenance, and scientific controls assure that disease-causing organisms are kept under control.

—Extensive use of “green manures,” crops which are not harvested for animal or human consumption. These are plowed under to add organic matter, improve soil structure, prevent nutrient leaching, and, in the case of leguminous crops, add nitrogen to the soil.

—The widespread use of biogas technology to convert human and animal wastes into fuel and fertilizer. (This topic is covered more fully by other books reviewed in the biogas chapter of the A.T. Sourcebook.)

The information presented in this book is easily understandable. It should be remembered that the cost and production figures cited are as reported by the Chinese themselves. It is doubtful that the virtually complete recycling of organic matter as practiced in China can be adopted in many other countries. Incentives may be lacking, and there are often cultural inhibitions against waste handling. Nevertheless, this book identifies effective and proven options which could be attempted throughout the world.

Highly recommended.

How to Make Fertilizer, Technical Bulletin No. 8, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-187, 8 pages, by Harlan Attfield, illustrated by Marina Maspero, $5.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail), from VITA; also available in Spanish and French.

Drawings and simple text on composting crop residues and manure, adapted from a Bangladesh booklet. Uses bamboo bins.

Small Plastic Greenhouses, Publication No. 2387, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-216, leaflet, 12 pages by Robert Parsons, 1974, Division of Agricultural Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, California, out of print.

This set of five plans for plastic-covered light frame greenhouses provides a practical approach to greenhouse construction. Unlike glass-covered greenhouses, which require expensive glass and heavy wood beams for support, these structures are simply built, low-cost, and lightweight. The plastic film covering, where obtainable, is easily installed and unbreakable. There would be a need to periodically change the worn-out plastic. It is unclear whether the plastic film could withstand heavy tropical monsoon winds and rains.

Managing Pests and Pesticides in Small Scale Agriculture, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05271, book, 204 pages, by F.H.J. van Schoubroeck et al, Center for Development Work, 1990 Dfl. 22.50 from TOOL.

This is an introductory book to provide a general understanding of the principles of integrated pest management, a group of techniques for minimizing pesticide use while controlling pest damage to crops. Emphasis is given to identifying friendly insects and to using physical techniques to minimize the growth of harmful insect populations Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE. Biological control, good storage practices, and safe use of pesticides are discussed.

There are some useful though brief suggestions about how to conduct IPM training for farmers. “After such training, farmers view the use of pesticides more as a financial investment than as a means to guarantee their harvest. They can also identify the most important pests and are able to decide whether spraying is necessary or not. Farmers who have undergone training in IPM achieve higher yields and use less pesticides each season than untrained farmers. This evidence comes from the results of a survey conducted five years after the IPM training took place.”

Case studies are from Peru and Sri Lanka. Appendices contain lists of the most common pesticides, their tradenames, properties, and environmental effects.

Integrated Pest Management, A Catalogue of Training and Extension Materials, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-276, book, 305 pages, by F.A.N. van Alebeek, 1989, available free of charge to institutes and organizations in Third World countries, $8.00 plus postage to developed countries, from Department of Entomology, Wageningen Agricultural University, P.O. Box 8031, 6700 EH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can bring about a substantial improvement in the food production of small-scale farmers. This system is based on conserving and enhancing naturally occurring limiting factors to contain plant pests and diseases below thresholds that cause economic damage. Biological control, cultural control including traditional and new agricultural practices, mechanical control use of host plant resistance, and selective chemical crop protection are all components of IPM.

Implementation of IPM has been slowed by the lack of widely available information. This catalog is an attempt to inventory and review this material, covering 350 handbooks, 120 slide sets, and 60 posters, films and videos covering various aspects of pest management in the tropics.

Each entry includes crop, geographical region, target audience, and ordering information. Innovative INDEXs match crops with geographical regions, pests and diseases, and methods of crop protection. There are 150 IPM research and information centers listed.

Integrated Pest Management, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-239, book, 120 pages, by Dale Bottrell, 1979, Council on Environmental Quality, Consortium for International Crop Protection, out of print.

“Chemical pesticides are—and will continue to be—of considerable importance in food and fiber production, forest management, and public health and urban pest control programs. However, in addition to continuing concern about their environmental and health effects, other disadvantages of heavy dependence on chemical pesticides have become increasingly apparent. The price of synthetic organic pesticides has risen significantly …. Groups of pests have developed strains that are genetically resistant to the pesticides …. The resistant groups include some of the world’s most serious insect pests affecting agriculture and public health.”

“Integrated Pest Management (IPM) seeks maximum use of naturally occurring pest controls including weather, disease agents, predators, and parasites. In addition, IPM utilizes various biological, physical, and chemical control and habitat modification techniques. Artificial controls are imposed only as required to keep a pest from surpassing intolerable population levels predetermined from accurate assessments of the pest damage potential and the ecological, sociological and economic costs of the control measures.”

“The presence of a pest species does not necessarily justify action for its control, and in fact tolerable infestations may be desirable, providing food for beneficial insects, for example.”

Whereas important advances have been made since this study was done, it provides a good introduction to the subject with examples of control techniques and strategies.

Large-scale programs of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service show “the feasibility of IPM on major agricultural crops such as cotton, corn, tobacco, apples, grain sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, and citrus—with little or no reduction in yields and higher net profits than with conventional programs.”

Illustrated Guide to Integrated Pest Management in Rice in Tropical Asia, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-269, book, 411 pages, by W.H. Reissig et. al., International Rice Research Institute, 1986, $33.30 plus $11.00 airmail or $3.00 surface mail, from IRRI, P.O. Pox 933, Manila, Philippines.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is based on several fundamental economic and ecological principles. First, from an economic point of view, scarce time and resources should not be devoted to the application of pesticides when pest populations are not likely to significantly damage crops. Yet farmers around the world have generally used pesticides according to the calendar, with no reference to the real threat by pests. This means that much pesticide use constitutes a waste of resources.

Secondly, from an environmental point of view, indiscriminate pesticide use has led to the eradication of the natural predators of the pests, the development of pesticide resistant varieties of pests, and the spread of hazardous chemicals which threaten the health of both human beings and farm animals. Thus, IPM recognizes that pesticides should be used as little as possible, and only when measurements of insect populations indicate that pesticide intervention is both economically justified and the only viable method to control these pests.

The Illustrated Guide is a remarkable compilation of the best IPM techniques for rice. Two hundred pages are devoted to the major insect pests of rice, covering their life cycles, describing monitoring techniques, and recommending non-.pesticide methods of control. The several thousand illustrations help in the identification of pests and indicate where they are likely to be found on the rice plant. Rice diseases, weed pests and rats are also covered. Attention is also given to biological control of rice pests and to safety techniques in the use of pesticides. The illustrations communicate an extraordinary amount of information in a very accessible fashion.

Readers unfamiliar with IPM techniques will find this an important tool for rapid learning.

Friends of the Rice Farmer: Helpful Insects, Spiders, and Pathogens, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-275, booklet, 136 pages, by B. M. Shepard et. al., 1987, $4.30 plus $3.00 for airmail, $1.00 for surface mail, from IRRI Publications, P.O. Box 933, Manila, Philippines.

“Before intelligent decisions about pesticide applications can be made, it is necessary to be able to identify which insect species are pests and which are beneficial… The beneficial species often control insect pests, especially in places where use of broad-spectrum pesticides is avoided. Without these beneficial species the insect pests would multiply so quickly that they would completely consume the rice crop….”

This farmer’s pocketbook “illustrates representative examples of some of the more common species of predators, parasites, and diseases of insect pests of rice. It can be used with the IRRI booklet Field Problems of Tropical Rice, which provides information only on pest species ….”

“Scientific language has been minimized so that the descriptions can be more easily understood. The pictures will provide an easy way of identifying beneficial species and thereby help prevent unnecessary chemical treatments.” The booklet was designed to be easily translated and published in languages other than English. There are good line drawings and excellent color photographs of each beneficial insect and spider.

Code of Practice for Safe Use of Pesticides, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-235, booklet, 28 pages, CSIRO, 1976, out of print.

Pesticides are now widely used in developing countries, and farmers and farm workers are often being exposed to great health hazards as a result. While substantially reducing or stopping the use of pesticides may be possible in the long term, protection and handling precautions deserve immediate emphasis. This booklet summarizes the basic steps to minimize the health risks during field application.

“Although any given amount of pesticide is more rapidly and more completely absorbed if inhaled or ingested … the most likely route of pesticides into the body is through the skin …. Most of the pesticides in common use can be absorbed through the skin; this fact is particularly significant when handling the concentrated material …. More pesticide applications take place in warmer weather, thus giving potentially greater hazard through skin exposure, but in addition,

pesticides are absorbed through the skin more rapidly and more completely at higher temperatures …. Overalls buttoned at the wrist and neck and a cloth hat should be worn.”

The health risks from pesticide use could be greatly reduced by following the no-cost and low-cost recommendations made here. However, the high cost of respirators and the cost and inconvenience of full protective clothing in hot climates mean that substantial risks will remain for pesticide users in developing countries.

An Agromedical Approach to Pesticide Management, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-231, book, 320 pages, edited by John Davies et. al., from the Consortium for International Crop Protection, 4321 Hartwick Road, Suite 404, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA.

Safety practices and first-aid for pesticide poisoning victims are treated here. The discussion of how pesticide poisoning commonly occurs is based on experiences in developing countries.

“Past experience has shown that whenever there is increased use of agricultural chemicals, human pesticide poisoning soon becomes a major public health problem.”

Soil Conservation: Project Design and Implementation Using Labour Intensive Techniques, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-285, book, 206 pages, by Bernard Leblond and Laurent Guerin, 1983, 20 Swiss Francs from ILO.

This book provides extensive coverage of the range of soil conservation techniques that are practiced and affordable in developing countries. Topics include forest protection and reforestation, contour farming, tiering and terracing, bank and gully protection, and drainage of waterlogged soil. Project planning and implementation is a major topic of the second part of the book. The appendix contains illustrations of standard soil conservation structures.

Approved Practices in Soil Conservation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-130, book, 497 pages, by Albert B. Foster, 1955, reprinted 1982, $19.95 from Interstate Printers and Publishers, Inc., 19-27 North Jackson Street, Danville, Illinois 61832, USA.

Written for use in North America, this book sometimes assumes the use of mechanized equipment and chemical inputs not readily available for the local Third World farmer. However, it contains much information which the small farmer and resource management planner would find useful. Emphasis is on conservation of land cultivated for field crops. Management of woodlands and pastures is also discussed.

Introduction to Soil and Water Conservation Practices, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-241, booklet, 33 pages, 1985, revised 1990 edition $4.00 plus shipping from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, USA; Indonesian edition from Studio Driya Media, Jalan Hariangbanga No. 2 Pav, Bandung, Indonesia 40116.

This comic-book style booklet illustrates simple methods for reducing soil erosion and water runoff on sloping farm land. These methods include erecting barriers or dikes along contour lines and constructing drainage ditches with check dams. All materials used are locally available, usually at no cost.

Barriers may be constructed of wood or bamboo, rocks, or soil. Sometimes certain fast-growing trees, grasses, or pineapple plants are used to strengthen the barriers. They may also provide firewood, fodder, and green manure to increase the fertility of the soil.

Clear illustrations and explanations of basic concepts make this a valuable booklet for fieldworkers and farmers. This is the first book in a series on the topic. For more information on the use of leucaena for soil conservation, see Leucaena Based Farming. A number of other booklets on dryland agriculture will be available in the future.


Leucaena Based Farming, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-243, booklet, 29 pages, 1985, revised 1990 edition $4.00 plus shipping from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, USA; Indonesian edition from Studio Driya Media, Jalan Hariangbanga No. 2 Pav, Bandung, Indonesia 40116.

Some farmers in the dry hilly eastern islands of Indonesia have begun to control erosion by planting leucaena trees along the contour lines of their sloping fields. The leucaena trees grow very quickly. When planted closely together in a row along the contour line, they create a live barrier and network of roots which hold soil in place. They also provide firewood, and the leaves can be worked back into the soil to provide a “green manure” rich in nutrients or used as a feed supplement for livestock. Other grasses and trees suitable for soil erosion control are also mentioned.

While local farmers have been very happy with the results of this approach, the authors have pointed out to us that it may be wise to avoid exclusive dependence upon leucaena in applying these soil conservation methods. This seems particularly true now, as a leucaena pest has been moving across the Pacific Ocean from Latin America, damaging leucaena trees.

This is the second in the comic-book style series which begins with Introduction to Soil and Water Conservation Practices.


Vetiver Grass: A Method of Vegetative Soil and Moisture Conservation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-283, booklet, 69 pages, edited by Fran Bidero, 1987, World Bank/New Delhi, out of print.

This well-illustrated handbook describes a system of soil and water conservation based on the use of plants as a cheaper and more effective system than earth bunds. It is written for farmers and fieldworkers based on experience in India using vetiver grass (khus, khuskhus), which is the best-known plant for this purpose.

“The short-term costs of constructed soil conservation measures would outrun the short-term benefits by three or four times, and these practices not only cost money, they also cut production. Farmers do not look kindly on these practices.”

“On the other hand, vegetative soil and moisture conservation measures are not only extremely cheap (less than 1/10-1/100 the cost of constructed banks and waterways) but the farmers can do the work themselves, and, if they have the planting material, at no cost. Once vegetative hedges are established (usually takes two to three seasons) they are permanent. When they are followed as contour guidelines for cultivation and planting, the resulting ‘in-situ’ moisture conservation increases yields by at least 50% over traditional methods.”

Integrated Farm Management, Practical Guide to Dryland Farming No. 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-286, booklet, 36 pages, 1989, ,$4.00 plus shipping from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, USA; Indonesian edition from Studio Driya Media, Jalan Hariangbanga No. 2 Pav, Bandung, Indonesia 40116.

This illustrated booklet explains the many benefits of integrated farming based on soil and water conservation practices that have been successfully applied in eastern Indonesia. Intended for use by extension agents working with farmers, the drawings could be easily modified for use with farmers in other parts of the world.

Guidelines for Watershed Management, FAO Conservation Guide 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05282, book, 293 pages, 1977, $40.00 from UNIPUB.

A collection of articles and case studies relevant to conditions in developing countries, including measuring and monitoring of erosion, basic watershed management principles, erosion control methods, terracing, landslide problems, and remote sensing for watershed management.

Gully Control and Reclamation, VITA Technical Bulletin 51037-BK, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-260, booklet, 26 pages, by Robert Flannery, 1981, $5.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA.

This manual describes how erosion causes gullies, what can be done to stop gullies from deepening, and how to reclaim eroded soil. Written for South Africa, but useful elsewhere as well.


Manual for Calculation of Check Dams, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-244, by Bernhard Hiller, 1979, 85 pages, photocopies available from SDC or SKAT.

This manual was written for engineers “to calculate and to design check dams for torrent control to prevent erosion under Nepalese conditions. Locally available construction material, the lack of contractors’ skill and know-how and the total absence of machinery require a special type of structure: the gravity check dam. This manual shows step by step how to proceed in the construction of such a check dam.”

Dry masonry and gabion (wire-surrounded) check dams only. Includes detailed information on how to calculate the likely amount of runoff water under extreme conditions.

Conservation Farming for Small Farmers in the Humid Tropics: Techniques and Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-167, booklet, 19 pages, by Ray Wijewardene, 1984, $1.00 from International Institute of Tropical Agriculture/Sri Lanka Program, 133 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka; also available from TOOL and ITDG.

A discussion of techniques of no-till agriculture applied to major tropical row crops (maize, rice, grain-legume, etc.) which includes recommendations for planting, weed control and herbicide safety. While providing an introduction to the technology and practices developed by IITA Sri Lanka Program, a strong case is made for the benefits of no-till agriculture (water retention, reduced soil erosion, lowered production costs).

Surface Irrigation, FAO Agricultural Development Paper No. 95, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-219 book, 160 pages, by L.J. Booher, FAO, 1974, out of print, available for $6.00 from UNIPUB.

Relevant to both small and large farming units, this is a good introductory reference book on surface irrigation. No special technical background is necessary, although general knowledge of agriculture and basic mathematics is required. This volume is more in-depth than Small Scale Irrigation, but it does not cover micro-irrigation with catchments or runoff irrigation techniques.

The sections on soils, land preparation, ditches, and pipeline distribution systems offer good background material for the later chapters on basin, border, wild flooding, furrow, corrugation and drop irrigation. There are helpful guidelines for choosing an irrigation system based on crop, slope, soil, and available water. Charts and tables show how to plan irrigation systems to suit varying conditions (for example, recommended length and spacing of furrows based on soil type and land slope). Photographs and drawings show both mechanized and low-technology tools and equipment for land preparation and water control.

Small-Scale Irrigation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-217, book, 152 pages, by Peter Stern, 1979, £6.95 from ITDG; also available from VITA and TOOL.

A valuable introduction to the technical requirements of irrigation on farms from 0.1 hectare vegetable plots to 100 hectare units. “The strongest argument in favor of small-scale irrigation is that … the human problems are reduced to a manageable scale.”

Often people underestimate the quantity of water needed for irrigation. “If all the water consumed in a month by a rural community of 100 people with 250 cattle and 500 sheep and goats were used for irrigation, this would provide two irrigations a month to an area of about a quarter of a hectare.”

The author begins with a discussion of moisture conservation techniques, and maximum use of runoff water. He introduces seven principal surface irrigation methods: basin, border, furrow, corrugation, wild flooding, spate and trickle irrigation. Also mentioned are sprinkler systems (too expensive for most uses in developing countries). To calculate water quantities needed, he discusses crop water requirements and soil infiltration rates. The slopes required for different systems and soils are noted. Other topics include design of drainage systems, channels and pipelines, hand and animal-powered water lifting systems, and measurement of rainfall and water flow in streams. This book gives a basic background, but the reader is expected to get more detailed information either from local agricultural officers or by trial and error.

In areas with very little annual rainfall, micro-irrigation systems can be used. The author gives an example of a farm with annual rainfall of 500 mm, insufficient to produce vegetables. A farmer “could set aside 1000 square meters of his land for catchment irrigation. Of this 1000 square meters, 700 square meters would be prepared as a catchment apron, from which runoff would be fed into a catchment tank, and 300 square meters would be used as a vegetable garden, irrigated by watering can from the tank. In a dry year, with 300 mm of rain, the catchment tank would receive 210 cubic meters of water … (and allowing for losses) the garden would then receive 300 mm of direct rainfall plus 330 mm from the tank.”


Operation and Maintenance of Small Irrigation Schemes, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-272, book, 45 pages, by Peter H. Stern, 1988, £5.50 from ITDG.

Complementing Small Scale Irrigation by the same author, this book highlights the important organizational, management and technical considerations in operation and maintenance. “Usually the significant causes of poor performance lie in the problems of management and operation …. Some of the most acute problems of organization and management occur in countries or regions where irrigation has not been practiced before and is being introduced for the first time, calling for major changes in the activities of rural people.” Major topics include water conveyance, distribution, farm application of water, and drainage.

In an overview of the main small-scale irrigation alternatives, the author identifies the most common technical and organizational problems. Most of these are easily solved once they are understood, although many require well-organized local water users’ groups.

The Design and Optimization of Irrigation Distribution Networks, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-274, book, 247 pages, by Y. Labye et. al., FAO, 1988, $25.00 from UNIPUB.

This very technical reference book will be most easily understood by readers with some engineering training. However, there are a number of valuable insights accessible to the more general reader regarding basic elements of design.

One interesting example is the 120 degree rule—a rule which helps in determining the least amount of pipe or channel that can be used to reach a fixed set of water hydrants. (This rule can also be used in the design of other systems using pipe or electrical wire, such as village drinking water systems.)

“The optimal position of the node M can readily be determined by construction with the help of a piece of tracing paper on which are drawn three converging lines subtending angles of 120 degrees. By displacing the tracing paper over the drawing on which the hydrants A, B, C have been disposed, the position of the three convergent lines is adjusted without difficulty and the position of the node determined.

“It should be noted that a new node can only exist if the angle ABC is less than 120 degrees. When the angle is greater than 120 degrees, the initial layout ABC cannot be improved by introducing a node and it represents the shortest path. Conversely, it can be seen that the smaller is the angle ABC, the greater will be the benefit obtained by optimizing.”

Irrigation Principles and Practices, Peace Corps Program and Training Journal Reprint Series No. 5, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-192, book, 112 pages, 1978, available free of charge to Peace Corps volunteers and development organizations from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order number ED-242880) and NTIS (accession number PB85-249209).

Clearly written and easily understood, this manual covers water measurement, irrigation water control, drainage, and planning related to irrigation. The appendix includes diagrams for easily-built low-cost tools, and tables for calculating water flow through a weir.

More Water for Arid Lands (Promising Technologies and Research Opportunities), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-199, book, 137 pages, report of a National Academy of Sciences panel, 1974, accession no. PB-239 472/4, paper copies $23.00 domestic, $46.00 foreign; microfiche $8.00 domestic, $16.00 foreign; Mom NTIS; also from ITDG and TOOL.

“Little-known but promising technologies for the use and conservation of scarce water supplies in arid areas are the subject of this report. Not a technical handbook, it aims to draw the attention of agricultural and community officials and researchers to opportunities for development projects with probable high social value.

“The technologies discussed should, at present, be seen as supplements to, not substitutes for, standard large-scale water supply and management methods. But many have immediate local value for small-scale water development and conservation, especially in remote areas with intermittent rainfall. With further research and adaptation, some of the technologies may prove to be economically competitive with standard methods of increasing the water supply or reducing the demand.”

This report attempts to address the need for “fresh innovative approaches to water technologies, particularly those designed to meet the needs of arid regions in the less developed world, where there has often been improper application of practices developed in regions with higher rainfall or more abundant water supplies. Also, we need to reconsider practices developed in arid regions by ancient agriculturalists.”

The report is divided into two parts: water supply and water conservation. It includes the following subjects: rainwater harvesting, runoff agriculture, irrigation with saline water, wells, reducing evaporation from water sources, trickle irrigation, use of greenhouses, and other innovative irrigation and water collection methods. For each subject, methods, advantages, limitations, stage of development, and needed research and development are briefly covered.

Although some of the techniques mentioned are high-technology, most of them are simple, low-cost methods gathered from all over the world. Photos and diagrams abound. This booklet has more immediately useful techniques and technology than most of the other NAS reports.

Fields and Pastures in Deserts: A Low Cost Method for Agriculture in Semi-Arid Lands, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-174, large book, 37 pages, 1976, Wadi Mashash, Germany, out of print.

This is a report from an experimental farm, Wadi Mashash, in the Negev desert. The average annual rainfall is about 110 mm, most of which falls within a few hours during the occasional heavy rains. The farm uses simple techniques to trap rainwater; these were developed thousands of years ago, and recently rediscovered through archaeological evidence. The loess soil of the area (often found in other arid regions as well) leads to a high percentage of runoff whenever

there is rainfall. Trees are planted in basins, each located at the lowest point of a 250-square meter micro-catchment area. When there is rain, all of the water runoff from this larger area goes to the tree basins and soaks in—providing all the water the tree needs, even during long periods without rain. Forage crops for sheep are also grown. This technique has been successfully tried in other places. Forty-five drawings and photos are included. This is a fascinating, low-cost method for making productive use of arid land without the use of costly and energy-intensive irrigation canal systems or other expensive technologies.

How to Grow More Vegetables (Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine), Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-186, large paperback, 150 pages, by John Jeavons, 1982, $15.00 (add $3.00 for airmail worldwide) from Ecology Action, 5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, California 95490, USA; French and Spanish translations of the second edition (December 1990) also available from Ecology Action at the above address.

Ecology Action is devoted to education and research on bio-dynamic/French intensive horticulture. Their gardening classes for the public began on small plots of donated land in 1972. “The series of classes led to the development of information sheets on topics such as vegetable spacings and composting techniques. Many people asked for a book which contains all the information we have gathered …. This book is the result.”

Ten years of research have shown that, as compared to U.S. commercial agriculture, intensive gardening can produce yields that average 4-6 times as much, require 1/2 (or less) of the quantity of water, and consume only about 1% of the energy. The garden consists of a series of raised planting beds with heavy additions of organic fertilizers such as manure and compost, prepared by a technique known as “double-digging.” “The crops are grown so close to each other that when the plants are mature, their leaves barely touch. The close spacing provides a mini-climate and a living mulch which reduces weed growth and helps hold moisture in the soil.”

This edition includes sections on garden planning and fertilization as well as chapters on history and philosophy, preparation of the double-dug raised beds, compost, seed propagation, and companion planting/backyard ecosystems.

An attractive, easy-to-read book with many good illustrations and a great deal of tabular information on seeds, yields, spacings, time to maturity, fertilizing, and insect pests and their plant controls. While successful gardening relies on experience, this book is probably the most useful single reference for getting started in temperate climates. In tropical and subtropical developing countries, the Samaka Guide (see review) remains the most directly useful manual on intensive gardening. Simple English and clear drawings make How to Grow More Vegetables a useful secondary reference book in the tropics, but the important plant species combinations and soil conditions will be different.

Highly recommended.

The Backyard Homestead Mini-Farm and Garden Log Book, book, 196 pages, by J. Jeavons, J.M. Griffin and R. Leler, 1983, $8.95 plus $2.30 surface or $10 airmail (prepaid) from Ten Speed Press, P.O. Box 7123, Berkeley, California 94707, USA.

“It is a good idea for all gardeners to keep records of what happens throughout the year in their gardens—what fertilizers have been added, when seeds were planted, what yields were, problems that have come up, and so on. For the mini-farmer, keeping good records is almost essential. To be economically successful you cannot rely on memory or guesswork. You need to know what worked and what did not so you can plan ahead, and avoid misfortune.”

This is a companion volume to the well-known and widely distributed How to Grow More Vegetables, which is considered by many to be the bible of the Biodynamic French Intensive Method of intensive horticulture. While it is embraced by many home gardeners and food activists as a means of alleviating world hunger and generating income, this method also has its critics. Some friendly critics see it as one of a number of alternative approaches to conventional chemical-based food production, rather than the alternative. Less sympathetic reviewers consider this method’s applicability limited to more temperate micro-climates and its vast economic and agronomic claims as yet unproven on a broader scale.

The authors have sought to provide more technical details and some very useful intensive gardening management techniques and tools. While some of this book’s charts and contents are also contained in the earlier reference, it succeeds in filling in some major gaps for prospective “mini-farmers,” agricultural extensionists, and development workers. The crops, climates, measurement units, and agricultural assumptions covered in the book are most relevant to temperate regions or uplands in the tropics, and the measurements are in English rather than

Metric units. Nevertheless, the garden planning maps and guidelines, data logs, and calendars should prove to be very useful references well worth adapting to local crops and circumstances around the world.

The Samaka Guide to Homesite Farming, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-211, book, 173 pages, by Colin Hoskins, 1973, Samaka Service Center, Philippines, out of print in 1981.

The Samaka Guide is an excellent introduction to homesite farming, encompassing the vital skills of homesteading from seed-sprouting to goat-skinning. The Guide is closest to the needs and socio-economic level of the bulk of the people in developing countries; the emphasis on village self-reliance, cooperation and respect for traditional methods make it widely applicable outside its Philippine setting.

A summary of the Guide’s contents: well drilling, composting, special directions for growing various indigenous vegetables and fruits, building plans for livestock pens, operation of a family fishpond, and care of assorted animals such as rabbits, chickens and water buffaloes. Also briefly covered are home industries, sanitation, tenant rights and barrio fiestas (neighborhood parties). This wealth of information is presented systematically, for an integrated model homestead of 600 to 1000 square meters (Y6 acre). The book is well-illustrated and detailed for widespread use.

The Samaka Guide is immediately applicable at the village level (the English used is simple and non-technical). An Indonesian/Malay edition is available from Percetakan Arnoldus, Penerbitan Nusah-Indah, Ende, Flores, Nusah Tenggara Timur, Indonesia for Rp. 250 (1976 price).

Gardening for Better Nutrition, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-179, booklet, 64 pages, by Arnold Pacey 1978, £4.95 from ITDG; also available from VITA and TOOL.

“The subject of this particular manual is the basic technology of horticulture and vegetable growing as it applies mainly to family gardens.”

This is a thought-provoking overview of the practice of nutrition-oriented agriculture for tropical and developing countries. It summarizes the lessons learned in various projects ranging from Bangladesh to Brazil and provides a detailed reference bibliography with emphasis on specific regions.

“Although it may include economic activity (such as selling produce at local markets), nutrition-oriented agriculture differs from commercial agriculture in a number of ways:

  1. In growing crops because of their nutritional value rather than because of their market value.
  2. In concentrating on gardens of a size which most families can cultivate
  3. In appealing primarily to those who produce the family’s food—in many communities, the women.
  4. In linking agricultural extension work to health education, social education, and community development.”

All aspects of gardening vital to the successful implementation of local programs are touched upon, including crop selection, vegetable agronomy, and problems and techniques. The photos and drawings are excellent, the text clear.

Highly recommended as a basic resource book, to be complemented by local technical manuals such as Papua New Guinea’s Liklik Buk, The Samaka Guide from the Philippines, and Gardening for All Seasons from Bangladesh (see reviews).

Gardening with the Seasons, Technical Bulletin No. 46, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-180, 72 pages, by Harlan Attfield, 1979, revised 1985 edition $7.25 (overseas orders add $3.00 for surface mail, $5.00 for airmail) from VITA; also available in Spanish.

Similar in intent to The Samaka Guide and Cultivo do Hortalizas en la Huerta Familiar (see reviews), this practical booklet describes gardening techniques and vegetable varieties for Bangladesh. Gardening with the Seasons is briefer than the others, though it also is well-illustrated and based on extensive field experience.

The author has worked on grass-roots rural development projects for 8 years in West Africa, South America and Bangladesh. The Bangladesh gardening project has been a key component of that country’s Integrated Rural Development Program.

This booklet contains general guidelines for soil preparation using raised beds, seed germination, transplanting, and companion plants. Brief specific information—when to plant, the best soil conditions, spacing, and care—is provided for 36 vegetables grown in Bangladesh.

“Generally people plant the vegetable they like to eat. But good gardeners should also consider food value because some vegetables are richer in value than others. Vegetables should be selected that are easy to grow under local soil conditions, add richness to the soil, and are resistant to insects and disease. Fresh vegetables are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins. They contain many of the minerals, such as calcium and iron, which the body utilizes to make bone, teeth and blood. They also provide important vitamins, mainly Vitamin A, the B vitamins, and Vitamin C.”

Highly recommended.

Intensive Gardening for Profit and Self-Sufficiency, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-191, 159 pages, written and illustrated by Deborah and James Vickery, 1977, Peace Corps, out of print.

This gardening manual was prepared for use in Jamaican projects but is useful in any area. It starts with simple botany, soils analysis, components of fertility and methods for soil management and improvement. Instruction concentrates on intensive gardening systems, and describes simple tools, composting, irrigation, rotation and companion planting. Useful charts and illustrations.

The UNICEF Home Gardens Handbook: For People Promoting Mixed Gardening in the Humid Tropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-226, book, 55 pages, by Paul Sommers, 1982, UNICEF, out of print.

“Mixed gardens are the result of centuries of trial and error and have evolved into a self -sustaining system that can provide rural households with most of their basic dietary needs and perform many other useful functions.” Based upon the author’s experience in the Philippines, this fine manual was written to help fieldworkers and planners to establish home garden programs in lowland humid tropical areas. The gardens described are much larger than the yards of some

households in developing countries, but the mixed garden approach can be easily modified for smaller holdings. Includes a table of plants and household sprays which repel insects.

Highly recommended.

The Basic Book of Organic Gardening, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-135, book, 377 pages, edited by Robert Rodale, 1971, Rodale Press, out of print.

A basic introductory text, this book compresses the essentials of organic gardening into a readable, practical format. Its compact size and detailed information make it a valuable asset to the field. Although it does not have any illustrations, this book redeems itself with a common-sense approach to plant protection and other standard techniques in the organic arsenal. Organic fertilizer equivalents of the figures cited in the AID Handbook of Tropical and Subtropical Horticulture (see review) can be easily calculated: simply substitute ground fish heads or seaweed for urea and superphosphate, for example. Although some of the information applies to temperate climates only, the philosophy and methods are easily adaptable to all conditions.

This book “tells you what soil is, how to create good soil, the fundamental rules about mulching and composting, why you need birds and insects, how to grow marvelous tasting and nutritious fruits and vegetables: it is packed with information about organic materials and foods—and where to get them.”

Rodale Press is the foremost publishing and research organization dealing with organic gardening in the world today. Their information, however, is most immediately applicable to temperate climates and that of the eastern region of the United States in particular. Another outstanding and comprehensive Rodale book which deserves mention here is The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (1968,1145 pages, $39.95 from Rodale). This book is an advanced treatment for more experienced gardeners, covering soils, compost, mulch, and plant varieties (again, mainly from North America). Those people wanting further information can write Rodale Press for a list of their publications .

The Self-Sufficient Gardener, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-212, book, 256 pages, by John Seymour, 1979, Faber and Faber (London), U.S. edition $16.95 Mom Doubleday Consumer Services, P.O. Box 5071, Des Plaines, Illinois 60017-5071, USA.

This large, beautifully illustrated book was intended as a companion to the author’s The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, which it surpasses. As a practical manual of planting, growing, storing, and preserving home-grown produce in temperate or sub-tropical regions, it ranks as one of the clearest and most concise available. Especially useful are diagrams showing how to convert a conventional row-crop garden into an intensive deep digging bed garden. This book covers practically everything under the sun except pest management and in a most entertaining and informative way.

In developing countries, an indigenous gardening resource manual like The Samaka Guide (see review) will be much more useful than this book. However we do recommend it as a supplementary reference in developing countries, and a primary resource in industrialized countries.

Tropical Vegetables, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-257, book, 112 pages, by G.J.A. Terra, Royal Tropical Institute, The Netherlands, 1966, SKAT, out of print.

This volume contains primarily “information on original vegetables of equatorial and subtropical regions. These are more adapted to local soil and climate: leached soils, humidity, temperature, day length, etc., and therefore they can be grown more easily and more cheaply. Moreover, propagation is fairly easy. They offer vast resources for further selection, which has been insufficient until now. Many of them are only found in the wild or half-wild state. They are only locally grown or even locally known as vegetables, and sources of information are few and far between.”

Each plant is identified by Latin name and some English, French, and Spanish common names. Very brief descriptions indicate which part of the plant is eaten, and under what climatic conditions it can be grown.

Vegetable Production Under Arid and Semi-Arid Conditions in Tropical Africa, FAO Plant and Protection Paper 89, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-263, book, 434 pages, FAO, 1988, $45.00 (order no. F7188) from UNIPUB.

“The information in this manual applies primarily to the dry, lowland climates of tropical Africa.” If you have a vegetable production problem under these conditions, this weighty reference book (especially the chapters on pest control and problems of irrigated vegetable crops—134 pages) might have a suggestion you can use. The authors do seem a bit quick to recommend chemical pest control. Altogether this is rather an ambitious book which also covers ecological conditions, breeding of vegetable crops, seed production, and preparation of crops for market (sorting, grading, suitable containers). Suggestions are provided for calculating production costs. This is a place to look for that occasional bit of technical detail that you can’t find in the gardening books. Few illustrations.

Hydroponics: The Bengal Systems, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-189, cloth-bound book, 185 pages, by J. Sholto Douglas, fifth edition 1975, $7.95 from Oxford University Press, 2001 Evans Road, Cary, North Carolina 27513, USA.

This highly regarded book, in its 5th printing since its original issue in 1951, is the most complete and comprehensive to be found, incorporating innovations, designs and methods in the field of hydroponics, the science of soil-less cultivation of plants. The author is the originator of the Bengal System of hydroponics, which is suited to developing countries and can be used successfully in areas where normal soil cultivation is impossible, such as in Sahel savannahs or crowded urban areas.

The author is careful to give the reader a solid foundation in the theory of hydroponics. The system uses watertight containers filled with materials such as sand and gravel. This is continuously recharged with a nutrient solution with proper aeration and drainage. Douglas provides many ideas for low-cost systems, including detailed data and types of organic non-chemical fertilizers (the Sharder process) and such construction materials as erosion-resistant mud plaster and alkali puddled clay.

The systems described are low in capital costs and are labor-intensive, employing existing resources and materials. They are characterized by a high immediate rate of return. Well-illustrated, supported with vital statistics, construction details and maintenance information, The Bengal System is a definitive book.

Animal Husbandry in the Tropics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-232, book, 755 pages, by G. Williamson and W.J.A. Payne, 1980, Longman Group Ltd., Longman House, Burnt Mill, Harlow, Essex CM20 2JE, England, out of print.

Here is a reference text which includes a brief discussion of some unusual tropical animals such as camels, llamoids (llamas and alpaca), and wild game, as well as the more conventional cattle (200 pages), sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, and buffalo.

Characteristics of common tropical breeds of the economically more important animals are discussed and illustrated with photographs. A section on animal products includes processing of milk and milk products, meat and carcass by-products, and wool production.

The presentation tends to be more academic than many of the practical books reviewed here; background information on climate, health, nutrition, reproduction, species distribution, physiology, and behavior receive relatively more emphasis, while practical management techniques for the low-capital farmer receive less.

Still, there is some discussion of management techniques for the village setting, and we would recommend this book as a solid reference to supplement a more practice-oriented text.

A Livestock Manual for the Tropics, book, 406 pages, 1983, $23.00 plus $4.00 postage, from The Jamaica Livestock Association, Newport East, P.O. Box 36, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.

This is a solid reference on cattle, goats, sheep, horses, pigs, poultry, rabbits, and bees. Based on experience in Jamaica, the book is intended for use in other tropical areas as well. Sections on pasture and fodder management, and animal diseases, are included, but information on buffalo, ducks and geese is not.

There are two major limitations of this book. The first is that much of the material is oriented towards large-scale commercial producers, with techniques such as artificial insemination, embryo transplant, and the use of milking machines, which are not appropriate for backyard or small commercial operations. The second limitation is the rather hefty price.

Still, there is much good material here, and we would recommend this book for those needing a general livestock text, particularly those in commercial production. The backyard producer will do better to start with one of the books written specifically for small-scale, low-capital operation.

Keeping Livestock Healthy, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-242, book, 322 pages, by N. Bruce Haynes, revised 1985, $15.00 plus postage from Storey Communications, Inc., Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, Vermont 05261.

This is a very good book for those who want to gain a more thorough understanding of animal health and disease. The first 135 pages cover disease prevention, including nutrition, housing, reproduction, animal restraint, and techniques for examination. The next 170 pages cover various categories of disease.(bacterial, viral, parasitic metabolic, deficient, etc.). Clear explanations of basic concepts, such as disease resistance and immunization, and of disease types set this book apart from other books (or chapters of books) on the topic

For the small operation in the tropics, however, this book also has several substantial drawbacks. These are primarily due to its U.S. orientation. While the book covers cattle, horses, goats, sheep and pigs, the greatest attention is paid to cattle, while pigs, goats and sheep, which are economically more important to the small tropical farmer, get less attention.

A second limitation is that several important diseases foreign to the U.S., such as foot and mouth disease, gain only brief mention. Similarly, special considerations for raising livestock in the tropics are not discussed. Because access to a veterinarian is assumed, Keeping Livestock Healthy provides less specific information of medications and dosages than is found in Goat Health Handbook, Sheep Health Handbook, and Raising Healthy Pigs Under Primitive Conditions.

A Planning Guide for Small Scale Livestock Projects, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-246, book, 80 pages, by Gordon Hatcher, 1984, $4.50 from Heifer Project International, P.O. Box 808, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203, USA, also available in Spanish.

Here is an essential primer for those with limited experience who are considering launching a livestock project. This is not a text on how to raise livestock. Rather it is a book which outlines the important considerations for project planners. It is packed with useful advice and warnings based upon years of experience with community livestock projects in the tropics.

The book discusses cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, rabbits, bees and fish, but the general planning approaches can be applied to other species as well. The advantages of local vs. imported animals are discussed with advice for those who must import animals. Approaches to project monitoring and farmer education are also presented. A good bibliography and list of publishers is included.

Highly recommended.

Raising Healthy Cattle Under Primitive Conditions, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-268, book, 110 pages, by James Carlson, D.V.M., $5.00 donation if you can afford it, otherwise free, from Christian Veterinary Mission, World Concern, 19303 Fremont Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98133, USA.

Written for missionaries, small farmers and agricultural workers, this manual provides basic information on beef cattle, including facilities and handling, nutrition management, poisonings, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Fully half the book is devoted to disease symptoms, treatment and prevention.

The author notes that steadily increasing demand for meat in developing countries is expected to greatly increase the numbers of cattle and, even more rapidly, the amount of meat produced by those cattle. These increases will demand significant improvements in the management of these animals. This book will certainly help in that effort.

Raising Healthy Goats under Primitive Conditions, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-267, booklet, 135 pages, by Robert A. Vanderhoof, $5.00 donation if you can afford it, otherwise free, from Christian Veterinary Mission, World Concern, 19303 Fremont Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98133, USA.

This volume is packed with information on disease and problems, emergencies, and good management under difficult conditions. If you have a problem with your goats, this is a reference you will want. The author does not assume that you are a veterinarian or a person already having years of goat-raising experience. Nor does he assume that you live in a rural part of the United States, where malnutrition is never an issue and diseases are predictable and easily controllable. A practical manual with lots of illustrations, written for people who will get their hands dirty caring for goats.

Raising Goats for Milk and Meat, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-249, book, 110 pages, by Rosalee Sinn, revised 1985, $10.00 from Heifer Project International, P.O. Box 808, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203, USA; also available in Spanish.

Goats are an important source of meat and milk in many developing countries. They are well-adapted to a wide variety of climates and can live mainly on a diet of grass and waste plant residue. Due to their small size, goats can be raised on small land holdings, and an entire goat can be eaten by a family before the unrefrigerated carcass spoils in the tropics.

This clearly presented, comprehensive training manual on the basics of goat raising includes sections on housing, feeding, breeding, kidding (bearing young), milking, slaughtering for meat, record-keeping, and health care. This training course was developed in West Africa, but has been adapted for more general use. The author notes that trainers may wish to supplement it with information on local techniques, when appropriate.

The orientation of the manual is towards small holdings with little capital. It includes instructions for building a disbudding box and recipes for a variety of cheeses. A filmstrip to accompany this course is also available from the Heifer Project.

Goat Health Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-237, spiral bound book, 123 pages, by T.R. Thedford, 1983, $6.00 plus $0.95 shipping (overseas airmail $3.40) from Winrock International, Route 3, Morrilton, Arkansas 72110, USA; also from ITDG.

The Goat Health Handbook will help people raising goats to diagnose and treat their sick animals. A large amount of information is presented in a small amount of space. While the book is generally easy to use, some explanations are so brief that they may be confusing. Often, missing information is presented elsewhere in the book, so a thorough familiarity with the book will reduce this problem.

Because of the complexity of the topic, the author recommends consulting a veterinarian whenever possible. “Remember that diagnosis and treatment are extremely complex tasks….

The information in this guide will not allow you to make a specific diagnosis in most cases. However, it can help you to identify symptoms and narrow the range of diseases for treatment.

“The handbook is divided into five major sections:

  1. The Diagnostic Guides will help you to easily identify a small number of diseases that are the most probable cause of the symptoms that you have observed.

2. The detailed Disease Descriptions will allow you to reduce the number of potential diseases even further, provide appropriate treatment, and take preventive measures to avoid further spread of the disease.

3. The section on Therapy describes many of the antibiotics and other drugs that are used in the treatment of goat diseases. It provides information on dosage and administration. In addition, this section includes some formulas that are useful in treating sick goats.

4. Techniques of treatment are described and illustrated. This section covers techniques of treatment such as the sterilization of instruments and oral administration of medicine, and techniques of normal health care such as castration and foot trimming.

5. The section on Birth and the Newborn describes the procedures for both normal and difficult delivery, with illustrations. It also covers pre and post-delivery care.”

An important book for those raising goats, particularly in remote areas.

Sheep Health Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-253, spiral-bound book, 132 pages, by Thomas R. Thedford, 1983, $6.00 plus $1.25 shipping (overseas airmail postage is $3.40) from Winrock International, Route 3, Morrilton, Arkansas 72110, USA; also from ITDG.

This is essentially the same manual as Goat Health Handbook (see review above), except that it is written for sheep rather than goats.

The Homesteader’s Handbook for Raising Small Livestock, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05261, book, 256 pages, by J. Belanger, 1974, RODALE, out of print.

This is a handbook on raising small livestock on a small scale. Easy to understand, non-technical language. Many drawings and photos, often of build-it-yourself cages, pens, water devices, etc. Covers goats, rabbits, chickens, sheep, geese, hogs, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, and pigeons. Written for North Americans moving from the cities back to small farms. No information on vaccinations or shots. Does include a list of further references.

There is a good section on rabbits. Rabbit meat tastes like chicken. France and Italy together produce 200 million pounds of rabbits each year. Rabbits reproduce quickly and have high labor and small space requirements. The fur can be used (tanning instructions are given). Hutches (rabbit cages, usually raised off the ground) can be easily built out of bamboo. This chapter also tells how to make a well-balanced rabbit feed.

Raising Healthy Pigs Under Primitive Conditions, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-250, book, 83 pages, by Dr. D.E. Goodman, optional donation of $5.00 per book, from Christian Veterinary Mission, c/o World Concern, Box 33000, Seattle, Washington 98133, USA.

This well-written book is most valuable for its extensive chapter on nutrition. The nutritional value and preparation of a wide variety of possible foods are discussed. Health care, reproduction, and baby pig management are also well-covered. The health care section includes short descriptions of the most important diseases, and steps for their prevention and cure.

Non-intensive, low-capital management systems are assumed. Various low-cost feeders, waterers, and houses are illustrated. Information on available breeds of pigs is not given, since it is assumed that most primitive operations will be using locally available varieties.

Christian Veterinary Mission will provide additional information to pig farmers who are having problems. An outline in the back of the book shows what information is needed.

Small-Scale Pig Raising, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-254, book, 263 pages, by Dirk van Loon, 1978, $12.95 from Storey Communications, Inc., Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, Vermont 05261, USA.

This is a complete, well-written, and humorous guide for the backyard pig raiser in the U.S. The book is written for people without prior experience raising pigs, and the author provides a good deal more background information than is usual in a manual of this sort.

This book does not discuss special considerations for raising pigs in the tropics, or with very limited resources. The health section lists common problems, but doesn’t provide very much information on treatment as access to a veterinarian is assumed.

Housing, nutrition, and management are well-covered, as are slaughtering and butchering. Good illustrations and numerous useful tips make this a good book for the small pig operation, despite its U.S orientation, particularly if used in conjunction with Raising Healthy Pigs Under Primitive Conditions or Pigs and Poultry in the South Pacific.

Pigs and Poultry in the South Pacific, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-203, book, 93 pages, by Ian Watt and Frank Michell, 1975, Sorrett Publishing Pty. Ltd., Malvern, Victoria, Australia, out of print.

“This book sets out in simple language the information required by extension workers and others responsible for helping the farmer. It deals with all levels, from simple improvisation in a village to semi-intensive and intensive type production.”

Two-thirds of the book is on raising pigs. This section covers management systems, pig nutrition, housing, breeds, and diseases. The poultry section covers raising and feeding young chickens, management and feeding of laying hens, timing of replacement of stock, deep litter bedding, ducks, and diseases. Both sections discuss the costs/benefits of home-grown versus commercial feeds. The nutritional needs of the animals are described and some sample home-grown foods are mentioned that will meet these needs.

“By delaying maturity, the bird will produce larger eggs when it starts to lay. If a bird is made to lay eggs at too young an age, most of the eggs it will produce during its life will be small eggs …. Lowering the protein content of the feed from 21% to 15% for the actual growing period of the bird is probably the easiest way of delaying maturity. So for the first six weeks, a layer chicken is fed a 20-21% protein medicated feed, but at the end of six weeks it is changed over to a grower feed which is also medicated (against Coccidiosis), until the bird is about 24 weeks of age when it begins to lay.”

The clear, illustrated presentation should make this book valuable to anyone considering pig or poultry raising in the tropics.

Practical Poultry Raising, Peace Corps Appropriate Technology for Development Series Manual M-11, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-205, book, 225 pages, by Kenneth M. French, 1981, available free of charge to Peace Corps volunteers and development workers from Peace Corps; also available from ERIC (order no. ED241771) and NTIS (accession no. PB85 243301/AS).

Written for the extension worker, this manual focuses on chicken, the most common type of poultry. No fowl knowledge is assumed. Options presented range from “free range” (chickens run free and essentially take care of themselves) to cage systems which may require relatively high capital investment. Marketing considerations are briefly discussed, as are other types of poultry.

Raising Healthy Poultry Under Primitive Conditions, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-266, booklet, 93 pages, by W.M. Reid, G.M. Pesti, and M.A. Hammarlund, $5.00 donation if you can afford it, otherwise free, from Christian Veterinary Mission, World Concern, 19303 Fremont Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98133, USA.

This is a handy reference for the management of small-scale poultry farms. Feed and health considerations are major topics. The insecticides and medicines suggested may be unavailable and unaffordable in many developing countries. Nevertheless, there is a lot of good practical advice that can be used anywhere.

“a) Never introduce older birds into a young flock.

b) Prevent visitors (including neighbors), wild flying birds, rodents and especially other poultrymen from entering poultry houses.

c) Avoid visiting neighbor’s flocks and returning to your own without a complete change of footwear and clothing.

d) Establish an ‘All in, all out’ rule to keep birds of one age together.”

Several methods of extending the storage life of eggs are described. “Oil in the form of a thin film will prolong quality for three weeks or longer if stored under 10°C. Eggs should be dipped in a light mineral or cooking oil such as coconut oil. The oil temperature should be about 11 °C higher than room temperature. If reused, the oil should be filtered and sterilized by heating to 116°C.”

Raising Poultry the Modern Way, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-251, book, 220 pages, by Leonard S. Mercia, 1983, $9.95 from Storey Communications, Inc., Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, Vermont 05261, USA.

Written primarily for small commercial operations in the U.S., this book covers chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, with more than half of the book devoted to raising chickens for meat and eggs. No consideration is given to conditions outside of the U.S., but the book is otherwise complete, particularly for chickens (for geese and ducks, see The Book of Geese, and Raising the Home Duck Flock).

Includes a section on health, and illustrations of various equipment which can be built, as well as of killing, plucking and butchering chickens.

Raising the Home Duck Flock, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-252, book, 192 pages, by Dave Holderread 1975, $9.95 from Storey Communications, Inc., Schoolhouse Road, Pownal, Vermont 05261, USA.

Ducks are efficient producers of meat and eggs. They are highly resistant to disease and wet weather (both are problems for chickens), and they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Ducks are also better at finding their own food, such as snails, insects and weeds, than chickens, and they have a longer productive life for laying eggs than chickens do.

Raising the Home Duck Flock covers all aspects of raising ducks, from selecting stock through incubation, rearing of ducklings, managing adult ducks, and butchering, as well as health care of ducks. The author’s experience is mostly in the U.S., and parts of the book reflect this. For example, discussion of the availability of specific breeds in other parts of the world, and special considerations for raising ducks under tropical conditions, are not given much attention. However, the book is very readable and otherwise complete.

The Book of Geese, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-234, book, 209 pages, by Dave Holderread, 1981, $9.45 postpaid from The Hen House, P.O. Box 492, Corvallis, Oregon 97339, USA.

“In areas where green grass is available during a good portion of the year, geese can be raised on less grain or concentrated feed than any other domestic fowl, with the possible exception of guinea fowl. Along with being great foragers, geese require little or no housing in most climates, and if protected from predators and given reasonably good care, they have an extremely low mortality rate …. Along with ducks, they seem to be the most resistant of all poultry to disease, parasites and cold or wet weather.”

While geese do not lay as many eggs as chickens or ducks, they grow very quickly and are efficient producers of meat. This book is similar in organization and completeness to Raising the Home Duck Flock, by the same author. The emphasis of the book is upon raising geese in

the U.S., and treatment of special considerations for other climates and conditions is limited. Otherwise, all aspects of small-scale goose flock management are covered in this well-written, well-illustrated text.

Raising Rabbits, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-208, book, 82 pages, by Harlan Attfield, 1977, $9.50 from VITA; also available in French.

“A rabbit raiser can start with two females and one male and produce fifty, or more, rabbits in one year.” This rapid reproduction rate and the rapid growth rate of these animals have made rabbit-raising schemes popular in small development projects. Here is a manual that offers good basic advice for most aspects of rabbit raising.

The author stresses the use of locally available plants and grains for food. Because rabbits reproduce and grow quickly, they also consume a lot of food—it takes about 4 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of rabbit meat (which tastes much like chicken). Record-keeping to aid in breeding, symptoms and treatment of common diseases, skinning and tanning are all discussed. There is no mention of special problems affecting rabbit raising in the tropics. Cages of bamboo, wood, and wire are shown. In all, a well-illustrated, easy to understand manual.

Rabbit Production, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-247, book, 328 pages, by Cheeke, Patton, and Templeton, fifth edition 1982, 1987 edition $26.60 plus $3.00 postage and handling from Interstate Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 50, Danville, Illinois 61834-0050, USA.

This book contains a wealth of good information on most aspects of raising rabbits. Extensive chapters on breed selection, handling and management of rabbits, rabbit nutrition, feeds and feeding, toxins found in feeds, and rabbit diseases make this an excellent reference. For those interested in selective breeding to improve herd quality, there is a section on rabbit breeding and genetics.

Rabbit Production is written primarily for a U.S. audience, and lacks substantial discussion of special considerations for the tropics or of low-cost techniques. This is a valuable book for the rabbit raiser, but beginners will find Raising Rabbits to be an easier book to start with.

Raising Healthy Rabbits Under Primitive Conditions, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-265, booklet, 93 pages, by Sheldon Biven, Kathleen Murray, and Glenn Olsen, $5.00 donation if you can afford it, otherwise free, from Christian Veterinary Mission, World Concern, 19303 Fremont Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98133, USA.

Rabbits “do not compete for grains used for human consumption, since they can reproduce and grow on low-grain, high-forage diets; unlike chickens, they can be successfully raised on a diet consisting largely of forage plants, grasses, and shrubs … rabbits can use these sources of protein more efficiently than most other animals and they have a high feed conversion ratio. Weaning rabbits can gain one kilogram of body weight for each 2.5-4.0 kilograms of plants they eat. For beef cattle on a similar diet, 12-15 kilograms of feed are required per kilogram of body weight.”

The text covers cages, feeders, watering devices, diseases, and a variety of foods that are alternatives to commercial feeds. This has a greater quantity of more easily understood technical information than Try the Rabbit.

“During unusually warm weather, the two most important requirements for rabbits are shade and good air circulation. In addition, rabbits should have a good supply of fresh water. Newborn litters and pregnant does are most susceptible to heat stress. Signs of heat stress include extreme restlessness in early stages and, in young animals, rapid respiration, excessive moisture around the mouth, and small hemorrhages on nostrils. Place a rabbit suffering from heat stress in a quiet, cool, well-ventilated location. Wet the rabbit or give it a cloth soaked in water to lie on.”

Try the Rabbit, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-264, book, 52 pages, by S.O. Adjare, 1984, Technology Consultancy Centre, £4.95 from ITDG.

A rabbit-raiser with 25 years of experience in Ghana provides basic advice in this little book. Much of this advice is relevant for rabbit-raising anywhere. There are a few photos and drawings.

“How to catch a strayed rabbit: Upon spying the escaped rabbit, try to maneuver yourself to stand in front of the rabbit. Then crouch down and widely spread the fingers of both hands near the rabbit’s face. The rabbit will stop and lower its ears in readiness for arrest. Do not chase it from behind as this will be an unsuccessful pursuit.”

The Rabbit as a Producer of Meat and Skins in Developing Countries,  book, 36 pages, by J.E. Owen, D.J. Morgan and J. Barlow, 1977, TDRI, out of print.

This is a brief discussion of rabbit raising in the tropics, not a how-to manual.

“Rabbit production on a relatively small scale, involving minimal inputs, could make a substantial contribution to the supply of animal protein for human consumption in tropical developing countries”

The authors discuss the effects of heat and humidity on rabbits, housing, diseases, feeding, breeds and breeding, slaughter and processing, rabbit skins, and problems with escaped rabbits.

“Heat is one of the most important environmental factors which may affect rabbits in tropical developing countries. At ambient temperatures above approximately 30 degrees Centigrade, rabbits suffer increasing discomort and physiological stress ….  Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE (These effects) can be greatly reduced by the construction of suitably designed housing … using locally available materials.”

A nice introduction to rabbit raising, with a lot of facts and illustrations.

The Water Buffalo, Animal Production and Health Series #4, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-227, book, 283 pages, FAO, 1979, $19.00 from UNIPUB.

This book seems to cover everything one might want to know about water buffaloes, including the types, reproduction, nutrition, diseases, parasites, management, training, and milk and meat production.

Tropical Pastures and Fodder Crops, book, 135 pages, by L.R. Humphreys, 1978, Longman Group Ltd., Dfl. 21.95 from TOOL.

Pasture improvement offers the possibility, in some cases, of raising the output and profitability of livestock operations. This text begins with a brief discussion of factors controlling the development of natural grassland, and the philosophy of pasture improvement. It then presents a variety of new and improved pasture plants, discusses pasture establishment, soil fertility and fertilizer, and pasture management practices.

This book was written to be used as a college or university-level text. Readers without any botanical background will have to translate from scientific plant species names to the locally used names.

Tropical Feeds: Feeds Information Summaries and Nutritive Values, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 05-222, book, 529 pages, 1975, by Bo Gohl, FAO Feeds Information Centre, out of print.

“Published information on the nutritive value of feeds in general is scanty, and when it comes to tropical feeds, it is almost non-existent. Correct data on the nutritive value of local feed-stuffs are essential for the expansion of the livestock industry in the developing countries.” This enormous reference book covers 650 tropical feeds, most of them tropical plants. “The summaries include short descriptions of the feeds and the more important points in their use.” Many references for additional information on specific feeds are provided.

General considerations for use are given at the beginning of each feed group (e.g., grasses, legumes, root crops, oil cakes). In the miscellaneous categories, feeds such as grain distillers’ byproducts (left over when alcohol fuels are produced from grain) are discussed. At the end of the book, charts offer such information as crude protein content, metabolizable energy per kilogram, and mineral and vitamin content of the feeds. The index allows the reader to look up plants under either their botanical or English names.


Aspects of Irrigation with Windmills and Syllabus for Irrigation with Windmills are in ENERGY: WIND.

The Workshop

This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Books reviewed in this section

Amateur’s Workshop
Basic Machines and How They Work
Bearing Design and Fitting
The Beginner’s Workshop
Blacksmithing Welding and Soldering
A Blacksmith’s Bellows
DeCristoforo’s Book of Power Tools Both Stationary and Portable
Electric Motor Test and Repair
Electroplating for the Amateur
Equipment for Rural Workshops Fabricating Simple Structures in Agricultural Engineering
Fabricating Simple Structures in Agricultural Engineering
Farm Shop and Equipment
Foundrywork for the Amateur
Gear Wheels and Gear Cutting
General Metal Work Sheet Metal Work and Hand Pump Maintenance
Handtool Handbook for Woodworking
Hardening and Tempering Engineers’ Tools
Heavy Duty Drill Press
How to Make a Folding Machine for Sheet Metal Work
How to Make Planes Cramps and Vices
How to Make Twelve Woodworking Tools
How to Mill on a Drill Press
How to Use Metal Tubing
How to Work Sheet Metal
How to Work with Copper Piping
Lathe Sanders
LeJay Manual
LostWax Casting
The Making of Tools
A Manual on Sharpening Hand Woodworking Tools
Metal Bending Machine
Metal Turning Lathe Built from Stock Parts
Metalworking Handbook
The Modern Blacksmith
Motorize Your Hacksaw
A Museum of Early American Tools
Oil Drum Forges
Practical Blacksmithing
The Procedure Handbook of Arc Welding
The Recycling Use and Repair of Tools
Scroll Saw
Sharpening Small Tools
Sheet Metal Brake
Sheet Metal Former
Shop Tactics
Small Scale Foundries for Developing Countries
Smelting Furnace
Spring Design and Calculation
Stocking Spare Parts for a Small Repair Shop
Technical Drawing
Technology Metal 1 Fundamental Skills
Tools and How to Use Them
Tools and Their Uses
Try Your Hand at Metal Spinning
Two Speed Bandsaw Cuts Wood and Metal
The Use of Hand Woodworking Tools
Welding Craft Practice
Wood Planer for $100
Workshop Exercises Metal Fundamental Skills

Tools and techniques for small workshops are the subjects of this chapter. The use of tools, and the ability to make them using local resources and equipment, are certainly very important in any appropriate technology effort. In some areas where small blacksmith shops, foundries, woodworking or machine tool workshops exist, many of the tools and processes covered in these books may have been in use for many years. In other areas, most of these crafts and skills are unknown. Therefore, the tools found in this section are of many different types, from simple hand tools to wood-turning lathes to metalworking equipment. Some may be made at the village level, others may require metalworking shop facilities.

The first several books offer illustrated inventories of a great variety of tools. Other books describe the proper uses of a wide range of hand tools and machine tools for both wood and metal work. The crafts and skills covered include woodworking, blacksmithing, general metalworking, forging and casting, sharpening, sheet metal working, designing bearings and springs, working with metal tubing and copper piping, and others. There are also plans for workshop equipment: lightweight power tools, sheet metal bending tools, and more.

These reference books, containing thousands of ideas, should be valuable to an appropriate technology group in its own workshop. They are also a source of learning materials for improving skills, increasing versatility, and expanding available tools and equipment among local craftspeople. It should be remembered that many workshop crafts, such as blacksmithing, cannot be easily learned from a book; these reference materials can only supplement skilled instructors. However, even the most experienced blacksmith will find many unusual and valuable ideas in a reference such as Practical Blacksmithing.

Tools and How to Use Them: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-122, paperback book, 352 pages, by Albert Jackson and David Day, 1978, $13.95 from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 400 Hahn Road, Westminster, Maryland 21157, USA. Available in the AT Library

This beautifully illustrated book is the best one available for descriptions of the wide range of useful hand woodworking tools. It also covers a few gardening tools, power tools, plumbing tools, and includes more than 1500 excellent drawings. For each tool the authors list other commonly used names, size, the material it is made from, and its purpose; this is followed by a short but valuable description of how it is used. Most of these tools originated in Europe or North America, but many are in common use all over the world. A good source of ideas for local adaptation.

Highly recommended.


Tools and Their UsesAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-123, book, 186 pages.

This book covers a very wide selection of common hand and power tools. The purpose is to “identify tools and fastening devices by their correct names; cite the specific purposes and uses of each tool; describe the correct operation, care and maintenance required to keep the tools in proper operating condition, and finally perform accurate measurements.” This book will not substitute for books covering in detail the techniques and equipment used in woodworking and soldering, for example. It is just a general introduction, but one that would be useful to any workshop education program using common tools. Safety information is included throughout.

Basic Machines and How They Work, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-81, book, 161 pages, prepared by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1971.

Written as a reference manual for sailors in the U.S. Navy, this book explains basic mechanical principles and their applications in simple and complex machines. Illustrated examples are used to show how these principles work in common devices. For example, oars, wheelbarrows, handpump handles, and the block and tackle are forms of the lever; the brace and bit, wrench, and winch are forms of the wheel and axle. Many of the examples include explanations of how mechanical advantage is obtained, and how to calculate that advantage using simple arithmetic.

Later chapters explain the uses and combinations of basic machine elements (like bearings, linkages, cams) in machines such as the typewriter and automobile engine. Useful as a reference and as a practical way to study the physics of mechanical devices. Slang and sailing terminology may sometimes be difficult for the non-native speaker of English.

Equipment for Rural WorkshopsAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-92, book, 94 pages, by John Boyd, 1978.

This book “is intended to help people choose appropriate tools and equipment. It is not an instructional textbook on workshop technology.” Shows workshop building layout and basic sets of tools (primarily hand tools) for 1-6 person workshops, with and without power supply, for woodworking or metalworking. The simplest level of powered equipment requires an electric drill with attachments to convert it into a circular saw, grinding wheel, jig saw, and power hacksaw. Machine tools are shown for the larger, powered, 4-6 person workshops. The author notes that “the hand tools in the lists of basic equipment can be used to do the same work as the much more costly power tools…. Power tools only speed up the work and are not economic unless there is enough work to keep them in use for a substantial part of each day.” Includes mid-1977 prices of tools. Lists suppliers in Asia/Africa/Latin America. Many illustrations and photos.

Shop Tactics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-118, book, 114 pages, by B. Abler, 1973, Running Press, out of print.

“Shop Tactics is a guide to tools, materials, and procedures that are within the reach of a small basement shop. The beginner and amateur (and low-budget) tinkerer, artist or scientist will find here plenty of information to see him through almost any project he can undertake, whether simple or complex. Because Shop Tactics begins with simple tools and materials (hammer, nails, wood, file, drill, saw, and wrench) the beginner can use it as an introduction to manual techniques. He will find step-by-step instruction leading him through the motions for using these and other basic tools and materials.”

“After familiarizing you with basics, this book describes the use of abrasives, adhesives (solder, glues), plastics (plexiglass, epoxy), and finally molds and casting. The last chapter concerns efficiency and effectiveness in the use of manual techniques. An appendix of basic devices, a bibliography and an index are included.

“The description for each tool and material is presented with concrete examples (the section on sheet metal describes how to make a ring) so that when you work through the example to learn the procedures you will have a completed piece of work. But this is not a how-to book presenting instructions for the completion of a few projects; instead it gives you skill and insight into tools and materials so that you can plan and complete your own projects. The home tinkerer who wants to build a mold, or the scientist who wants to build a specialized gas burner will all find here not specific instructions, but plenty of information to guide the project to completion.”

This book is “directed at your imagination in the hope that, when you know what is already known, you will be able to think of new things (that you would never have been able to think of otherwise) by recombining processes and extending materials to satisfy each new demand you make of them.”

Illustrations (literally hundreds of them) are included to accompany each step in the text and ensure that the text will he understood by any reader. Each presentation is very clear and easily understandable. In particular, there is a valuable discussion of a variety of casting methods. The “Devices” section gives illustrations and simple explanations of 12 simple devices (solar still, bicycle sprocket drive, set screw).

This is an excellent book, both because of the clarity of presentation of the material, and the regular use of illustrations. Perhaps of greatest value is that the author seeks to develop basic skills and an experimental approach that is fundamental to future development of appropriate technology devices.

The Use of Hand Woodworking Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-125, book, 273 pages, by Leo McDonnel and Alson Kaumeheiwa, 1978, Delmar Publishers, New York, out of print.

This introductory book presents only the basic hand tools used in carpentry, and most of the book is devoted to explaining how to properly use them. No previous knowledge is assumed. Designed for use in teaching, the book contains questions at the end of each section.

The author begins with measuring tools (from the T-square to the builder’s transit level—the only rather complicated tool presented), and continues with saws, planes, edge cutting tools, and boring tools. Sharpening is discussed in detail for each of the cutting tools. Also covered are nails, screws, and dowels. Well-illustrated.

Handtool Handbook for Woodworking, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-97, book, 184 pages, by R.J. DeCristoforo, 1977, out of print in 1985.

This book shows how to use woodworking tools commonly found around the world. These include measuring devices, saws, hammers, drills, screwdrivers, chisels and planes. The author also discusses safety, sharpening, shop math and how to choose good tools.

“You won’t find this (a crown) on all saws, but many experts look for it as an indication of careful designing and superior quality. A crowned saw is one where the silhouette of the toothed edge shows a gentle arc rather than a straight line from the heel to the toe. The reason for the shape is to obtain maximum cutting effect with minimum drag. The arc brings fewer teeth into contact with the wood fibers. While you don’t have as many teeth in full contact, those that are cut deeper, faster, and easier.”

This book is full of tricks and tips for woodworkers, and the 400 illustrations make it easy to understand. Safety measures are very well-covered.

Woodwork Joints, book, 176 pages, by Charles Hayward, 1974. Available in the AT Library.

“The craft of woodwork consists largely of joining pieces of wood together. In this book we have taken the basic joints, given their chief variations, and shown how to cut them. It is not suggested that the methods of cutting described are the only ones possible … but it can be taken that the way described is useful and has been proven by experience to be reliable.”

This book is suitable for anyone experienced in working with wood who wants to learn different methods of making joints.

The Making of Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-103, book, 93 pages, by Alexander Weygers, 1973, Van Nostrand, out of print.

“This book teaches the artist and craftsman how to make his own handtools: how to design, sharpen, and temper them, using only basic shop equipment and scrap steel.” There are many illustrative drawings on each page that show the “step-by- step progression from the raw material to the finished product—the handmade tool.”

Raw material is usually high-carbon steel—from steel scrapyards and auto junkyards (U.S.). Hardwood is used for the handles.


Contents include: tempering steel, sharpening tools; making a screwdriver,.cold chisel and other simple tools; stonecarving tools; cutting tools; eyebolts and hooks, tool handles, hammers, gouges, seating cutter and hinge joints, tinsnips, wire and nail cutters, large shears, and pliers; applying color patina to steel surfaces. There is also a glossary of tool-making terms (useful to non-native English speakers).

The author was born in Java, educated in Holland as an engineer, and has worked in Java and the U.S. before concentrating on art. This book, based on his teaching experiences is designed for the artist and craftsperson who is interested in making (or forced to make) his or her own tools.

The Modern Blacksmith, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-108, book, 96 pages, by Alexander Weygers, 1974, Van Nostrand, out of print.

This book is very similar to Weygers’ previous book The Making of Tools, but the focus is on things that can be made with hammer, anvil and forge. The basic skills of blacksmithing are covered in detail.

There is an initial chapter on elementary blacksmithing exercises: squaring and straightening a round bar and shaping the end of a square rod. Further chapters include: tempering and hardening high-carbon steel, making a small anvil from a railroad rail (see drawing), and upsetting steel (making a bolt head). There is a glossary of blacksmithing terms.

This is a very good introduction to the skills of blacksmithing, with many drawings and examples.

The Recycling, Use and Repair of Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-116, book, 112 pages, by Alexander Weygers, 1979, Van Nostrand Reinhold, out of print.

“The scrap steel yards across the country are full of every conceivable metal object discarded for reasons of wear, obsolescence, or damage. Much of this material can become useful stock for the beginner, as well as the skilled metal craftsman, who intends to ‘make do’ with what can be gleaned from this so-called junk.”

In this book the author uses more than 600 drawings to show how to make useful woodworking and metalworking tools and other implements from steel scrap and discarded machine parts. Punches, chisels and gouges can be shaped and forged from steel tubing, automotive shafts, and spring steel. Files, rasps, fireplace tools, candlesticks, and other decorative implements can be made from mild and high-carbon steel scrap. Detailed perspective drawings show how to make a wood-turning lathe from salvaged materials, and adjustable bearings from fruitwood. The final third of the book discusses rehabilitating and operating metal-turning lathes, and how to use and make inserts for a trip-hammer. A short section on how to temper high-carbon steel is included, but in general it is assumed that the reader has basic blacksmithing skills. The author’s previous book The Modern Blacksmith (see review) provides a good introduction to the use of the hammer, anvil, and forge.

“It is through actual demonstration, seeing how to manipulate tools to make tools, that I believe the student benefits most. But short of that one can learn from books in which the illustrations come as near as possible to live demonstrations. I have tried to present the information in such a way that the reader can imagine he is watching me making things in the shop.”

A practical book illustrating a creative craftsman’s approach to repair and reuse.

The Blacksmith’s Craft: An Introduction to Smithing for Apprentices and Craftsmen, book, 116 pages, by CoSIRA/Rural Development Commission, 1955.  Available in the AT Library.

This well-written book is divided into 37 lessons to teach people the basic skills of blacksmithing. These sections cover the tools and techniques very thoroughly, and the many photos show each step in making chain links, u-bolts, harrow bars, and many other things. There is a list of books recommended for further reading.

This is possibly the best introduction to blacksmithing available.

Practical Blacksmithing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-114, book, 1089 pages, compiled and edited by M.T. Richardson, originally published 1889, reprinted 1978, Outlet Book Company, Crown Publishers, out of print.

Originally published in 1889, Practical Blacksmithing is a compilation of a great variety of articles on different aspects of the craft. These articles, originally printed in the 19th century journal The Blacksmith and Wheelwright, were submitted by hundreds of blacksmiths from all over the United States. This book thus represents an extraordinary attempt to collect, preserve, and make available common “hands-on” wisdom about a critically important craft. Hundreds of drawings show tools, layout of blacksmiths’ shops, and methods of working steel and iron which had previously been passed from individual smiths to a few apprentices.

This is an outstanding reference book, to go with the teaching books The Modern Blacksmith and The Blacksmith’s Craft (see reviews).

Blacksmithing, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-85, book, 109 pages, by James Drew, 1943, out of print in 1985.

This book covers most simple blacksmithing skills for forging metal parts— especially useful in making and repairing agricultural implements. The chapters include: forging iron and steel, simple exercises in blacksmithing, forging and tempering steel tools, plow work, soldering and brazing. The chapter on forging steel tools covers chisels, drills, and knives. The explanations are clear, although there are only a few drawings.

This book would be a useful introductory book in an area where blacksmith facilities are desired. Experienced blacksmiths, however, will probably find the information too elementary.

Hardening and Tempering Engineers’ Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-98, 89 pages, by G. Gentry 1950, revised by E. Westbury and reprinted 1985, Argus Books Ltd., United Kingdom, out of print.

“The efficiency of cutting tools employed in engineering and other crafts depends very largely on their correct heat treatment. In the past, the methods employed in these processes have often evolved individual methods which have been in some cases closely guarded as trade secrets. There is, however, no reason why even the novice should not be able to harden and temper tools quite successfully by adopting simple methods which can be applied without the need for elaborate equipment.”

This book contains all the relevant information on simplified processes available to craftspeople with small workshops to maintain their tools in proper working strength for a long lifetime. Detailed descriptions of case hardening and the latest processes, materials and equipment are included, plus valuable information on gas hardening, nitriding, and flame hardening. Although emphasizing modern appliances and conveniences such as welding torches and gas and electric furnaces, a very helpful chapter on forging reminds toolmakers of the importance of shaping steel by hot working under the hammer. This is precisely the state of the art for most traditional blacksmiths in developing countries, for whom the tempering suggestions should prove valuable.

Good illustrations with clear text.

Oil Drum Forges, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-110, dimensional drawings, 40 pages, ITDG, out of print.

Making these forges requires no welding or brazing. One forge is bellows-operated; the other is fan-operated. Both are made from old oil drums. The plans are very simple—numbered drawings (with separate text, to simplify translation) with English and metric measurements.

These can be used by one person for any kind of blacksmith work. The author notes that these devices are also “suitable as engineering exercises, as rural craftsmen must be able to make their own tools.”

A Blacksmith’s Bellows, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-84, plans, 23 pages, by Allen R. Inversin and D. Sanguine, 1977, South Pacific Appropriate Technology Foundation, Boroko, Papua New Guinea, out of print.

The South Pacific Appropriate Technology Foundation (SPATF) has been organized by the government of Papua New Guinea to develop and promote the use of technologies encouraging individual and village self-help and self-reliance. This booklet, one of SPATF’s “how-to-do-it” publications, shows how to construct a hand-operated double-action bellows. Rubber from old inner tubes is used for the flap-valves as well as for the bellows themselves. The simple step-by-step instructions are accompanied by large, clear drawings and an explanation of how the finished mechanism works.

The design in this booklet could be built or adapted at very low cost for any kind of blacksmithing.


Metals for Engineering Craftsmen, book, 69 pages, CoSIRA/RDC, 1964. Available in the AT Library

This book is designed to be a simple guide to the properties of a wide range of metals and to be a useful alternative to very large technical books on metallurgy. The characteristics of most useful metals are all included along with information such as the welding and casting properties of each. This is not a how-to book, but it is very informative.

Metallurgy, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-106, book, 472 pages, by C.G. Johnson and W.R. Weeks, 1977.

Intended for those who require cast metals of high strength and durability, this book is biased towards the high-technology metals industries. There is, however, plenty of background information that could be useful to small-scale operations. A general introduction to the science of metals, the book covers the properties and testing of materials and the treatment and production of a variety of ferrous and nonferrous metals and alloys. There is a glossary of terms used in the metals sciences.

This book could be useful as a reference in a large blacksmithing, casting, or smelting operation. Some basic knowledge of chemistry is required.

Lost-Wax Casting: A Practitioner’s Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-130, book, 73 pages, by Wilburt Feinberg, 1983.

“The successful endurance of any technology over thousands of years is an impressive feat; for such a technology to find applications in our modern industrial world is a phenomenon.” Metal casting of objects is practiced throughout the world, often using techniques that are centuries old. Despite the rudimentary and unlikely nature of the technology often employed, village craftspeople regularly achieve good results. This book aims to inspire simple, basic improvements and encourage further resourcefulness among practitioners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and anyone working with limited resources. Following a discussion of basic techniques, the author presents a number of practical, low-cost suggestions to enhance quality and productivity. The emphasis is on attainable improvements based on the realities of village foundries.

These improvements include mold and pattern-making for low-cost duplication, use of scrap material, formulas for compounds used in modeling, mold-making, kiln construction, and even the production of crucibles in which the metal is melted. Metal casting (for machine parts, tools, hardware, and so on) is a technology with great potential for local employment generation and enhanced self-reliance.Though somewhat brief, this book could contribute greatly to the quality of production and economic viability of village-level foundries. Includes case studies and technical appendices.

Foundrywork for the Amateur, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-94, book, 108 pages, by B. Aspin, 1954 (revised 1986), Model and Allied Publications.

A basic skills book for making metal castings, describing the tools and techniques needed. The requirements are simple, although some of the tools described may not be locally available (such as a ceramic crucible). A foundry can be very useful for producing metal tools and replacement parts. Scrap metal can often be used, and the tools can often be made.

The book covers subjects such as furnaces, sand, molding boxes, how to make and ram a mold, and melting iron and aluminum. Illustrations of the tools used and the steps in the casting process are included. Useful examples are given, such as the casting design for an engine crankcase. Some of the English is a little complex. Although this book was written for use in Britain, it should be valuable in rural areas where foundry skills are needed to produce things locally.

Small-Scale Foundries for Developing Countries: A Guide to Process Selection, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-127, book, 66 pages, by J.D. Harper, 1981.

“This book is not intended as a textbook of foundry practice. The purpose is rather to assist anyone about to start or to expand a small-scale foundry to consider the various available processes, and to select the most appropriate for the circumstances. An indication is given of the type of raw materials and equipment which will be needed, and the degree of training or skill which is likely to be required.”

Smelting Furnace, Popular Mechanics Plan X297, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-113, 5 pages, by E.R. Haan, 1964.

“With this small furnace you can smelt aluminum, brass and copper; preheat small, thick pieces of iron and steel for brazing or forging; caseharden soft steel; make up alloys …. You can use either LP or city gas. The cost is about $25 (1964 prices).” The furnace is about 17 inches high and 12 inches in diameter; it holds a 3- inch diameter crucible. Clear photos and drawings with the text show how to make and operate the smelting furnace. A vacuum cleaner is needed to supply forced air. This might be of use in a small workshop where casting work is occasionally done.

Fabricating Simple Structures in Agricultural Engineering, book, 68 pages, 1955, Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas/Rural Development Commission, out of print.  Available in the AT Library

“This volume has been prepared by the Rural Industries Bureau as a guide to blacksmiths and agricultural engineers. It deals with the application of oxygen cutting and arc welding fabrications and therefore assumes knowledge of these two processes.”

The structures described are all metal and are generally used in farm applications: linkage mechanisms, wheels, rollers and brackets, bearing mountings, trusses, gates and a trailer chassis design. All pieces are made out of angle, channel and plate iron.

“The fabricated parts used to illustrate this book are intended to teach principles; they are not primarily intended to represent actual parts of machines. The object is not to show the precise way in which an exact number of fabrications can best be made, but rather to help the reader to become ‘fabrication minded.’ ” The emphasis is on helping the reader fabricate parts of his own design.

The Procedure Handbook of Arc Welding, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-115, book, 630 pages, 1973.

This remarkably thorough and detailed book tells you probably everything you would ever want to know about small and large-scale electric arc welding. It “is directed toward those people who have day-by-day working interest in arc.welding— to the supervisory and management personnel of fabrication shops and steel erection firms; to welders and welding operators; to engineers and designers; and to owners of welding shops. The editorial aim has been to be practical—to present information that is usable to those on the job.” The authors have also attempted to make the text as understandable as possible to the beginner.

Following an introduction to the fundamental principles of electric arc welding, the topics covered include preheating, relieving stress, welding different types of metals, safety, and welding underwater, in addition to power sources, equipment and supplies for arc welding.

There is an extensive reference section containing data on weights, hardness of different materials, and etching methods. There are many illustrations and a good index. Readers should have some understanding of basic welding methods.

Welding Craft Practices, Volumes 1 and 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-126, books, 159 pages (Volume 1) and 182 pages (Volume 2), by N. Parkin and C. Flood, 1969, paper editions out of print.

“The two volumes of this book cover the ground necessary for the acquisition of the essential basic skills and safe working methods in welding, sufficient technology and related studies being included to provide a suitable background to the practical work and form a basis for further, more advanced studies. It is intended for all who wish to learn to weld, and the ground covered will enable the beginner to obtain a sound knowledge of the equipment, an appreciation of safety and, by means of a graduated series of practical exercises, a good standard of skill.

“Volume 1 deals with Oxygen-Acetylene Processes and Weld Defects, Testing of Welds, and Welding Science; Volume 2 with Electric Arc Processes and Elementary Electricity, Classification of Electrodes, Welding Symbols, Engineering Drawing, Metal Plate Surface Development and Workshop Calculations.” These latter sections on drawing and welding symbols could be useful references for those who work with dimensional/mechanical drawings.


The two volumes can be bought separately; both have drawings and a few photographs. While welding is a skill that must be learned by practice, usually with the help of an experienced welder, these two books are well-suited to library or textbook use.

3 Welding Jigs, ITDG Complete Technical Drawings No. 19 ,3 large sheets, by R. Mann, ITDG, out of print.  Available in the AT Library

Welding jigs are used to hold parts in place and facilitate the repetition of a welding task during the fabrication of identical steel items. These drawings provide details on three jigs: a “plow share” jig for repair or fabrication of irregular sections, a shift and stock jig, and a universal jig. Exploded views are included along with materials lists. Although measurements are given, it is noted that the dimensions are approximate and can be varied to suit the local availability of materials and particular jig requirements.

Farm Shop and Equipment, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-93, booklet, 16 pages, 1953 (reprinted 1975), Cumberland General Store, out of print.

“Farm machinery is important to self-sufficiency. Effective care and repair of farm machinery requires an organized farm shop, as well-equipped as possible.”

This booklet was originally written for small American farmers. It discusses the kind of work that can be done, desirable building features, and a simple equipment list for making repairs in a farm shop. It shows how to sharpen and grind drill bits and how to make a chisel. One of the unique features of this booklet is a full-page table in which the following are listed: major kinds of metals used in farm machinery, how to identify them, why the manufacturer used the particular metal, common causes of failures, and recommended method of repair. There are numerous diagrams and photos, including a farm-made substitute for a drill press that uses a hand electric drill and simple plumbing parts, and dimensional drawings for a medium-sized brick forge.

Sheet Metal Former, Plan No. X609, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 7 pages, 1966.

This hand-operated tool allows you to make perfect cylinders in any diameter from 1 5/8’’ up. It will handle 20-gauge sheet iron up to 12’’ wide and thicker pieces of softer metals.

Two important pieces are cut from aluminum alloy plate; production will be more difficult if steel is used. This tool will require a lot of precision metal work to make.

How to Work Sheet Metal, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-100, book, 142 pages, by Herbert J. Dyer 1963, Model and Allied Publications, U.K., out of print in 1986.

This book outlines methods of sheet metal working using techniques and equipment that stress low-cost efficiency. Riveting, soldering, brazing, and other metal joining techniques are discussed as well as sheet edging and shaping methods. Includes sections on equipment, materials, and metalworking machines. Also included are dimensional drawings of a few basic sheet metal tools and equipment.

A beginner may at times have difficulty following the text; but, on the whole, an excellent book.

How to Make a Folding Machine for Sheet Metal Work, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-99, booklet, 32 pages, by Rob Hitchings, 1985.

Clear text and drawings distinguish this guide to building a simple yet effective and versatile tool for sheet metal work. The required materials and equipment should be available in most rural or semi-rural locations and the resulting machine will produce superior quality work with a great savings in time when compared with hand materials.

Sheet Metal Brake, Plan No. X606, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 8 pages, by Manly Banister, 1964.

This is a valuable, versatile, simple workshop tool for quickly and accurately bending sheet metal. For use in workshops where a lot of sheet metal bending is done or where precision is important. Hand-operated. The tool is 18 inches wide and can bend up to 20-gauge sheet metal the full width, or thicker narrower pieces.

“By using the proper forming block or mold, you can bend sheet metal to any angle, make radius bends, reverse bends, and seams.” Part II describes techniques for.the effective use of the tool.

Metal Bending Machine, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-105, dimensional drawings and photos, 24 pages, ITDG, out of print in 1985.

This remarkably simple machine can be used to bend thin strips of metal (the width can be varied), from right angle bends to circular rims for cart wheels. It is hand-operated by two people, and has very few parts.

The booklet has very detailed drawings with English and metric measurements. It also includes instructions and photos on how to make cart wheels with an axle jig assembly. Several ITDG designs use wheels fabricated with this machine (see the agricultural leaflet entitled Carts). An ingenious piece of intermediate technology.

Try Your Hand at Metal Spinning, Popular Mechanics Plan X420A, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04111, 5 pages, by Sam Brown, 1954.

This is a set of directions for making bowls out of aluminum by bending it into the proper shape on a lathe. No cutting is involved. “If you begin with soft aluminum and work it over a simple form you can spin a bowl in less than five minutes after the job is set up. Aluminum spins very easily and does not tend to score or buckle under the forming tools ” Drawings and photos illustrate the techniques and special tools needed (simple to make). Requires 16- to 22-gauge aluminum. The lathe has to operate at about 900 rpm.

General Metal Work, Sheet Metal Work and Hand Pump Maintenance, Rural Mechanics Course 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-134, book, 189 pages, by John van Winden, 1990.

This is the first in a series of books intended for use in a four-year course for rural mechanics, who are expected to have only a very limited toolkit without power tools.

Most of this book is on the elementary use of basic hand tools. Since a rural mechanic is a likely candidate for handpump repair, a short section is devoted to maintenance of several common handpump designs. Another short section introduces pipes and pipefitting. The last section contains 35 pages on various sheet metal forming techniques.

Blacksmithing, Welding and Soldering, Rural Mechanics Course 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-133, book, 142 pages, by John van Winden, 1989.

Part of a four-book series for a four-year rural mechanics training course, this volume covers the basic heavy metalworking tasks that a rural blacksmith/mechanic with limited tools might expect to encounter. A broad range of blacksmithing techniques are presented, and these are exceptionally well-illustrated.

Also included are exercises that require the use of most of these techniques in the production of commonly needed tools. A more limited set of techniques for electric arc welding and gas welding are covered. Unusual items here include instructions on how to weld joints without a welding rod, and drawings with a description of the proper use of an acetylene gas generator to make acetylene on the spot..The coverage of soldering is limited to sweating a lap joint. There is no coverage of soldering copper pipe.

Metalworking Handbook: Principles and Procedures, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04107, book, 480 pages, by Jeannette T. Adams, 1976, ARCO Publishing Company, New York, out of print.

This book is both a manual for the beginner and a reference book for the skilled craftsperson. For example, you’ll find an introduction to working with sheet metal, soldering, riveting and metal spinning. A variety of machine tools are discussed: drilling machines, milling machines, shapers, planers, lathes, and grinding machines. The appendix offers many useful tables.

Workshop Exercises Metal, Part A, Fundamental Skills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-129, book, 90 pages, and Technology Metal 1, Part A, Fundamental Skills, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-128, book, 90 pages; 1982, edited by H.N.C. Stam.

Technical and vocational education in developing countries can benefit from clear and easy-to-understand texts on workshop skills. The pictorial system and straightforward language of this pair of workbooks make them appropriate for beginning shop classes anywhere metalworking tools are available. The exercises require the production of practical objects that develop skills in layout, measurement, metal-cutting, forming and fastening. The tools required may be somewhat sophisticated for typical rural workshops and schools. But where the resources are available, and a curriculum for enhanced industrial capability is desired, these books will be useful.


The Beginner’s Workshop, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-83, book, 244 pages, by Ian Bradley, 1975, Model and Allied Publications, U.K., out of print in 1986.

This book will introduce you to the basic tools and machines in a metalworking workshop. The author provides suggestions on buying tools and building some small items. The basic uses of the tools and machines are very well-described.

Recommended for the reader wishing to develop basic workshop skills. Readers who already have such skills may find some new information here too.

Amateur’s Workshop, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-80, book, 256 pages, by Ian Bradley, Model and Allied Publications, 1976, revised edition 1986.

This book is intended for people who already possess at least the basic skills of metalworking using hand and power tools. Despite the use of the term “amateur” in the title, this book contains an enormous amount of useful information The text is clear and well-illustrated. Workshop skills are thoroughly covered. There are many detailed plans for tools and attachments to tools; many of these are complex devices.

Amateur’s Workshop will help someone with basic skills become a skilled craftsperson, after lots of practice. The book would be especially useful in programs for training metal workers. There is no glossary.

This is a step beyond The Beginner’s Workshop, by the same author. An excellent book.

Heavy Duty Drill Press, Plan No. X245, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-111, 4 pages, by Arthur B. Farwell.

This appears to be a very sturdy, powerful drill press for heavy drilling in wood and metals. An imaginative design, yet reasonably simple to make. A small amount of machine shop work would be needed on a few minor parts. A small electric motor is used, but a geared-up pedal-power unit would work also. The drawings are quite clear and sufficiently detailed. This is a possible substitute for expensive heavy duty imported drill presses for many circumstances.

How to Mill on a Drill Press, Plan No. X422A, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-11 l, 5 pages, by Kenneth B. Littlefield, 1969.

This article includes plans for cutting attachments that can be added to a metalworking drill press to enable you to do milling work. It also describes the techniques to use.

Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-95, book, 92 pages, by A.W. Marshall, 1984, out of print; replaced by Gears and Gear Cutting”>Gear Wheels and Gear Cutting, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-95, book, 92 pages, by A.W. Marshall, 1984, out of print.

Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-95, book, 92 pages, by A.W. Marshall, 1984, out of print; replaced by Gears and Gear Cutting”>replaced by Gears and Gear Cutting, by Ivan Law, 1987. Available in the AT Library

“An elementary handbook on the principles and methods of production of toothed gearing.” The author tells why and how to design and make gears. He discusses gear principles and tooth shapes, a wide variety of gears (including bevel and chain gears), and cutting gears on standard metalworking machine-tools. A knowledge of basic geometry is necessary in order to use this book.

Making gears is a complex task that requires a workshop with at least a metalworking lathe and drill press. This is a good guide to the process.

10-inch Table Saw, Plan No. X585, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-111,10 pages, by Elman Wood.

This unit would involve quite a bit of machine shop metal work, but the plans are quite clear, and the final product would be a solid, versatile table saw. The 10-inch circular blade can be raised, lowered, or tilted. The electric motor would be difficult to replace with another power source.

4-Wheel Band Saw, Plan No. X36, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-111, 4 pages, by H. Tuttle and R.E. Knull.

“Except for ball bearings and retainers, metal yokes, sheet-metal cover, and such shafts and bolts as are necessary in the assembly, the machine is entirely made out of wood. Most of the parts are cut from a single piece of 5/8″ plywood.” The four wheels are made of plywood, and covered with pieces of inner tube to provide a surface against which the blade rubs as it rotates. A pulley can be changed to allow a second speed. Uses blades 10 feet long and up to l/2-inch wide. The small electric motor could be replaced by a 1-2 person pedal-power unit with a flywheel. Will cut.wood and light metals (this requires changing to a metal-cutting blade and operating at a lower speed). Clear drawings, sufficient for construction.

Two-Speed Bandsaw Cuts Wood and Metal, Popular Mechanics Plan No. X37, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 7 pages, by A.L. Mills, 1951.

This machine can be used to cut wood or metal, by shifting v belts between pulleys to change the speed of the blade. “It has every essential feature of the average dual purpose type machine.” The frame is made of water pipe and fittings, while the band wheels are made of hardwood.

DeCristoforo’s Book of Power Tools, Both Stationary and Portable, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-88, book, 434 pages, by R. DeCristoforo, 1972, Times Mirror Magazines, New York, out of print.

A clearly written, extensively illustrated guide to the use of power woodworking tools, both stationary and hand-held. Includes table saws, drill presses, lathes, band saws, belt sanders and more. Each chapter describes the safe operation of a tool, and standard techniques, as well as many innovative applications of that particular machine. Most useful are photos and plans for simple jigs and accessories which increase the versatility of the power tools and allow the production of many identical pieces. For example, there are plans for an adjustable wooden frame for cutting large panels easily with a power hand saw.

This book only provides instruction in the proper use of commercially available machines. No design and construction details for such machines are provided. The greatest weakness of this book is that it includes almost no information about repair or even routine maintenance of the power tools. May be useful to those wishing to teach themselves wood shop techniques, especially for small-industry furniture production.

Motorize Your Hacksaw, Plan No. X334, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 2 pages, by Carl S. Bates 1952.

“If you have a small metal working shop or use steel bar or shafting to some extent in your home workshop, motorizing a hand hacksaw will save hours of work and can be done at a fraction of the cost of a commercial power hacksaw. The inexpensive drive unit consists of an 8- or 10-inch v-pulley and shaft, a connecting rod and a guide rod, a vise or clamping arrangement to hold the work and a suitable wooden base. When needed for handwork, the saw can be removed from the unit in a few minutes.” Uses a l/4 hp electric motor.

Scroll Saw, Plan No. X594, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 5 pages, by Will Hooper, 1945.

This saw is similar to a jig saw, with a narrow, reciprocating blade. The plans have to be studied carefully to be fully understood. This design is made of hardwood and a variety of small metal parts from old automobiles. Some cutting, drilling and tapping steel is required. Uses a 1/4 hp electric motor. Appears to be a sturdy machine.

Metal Turning Lathe Built from Stock Parts, Plan No X387, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-113, 4 pages, by Frank Beatty, 1959.

This metalworking lathe is not a precision tool. It can accept work up to 4 1/2’’ in diameter and 10’’ long. Standard pipe and fittings are used to form a frame on which the rest of the lathe is fitted. Precision metal work is required to make this lathe.

Lathe Sanders, Plan No. X388, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 2 pages, by Dick Hutchinson, 1949.

This article provides ideas for making simple disc and drum sanding attachments for use with a woodshop lathe. Also shows another drum sander powered by an electric drill.


Wood Planer for $100, Popular Mechanics Plan No. 802B, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-112, 9 pages, by Ronald Guy, 1970.

This is a workshop machine for planing wood to a specified thickness.

Metalworking tools are needed to do a lot of precision work to make this machine.

Cost $100 for materials in 1970. Useful in converting scrap, low-grade, or recycled lumber into more valuable boards.

A Manual on Sharpening Hand Woodworking Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-104, large booklet, 48 pages, by J.K. Coggin, L.O. Armstrong, and G.W. Giles, 1943.

Written and published as a shop manual for students in woodworking and industrial arts classes in rural schools. Drawings and simple instructions show how to grind and sharpen chisels, plane irons, saws, augers, knives, axes, and screwdrivers. Many of the illustrations are clear and complete enough to be used without the text. Includes simple explanations of types of steel used in hand tools, and an illustrated glossary of sharpening terms.

An excellent low-cost teaching tool and reference.

Sharpening Small Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-117, book, 128 pages, by Ian Bradley, 1980, MAP Publications (U.K.).

“In this book the sharpening of tools in general use is dealt with, and, whenever possible, simple and well-tried methods have been adopted, bearing in mind that usually the aim when sharpening a tool should be to restore, as accurately and as consistently as possible, the original form of the cutting edge.” Bradley begins with an introduction to the materials and equipment used in sharpening. Then he explains (with illustrations) the proper sharpening techniques to use with metalworking tools lathe cutting tools, shears, drill hits, and other tools used in boring. This is followed by sharpening techniques for woodworking tools— planes, saws, chisels, and drill bits—and some common household tools such as knives and scissors.

When a sharpening “stone is used dry, it will soon become filled with metal particles and … have little abrasive action …. Water or oil is applied to the stone to.enable the metal dust to be carried away ….”

“The four common forms of cold chisels … are generally sharpened on the grinding wheel, [although] when the edge is but little blunted it can readily be restored on a coarse emery bench stone.”

Bearing Design & Fitting, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-82, paperback book, 80 pages, by Ian Bradley, 1979, Model and Allied Publications, U.K., out of print in 1986.

“Although the subject of this book is complex and covers a very wide field, an attempt has, nevertheless, been made to deal with the main principles involved and, at the same time, to furnish examples of bearing design and application that may be found of use particularly in the small workshop.”

Bearings are used whenever something rotates or slides against something else and it is desirable to reduce friction and wear. This book is good on the design and production of metal bearings. Many of the ideas could be applied to other materials, such as wood, of which bearings are often made in developing countries. The book covers casting of bearings from metals and plastics, machining bearings, design, lubrication, different types, and maintenance and repair. See also Oil Soaked Wood Bearings, reviewed on page 221.

Spring Design and Calculation, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-119, book, 37 pages, by R.H. Warring, 1973, Argus Books, out of print.

This book tells you how to make metal springs. Topics covered include spring materials and the following kinds of springs: flat, helical, tapered helical, torsion, clock, constant force, and multiple leaf. Wire sizes and other details of spring construction are also discussed. Simple algebra is needed to design springs using this book.

“Spring design proportions are not something that can be ‘guesstimated’ with any degree of accuracy—and trial-and-error design can produce a succession of failures. Thus this book on spring design is full of formulas, as the only accurate method of predicting spring performance. However, all are practical working formulas; and all are quite straightforward to use.”

This is not a book that shows specific spring making procedures—it just covers the designing of springs. Once you master the simple math, you should have no problem using this book to design springs of good quality. There are numerous illustrations and charts that will help the reader more fully understand the methods and principles described.

How to Work with Copper Piping, Plan No. X198C, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-111, 4 pages, 1974.

Good illustrations and text for “sweat” soldering copper pipe joints. Notes on tools and techniques for cutting copper pipe.

How to Use Metal Tubing, Plan No. X422, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-111, 4 pages, by E.R. Haan, 1956.

This article contains lots of valuable hints with drawings, on how to bend, cut, connect, solder, enlarge and generally handle metal tubing. There is a good description of soldering copper tubing joints. Relevant for plumbing, solar water.heaters, steam engines, and other uses.

Electroplating for the Amateur, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-91, book, 106 pages, by L. Warburton, 1963, out of print.

replaced by Electroplating, by J. Poyner, 1987, from Argus Books, Argus House, Boundary Way, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP2 7ST, England.  Available in the AT Library

Electroplating is a process in which electricity is used to produce a protective coating on metal parts. The author attempts “to provide the amateur engineer with what is hoped will be sufficient data, not only to carry out successful electroplating in the small workshop, but also to provide himself with the essential tools of the trade, i.e., the electrical equipment and plating tanks … reduced to their simplest forms without serious loss of efficiency …. The only plating plant obtainable is on a far bigger scale than anything required by even the most enthusiastic amateur.” Thus, there is “a detailed discussion of a suitable size of plant, together with details as to how such a plant can be assembled in the small workshop.”

The book covers electrical principles and procedures; the plating tank; chemicals; preparation of surfaces to be plated; electrolytes; chromium, copper, nickel and silver plating; anodizing aluminum; and some other techniques.

Electric Motor Test and Repair, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-90, book, 168 pages, by R. Piekiel, 1966, TAB Books, out of print.

This is a guide to rewinding and testing single and poly-phase, plain and split-loop small-horsepower electric motors. Winding diagrams show the sequence and number of coils to be wound into armature and stator slots, and simple schematics show electrical connections to commutator and field windings. Accompanying text gives full instructions: “… any armature with an even number of slots can be wound in the same general manner. The first coil is started in the slot selected as number 1 and comes back in slot 7, then back through slot 1 and so on around until the correct number of turns have been placed. The wire is now cut at the commutator end, leaving ample length to reach the proper commutator bar with an inch or two left over ….”

Testing and winding equipment, expensive or unavailable in many areas, can be made by the person doing repairs. The author explains how to build a motortest panel, simple hand-operated armature and stator coil winding machines, devices for taping and packing coils, and gear and pulley puller plates. He also discusses the use of small lamps, hand compasses, and homemade induction devices to test armatures and stators. Other useful ideas and information: reversing motor rotation direction; rewinding automobile generator armatures; building a dipping tank and baking hood for application of coil insulating varnish.

This book requires a basic understanding of electric motors. Bound with a durable cover and packed with ideas for improvising equipment, it could be used wherever motors are being repaired.

LeJay Manual, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-102, booklet, 44 pages, 1945 (reprinted many times since), LeJay Manufacturing Company, Minnesota, out of print.

This is an illustrated manual on how to rewind automobile generators for all kinds of uses: from direct drive windgenerators and waterwheels to arc welders and soldering irons. For windgenerators, rewinding is done so that the generator will begin charging at a lower rpm, thus avoiding the need for gearing. This allows the propeller to directly drive the generator shaft. The specific generators referred to have mostly disappeared; however, the principles remain the same.

A Museum of Early American Tools, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-109, book, 108 pages, by E. Sloane, 1964 (fourth edition 1974).

“Covers building tools and methods, farm and kitchen implements, and the tools of curriers, farriers, wheelwrights, coopers, blacksmiths, coachmakers, sawyers, loggers, tanners,” and others. The tools were generally made from wood and iron.

This book was written by a collector of early tools, with the philosophy that tools represent extensions of the human hand. The book includes drawings of the tools, descriptions of their uses, and some production sketches. These are tools that were produced by blacksmiths and farmers—from an era when most rural Americans made many of their own tools out of local materials.

Interesting items include: making barrel staves, reaming, nail-making; and complete drawings of a boring machine, wooden jacks and lifts, and smithy tools.

Stocking Spare Parts for a Small Repair Shop, VITA Technical Bulletin No. 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-120, 4 pages, by Phil Cady, P.E., out of print in 1985.

Basic good advice for systematic stocking and record-keeping for parts.

Hard-to Find Tools and Other Fine Things, catalog, 70 pages average length, published quarterly, free (overseas shipping postage charge only) from Brookstone Company, 127 Vose Farm Road, Peterborough, New Hampshire 03458, USA.  Available in the AT Library

A commercial catalog, with photos, offering a wide variety of unusual tools. Although some of the listings are expensive gimmicks, most of the tools are of high quality.

Technical Drawing, Rural Mechanics Course 4, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-135, book, 100 pages, by John van Winden, 1990.

Anyone involved in building things from plans provided by other people needs to be able to “read” technical drawings. Similarly, anyone who wants to be able to provide clear instructions on how to make something will find technical drawing to be a very important “language” for those instructions. This is a good introductory book to the skill of technical drawing with exercises for the student. The emphasis is on drawing small objects for metalworking shops. This volume is part of a four volume set intended to be used in a four-year course for rural mechanics.

How to Make Planes, Cramps and Vices: Seven Woodworking Tools, Workshop Equipment Manual No. 11, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-136, book, 112 pages, by Aaron Moore. 1987.

This well-illustrated manual shows the reader how to make seven different woodworking tools that are quite valuable to a rural workshop lacking electricity. Tools included are jack planes, rebate planes, plough planes, spokeshaves, sash cramps, bench cramps, and beam and leg vices. The tools must be carefully made; if.not, they will be difficult and frustrating to use. Assumes the reader is already familiar with standard woodworking techniques.

How to Make Twelve Woodworking Tools, Workshop Equipment Manual No. 9, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 04-137, book, 108 pages, by Aaron Moore, 1986.

A good illustrated guide to the careful production of some useful carpentry tools, including a try square, bevel square, marking gauge, cutting gauge, mortise gauge, panel gauge, mallet, bow drill, bow saw, coping saw, fret saw and hack saw. Much of the effectiveness and satisfaction that comes from using these tools will depend upon how carefully they are made. The metal-framed saws depend upon tension to hold the blades in place; this may prove to be problematical. “The bow saw is made to cut curves in timber up to about 50mm in thickness, giving a carpenter the ability to make fancy and decorative shapes, improving the style and range of his products. It is not a common tool, but anyone who takes the time to construct one will be surprised at the advantages it gives.”


Simple Working Models of Historic Machines includes drawings of two different lathes, screw cutters for wooden screws, a variety of pulleys and other lifting devices, the Chinese spoon tilt hammer (which can be used by a blacksmith), and two kinds of bellows; see GENERAL REFERENCE.

Construction Manual for a Cretan Windmill contains plans for a pedal-powered turning lathe; see ENERGY: WIND.

Appropriate Technology and Local Self-Reliance


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on a USB flash drive or 2 DVDs in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Books reviewed in this section

Alternative Development Strategies and Appropriate Technology
Another Development: Approaches and Strategies
Appropriate Technology in Social Context
The Breakdown of Nations
A Landscape for Humans
Learning from China
Local Responses to Global Problems
Rural SmallScale Industry in the People’s Republic of China
Rural University
Small Scale Cement Plants
Soft Technologies Hard Choices
Technologies for Basic Needs
Technology for Ujamaa Village Development in Tanzania
Towards Village Industry

Many of the publications reviewed here contain evidence that community involvement and increased self-reliance in problem-solving go hand in hand with appropriate technologies. Together they can make a large contribution in solving the problems of poverty, particularly in the South. But one should not forget that the community exists within the political and economic confines of the nation state. Because of the great economic and coercive power of these states, national decisions about development strategy and allocation of resources will deeply affect all the choices open to communities.

This fact of life—that decisions and choices made “at the top” crucially affect what is possible “at the bottom”—is the focus of this section. Appropriate Technology: Problems and Promises, Part I (see review in the BACKGROUND READING chapter) provides an insightful examination of what this means for the development of technologies. Many other publications reviewed here give concrete evidence of the importance of integrating high-level development policy with locally based decision-making if a project is to be successful (see, for example, Participation and Education in Community Water Supply and Sanitation Programes).

If a genuine effort is to be made to support community-based development of skills, problem-solving capabilities, and institutions, it will be necessary to reorient current structures that channel technical information and assistance, training and education, capital, government revenues, research and development work, and political power. If the point of initiative and problem-solving is to be at the. community level, then the community must have access to these supportive systems that make it possible for things to happen. The writings in this chapter address these issues by discussing the most practical sizes of political and economic units and illustrating how the level at which initiatives are taken is a determining aspect of any development strategy.

Leopold Kohr has done some of the pioneering thinking on the differential nature and functioning of social organizations—communities, cities, nations—as they grow larger and larger. In The Breakdown of Nations he argues that as social units increase in size, social problems increase faster until these problems reach a magnitude and complexity at which they can no longer be understood and controlled by human beings. He urges a return to small political states, small cities, and small communities, in which problems can be broken down to a manageable size. Rural University describes an exciting program in which a university in rural Venezuela has had success in addressing local needs. Some of the environmental benefits of smaller states are suggested in A Landscape For Humans, which examines the potential for “ecologically guided development” in a region of the southwestern United States. Local Responses to Global Problems: A Key to Meeting Basic Human Needs describes many local initiatives that are being undertaken around the world to solve what are often described as being primarily global problems.

Appropriate Technology in Social Context is an annotated bibliography that reviews the literature on the socio-cultural aspects of technological choice. The author concludes that to ensure that socially appropriate technology is chosen, it is necessary to involve “the community itself in the mechanics of technology choice, even if new procedures and institutions have to be created for this purpose.” Three books reviewed here reveal the importance of rural self-reliance in increasing agricultural production and developing rural small-scale industry in China. The decentralized production of cement has been an important factor in enabling the Chinese communes to carry out at reasonable cost a wide range of public works projects such as irrigation canals and building construction. Small cement plants also employ 10 times as many people as modern large-scale plants. (See Small Scale Cement Plants: A Study in Economics.) Rural Small Scale Industry in the People’s Republic of China reports on the decision-making process which has supported the remarkable growth of rural industries. These industries have brought with them the development of valuable technical and managerial skills among the rural population, and allow better support of agriculture and more productive use of rural person-power when it is not needed in agricultural activities. Learning from China: A Report on Agriculture and the Chinese People’s Communes examines the participatory structures (such as research and development teams that include farmers as members) that have been keys to the advances of Chinese rural development. The possibilities and potential pitfalls that surround intermediate technology when applied in the context of Tanzanian ujamaa villages are explored in Technology for Ujamaa Village Development in Tanzania. A look at the many and complicated factors likely to affect the success of appropriate technologies at the local level is provided in Soft Technologies, Hard Choices. The last three entries in this chapter are concerned with the identification of policy measures that can foster the development of appropriate technologies and support alternative, people-centered development strategies. Conventional development strategies are criticized and the assumptions underlying a different approach are described in Alternative Development Strategies and Appropriate Technology: Science Policy for an Equitable World Order. Need-oriented, culturally-linked development that aims at liberation is the topic of Another Development: Approaches and Strategies. The ILO volume Technologies for Basic Needs notes that decentralization has particular advantages in carrying out basic needs strategies, and points to lack of contact with the real problems and experiences of farmers as a major reason for the disappointing contribution of R and D institutions in the South.

There are a number of particularly relevant entries that have been placed in other chapters. Many of the entries in the NONFORMAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING chapter provide insights into effective roles and strategies for outside groups that wish to support the growth of community-based conscientizacion and problem-solving.

The Breakdown of Nations, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-71, book, 250 pages, by Leopold Kohr, 1957, reprinted 1978, out of print in 1985.

It is in this volume that Kohr first develops, and in delightful fashion, his theories of scale. Despite his unconvincing attempt to explain away all social problems as due to bigness, he ably defends his thesis that scale is an important variable and that systems and institutions that are too large inevitably fail to function properly. The author’s humorous tone at times distracts the reader from the seriousness of his points, but makes for a book that is hard to put down. “If the great powers had at least produced superior leadership in their process of growing so that they could have matched the magnitude of the problems which they produced! But here, too, they failed because, as Gulliver observed, ‘Reason did not extend itself with the Bulk of the Body.’ ” “Neither the problems of war nor those relating to the purely internal criminality of societies disappear in a small-state world; they are merely reduced to bearable proportions. Instead of hopelessly trying to blow up man’s limited talents to a magnitude that could cope with hugeness, hugeness is cut down to a size where it can be managed even with man’s limited talents.”

Rural University: Learning about Education and Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-80, book, 71 pages, by F. Arbab, 1984, also in French and Spanish.

“A population must contain proper institutions that can lead the search, without losing touch with the realities of the region or the state of scientific and technological progress worldwide. In most rural populations, such institutions do not exist; the rural university, as a learning institution of the region, was a logical candidate to assume the responsibility and face the challenge.” “Early—with the first project on domestic water—the FUNDAEC group realized that access to information worldwide was indispensable if the rural university was to become an efficient agent of technological change. Many groups reinvent what is already known by others, and much energy is lost in working with solutions that have already proven worthless elsewhere. A most important element of the 3-year plan, then, was to develop a documentation centre and incorporate it fully into technological change.”.

A Landscape for Humans, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-72,149 pages, by Peter van Dresser, 1972.

Here is “a case study of the potentials for ecologically guided development in an uplands region.” Chosen was an area in the northern part of the state of New Mexico, USA, long a secluded zone of Spanish culture. “It is no longer possible to ‘solve the problems’ of such a regional community by expediting wholesale out-migration and assimilation of its population into the urban, metropolitan, or industrial areas of the nation …. Neither is it possible to rehabilitate provincial regions such as the uplands by importing big industry and its works. The dominant characteristic of modern primary and extractive industry (including ‘agribusiness’), geared to the national market, is labor-conservative, machine-intensive, and moving towards maximum automation. Very large investments are required per job created (e.g., $175,000 for a modern pulp mill). Regions dominated by such industries tend to depopulate except for company towns of varying degrees of cultural and social impoverishment.”

Van Dresser suggests a variety of environmentally sound, community-supportive economic activities that could be carried on or expanded within the region, to fill the needs for goods, services, and employment. He notes, for example, that a decentralized timber industry would be well-suited to the existing distribution of timber resources and population. It might be possible to “vertically-integrate” such a timber industry, so that more employment and value-added would remain in the region, when processed timber products are sold outside the region. ”

… The bulk of the livelihood needs of such a region must be met within the region itself by skilled, scientific, intensive, and conservative use of the lands, waters, and renewable biotic and environmental resources of the region. The long-term strategy for economic development should be gradual de-involvement from the mass logistic machinery of the continental economy, with its enormous and ever increasing consumption of energy and irreplaceable natural resources.”

The author’s recommendation of gradual de-involvement from the national economy is contrary to the thinking of most economic development institutions. The conventional wisdom of the latter is that increased trade is primarily beneficial. Van Dresser makes a persuasive case that the recent effects of such economic ties have been, on balance, quite negative.

“Such an evolution calls for a new technological, agricultural, and industrial orientation, stressing small-scaled and diversified primary production, adapted to the land and natural resource patterns of the region, to the ecologic balance and health of the total biotic community, and to the needs of a decentralized and dispersed population of effective and vital small communities. This type of productive economy will be manpower-, skill-, and science-intensive, rather than capital-, energy-, and machine-intensive.”

Van Dresser argues that an important part of the foundation for building such an economy is the high level of non-commercial “primary production” already taking place in the region. This is particularly strong in the growing and processing of foodstuffs and in the construction of homes and farm buildings. The author’s observations about road building, education, and other aspects of a practical plan for ecologically-guided development would be relevant in many rich and poor countries. This short book offers a remarkably broad and stimulating introduction to these issues that affect appropriate technology efforts. Highly recommended.

Local Responses to Global Problems: A Key to Meeting Basic Human Needs, Worldwatch Paper 17, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-74, booklet, 64 pages, by Bruce Stokes, 1978, out of print, a few copies still available from Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, USA.

Self-help and self-reliance are the important keys to better living conditions and broader opportunity for people the world over. This paper shows how individuals and communities are meeting their basic needs with little or no help from outside institutions.

In housing, carpentry, plumbing, and bricklaying, skills shared at the neighborhood level provide the technical basis for self-help home building in urban slums around the world. Successful projects have often involved the government providing land, credit, and basic services to poor families who can then build their own dwellings.

For food production: “Whether judged by yield per acre or by the cost of production, small farms compare favorably with large farms on all continents. Most of the economies of scale associated with size can be achieved in units small enough to be farmed by a family …. A 1970 survey for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) showed that small farms in India, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Guatemala had higher productivity per acre than large farms.”

Energy conservation and examples of self-reliance in small-scale energy production and consumption are also discussed. The author concludes that while foreign aid and other forms of international cooperation can be constructive, problems of basic needs must be addressed at the local level. “In 1975, public and private official development assistance … totaled $18.4 billion, not even enough to meet yearly basic housing needs according to the (World Bank’s) estimate. The political will does not exist to solve problems through large transfer of resources. Any development strategy based on the assumption that the rich will more than double their foreign aid is doomed to failure. This does not mean that foreign aid should be abandoned. But if the resources to fully meet basic needs are not forthcoming from national and international sources, then they must come from communities and individuals. While ready capital is scarce at this level, there is a reserve of labor and ingenuity that money cannot buy.”

Appropriate Technology in Social Context: An Annotated Bibliography, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-70, 33 pages, by David French, 1977, VITA, out of print.

Lists 180 books, articles and papers, with short paragraph annotations. Many case studies are identified, and a number of important issues are raised. This is not a review of the technical literature.

“Harmony between technology and social context is important. Abundant evidence shows that implanting a socially ‘inappropriate’ technology in a village has the same result as implanting a foreign object in a person: either the technology is rejected or the village may ‘die’ as a social organism …. Novelists and anthropologists have long recorded the disruption of traditional societies by new technologies.”

“To take full account of context implies involving the community itself in the mechanics of technological choice, even if new procedures and institutions have to be created for the purpose. “The materials in the bibliography are “abstracted from four separate literatures, those of development agencies, the applied social sciences, village-oriented programs, and sources of technical information …. There is a need to break down the walls (between these groups) if appropriate technology is to be kept in social context …. Perhaps the first job here should be design of an appropriate institutional technology for ‘technology’ transfer.”

The author uses a relatively full definition of appropriate technology, noting the importance of people’s participation, low costs, and use of local resources; thus, his reviews are more interesting and valuable than those in many other bibliographies. Recommended.

Small Scale Cement Plants: A Study in Economics, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-76, booklet, 28 pages, by Jon Sigurdson, 1977, ITDG, out of print.

“Small scale cement plants have recently been attracting more and more attention from international agencies and industrial economists concerned with rural development. In China there are more than 2800 active small scale plants and more than 200 in Europe (Spain, Yugoslavia, France, Germany and Italy). This booklet examines the criteria which would justify the establishment of mini cement plants in developing countries and specifically compares the situation in India with that in China, where more than 57% of cement is produced in small plants …. A short bibliography is provided as well as designs of vertical shaft kilns taken from a Chinese book on small scale cement plants.”

In China, “the initial smallness of a plant enables the capacity of the plant to grow with the local demand. This may make overall costs lower than if a large capacity plant had been set up from the very beginning.”

“When deciding location, size and technology for the cement plants it appears that in China transportation costs are much more important than investments costs per ton of finished product.” (Other studies of the Chinese rural development effort indicate that the savings to a public works program can more than offset the investment in a small kiln within a year or two.) Sigurdson notes that the freight policy in India makes cement the same price at all rail depots. (Transport costs are “pooled” and assigned equally to all cement sold in the country.) This eliminates the advantage that small kilns would have in local marketing areas, as the substantial costs of transport are not reflected in the price of cement produced by distant large kilns.

“The viability of small cement plants is at least partly a reflection of demand created through substantial public works programs and other construction activities in rural areas.” (Conversely, it must be noted, in many countries the high cost of cement prevents the undertaking of rural public works programs.) The author raises the question of “appropriateness of product.” The Chinese small vertical shaft kilns apparently do not produce cement of Portland Cement quality (in strength and uniformity). However, for most rural area uses, higher quality is not needed. The small rural cement plants employ at least 250,000 people directly. “This number is at least 10 times higher than employment would be in a small number of modern large scale cement plants producing the same quantity of cement.” A short but important case study that illustrates many of the issues surrounding appropriate technology.

Rural Small-Scale Industry in the People’s Republic of China, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-75, book, 310 pages, by Dwight Perkins et. al., 1977.

Much can be learned from the remarkable success of the Chinese efforts to develop grassroots skills and innovative capability, and improve the standard of living through promotion of rural small-scale industry. This report of a distinguished group of American visitors in 1975 offers many valuable insights into the successes and problems of these efforts.

The authors discuss the administrative systems, worker incentives, economies associated with small-scale industries, the relationship between these industries and agriculture, and their impact on Chinese society. Special treatment is given to agricultural machinery, chemical fertilizer technology, and small-scale cement plants.

“First and foremost, China is developing a rural small-scale industry because this strategy is believed to be doing a better job of supporting agriculture than did the large-scale strategies of the past.”

“The rationale for the use of small-scale factories in rural areas begins with a recognition of the inadequacies of China’s rural transport and marketing systems …. Reinforcing the effects of high transport costs is the nature of China’s rural commercial system. Even when communes are prepared to pay the going price for some desired item, it won’t necessarily be available …. It may get it faster if it builds one on its own.”

“The planning system seems to be in part a nested or hierarchical system of rationing of technically advanced products in such a way that the demand for scarce, high-technology products in the production of products for rural life is minimized.” To the extent that rural production units can meet their own equipment and other capital needs, the Chinese can avoid “wasting Shanghai talent producing small threshers for the whole country.”

“No research institute in Peking will be able to design machines suitable for all environments and conditions. Local production facilities coupled with design inputs from two directions have largely alleviated this problem. Assistance from above is readily available—e.g., for 12 h.p. diesel engines—or for electric motors and pumps. From below comes a flow of comments and suggestions as to how trial machines perform and what tasks need to be mechanized. The local factories, especially the commune level machine shops, seem ideally suited to wed these two inputs into locally adapted machines.

“Instead of leaving innovations to technicians alone, ‘three-in-one’ groups consisting of administrators, technicians, and senior workers are organized to attack technical problems and produce innovations in factory technology.”

“A reasonably strong argument can be made that the major contribution of the agricultural machinery industry … has been through an indirect process of ‘scientification’ of the rural masses. A hand tractor imported from Japan would have the same physical productivity as one made in China, but it would certainly not have the same impact as one made in a brigade or commune machine shop where every peasant knows someone who helped build it.”

The Chinese have deliberately followed a strategy of starting rural industries small and gradually making them bigger and more modern. The larger, more modern stage could not be reached “without the industrial experience, the chance to mobilize the masses in technical renovation, and the capital funds from profits in the meantime, that are the products of its first period.”

The demand for electricity that has accompanied the spread of rural small-scale industries has led to the construction of a very large number of small hydroelectric plants, some 60,000 in south China alone.

“It is not the techniques themselves that the Chinese are adding to the world’s storehouse of knowledge, but the fact that these techniques can be adapted to rural conditions on a widespread scale.” Highly recommended.

Towards Village Industry: A Strategy for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-81, book, 100 pages, by Berg, Nimpuno, and van Zwanenberg, 1976 (revised edition 1979).

This book supplies the contemporary appropriate technology enthusiast with a whole new perspective—one which can be a good deal more valuable than other contemporary approaches. By analysis of what existed in the past (pre-colonial Tanzania is the example), the whole picture of a well-integrated naturally flowing economic order emerges—an order which is precisely what so many developing nations have intended to retain, but have lost due to colonization or media and physical exposure to Western societies. The authors state that one must have a genuine reverence for the technological and cultural history of the population— and give it at least as much emphasis as is placed on current economic and technical analyses. Completely local production in a labor-intensive process is stressed.

This book cites Tanzania’s pre-colonial industrial/agrarian specialized technologies and local trading patterns, to develop a historical basis for appropriate technology. Western appropriate technology development specialists often seem to introduce, the authors claim, a technically and even economically suitable technology, but a technology out of context with the culture and history of the people—which is often a reason for its failure to spread. The implication is that economic interdependence existed among the Tanzanian people before the colonial period, and that by reinvestigating the period important considerations for A.T. will be found.

Examining the products of East African village craftspeople today, the authors note the effect of the introduction of city-trained craftspeople into the villages. These people are commonly producing copies of devices they were trained to make in Western-oriented technical schools. Where mass-produced items are copied by craftspeople, the product is usually inferior in quality to the original. Superior products can be made through the craft processes, but only when following the methods that correspond to these processes and materials. The authors assert that the craftsperson should once again become a creator or innovator of technology responding to the needs of the rural people—which implies a major overhaul of the selection and training process. Ways in which this overhaul could be accomplished are suggested. Strong emphasis is placed on the development of useful village workshops. Equipment, workshop requirements, and types of training are identified. This perspective could be valuable to many people working in the field today..

Technology for Ujamaa Village Development in Tanzania, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-79, book, 64 pages, by Donald Vail, 1975, out of print.

A thoughtful discussion of the social/political/economic circumstances that affect intermediate technology in one country of Africa attempting to develop a decentralized, self-reliant village socialism.

There is an interesting look at the potential for creative exchange between a testing unit and both 1) international sources of ideas and information, and 2) local people using adapted tools in real farming activities. How can a testing unit learn from both the enormous variety of small tools already in existence worldwide and from the farmers themselves? (Learning from the farmers ensures their participation and greatly increases the chances that the equipment developed will be relevant.)

The relationship between intermediate technology and the strengthening—or undermining—of Ujamaa village development is explored. The author argues that without policy backing for Ujamaa as the dynamic mechanism for A.T. development, new small-scale technology seems likely to strengthen private enterprise at the expense of the cooperative Ujamaa villages. This in turn would have the effect of a concentration of land holdings and stratification into a relatively small group of haves and a much larger group of have-nots.

Soft Technologies, Hard Choices, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-77, booklet, 41 pages, by Colin Norman, 1978, out of print.

A good overview of the arguments in favor of the development of appropriate technology. Full of sensible observations such as: “Skewed income distribution leads to the development and adoption of technologies that meet the demands of the privileged. Without social and political changes that redistribute income, overhaul inequitable land ownership patterns, reform credit systems, and provide support for small farmers and manufacturers, appropriate technologies will be difficult to introduce. Powerful vested interests support large-scale manufacturing, mechanized farming and other symbols of modernity …. By stimulating local innovation and reinforcing other development efforts, simple technologies can lead to self-sustaining development …. No technology—however appropriate—will solve social problems by itself …. Nevertheless, the choice of inappropriate technologies can only exacerbate social, economic, and environmental problems …. The entire innovation process, from basic research to the production of a new technology, is conditioned by such factors as the profit motive, prestige, national defense needs, and social and economic policies. Those forces must be understood in any discussion of appropriate technology …. The unfettered workings of the market system cannot be relied upon to promote the development and adoption of appropriate technologies.”

Learning from China: A Report on Agriculture and the Chinese People’s Communes, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-73, book, 112 pages, by a U.N. Food and Agriculture Study Mission, 1977.

“This is a nation that, within the short span of 27 years, has succeeded in banishing starvation. It is now providing food, clothing, shelter and reasonable security for over 800 million people. It has mobilized the world’s largest agricultural labour force, reversed the flood of people into cities and kept people on the land.” A multidisciplinary team of FAO officers compiled this report, which is focused on the participatory structures that have enabled China’s dramatic achievements in meeting basic human needs. Present-day organization of production along commune, brigade, and production team lines is presented as part of the history of traditional and revolutionary Chinese collectivism.

Much of the report is devoted to the educational, research, and mechanization strategies employed by the collectives to boost agricultural output. Mobilization of the productive workforce is key to this strategy: “Most other developing countries … are impaled on the horns of a cruel dilemma: there is massive unemployment precisely at a time when so much needs to be done. China has largely solved this dilemma through a development approach that, among other things, designed the commune. In the process, it unleashed a tremendous force for development.”

An important conclusion emerging from this report is that technological changes cannot substantially change the position of the small farmer unless they are part of a genuine structural or organizational reform in the countryside. “The Chinese experience suggests that developing countries should consider a temporary and selective moratorium on current plans for comprehensive diffusion or ‘transfer’ of technology, among these most disadvantaged farmers. These farmers need instead more intensive policies of tenurial improvement and selective, if not widescale, measures of land reform; progressive upgrading of traditional tools and equipment; more intensive use of local resources such as organic manure, and compost and small bio-gas plants; and the mobilization of traditional forms of peasant cooperation and mutual aid for both production and rural capital formation.”

Alternative Development Strategies and Appropriate Technology: Science Policy for an Equitable World Order, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-68, book, 255 pages, by R. K. Diwan and D. Livingston, 1979, out of print, microform only from Pergamon Press, O.P. Books Dept., Maxwell House, Fairview Park, Elmsford, New York, 10523, USA.

Here is a summary of the criticisms of the conventional industrialization-led, GNP-measured development strategies, and a description of the elements of emerging alternative development strategies. Despite the subtitle, the authors do not really explore science policy except in the broadest sense, arguing for the development of indigenous capabilities to generate environmentally sound, culture-linked appropriate technologies for the poor. Some science policy issues and other political and economic issues are identified, but specific policies are not proposed. Nicolas Jequier’s Appropriate Technology: Problems and Promises (see review) gives the policy issues associated with appropriate technology a deeper look.

The authors draw from a broad relevant literature, touching on so many problems and issues that many sections seem too brief. (An extensive bibliography is included.) Useful distinctions are made between high-income developing countries,. high-technology developing countries, and the rest of the developing countries. Insights into the behavior of the international organizations will be of particular interest to many readers.

Because the authors have taken a broad view of the concepts of “development” and “appropriate technology,” their conclusions are not crippled by the timid definitions that tend to emerge in international conferences and the publications of U.N. agencies, where polite fictions must be observed. “In the literature on international science and policy, there is a tendency to confuse the ‘interests’ of the governments with the ‘appropriateness’ of technology …. However, the concept of ‘appropriateness’ as discussed in A.T. literature is quite different, and may even be poles apart.”

“The conventional development strategy … leaves the bulk of Third World peoples dependent on institutions and forces, within their countries and abroad, that are unreachable and unaccountable.” The authors recommend “delinking of developing countries from debilitating global networks dominated by the affluent.” They observe that much of the international debate on codes for technology transfer and the New International Economic Order are simply part of the failing conventional development strategy; unless domestic structural change takes place the elite will reap all of the benefits.

A basic assumption of the authors, which lies at the heart of the emerging human-centered concepts of development and appropriate technology, is that “people, even those who are poor, illiterate, and unemployed, are intelligent. They are capable of defining their own needs and given opportunities, they can and will solve their own problems.”

This is an inherently optimistic book. Diwan and Livingston identify areas for cooperation where many might see inevitable, tragic, sources of conflict. “It is … in the self-interests of the governments and elites of both developed and developing countries to work cooperatively towards the formulation of an alternative international order which reduces and eventually eliminates inequalities, armaments, biases in the price system, and technological inappropriateness, both nationally and internationally.”

Another Development: Approaches and Strategies, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-69, book, 265 pages, edited by Marc Nerfin, 1977.

Here can be found some interesting thinking on new development goals and strategies for the rest of this century, in a collection of 10 articles by well-known writers.

“Another Development would be need-oriented (geared to meeting human needs, both material and non-material) … endogenous (stemming from the heart of each society, its values) … self-reliant … ecologically sound … based on structural transformations (in social relations, in economic activities, and in the power structure, so as to realize the conditions of self-management and participation in decision making by all those affected by it, from the rural or urban community to the world as a whole) …. These five points are organically linked …. For development is seen as a whole, as an integral cultural process …. Another Development means liberation.”

Part One begins with the concept of Another Development, and examines the positions of peasants and women, alienation in industrial societies, and emerging simpler alternative life styles in those societies. In Part Two, national case studies.and proposed strategies include: a look at growth and poverty in Brazil, the history of achievements and backsliding following the Mexican Revolution, an alternative framework for rural development in India, a strategy for Another Development in Chile (requiring major political change and based on the lessons of the early ’70s), and a discussion of structural transformation in Tunisia. “The New International Economic Order … makes full sense only if it supports another development …. If it lacks a development content, it is bound to result simply in strengthening the regional or national subcenters of power and exploitation.”

“Resources to meet human needs are available. The question is that of their distribution and utilization …. The organization of those who are the principal victims of the current state of affairs is the key to any improvement. Whether governments are enlightened or not, there is no substitute for the people’s own, truly democratic organization if there is to be a need-oriented, endogenous, self-reliant, ecologically-minded development.”

Technologies for Basic Needs, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 03-78, book, 158 pages, by Hans Singer, International Labour Office, 1977, out of print.

This book was inspired by discussions held al the World Employment Conference in Geneva in 1976. It is largely concerned with top-down national planning for “appropriate technology,’ covering national policy, programs and institutions that might be able to contribute. The suggestions made are mostly aimed at the large-scale and small-scale industrial sector. While mention is made of the informal and rural small farm sectors, the assumption seems to be that technology will be created for the people in these sectors without their real participation. The author sees no potential conflict of interest between government-determined priorities and those that might most benefit the largest number of poor people. He is relatively uncritical of the possible role of multinational corporations in developing A.T., impressed by the strong research and development capabilities of these institutions. He claims that beneficial effects such as reduction in transfer payments for technology and the spread of the results of MNC-financed technology research among indigenous producers would be forthcoming—without seeing that such actions are simply not in the interests of the multinational corporations.

There are, however, a few points made that would have relevance in rural grassroots development strategies. Some of them are: “The experience of countries which have tried to implement a basic needs strategy (e.g., China, Cuba, Tanzania) suggests that the improvement of simple village technologies is the only feasible approach to the gradual modernization of the rural economy.”

There is “growing evidence … that formal technical training plays a smaller part than was previously assumed and that experience and on-the-job training are the main vehicles for implanting new skills.”

“A major reason for the disappointing contribution of R and D institutions to the creation of appropriate new technology is the lack of contact” with real problems and actual experience. The R and D institution itself is a modern import from the rich countries, “and disregards past experience … (when) the bulk of technological innovation arose directly from within the production plant” or workshop in response to needs and opportunities perceived there.

“Decentralization has obvious advantages, to help to eliminate the communications gap …. This is particularly so in the context of a basic needs strategy, when local needs and the nature of local poverty problems may differ greatly in different regions of a country, when the use of appropriate technology involves the participation of innumerable small production units, and in the context of rural development generally (when the obvious need for community involvement and grassroots identification of problems has led to many variations of decentralized administration).”

General References


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on USB or DVD in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

Books reviewed in this section

Appropriate Technology and Research Projects
Appropriate Technology Directory
Appropriate Technology for Rural Development
Appropriate Technology Institutions: A Directory
Appropriate Technology Institutions: A Review
Appropriate Technology: Directory of Machines Tools Plants Equipment Processes and Industries
Bibliography of Appropriate Technology Information for Developing Countries
The Book of the New Alchemists
China at Work
Dick’s Encyclopedia of Practical Receipts and Processes
Economically Appropriate Technologies for Developing Countries
Fichier Encyclopedique du Development Rural
Field Director’s Handbook
Field Engineering
The Formula Manual
Foxfire Books
A Guide to Appropriate Technology Institutions
Guide to Convivial Tools
Guide to Technology Transfer in East Central and Southern Africa
How to Build Up a Simple Multidimensional Documentation System on Appropriate Technology
Intermediate Technology in Ghana
Introducing Family Planning in Your Neighborhood
The Journal of the New Alchemists
Knots for Mountaineering: Camping Climbing Utility Rescue Etc.
Liklik Buk
The Mechanical Engineers’ Pocket Book
Mini Technology
More Other Homes and Garbage
NonAgricultural Choice of Technology
One Hundred Innovations for Development
People’s Workbook
Pictorial Handbook of Technical Devices
Simple Technologies for Rural Women in Bangladesh
Simple Working Models of Historic Machines
Soft Tech
Teknologi Kampungan
Tinker Tailor Technical Change
Traditional Crafts of Persia
The Use of the Radio in Family Planning
Village Technology Handbook
Visual Aids Tracing Manual
World Neighbors in Action


As most of the publications reviewed throughout this web-based Sourcebook can be considered references, this specific page was created for special kinds of publications. These include books and periodicals that span many topic areas, several bibliographies, and directories of appropriate technology groups. Books that contain information on a number of technologies within a single general subject area have been placed in the corresponding chapters.

Entries in this chapter from Nepal, Bangladesh, France, Peru, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, India and South Africa each contain information on a variety of technologies relevant to many developing countries. (See especially People’s Workbook and the Liklik Buk.)

More Other Homes and Garbage is a valuable textbook and reference for calculations needed for a variety of technologies. Field Engineering and the turn-of-the century Mechanical Engineer’s Pocket-Book are packed with hard-to-find technical information relevant to the rural areas of developing countries.

Four bibliographies have been included here. Non-Agricultural Choice of Technology and Economically Appropriate Technologies for Developing Countries lead the reader to the literature on the economic implications of technology choice.

Appropriate Technology Information for Developing Countries is an attempt to cull and reevaluate U.S. AID and government research reports for possible relevance to appropriate technology efforts—a difficult task. Guide to Convivial Tools, intended for librarians, identifies the books of a new discipline—the study of the cultural, social, and political conditions necessary to allow democratically determined limits to industrial technology.

Rainbook and several other books are concerned with activities in the U.S. The Foxfire books document historical technologies once widely used in the rural areas of the U.S.

Six directories of appropriate technology institutions are included. The most up-to-date is ITDG’s aptly named Appropriate Technology Institutions: A Directory.

Readers operating information services or small libraries will find valuable advice in Small Technical Libraries and How to Build Up a Simple Multidimensional Documentation System. For those who just want to stir things up a little, two formula manuals contain a number of household product formulas that would also be relevant in the Third World.


More Other Homes and Garbage: Designs for Self-Sufficient Living, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-47, book, 374 pages, by J. Leckie et. al., revised edition 1981, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, out of print.

This valuable, easy-to-read textbook contains well-illustrated presentations that successfully make technical information available to people without formal technical training.

Topics include: alternative architecture, small-scale generation of electricity using wind power and waterpower, and solar heating of houses and water. The solar section contains useful charts such as the coefficients of transmission of heat for various building materials, and the proper solar collector orientation for different latitudes. Biogas digesters are discussed in the waste systems section, while the water supply chapter covers wells, solar distillation of water, pumps and water purification. Each of the chapters includes many sample calculations to aid the reader in understanding how to solve practical problems. The emphasis is on providing the reader with most of the necessary background information needed to design projects.

The new edition reflects a more sophisticated approach to the economics of alternative technologies, and advances made in commercially available materials.

The section on solar thermal applications, in particular, has been thoroughly revised.

While much of the content of this book is U.S. oriented, this can also be a valuable reference in developing countries, especially for understanding basic concepts and doing calculations correctly.

Field EngineeringAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-71, book, 251 pages, by P. Stern, F. Longland, et. al., 1936, revised 1983.

Workers in developing countries have long needed a simplified, small engineering handbook for quick reference. This one was widely used in East Africa from its appearance in 1936 until after its revision in 1952.

The current, substantially revised 1983 edition contains much basic information on surveying, building construction and water supply. The many illustrations and emphasis on techniques make this a handbook that will be useful to people without any engineering background.

Simple surveying equipment and techniques are described along with how to set out building plots. The characteristics of different building materials are explained (wood beams, thatch roofs, tile roofs, reinforced concrete and more).

Pipelines and pumps for water collection and distribution, and basic latrine and privy designs are covered. Earthen road and timber bridge construction are followed by basic formulas for different power sources. Important design considerations, safe loads, etc. are set out for most of these topics.

Readers looking for more extensive engineering reference material should consult The Mechanical Engineers’ Pocket-Book (1910 edition) included in the microfiche library (paper edition out of print).

The Mechanical Engineers’ Pocket-Book, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-74, book, 1461 pages, by William Kent, 1910 edition, paper edition out of print.

This long out-of-print engineering handbook contains information on a range of technologies and materials that are still commonly used or that could be used in developing countries, but have disappeared from current engineering handbooks. While most of the information contained within will not prove of use to most readers, the sheer size of this “pocket book” (1461 pages) means that it is peppered with interesting entries. These include, for example: steam engines (140 pages), human and animal power, strength of lime and cement mortar, stresses in framed structures (e g. timber bridge trusses), pelton wheel sizes and specifications, sugar cane biogases as a fuel, measuring water flow using “miner’s inches” windmill capacity and economy, weight of materials for roofs, characteristics and splicing of wire and hemp ropes for power transmission and haulage, shearing strength of a wide variety of American wood species, and use of belts for power transmission.

Introductory and summary material is provided for each section of the handbook: strength of materials, geometry, calculus, mechanics, basic machines, water power, etc.

The reader is to be forewarned that some of the information contained in this book is no longer valid, as the composition of materials has changed over the years. However, for the range of technologies on which it is almost impossible to find any engineering information elsewhere, this is a welcome reference.

The Next Whole Earth Catalog, large paperback book, 608 pages, edited by Stewart. Brand, 1981, out of print.

The Whole Earth Catalog was started in an attempt to provide information about where to buy good quality tools (including books as “tools”). The Catalog expanded from that vision to include books, products and information on practically everything for the U.S. reader—from environmental law through French cookware to mysticism.

The Whole Earth Catalog represents one of the best models for low-cost information exchange anywhere, but little from the Catalog is appropriate to the needs of developing countries. (In Papua New Guinea, development workers have produced a local catalog of information and resources available within the country. This is an excellent example of what can be done with this approach. See review of Liklik Buk, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-44).

Liklik Buk: A Rural Development Handbook/Catalogue for Papua New Guinea, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-44,270 pages, ATDI, second edition 1977, 1986 edition from ITDG.

Liklik Buk contains a wealth of practical information for rural development in Papua New Guinea. Tells a great deal about who’s doing what in PNG, and where to go for further information. There are 120 pages on crops and livestock, with attention to processing and utilization. Some coverage of village industries (good short description of silk-screen printing and soap making), food processing, and building and roads construction. 12 pages on health and nutrition.

The Design section includes many photos and drawings that are great sources of ideas; some of the equipment could be built from this information alone. Of particular interest are the pedal-powered thresher, winnowing machine, coconut scraper, oil press, and sugar cane crusher. Some information is presented on alternative sources of energy and water resource development.

An excellent model for what a national catalogue/handbook can be. Highly recommended.

China at WorkAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-77, book, 357 pages, by R. Hommel, 1937 (reprinted 1969), out of print in 1985.

The author lived in China between 1921 and 1930. In this remarkable book, he examines “primary tools, those which met people’s basic needs: the handcrafting of tools, the providing of food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. The photographs and sketches are thoroughly documented and the various processes explained.” There are more than 500 photos and sketches, and a very useful index with several hundred individual items of village technology listed.

Although much of the material in this book is quite dated and primitive, the book is so comprehensive that it undoubtedly includes a few useful items for any village technologist.

Teknologi Kampungan: A Collection of Indigenous Indonesian Technologies, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-60, book, 154 pages, by Craig Thorburn, June 1982.

Successful, ingenious traditional technologies are used throughout the world and represent an important resource of human knowledge that should be tapped in appropriate technology development. The people of Indonesia, in the rural areas and urban “informal sector,” employ a great variety of clever, resource-conserving, low-cost tools and techniques. Author Craig Thorburn has added 270 illustrations to an informative text that will allow readers to make, use, or adapt many of the best of these technologies to fit their own circumstances. Topics include agricultural hand tools, water lifting devices, metal working tools including a carbide gas generator for welding, fish traps and nets, crop threshing and processing equipment, stoves, three-wheeled cycles, construction techniques and materials, waterwheels, and a variety of other rural and small industry technologies.


Appropriate Technology: Directory of Machines, Tools, Plants, Equipment, Processes, and Industries, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-23, book, 280 pages, by M.M. Hoda, second edition 1977.

This book exposes the reader to some of the intermediate technologies that are relevant in Indian circumstances. Subjects include agricultural tools, crop processing equipment, crafts tools, village and cottage industries, transport, water supply, biogas, and solar devices.

More than 50 pieces of equipment are presented; the information has been compiled from a variety of sources. There are descriptions, drawings and construction notes for most of these. For the following items the material included appears to be sufficient for construction: six agricultural hand tools, hand crop duster, earth auger, hand seed drill, plant puller, seed dresser, oil drum forge, metal bending machine, equipment for parboiling rice, hand-operated workshop drilling machine, sugar cane crusher, equipment for making matches, equipment for making candles and soap, three-geared cycle rickshaw, water seal latrine, hand pumps, hydraulic ram pump, hand-operated washing machine, solar cooker, and forms for casting well rings.

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Background Reading


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on USB or DVD in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.


Books Reviewed in This Section

Appropriate Technology for African Women
Appropriate Technology: Problems and Promises
The Barefoot Book
Coming Full Circle
Design for the Real World
Experiences in Appropriate Technology
High Impact Appropriate Technology Case Studies
Introduction to Appropriate Technology
Paper Heroes
Participatory Approaches to Agricultural Research and Development
Questioning Development
Radical Technology
Repairs Reuse Recycling
Rural Women
Sharing Smaller Pies
Small is Beautiful
Strategies for Small Farmer Development Projects
Technology and Employment in Industry
Technology for the Masses in Invention Intelligence
Towards Global Action for Appropriate Technology
Village Technology in Eastern Africa
When Aid is No Help
The World of Appropriate Technology

Every machine that helps every individual has a place, but there should be no place for machines that concentrate power in a few hands and turn the masses into machine-minders, if indeed they do not make them unemployed. —Gandhi

Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter? … Where is this division of labor to end? and what object does it finally serve? No doubt another MAY also think for me; but it is not therefore desirable that he should do so to the exclusion of my thinking for myself.—Thoreau

The books reviewed in this chapter offer a variety of views on the cultural and economic aspects of technology choice, some of the political choices reflected in development strategies, and common technology needs in rural areas of the South.

E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful has played a crucial inspirational role for much of the “A. T. movement.” For readers interested in the hard economic basis for appropriate technology, there is no better reference thanTechnology and Underdevelopment. Appropriate Technology: Problems and Promises gives a historical perspective on factors that have influenced the development of practical technologies in the United States and China and explores a large number of policy issues that surround appropriate technology. This continues to rank as one of the most insightful books in the A.T. literature.

The A.T. Reader assembles in one place a set of the best articles and commentary on the subject from around the world. A thoughtful analysis of the problems and issues involved in transnational “technology transfer” is contained in The Uncertain Promise. This volume is particularly concerned with the impact of alien technology on cultural value systems.

Coming Full Circle explores the increasingly accepted view that farmers should be directly involved in technology development—that it is only through this involvement that acceptable innovations can be developed. If local participation in development projects is to be achieved, bureaucracies will have to change; this is the theme ofBureaucracy and the PoorThe Barefoot Book takes a look at a whole range of professionals with intermediate levels of training. Putting People First provides valuable practical advice on making the people side of development projects work.

Paper Heroes, while favorably reviewing several particular tools and techniques, is critical of the many basic assumptions and perceived benefits associated with appropriate technology. For the most part these are “the excessive claims and unsubstantiated promises of paper heroes,” argues the author.

The World of Appropriate Technology offers a picture of the institutions involved in this work. Repairs, Reuse, and Recycling discusses the technological alternatives in reducing the flow of valuable materials to dumps and landfills, an important step on the road to a more environmentally sound society.

The author of Questioning Development suggests that a critically important measuring stick for evaluating the worth of development projects should be their anticipated effects on the distribution of power in the community, nation, or the world.

Among the other books included in this chapter are sets of case studies of technologies and projects that offer insight into what has and has not succeeded in various circumstances. There are also publications that suggest what kinds of everyday activities in the South most urgently need improved technologies, and that give many examples of tools and techniques that may be appropriate.

Appropriate Technology for African Women and Rural Women are specifically concerned with the effects of technological change on Women’s lives, and discuss improved technologies that might particularly help women.

[Read more…]

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 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on USB or DVD in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.


The Appropriate Technology Sourcebook represents an attempt to improve access to information on small-scale technologies. Our purpose is to present a selection of capital-saving, labor-using tools and techniques that already have proven to be valuable in different circumstances around the world. We do not suggest that any specific technology will always be appropriate. The appropriate technology worker needs options, not a prescribed package of technology.

Appropriate Technology

What is appropriate technology all about? It is a way of thinking about technological change; recognizing that tools and techniques can evolve along different paths toward different ends. It includes the belief that human communities can have a hand in deciding what their future will be like, and that the choice of tools and techniques is an important part of this. It also includes the recognition that technologies can embody cultural biases and sometimes have political and distributional effects that go far beyond a strictly economic evaluation. “A.T.” therefore involves a search for technologies that have, for example, beneficial effects on income distribution, human development, environmental quality, and the distribution of political power—as well as productivity—in the context of particular communities and nations.

The appropriate technology movement in the rich countries such as the United States got started due to the convergence of a variety of concerns. These included the need to find a more harmonious and sustainable relationship with the environment, identify a way out of the accelerating energy and resource crises, reduce alienating work disconnected from its products and goals, develop more democratic workplaces, bring local economies back to health with diverse locally owned and operated enterprises, and revitalize local communities and cultural traditions. Thoughtful, careful social choices are needed to correct the excesses and imbalances of an industrial culture driven by materialism. An essential quality of the appropriate technology movement in the United States can therefore be expressed by the word “restraint”.

The appropriate technology movement in poor countries has, on the other hand developed in a very different fashion. In rich countries, the investment required to create one new manufacturing job typically is in the range of $20,000-$150,000, and in heavy industry this figure is higher still. In the poor countries the small amounts of capital available have usually been concentrated in the small industrial sector, creating very few jobs due to the high investment required per workplace.

The appropriate technology movement in poor countries has come out of the recognition that industrialization strategies have not been successfully solving the problems of poverty and inequality. Indeed, in many cases “modernization” efforts have been massive assaults on local culture. The result for hundreds of millions of people has been the modernization of poverty—the neglect or construction of traditional craft occupations, the consolidation of farmlands into fewer and fewer hands, and the division of communities, leaving these people to eke out an existence on the fringe of economic activity. The appropriate technology movement in the developing world has developed as “the art of the possible” among the world’s poor, seeking ways to solve pressing basic problems and create jobs with resources consisting of local skills and materials but little surplus cash.

From these different origins, the appropriate technology movements in rich and poor countries have been moving towards each other. The development of renewable energy technologies has long been a chief area of activity among U.S. appropriate technology groups. It moved high on the list of priorities in oil-importing poor countries in the late 1970’s, as they faced high prices and scarcity of fuel for buses, tractors, and irrigation pumps. Similarly, environmental protection has gained increased attention in poor countries as pesticides have created major health risks for farmers and farm workers, and deforestation has reached a critical level.

Criteria for Appropriate Technology

This book, though primarily oriented towards appropriate technology activities in poor countries, contains relevant materials for North Americans as well. The books and documents reviewed here describe tools and techniques that, in general:

  1. require only small amounts of capital;
  2. emphasize the use of locally available materials, in order to lower costs and reduce supply problems;
  3. are relatively labor-intensive but more productive than many traditional technologies;
  4. are small enough in scale to be affordable to individual families or small groups of families;
  5. can be understood, controlled and maintained by villagers whenever possible, without a high level of specific training;
  6. can be produced in villages or small workshops;
  7. suppose that people can and will work together to bring improvements to communities;
  8. offer opportunities for local people to become involved in the modification and innovation process;
  9. are flexible, can be adapted to different places and changing circumstances;
  10. can be used in productive ways without doing harm to the environment.

Some of the reasoning that underlies the concept of appropriate technology may be summarized as follows:

  1. it permits local needs to be met more effectively because local people are involved in identifying and working to address these needs; for the same reasons, it is likely to be in harmony with local traditions and values;
  2. it means the development of tools that extend human labor and skills, rather than machines that replace human labor and eliminate human skills;
  3. it represents a comprehensible and controllable scale of activities, organization and mistakes, at which people without management training can work together and understand what they are doing;
  4. it allows more economical operation by minimizing the transport of goods in an era of expensive energy, allowing greater interaction of local industry and permitting greater use of local resources—both human and material;
  5. it makes unnecessary many expensive or unavailable finance, transportation, education, advertising, management, and energy services; avoids the loss of local control that use of such outside services implies;
  6. it helps to establish a self-sustaining and expanding reservoir of skills in the community which begins from already existing skills;
  7. it provides a region with a cushion against the effects of outside economic changes (e.g., the collapse of the world sugar market or the sudden unavailability of fertilizer);
  8. it helps to reduce economic, social, and political dependency between individuals, between regions, and between nations, by recognizing that people can and will do things for themselves if they can find a way. (See Tom Bender in Sharing Smaller Pies on many of the criteria listed here.)

Addressing Many Obstacles

Appropriate technology has special appeal probably in part because it addresses a number of problems at once. The emphasis on self-reliance and local production for local needs removes from the list of development obstacles many of the inequities of an international system that is dominated by the expensive technology and economic power of rich countries. At the same time, the lack of well-developed infrastructure and the shortage of highly trained human power to efficiently run large industrial organizations become much less important when production is decentralized. It is probably for these reasons that the concept of appropriate technology is so popular. Those who believe in small entrepreneurial capitalism, democratic institutions, decentralist Marxism, European socialism, African communalism, Buddhism, and numerous other systems can find much of value in the ideas underlying appropriate technology. Nicolas Jequier has described the popularity of the appropriate technology approach as evidence of a “cultural revolution” in development thinking.

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