The prevailing agricultural system, enormously called “conventional farming”. Conventional farming systems vary from farm to farm, from region to region and from country to country. However, they split into much distinctiveness: rapid technological innovation; huge resources investments in order to apply production and management technology; large-scale farms; single crops/row crops grown continuously over many seasons; uniform high-yield hybrid crops; extensive use of pesticides, fertilizers, and external inputs (green house); high labor efficiency; and dependency on agribusiness. In case of livestock, most production comes from confined and concentrated systems. This study aimed to find a strategy for empowering the community. Diversification and integration of farm enterprises may be feasible in economic and ecological terms. However, the switch to integrated farming specifically rice-cum livestock is constrained by high initial startup costs, high fixed costs, and small farm sizes in the northern region of Bangladesh. Improved information provision, through better sharing of experiences among progressive farmers, is required for its successful adoption. In addition, a well-functioning micro-credit system and policies supporting integrated resource management are necessary for integrated farming to become widely adopted and to contribute towards reducing poverty in northern Bangladesh. The use of improved seeds and fertilizers is the predominant production choice in this region. This choice is characterized by the cultivation of a few high-value crops (maize, potato, chili, onion and garlic) and maximization of yield by following the recommended amounts of improved seeds, mineral fertilizers, and other agrochemicals. However, the expected high crop yields were never obtained in many cases in this region during last two decades, as the resource-poor farmers could not afford the input levels necessary. This is due to limited market information; to inadequate transportation, storage, and delivery; to fertilizers and other inputs, which are costly on account of the risk of crop failure caused by floods and droughts, and difficult to use; and to unfavorable inherent soil properties in the region. Inefficient use of pesticides may adversely affect the environment and farmers' and consumers' health. However, since 1987, the marginal and small farmers' livelihoods and food security have been suboptimal because farmers have preserved their traditional farming practices instead of adopting the more advanced techniques of modern integrated agriculture. Thus, farming activities must diversify in order to reduce unemployment and to provide a living income and community strength for those households that operate their farms as a full-time occupation. (View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)
Agricultural biodiversity (“agrobiodiversity”) includes all components of biological diversity of relevance to food and agriculture. Agrobiodiversity provides many goods and services of environmental, economic, and social importance and makes important contributions to sustainable livelihoods. However, its importance has received little attention from farmers and government in Thailand. To encourage conservation, it is necessary to understand the local value of agrobiodiversity. This study was carried out during April to August 2007 to assess the value of agrobiodiversity on diversified farms in Donjaedee district, Suphanburi province, central Thailand. Data were collected through interviews and field observations with 10 farming families. The value of agrobiodiversity to farmers was estimated in terms of food, income, household materials, and medicinal use. The results showed that agrobiodiversity provides 33% of household food; two farming families earned 5,300baht/year (151US dollars/year) from aquatic animals; medicinal plants saved 1,000baht/year/person (29US dollars/year/person) in medical expenses; and several bamboo and wood products were made from local resources. Besides restoring agrobiodiversity, diversified farming also helps to improve livelihoods through cost reduction, supporting self-reliance, in comparison with monoculture farming. However, the current use of agrobiodiversity is lower than its potential because many farmers do not appreciate its value. Therefore, it is necessary to promote public and private support to raise awareness of the importance of agrobiodiversity, conservation, and sustainable use.
Livelihood-improvement extension workers are key people in enhancing the success of rural women entrepreneurs in Sabah, East Malaysia. They have the skills to provide rural women with basic training in areas such as food processing, health, handicrafts, and sewing. The extension workers provides training courses for rural women with the objective of giving them these skills and educating them in farm family development so that they become motivated to form into groups to start business projects, and then to gradually expand their businesses. Although these training courses are conducted annually, the number of successful rural women entrepreneurs is significantly low. This study analyzes the approaches used by extension workers to train and motivate rural women to starting business projects and determines the factors that contribute to rural women's success in their entrepreneurial activities. This paper also considers the necessity of dealing with gender issues in the training of extension workers and concludes that further fundamental training is needed to enhance the capacity of extension workers to improve the livelihood of rural women. In particular, training extension workers in gender issues, the use of a participatory training approach, and improving their facilitation skills will ensure that their work will benefit and empower rural women and help them to start businesses and thus achieve a degree of financial independence.
Smallholder farmers in Malawi have become more diversified over the past two decades as a result of crop market liberalization. This has been seen mainly in the expansion of the area under tobacco production. However, just as in any other developing country, smallholder farmers in Malawi face substantial risk of farm income fluctuation. Farm income is subject to price more important for poor farmers because risk plays a role in their decision making regarding risk, which is significant because of unstable market conditions. Risk considerations are the adoption of technologies and allocation of resources. Risk also contributes to their low incomes. The aim of this study, therefore, was to support the decision making of smallholder farmers in view of market risk. A quadratic risk programming model was applied to estimate the minimum income variance and develop an expected income-variance (E-V) efficient frontier for smallholder farmers producing tobacco in the central region of Malawi. Data used in this study were from production and marketing records (2003-2005) of farmers belonging to Chiyambi Producers and Marketing Cooperative a farmers' organization in Dowa district, in the central region of Malawi. The results indicate that production efficiency varied among farmers according to their production technology. Moreover, they \ssuggest that farmers on average should change the land area used for growing maize, tobacco, groundnuts, and phaseolus beans by −47.09%, −68.87%, 197.88%, and −77.66%, respectively, to optimize risk. Farmers' attitudes toward risk and development of expectation methods for generating time-series data that take into account dependencies in the data are important issues that should be considered in the future studies.
Two products of cyanobacteria, 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin, are responsible for the musty odor of some lakes in Japan and the United States. I confirmed the correlation between the intensity of the musty odor and the population of certain cyanobacterium by analysis of the results of field surveys of Lake Kasumigaura and Lake Kouzogawa, Japan. My objectives were to identify how natural conditions such as temperature, nutrients including organic and inorganic substances, pH, and light influenced the production of musty odor and to predict the occurrence of musty odor by correlation analysis between the causative cyanobacteria and environmental factors (temperature, pH, COD, TN and TP) with the aim of applying this information in Vietnam. Among the cyanobacteria, Phormidium tenue, Anabaena, and Oscillatoria were the major producers of MIB during their proliferation periods. The seasonal occurrence of the musty odor was a result of influences of temperature on the activities of musty odor producers. I discuss here the relationship between environmental factors and musty odor production associated with aquatic microorganisms with the data from lake Kasumigaura and Kouzogawa. I also analyzed data on the environmental conditions (water quality and temperature) and presence of microorganisms in the inland waterbodies of Vietnam in order to predict the potential occurrence of musty odor in the lakes of northern Vietnam.
Kersting's groundnut (Macrotyloma geocarpum Harms) is an indigenous subterranean legume crop grown by small-scale farmers in the Upper West Region of Ghana. This legume has a high protein content and is also of socio-cultural importance. It has been neglected by researchers despite the important role it plays, such as traditional funeral rituals for orphans of the deceased, in the rural farming communities where it is grown. A survey conducted on the status of indigenous crops in the Upper West Region resulted in the collection of 138 crop samples and revealed that only a few, older, small-scale farmers still cultivate Kersting's groundnut. To examine the reasons why this legume gives lower yield when cultivated by small-scale farmers in the rural communities three Kersting's groundnut farmers, from the Boli community in the Wa district and Lilixsie and Nimoro communities in the Sissala district, were selected and financially supported by the Northern Savanna Biodiversity Conservation Project to promote, reproduce, and conserve the seed of the Kersting's groundnut through the establishment of in situ conservation fields under natural rainfall conditions. Traditional farming practices used by the selected farmers were found to have an influence on the low yields that were obtained. Traditional random planting (not planted in rows) and the practice of weeding only once may have greatly contributed to the lower mean yields of 178kg/ha, 250kg/ha, and 124kg/ha for the white, black, and mottled cultivars, respectively. In order to improve yields, it was recommend by Buah et al. (2007) that Kersting's groundnut fields that are sown in June be weeded a minimum of two times (third week after planting and sixth week after planting) and have an inter-row spacing of 0.30m and intra-row spacing of 0.20m. Applying these recommendations to fields planted on tropical Savanna soil and using natural rainfall as the water source will help to ensure that small-scale farmers in the Upper West Region maintain adequate control of weeds for maximum yields.
The rural people of Zambia, who make up 61% of the total population, have remained predominantly poor since independence, with an overall poverty level of about 73%, compared with 53% for their urban counterparts. Two-thirds of the rural poor are extremely poor. The fight against poverty has therefore been an ongoing one with a focus on rural areas. In Chongwe District, the communities keep up the fight with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency through the Project for Participatory Village Development in Isolated Areas, working in 43 villages to implement micro projects. This study aimed first to estimate the income and productivity of households and identify the factors affecting income generation and crop production in the project villages. Second, it aimed to assess how the villagers chose the income generation and infrastructural activities that they undertook in their micro-projects in Chongwe District. We found that, although household income and productivity had not changed markedly, the effects of the project's interventions were positive. Community assets were beginning to support production in many villages. Micro-projects that create community assets may contribute to the lasting solution of poverty among rural households in Zambia by improving household incomes and productivity.
This research examined the economic and social impacts of the common interest group approach to public agricultural extension in Kenya. The research utilized cross-sectional household data collected in February 2006 for an internal impact assessment at the end of phase one of the National Agricultural and Livestock Extension program which was implemented from 2000 to 2005. The major sources of parameter bias were controlled by employing a double difference estimator to control for farmer selection bias and geographical dummy variables to control for biases related to fixed locality characteristics. The common interest group approach had a significant impact on farmers' access to extension services but no significant impact on farmers' access to agricultural credit and marketing. In addition, the approach had a significant impact on the agricultural productivity of group members. When the impact on productivity was disaggregated in accordance with marginalized social categories, a significant impact was found on uneducated farmers and those with more than six children but not on female heads of households. The approach also had a significant positive impact on the quality of life of farmers' wives. Some recommendations were made to improve the effectiveness of the common interest approach. To improve farmer's access to markets and credit, common interest groups should be facilitated to form associations of groups to benefit members by improving their knowledge, economies of scale, and bargaining power. Further group training in the areas of financial and business management, as well as in production and marketing systems, should be facilitated. In addition, promotion of agro-processing technology is necessary to enhance primary agro-processing and to provide new market opportunities. Finally, groups should be linked with the private sector to increase access to market information, technology, and new market opportunities. To ensure that female-headed households benefit equally with others from the approach, extension activities could be scheduled and timed with sensitivity to the particular requirements of female heads of households. Importantly, it may be prudent to directly address the productivity constraints of female heads of households by arranging for special inputs, credit, and market facilities. To consolidate the positive impacts of the group approach on agricultural productivity and the quality of life of farm wives, individual farmer extension services should be reduced so that extension officers can further concentrate their efforts on groups. Marginalized groups of individuals should be systematically targeted to ensure they also benefit from the positive impact of the common interest approach, which has the potential to ensure socially equitable rural development.
Agricultural biodiversity refers to the natural capital of an agricultural ecosystem, including plants and animals, that sustains key ecological functions, maintain agricultural production and thereby supports food security. Rice ecosystems are an example of agroecosystems that prioritize human needs and perform other ecological roles. To investigate their substantial socio-economic contributions, a case study of the current in situ rice germplasm, the overall crop-animal landscape, farming practices and local development initiatives was conducted in the province of Camarines Sur, The Philippines. Sixty rice farmers were interviewed in three villages. Sixty-one species belonging to 30 plant families including cereals, vegetables, fruit trees, beverage crops, fiber crops, forestry and agroforestry trees were found growing in the farms. A total of 18 local, improved and hybrid rice cultivars comprised rice germplasm in 2006-2007. In earlier decades, farmers had grown 18 rice landraces, but only one was planted in 2006-2007. In addition to growing crops, 95% of the total farmer-respondents produced livestock while 93% raised poultry as well. Thus, production of different animal species was an integral part of their economic activities. Innovative farming techniques were adopted by several farmers to favor the existence of diverse domesticated flora and fauna in rice farms. These techniques include seed production of different plant varieties and utilization of farm animal wastes as organic fertilizer. Researchers and officers of academic institutions, national government agencies and civil society organizations reported a range of local development initiatives to facilitate the adoption of appropriate technologies in support of agrobiodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture. This study highlighted the diverse crop and animal species of rice farms, their important socioeconomic contributions and the potential of rice farms for in-situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity. This study also underscores the need to implement research and development programs to improve genetic conservation of rice, other crops and animals for both ecological and socioeconomic reasons. Thus, capacity development, policy advocacy and institutional partnerships should focus on intensification of sustainable rice-based farming systems to ultimately improve the quality of life of farmers.
Japanese agriculture cooperatives (JACs) make up a huge organizational network in Japan. The network is not limited to agricultural activities, but is also involved in social, cultural, and industrial sectors. Through encouraging member participation, JACs have done an excellent job in responding to their members' needs. Community mobilization, collective efforts, and member participation are crucial factors in this. In comparison, the coordination mechanisms of farmers' organizations in Sri Lanka are far less powerful. As a result, Sri Lanka lacks high quality marketing facilities and practices, and the agricultural sector is not well developed. In this study, I conducted a literature review of JACs, then analyzed data collected by the University of Tsukuba and from farmer interviews. The Tsuchiura and Yatabe areas in Ibaraki Prefecture were selected as study sites. Farmers in these areas primarily cultivate lotus and organic rice, respectively. The agriculture cooperative's participatory group approach uses marketing information and improved marketing strategies, which were key factors in the Tsuchiura area. The cultivation activities of the lotus farmers is coordinated with social and cultural activities, and the JACs play a vital role in provision of infrastructure facilities such as warehouses, transportation, research, and supply inputs. Organic rice cultivation is quite important in Yatabe, and 29 local farmers practice fully organic rice farming. The demand for organic rice is greater than the supply in Japan, which represents an opportunity for farmers in Yatabe. Agricultural cooperatives are important organizations that have helped in Japan's rapid agro-economic development. They have also contributed to national development in Japan, socially, culturally, and economically. My intent is to apply the results of this study to build a pilot model to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of rural agricultural communities in Sri Lanka. Over time, the model could be expanded to include more areas.
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