Growing vegetables on limestone and corals

Thank you very much for continuing to send issues of Footsteps. I would like to assure you that I enjoy very much reading the publication, and have been greatly enriched by it. Just as an example, in 2003 I was working at my church head office in the Western Province of Solomon Islands. In one particular issue [Footsteps 54] I read about a farming technique for soil that is not suitable for planting. My wife and I always plant vegetables outside our house but there was practically no top soil there – only corals, limestones and stones. We followed the instructions in the issue and soon we had what we called the ‘green refrigerator’ at the back of our home. Our backyard vegetable garden became an attraction and learning opportunity for the many people all around us. A dentist from the area who worked at the church hospital visited our home once and was so surprised to find vegetables growing on limestone and corals. He then inquired if my wife and I had such strong faith or if we had some kind of magic or new planting technique! We basically told him the truth. 

So thank you and I look forward to receiving future issues of the publication.

Revd Dr Cliff Bird
Pacific Theological College
Fiji Islands


Managing mangoes successfully 

Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund
Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund

In the majority of places in the north west of Benin and in Ouaké in particular, the mango tree is the third most common plant after the néré and the shea trees. During March, April and June there are mangoes absolutely everywhere. These mangoes begin to rot after a few days and cause huge health problems in the community. 

I have heard something about drying mangoes. If other Footsteps readers know about this concept I would be really pleased to pass on their experiences to the people of Ouaké. I would like to receive ideas, advice, and training, not only to better manage our fruit but also to increase the income of our good people.

M Arouna Soumanou
Radio Rurale Locale de Ouaké
BP 258 Djougou


EDITOR’S NOTE In Footsteps 21 there are instructions for how to dry mangoes. You can find this article on the tilz website.

Moringa, yam and yukka

I would be grateful if any readers would kindly tell me how to obtain technical information and costs for moringa, criollo yam and yukka.

I need information regarding:

  • agricultural studies
  • fertilisers
  • ecological pesticides
  • yields per hectare / year
  • consultancy.

Ing. Armando Lau

EDITOR’S NOTE Footsteps 20, 28 and 46 share information on the uses of moringa. Visit the tilz website to find out more.

Technology for biogas

I am a trustee of a small charity, Health Aid Moyo, which helps mainly in the supply of medical equipment, training and general aid to church hospitals in Malawi, notably in Chilambwe, Likoma, Nkhotakota and Malindi. Over the years we have realized that problems with cesspits could be turned into a benefit by the production of biogas. We know something of the technology but have not been able to find local sources of equipment and expertise. We would be most grateful to learn from the experience of Footsteps readers or contacts in Malawi.

John Lewis
The Mains
BD24 0AX


EDITOR’S NOTE Please turn to the Resources page for sources of information about biogas.

Studying people and plants

I am working on ethnobotanical studies concerning the tribal people of the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, India. I would like to write a book on contact therapy practices. If anyone is able to provide me relevant information or literature support, please contact me.

Dr Gopal Dixit
Honorary President
Environment Conservation Organisation
163, Bahadurganj Shahjahanpur 242001
UP India


EDITOR’S NOTE Ethnobotanical studies look at how a people of a particular culture and region make use of plants which have always grown locally.


I am involved with the issue of migration at a grassroots level and would be happy if a like-minded reader who shares this concern wishes to correspond with me.

John Alexander
Nagpur: 440013 (M.S.)