Protecting crops from birds 

We are trying to protect our rice crops from bird pests. Rice is a major crop here. We are finding it very difficult to control and avoid the threat from birds. Farmers are staying in the fields all day to chase away the birds. This tires them and prevents other domestic activities. Can you provide us with technical advice so that our farmers can grow their rice, sleep peacefully and also develop more effective techniques for controlling these predators without killing them? If other readers have overcome this problem we would be delighted to hear from them.

Innocent Balagizi
Box 373 Cyangugu Rwanda

Help with epilepsy 

I write to thank readers of Footsteps for responding to our request about understanding and managing epilepsy, published in Footsteps 44. We are particularly grateful to Mr Ebire of Oweri in Nigeria. He has helped us to focus on developing the capacity of patients to recognise the signs of oncoming seizures and so avoid seizure-related accidents. However, this new approach, which mainly involves training, is not so popular with the patients who still prefer material support through drugs. So we would like advice on how to increase demand for this training, especially among young people.

Jamils Richard Achunji Anguaseh Director Global Welfare Association-Cam

Plant dyes 

I read with interest your page on home-made dyes (Footsteps 21) and thought you might like to know about eucalyptus plants. These plants contain dyes that will colour protein fibres such as silk and wool without additional chemicals. Eucalypts are increasingly used as timber crops and to help restore degraded land areas, so are becoming more widely available. Lichens, on the other hand, generally grow very slowly and release their dye potential only after careful and experienced handling. I suggest that their use as a dye source is not sustainable and ought therefore not to be generally recommended.

India Flint
PO Box 209
Mount Pleasant 5235

Breeding termites 

I would like to respond to the request for information about breeding termites in Footsteps 66. I would recommend that you do not use termites because they are highly destructive. There are no nutrients in termites which you can’t get from the other types of poultry feeds available. When you use termites to feed poultry, some of them will escape into the ground. They will destroy anything in the area that is made out of wood. It is difficult and expensive to get rid of them. It would be better to look for alternative poultry feeds, as using termites is not very cost effective.

Oluwafemi Ogundipe

Turkey eggs 

My turkeys usually lay in March, the peak of heat here, about 42 degrees and above. All the eggs usually spoil. I would like some advice please.

Samuel Angyogdem

Linking literacy and environmental sustainability

The community of São Geraldo is in the semi-arid region of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. Tearfund partner Diaconia decided to establish a plant nursery here. They planted fruit trees to generate income and to replace the many trees in this area that have been cut down for firewood. Ozenilda Morais Farias, a literacy teacher in a local school, suggested that her pupils (aged five to eight years) could get involved. She hoped they could learn about the importance of environmental sustainability in a practical way. 

Ozenilda now uses the curiosity of the children as a starting point for learning. They compare what is written in the books about ecology that they are learning to read, with what they can see happening in the plant nursery. She says: ‘We believe in the potential of these children as agents of multiplication. The understanding that they are gaining can be applied as much in the present as in the future, guaranteeing an improvement in the quality of life of the community. This is educational work that benefits all the local families by selling saplings, generating income and enabling the young people to stay in the countryside.’

For more information, please contact: Verlândia de Medeiros (forestry engineer and technical advisor to Diaconia).

Assessoria de Comunicação da Diaconia, Rua Marques Amorim 599, Boa Vista, Recife-PE, CP 50070-330
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