Though many industrial crops are not very useful for small farms, ECHO does offer seed of a few plants. These industrial crops are all well adapted to some season of the tropics.
Seeds are available to members of our network.
To find out how to request seeds, click here.
Caesalpinia spinosa H
Tara, Spiny Holdback
Tara was first grown in the southwest portion of the island of Madagascar. Can be found on the continents of Asia, Africa, North, and South America. Tara seed is used in minute quantities in manufacturing foodstuffs like ice cream, cheeses, and jellies. Its value is its capacity to clump ingredients together. The most common use is for the tannin content of the seeds as a treatment for leather and dyed material. A perennial, leguminous shrub that can grow as high as 5 m in dry, alkaline soils. Best adapted to high altitudes.
Helianthus annuus Elevation: 0-2600m
Sunflower SA, MS, H, T
This crop does best in temperate areas, but can also tolerate subtropical and tropical climates. Sunflowers have a deep taproot that enable it to be as drought tolerant as sorghum or millet. This crop is a heavy feeder and requires regular application of nitrogen. Once established sunflowers can shade out nearby weeds. Soil pH: 5.5-8
Peredovik: Oilseed sunflower. 110 days. Russian variety grown for quality oil for salads and cooking. Also poultry and rabbit food. Black seeds.
Rostov: Edible seed high in oil; classic Russian sunflower; heads grow to 30 cm in diameter on 2m stalks; plants are very sturdy and withstand wind.
Hibiscus cannabinus Elevation: 0-1000m
Kenaf MS, T
Fiber or paper pulp crop; frost intolerant; photoperiod sensitive; requires well-drained soil; needs ample amount of rain during growing period. Grows best during a long warm growing season. May also be grown as a forage. Feed young plants to animals. Soil pH: 4.3-8.2.
Everglades 41: Late-blooming variety; blooms late August/September in North America. Fast grower. Plant used as a source of fiber for paper. Annual crop.
SF459: Resistant to southern root-knot nematode and soil-borne fungi.
Sesamum indicum Elevation: 0-1500m
Sesame SA, T
Seed used in baking, seasoning or garnishing food, made into a paste, or pressed for oil. A drought tolerant plant, but does require moisture for germination--a minimum of 50-65 inches (125-162.5cm) of rain for a good harvest. Sesame seeds contain 50% oil and 25% protein. Soil pH: 4.5-8.0.
Tephrosia vogelii Elevation: 0-2100m
Tephrosia/Fish Bean MS, LL
A small bush used as green manure that contains rotenone in leaves and beans. Crushed leaves used for insecticide; beans and leaves poisonous to fish; used for erosion control and for mulch; Do NOT use as a fodder for animals or as a fish poison in ponds or streams. Soil pH: 4.5-7.0.
See Leguminous Ground Covers.
Vernonia galamensis SA, MS
Seeds from this plant contain an oil rich in epoxy fatty acids. Epoxy oils are widely used in paints. Grown in tropical locations that are within 20 degrees from the equator because better seed is produced from flowers under short day conditions. Needs as little as 200-300mm of rain per season.