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Tropical Agricultural Development II: Underutilized Tropical Crops

Course Description

This intermediate class is geared toward experienced overseas workers and nationals with involvement in agricultural development or those who have participated in Tropical Agricultural Development I. This is a week-long course offered at the ECHO farm in North Fort Myers, Florida. Course attendees will participate in an in-depth look at various edible underutilized tropical crops. We will spend three days dedicated to learning about growing, propagating, and harvesting various crops, including vegetables, starches, grains, and pulses. This course will also examine economic and social factors affecting the production and use of underutilized tropical crops as well as consider case studies. There will be time for hands-on work on the farm, visits with staff, and study in the library. Much of the course content is presented from a biblical perspective.


As a Christian non-profit organization based in Southwest Florida (Fort Myers), ECHO exists to maximize the effectiveness of those working with the poor internationally. We do this by providing agriculture-related technical support services to missionaries, development workers and national church leaders in as many as 180 countries. As the majority of the world’s poor live in warm climates, ECHO’s resources apply primarily to the tropics or subtropics.

Several agricultural development-related questions and issues are dealt with by nearly everyone who studies at our campus, including: What are some principles I should be aware of in working on community development? What should I know about poverty mentality that would help me better understand the people I am trying to help? What are some key concepts regarding soils and gardening that would help me teach others to grow food plants in the tropics? What are some proven techniques or crops that I could introduce into my project area that could really make a difference in the lives of the poor?

In too many cases, these issues are not addressed until a development practitioner has already made mistakes and encountered setbacks in their projects. Often, these mistakes could have been avoided. This course is designed to equip participants with a foundation in their understanding of tropical agriculture and community development, as well as with some specific agricultural technologies that have significantly improved the lives of smallholder farmers in many parts of the world.

Who the course is for:

Those who will benefit from this course include both national and expatriate long-term or career missionaries, international project volunteers (e.g., Peace Corps), and leaders of relief-oriented organizations. This is an intermediate level course, therefore a basic understanding of plant and soil biology would be helpful. As all classes are conducted in English only, A STRONG PROFICIENCY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS REQUIRED!

2014 Dates

August 11-15, 2014

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