Saturday, 23 March 2013

How to make the perfect compost: A master composter shows how to cook up some power food for your soil

Jim McCausland
sunset.com


Ned Conwell pauses in front of his straw-covered compost pile at Blue House Farm.


Healthy gardens start with healthy soil. And there's no better ingredient than compost, whether you till it into beds or use it as mulch.

Ned Conwell is up to his elbows in the stuff, both as a farmer and as a teacher: He uses as much as he can make at Blue House Farm, a produce and flower farm he co-owns in Pescadero, California, and he also teaches composting at the Regenerative Design Institute, located up the coast in Bolinas.

"Once it's in the soil, compost increases fertility; adds both micro- and macronutrients; buffers pH; and improves soil structure," Conwell says. Below is his foolproof method for making compost.

COMPOST DOS AND DON'TS

Do compost

Nearly any plant material, including the following:

Brown matter
Dried leaves, hay, straw, sawdust, wood chips, and shrub and tree prunings. Ned Conwell collects his brown matter, but you can also use straw from a feed store. He puts branches and anything thorny in a separate slow-roast pile in the corner, where it breaks down over a much longer period of time. To hasten composting, chop or mow prunings into pieces 2 inches or smaller.

Green matter
Green weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, cover-crop remains, and fresh grass clippings. Also coffee grounds, tea bags, and uncomposted manure from cows, goats, horses, or poultry. Pine needles take longer to break down, while compounds in black walnut and eucalyptus leaves can inhibit growth in other plants; compost those greens only if you combine them with lots of other vegetative waste.

Don't compost

Animal products (bones, meat scraps, dairy products); plants with fungal diseases such as fire blight or verticillium; or seedy or rhizomatous weeds like purslane, Bermuda grass, or bindweed.

Do turn the pile often
Let the pile heat up for 10 to 14 days. When the temperature inside reaches 140° or 150° f, pull off the straw cap and turn the pile by pushing it over and dividing it. Then reassemble it, but not in layers, and put the straw cap back on. When the temperature climbs back to 130° or 140° f, turn the pile again. In all, Conwell turns his pile three times in 4 to 6 months, adding water if it starts to dry out. After the first two temperature-based turns, the more often you turn your pile, the quicker it will break down into compost.

Do heat it upsuc
The smaller the pieces, the faster they'll compost. (Run the lawn mower over big, leathery leaves before adding them to the pile.) To check the pile's temperature, Conwell uses a 20-inch-long compost thermometer, available at some nurseries and garden centers and from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (from $12; 888/784-1722).

The man who made a forest

Manimugdha S Sharma,
TNN


Way back in 1953, French author Jean Giono wrote the epic tale The Man Who Planted Trees. It seemed so real that readers thought the central character, Elzeard Bouffier , was a living individual until the author clarified he had created the person only to make his readers fall in love with trees.

Assam's Jadav Payeng has never heard of Giono's book. But he could be Bouffier. He has single-handedly grown a sprawling forest on a 550-hectare sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra. It now has many endangered animals, including at least five tigers, one of which bore two cubs recently.


The place lies in Jorhat, some 350 km from Guwahati by road, and it wasn't easy for Sunday Times to access him. At one point on the stretch, a smaller road has to be taken for some 30 km to reach the riverbank. There, if one is lucky, boatmen will ferry you across to the north bank. A trek of another 7 km will then land you near Payeng's door. Locals call the place 'Molai Kathoni' (Molai's woods) after Payeng's pet name, Molai.

It all started way back in 1979 when floods washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar. One day, after the waters had receded, Payeng , only 16 then, found the place dotted with the dead reptiles. That was the turning point of his life.

"The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage . I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested," says Payeng, now 47.

Leaving his education and home, he started living on the sandbar. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, Payeng willingly accepted a life of isolation. And no, he had no Man Friday. He watered the plants morning and evening and pruned them. After a few years, the sandbar was transformed into a bamboo thicket. "I then decided to grow proper trees. I collected and planted them. I also transported red ants from my village, and was stung many times. Red ants change the soil's properties . That was an experience," Payeng says, laughing.

Soon, there were a variety of flora and fauna which burst in the sandbar, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal tiger. "After 12 years, we've seen vultures. Migratory birds, too, have started flocking here. Deer and cattle have attracted predators," claims Payeng . He says locals recently killed a rhino which was seen in his forest at another forest in Sibsagar district.

Payeng talks like a trained conservationist. "Nature has made a food chain; why can't we stick to it? Who would protect these animals if we, as superior beings, start hunting them?"

The Assam state forest department learnt about Payeng's forest only in 2008 when a herd of some 100 wild elephants strayed into it after a marauding spree in villages nearby. They also destroyed Payeng's hutment . It was then that assistant conservator of forests Gunin Saikia met Payeng for the first time.

"We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar. Locals, whose homes had been destroyed by the pachyderms, wanted to cut down the forest, but Payeng dared them to kill him instead. He treats the trees and animals like his own children. Seeing this, we, too, decided to pitch in," says Saikia. "We're amazed at Payeng. He has been at it for 30 years. Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero."

Help from the government wasn't forthcoming, though. It was only last year that the social forestry division took up plantation work on a 200-hectare plot.

Meanwhile, Congress MP from Jorhat, Bijoy Krishna Handique, took interest and said he would moot a proposal to the Centre to declare the area a conservation reserve under provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Payeng would be happy.

Milo Takes Centerstage as New Biofuel

by Lauren Conley


What do you think of when you hear ethanol? Corn, right? Well, you might start associating grain sorghum with ethanol.

News 5's Lauren Conley spoke with a sorghum farmer today on the increasing demand for grain sorghum.

The EPA recently approved sorghum- also known as milo - as an advanced bio-fuel. It's a big deal for sorghum farmers here in Nebraska.

"It will give us a market that we didn't have before," said farmer John Dvoracek.

The Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board is calling the designation a "win, win."

Sorghum, or milo is mainly used as a livestock feed. But, many farmers like John Dvoracek already sell their crop to the ethanol industry.

"Most ethanol plants will take sorghum in along with corn, because there is basically no difference between sorghum and corn," Dvoracek said.

They're so similar, that harvested sorghum fields look just like corn fields. They have one major difference.

"We call sorghum the water sipping plant," said Dvoracek.

Sorghum needs hardly any water to survive making it dependable in times of drought.

What exactly gives the grain the advanced biofuel rating?

It results in even less lifetime greenhouse gas emissions than other biofuels, like corn specifically greater than a 50% reduction.

So, where does this leave the corn industry?

Well, the Nebraska Corn Board is welcoming their competitor. Tim Scheer with the Nebraska Corn Board says, "...if we want to obtain our goal of continuing to reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum, that it will take multiple feedstocks such as sorghum, wheat, switchgrass, stover, etc to accomplish this goal."

Corn is grown almost in excess, while sorghum makes up only a small portion of farmland in the state and country.

The recent push to make sorghum an advanced biofuel may increase demand.

"Everything has it's niche and this might be sorghum's niche."

While most ethanol plants haven't announced any major changes one local plant may be changing soon.

Some reports state that the Abengoa Bioenergy plant in Ravenna has plans to go all sorghum.

Watering Raised Garden Beds


 A new way to make watering raised garden beds efficient and easy DIY

From Waste To Energy

Installation of bio-gas plants can help meet shortage of gas in rural areas
By Tahir Ali


Despite huge potential and benefits, biogas technology has not been given due attention in Pakistan. With inflation, energy shortage aggravating with each passing day, there is a renewed interest in the technology as this type of gas can be used both for cooking and power generation and its residue as fertilizer and it can also decrease domestic fuel budget, deforestation and pressure on national power grid. It can also contribute towards sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity in the country.

Over 4000 biogas plants were installed in Pakistan by the government between 1974 and 1987. But later, it withdrew the financial support which reduced the growth rate of this technology. Only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. But the potential is even bigger.

There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. A medium size animal produces around 10 kg of dung per day. Even if its 50 percent is collected, the availability of dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas a day. Estimates say since 0.4m gas could suffice the cooking needs of a million Pakistanis, the fuel requirement of over 20 percent of them could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertilizer per year, which can boost agricultural productivity.

Biogas plants are popular in Pakistan’s neighbourhood and even developed countries. There are almost two million bio-gas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in UK and US through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95000 tons of waste to produce about 2500 mega watt of electricity that suffices for 2.3mn households.

In Nepal, where around 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas with no electricity, over the past 20 years, the biogas sector partnership, an NGO, has installed around 210,000 biogas plants to provide biogas for cooking and lighting. Each plant is estimated to have reduced Nepal’s carbon emissions by around 4.7 tonnes a year.

According to a United Nations report, cattle are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming — more than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation put together. Their environmental impact could be minimised by converting their manure into a renewable source of energy.

The environmental protection agency (EPA) estimates that cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of powerful greenhouse gas, methane, per year into the atmosphere. The University of Texas, Austin, estimates that by using around one billion tonnes of manure produced annually in the United States for power/gas generation could also help eliminate 99 million tonnes of net greenhouse gas emissions there.

As per Pakistan Centre for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) report, a family size biogas plant annually produces energy equivalent to 10056Kg wood, 22200 Kg animal dung, 1104 lit kerosene oil, 540 kg L.P.G or 9000 Kwh of electricity.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too, despite having one million camels, 6mn cattle, 2mn buffaloes and over 12mn sheep and goats, has failed to utilise the waste of these animals for launching of bio gas plants on a big scale.

In the cattle breeding and dairy farm in Charsadda, a bio gas plant has been in operation but the innovative technology has not been disseminated on a mass scale in the province.

Under the project “development and promotion of biogas technology for meeting domestic fuel needs of rural areas and production of bio-fertilizer”, PCRET plans to install 368 biogas plants in rural areas of the country by June this year.

The government of Italy in November last year decided to provide Rs50 million to set up 436 biogas plants in six districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra.

Launched in 2008 with a target of 2500 such plants, PCRET has already installed over 2100 family size biogas plants in different parts of the country.

Earlier, based on a feasibility study, a programme implementation plan for domestic biogas of Pakistan was finalised with the support of rural support programmes network, NGOs and farmers’ organisations and is implemented by Pakistan biogas development enterprise. The construction of 30,000 biogas installations in 4 years will be supported in four provinces, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a total investment of Rs2.7bn. Rs244mn would be disbursed as investment rebate support to the households who spend on the technology.

However, the potential is too enormous to be satisfied with this number. Animal waste is usually wasted. In Landhi Karachi alone, around 0.35mn cattle-heads are kept in a 3km area that produce thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 of it is thrown in the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables with the help of KESC plans to establish world’s biggest biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million that would produce up to 30 mega watt of power and 400 tons of residue bio fertiliser.

Some more facts

Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000

Gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg of dung should be enough to meet the fuel requirement of a small family. Based on these calculations, a bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed. However, the plant must be water/gas-tight. Enough manure and water must be added to it every day.

Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to about 60 percent of rural and low income families followed by dung in dry form at around 18pc.

Only 4pc of Pakistan’s total area is covered by forest with only 5pc area protected. To control deforestation, adoption of biogas is the best technology and option in Pakistan.

It seems strange as to why biogas plants have not been installed to reduce the speed and scale of deforestation, especially in the forest-rich Malakand and Hazara divisions.

Around 70 percent population in KP lives in the rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle whose dung mixed with an equal proportion of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000.

If individual farmers are not ready or cannot afford the expenses, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that cannot contribute manure daily for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

The government needs to give more attention and funds to spread this technology to the countryside. Media should also create awareness among the rural community and NGOs and foreign investors should be encouraged to spread it.

A typical biogas plant consists of a digester where the anaerobic fermentation takes place, a gasholder for collecting the biogas, the input-output units for feeding the influent and storing the effluent respectively, and a gas distribution system.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Next-Generation Fish-Farming Techniques Aim For Sustainability

BY Roxanne Palmer
IBTimes
Next-Generation Fish-Farming

By midcentury, mankind must double food production to fill the bellies of an exploding population of humans, according to the United Nations. A big part of that growth is likely to come from farmed seafood.

“With Earth’s burgeoning human population to feed, we must turn to the sea with new understanding and new technology,” famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau said in 1973. “We need to farm it as we farm the land.”

Balancing accelerated food production with sustainability is a tricky act, but on Sunday scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston described how aquaculture could possibly pull it off -- and what challenges lie on the road ahead.



U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, aquaculture program leader Jeffrey Silverstein pointed out that 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water, yet only 1.5 percent of human food is drawn from it.

Finned fish are much more efficient sources of protein than other kinds of livestock -- for every pound of food you put into a fish, you get about a pound of body weight. In contrast, you have to feed chickens two pounds of food to get a pound of body weight, and you have to give pigs three or four pounds of food for each pound they put on, according to Silverstein.

However, that pound of fish food can require several pounds of flesh to produce, much of it from other fish, usually from processed pelagic fish such as anchovies. To increase sustainability, fish farmers have been turning to diets that consist of more and more plant products and less and less fish meal.

But using plant products brings its own host of problems, one of the more significant being that a farmed fish that dines more on plants than on animals tends to be less oily and nutritious. Frequently, farmed fish have to be fed fish oil near the end of their lives to help make them healthier for humans to eat. One of the ways to mitigate that dip in nutrition could be to turn to an alternative source of fish food: microbes.

Researchers are currently trying to perfect the production of various microbes that could bulk up a farmed fish’s diet, thereby cutting the amount of food and agricultural land used indirectly by fish food production.

Margareth Overland, a nutritionist with the Aquaculture Protein Center at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, said one of the more promising microbial sources for fish food is yeast grown on processed spruce wood. Algae and bacteria are also being studied.

Microbial and bacterial diets not only pump a fish full of vitamins, but also seem to help reduce the intestinal inflammation in the fish.

“Not all that different from the probiotic yogurts we buy in stores,” Overland said.

However, microbe-based food is years away from being ready to supply large industries, and researchers still need to conduct taste tests to make sure there's nothing especially fishy about a salmon that's been dining on yeast.

Changing fish food will likely also help cut the carbon footprint of many fish farms. One of the biggest components of a Norwegian salmon farm's greenhouse-gas impact is associated with the transportation of food sources, so if microbial food is a success, it could lessen that impact.

Other options for alternative fish food exist, too. A British business magnate has been creating protein meal made from housefly larvae, better known as maggots, and selling that to poultry and salmon farms in South Africa, as NPR reported.

There may also be ways to tweak fish to get more nutrition from them. Preliminary research has identified a genetic variant in rainbow trout that prompts them to make more omega-3 oils, a trait that could be exploited through traditional breeding techniques, USDA's Silverstein said.

At the moment, “genetically improved” fish stocks make up just 10 percent of farmed fish in the U.S., Silverstein said.

That figure could change soon. In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a preliminary finding that AquAdvantage salmon -- a genetically modified Atlantic salmon that grows to full size much faster than normal fish thanks to the addition of genes from Chinook salmon and the ocean pout -- would have “no significant impact” on the environment. That move signals that AquAdvantage salmon is nearing final approval.

But AquAdvantage salmon has become a major flashpoint in the debate over genetically modified organisms. Last week, the FDA said it would extend the comment period on its environmental assessment of AquAdvantage salmon until late April.

Improvements in fish-farm construction are also expected to boost aquaculture production.

Catfish farmers have found success with split-pond designs. Such a design entails separating a smaller area, where the fish are kept, from a much larger area, where the water is treated. Split-pond farming has helped catfish farmers see their yields triple to 15,000 pounds per acre from 5,000 pounds per acre in the last several years, according to Silverstein.

Land-based enclosures are also catching on in aquaculture. Right now, you might be perturbed at the thought of a salmon grown in the Midwest, but such a scenario could be in the future of sustainable fish farming.

Steven Summerfelt, who oversees research into sustainable aquaculture techniques at the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit environmental group The Conservation Fund, said the latest contained fish farms use less water and pollute far less than farms in open oceans.

“If done properly, there’s no discharge allowed,” Summerfelt said.

A single 3,300-metric ton next-generation salmon farm could produce enough fish each week to fill up an entire schoolbus, top to bottom, side to side, Summerfelt  said -- a rate that could satisfy 1 percent of U.S. salmon consumption.

Human population explosion and declining wild-fish stocks around the globe practically dictate that fish farming will be a necessity in the near future -- and if the next generation of aquaculture realizes its promise, it could ensure that seafood stays on the plate for generations to come.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Dengue Control: ‘Try Fish & Sand Instead of Insecticide’



The poultry sector of Pakistan is one of the fast growing industry. In the recent years investment of 300 billion PKR has been injected in all sectors of the industry including production, breeding and processing. Punjab alone gets upto 200 billion PKR investment. 

Currently the average consumption of meat per capita is 12.30 Kg* which is on lesser side as compare to the world average i.e. 46.75 Kg in 2002 according to FAO data. So Pakistan still have a potential of growth upto 4 folds locally. Chicken meat exports with halal certifications is also a potential avenue to explore.

The present share of poultry meat in the meat consumption of Pakistan is 24.7%, the production of eggs is another stream of products from poultry. Contrary to traditional pasture poultry farming the concept of controlled environment poultry farming is gaining popularity in Pakistan. The main reason of this rise is the less mortality ration and better disease prevention. Currently 6,500 controlled environment poultry farms are operative in Punjab only.


* In the Urdu version of news total consumption is written 4.26 Kg with is not referenced 
- See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.com/2011/10/outlook-of-poultry-farming-in-punjab.html#sthash.6g7aRXuz.dpuf
The poultry sector of Pakistan is one of the fast growing industry. In the recent years investment of 300 billion PKR has been injected in all sectors of the industry including production, breeding and processing. Punjab alone gets upto 200 billion PKR investment. 

Currently the average consumption of meat per capita is 12.30 Kg* which is on lesser side as compare to the world average i.e. 46.75 Kg in 2002 according to FAO data. So Pakistan still have a potential of growth upto 4 folds locally. Chicken meat exports with halal certifications is also a potential avenue to explore.

The present share of poultry meat in the meat consumption of Pakistan is 24.7%, the production of eggs is another stream of products from poultry. Contrary to traditional pasture poultry farming the concept of controlled environment poultry farming is gaining popularity in Pakistan. The main reason of this rise is the less mortality ration and better disease prevention. Currently 6,500 controlled environment poultry farms are operative in Punjab only.


* In the Urdu version of news total consumption is written 4.26 Kg with is not referenced 
- See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.com/2011/10/outlook-of-poultry-farming-in-punjab.html#sthash.6g7aRXuz.dpuf
oultry sector of Pakistan is one of the fast growing industry. In the recent years investment of 300 billion PKR has been injected in all sectors of the industry including production, breeding and processing. Punjab alone gets upto 200 billion PKR investment. 

Currently the average consumption of meat per capita is 12.30 Kg* which is on lesser side as compare to the world average i.e. 46.75 Kg in 2002 according to FAO data. So Pakistan still have a potential of growth upto 4 folds locally. Chicken meat exports with halal certifications is also a potential avenue to explore.

The present share of poultry meat in the meat consumption of Pakistan is 24.7%, the production of eggs is another stream of products from poultry. Contrary to traditional pasture poultry farming the concept of controlled environment poultry farming is gaining popularity in Pakistan. The main reason of this rise is the less mortality ration and better disease prevention. Currently 6,500 controlled environment poultry farms are operative in Punjab only.


* In the Urdu version of news total consumption is written 4.26 Kg with is not referenced 


- See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.com/2011/10/outlook-of-poultry-farming-in-punjab.html#sthash.6g7aRXuz.dpuf
The government should replace large-scale spraying of insecticides with biological methods for curbing the population of the dengue mosquito and larvae, said government officers at a seminar on Tuesday.

A total of 112 officers of the Environmental Protection and Health Departments and public sector doctors visited Sri Lanka and Thailand in December to learn how these countries handle outbreaks of the seasonal disease. Some of these officers shared their findings at the seminar, which was organised by the EPD.

Younas Zahid, the deputy district officer (environment), said the most dangerous form of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), occurred among people who had been infected with dengue before. He said just two of 64 mosquito species could spread dengue, and only one could transfer the virus from a dengue patient to a healthy person.

He said papaya leaf extract was not a suitable remedy. “It is a big misconception that it has curative properties. There is no scientific evidence suggesting any remedial properties in papaya leaves,” he said.
- See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.com/2012/02/dengue-control-try-fish-and-sand.html#sthash.dSKZcCBI.dpuf
The government should replace large-scale spraying of insecticides with biological methods for curbing the population of the dengue mosquito and larvae, said government officers at a seminar on Tuesday.

A total of 112 officers of the Environmental Protection and Health Departments and public sector doctors visited Sri Lanka and Thailand in December to learn how these countries handle outbreaks of the seasonal disease. Some of these officers shared their findings at the seminar, which was organised by the EPD.

Younas Zahid, the deputy district officer (environment), said the most dangerous form of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), occurred among people who had been infected with dengue before. He said just two of 64 mosquito species could spread dengue, and only one could transfer the virus from a dengue patient to a healthy person.

He said papaya leaf extract was not a suitable remedy. “It is a big misconception that it has curative properties. There is no scientific evidence suggesting any remedial properties in papaya leaves,” he said.
- See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.com/2012/02/dengue-control-try-fish-and-sand.html#sthash.dSKZcCBI.dpuf

The government should replace large-scale spraying of insecticides with biological methods for curbing the population of the dengue mosquito and larvae, said government officers at a seminar on Tuesday.

A total of 112 officers of the Environmental Protection and Health Departments and public sector doctors visited Sri Lanka and Thailand in December to learn how these countries handle outbreaks of the seasonal disease. Some of these officers shared their findings at the seminar, which was organised by the EPD.

Younas Zahid, the deputy district officer (environment), said the most dangerous form of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), occurred among people who had been infected with dengue before. He said just two of 64 mosquito species could spread dengue, and only one could transfer the virus from a dengue patient to a healthy person.

He said papaya leaf extract was not a suitable remedy. “It is a big misconception that it has curative properties. There is no scientific evidence suggesting any remedial properties in papaya leaves,” he said.

Zahid said dengue larvae could survive in dirty water, as long as there was a certain minimum level of oxygen in it. The disease has spread to 102 countries worldwide, he said.

Mahmood Masood Tamanna, the executive district officer (environment), suggested alternative methods to insecticide for controlling the vector population. Fish such as the guppy fish and tadpoles, which feed on larvae, should be introduced in fresh water bodies. In Thailand, large quantities of sand are dumped in small puddles and ponds to kill off larvae. “This practice should also be implemented here at fresh water bodies, as mosquitoes are gradually becoming more resistant to insecticides,” he said.

He said garlic water made a good natural mosquito repellent. “We should also use fumigation spray with less active ingredients as they are likely to cause less damage to the environment,” he said.

Tamanna also emphasised the need for community participation in dengue control efforts. In Thailand, two or three volunteers from each community collect data about patient numbers and areas with mosquitoes, he said. They educate locals about preventive measures. Every month, they meet with district officers so both sides can keep each other informed. Hospitals compile data on dengue and DHF patients and provide the information to the public and the health ministry. “Such cooperative measures could help us better analyse the situation here,” he said.

A Shadbagh resident, who volunteers to drain water puddles in his street and educate his community about preventive measures, suggested that a 30-minute session about dengue control be held in each primary school in his area. “Most of the parents have no schooling. The children would be able to pass on safety measures to their families if the EPD initiated such a programme,” he said.

Tamanna said he would propose such an initiative.

Tahira Mariam, the education officer at the EDO (health) office, said successful ‘marketing’ was a key part of getting health messages across to the public. In Thailand, a logo for one public health campaign had become very popular, she said. “If they breed, you’ll bleed,” was printed on a billboard and received a positive response. It was then plastered on buses and trains and made part of television advertisements, she said.

She said another message calling on people to turn over empty containers had also been very successful in Thailand. The disease could be reduced by a great extent by raising awareness, she said. “We just need to have target-specific messages,” she said.

Dr Somia Iqtidar of Mayo Hospital and Professor Muhammad Ali Khan of Services Hospital gave a presentation on clinical management of dengue patients. Prof Khan said that most of the deaths during last year’s dengue outbreak occurred because of improper treatment techniques. He said he had trained 5,000 private practitioners since returning from Thailand. He said people should check with their doctors if they had been trained.

By Soniya Malik

The Express Tribune
- See more at: http://pakagri.blogspot.com/2012/02/dengue-control-try-fish-and-sand.html#sthash.dSKZcCBI.dpuf