Friday, April 8, 2011

English for Agriculture unit 4 STAPLE CROPS reading

Staple Crops
source: Dimensions of Need- FAO, 1995 
Most people live on a diet of one or more of the following staples: rice, wheat, maize (corn), millet, sorghum, roots and tubers (potatoes, cassava, yams and taro), and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish.

Of more than 50,000 edible plant species in the world, only a few contribute significantly to food supplies.
Just 15 crop plants provide 90 percent of the world’s food energy intake. Of these, just three - rice, wheat and maize, provide 60 percent of the world’s food energy intake.

Although there are over 10,000 species in the Granineae (cereal) family, few have been widely introduced into cultivation over the past 2,000 years.

Rice feeds almost half of humanity.

Per capita rice consumption has generally remained stable or risen slightly since the 1960s.

It has declined in recent years in many of the wealthier, rice-consuming countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, because increased incomes have enabled people to eat a more varied diet.

A staple food is one that is eaten regularly, constitutes a major part of the diet and supplies a major portion of energy and nutrient needs.

A staple food does not meet a population’s total nutritional needs: a variety of foods is required.

Typically, staple crops are well adapted to the conditions in their source areas. For example, they may be tolerant of drought, pests or soils low in nutrients.

English for Agriculture unit 4 STAPLE CROPS grammar

Compound Sentences

using although / though / even though
Remember this sentence from the reading in this lesson:
Although there are thousands of cereal types, only a few are cultivated.
This is an example of a compound sentence.  This sentence could be written as two sentences using 'However,' to start the second sentence, like this:
There are thousands of cereal types.  However, only a few are cultivated.
Compound sentences contain two verbs and sometimes two subjects.  They express two ideas or points.
If we want to make a compound sentence, we use but or although.
  • although is similar to but
  • although can be used at the start of sentences or between phrases.
  • but should not be used at the start of sentences.
  1. There are thousands of cereal types, but only a few are cultivated.
  2. There are thousands of cereal types, although only a few are cultivated.
  3. Although there are thousands of cereal types, only a few are cultivated.
Please note:
  • the position of the comma (,)
  • although can be replaced with though or even though.
To illustrate, Example 2 can also be written as follows:
There are thousands of cereal types, though only a few are cultivated.

using such as / for example
Look at these sentences taken from the reading in this lesson:
  1. Many people eat animal products such as meat, milk, eggs and fish.
  2. Rice consumption has declined in wealthier countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand.
Please note that:
  • such as has the same meaning as for example, including and like.
  • such as and including have the same usage
  • like is more common in spoken English
  • for example is usually placed between a comma and a colon (:) .
To illustrate,
Many people eat animal, for example: meat, milk, eggs and fish.
Rice comsumption has declined in wealthier countries, for example: Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand.
  • such as and for example introduce a partial account - not a complete one.  In the above examples, there are more animal products than the 4 mentioned, and there are more wealthier rice-consuming countries than the 3 mentioned.

To illustrate,
ASEAN is comprised of many countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. (partial account)
ASEAN is comprised of 10 countries.  These are Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. (complete list)
  • we cannot use such as, including or for example when we provide the complete list. 

English for Agriculture unit 4 STAPLE CROPS vocabulary

balanced (adj.) - in equal amounts, in correct amounts
balance (v) - to keep steady, to keep safe
balance (n) - equal weight

  1. We should preserve the balance of nature.
  2. This newspaper gives us a balanced account of the news.
contribute (v) - to give a part of the whole
contribution (n)

  1. Carbon dioxide contributes to global warming.
  2. Bill Gates gave a large contribution of $3 billion to help computer education.
creature (n) - animal, including people, birds, fish, insects, etc.
decline (v) - to reduce, to fall, to decrease

  1. In some countries, the birth rate is now declining.
  2. There has been a decline in the number of people using the library.
diet (n) - the food we usually eat
diet (v) - to eat special food for health reasons

  1. Many Europeans do not eat a healthy diet.
  2. Some animals live on a diet of leaves.
disaster (n) - very serious accident affecting many people
disastrous (adj.)

  1. The effects of global warming could be disastrous.
  2. Bangladesh suffers many natural disasters each year.
drought (n) - situation of no rain for a long time
  1. Drought is one kind of natural disaster.
  2. Many areas are affected by drought.
edible (adj.) - can be eaten, good enough to eat
  1. Are these mushrooms edible?
  2. Not all plants are edible.
enable (v) - make possible
  1. The new equipment will enable us to improve our work.
  2. Modern transport enables us to travel very quickly.
humanity (n) - all the people in the world
  1. This is a problem for humanity (i.e. all people)
  2. Humanity has produced many varied societies.
intake (n) - consumption, what is taken in
  1. You should reduce your intake of alcohol!
  2. In some areas, school intake is declining. (i.e. fewer children are going to school)
meet (v) - supply enough
  1. This work is not good enough! It does not meet my   requirements.
  2. We should have enough food to meet our daily needs.
nutritional (adj.) -  high in nutrients
nutrition (n) - process of giving nutrients
nutrients (n) - substances or food which allow plants and animals to live

  1. Plants get their nutrients from the soil.
  2. This food is not very good. It is not very nutritional.
  3. Good nutrition is essential for good health.
per capita (adj.) - per person, for one person
  1. In some countries, per capita income is declining.
  2. Per capita consumption of food increases in most years.
regularly (adv.) - happening at times which are the same distance apart
regular (adj.) - always the same
  1. I am a regular customer of that shop.
  2. You should practice your English regularly.
risen (v) -(rise-rose-risen), to come up
rise (n) - an increase

  1. The sun rises in the east.
  2. The number of accidents has risen recently.
significantly (adv.) - a lot, substantially, importantly
significant (adj.) - large, substantial, important

  1. There has been a significant improvement recently.
  2. Incomes have risen significantly. (i.e. risen a lot)
slightly (adv.)
slight (adj.) - a little

  1. There has only been a slight improvement. (i.e. a little improvement)
  2. These ones are slightly better than those ones.
source (n) - place where something comes from
  1. The source of the Mekong River is in Tibet.
  2. What was the source of this information? (i.e. Where did it come from?)
stable (adj.) - staying the same, not going up or down
stability (n)
stabilize (v)

  1. Incomes have not increased or decreased this year – they have remained stable.
  2. The doctors said his condition has now stabilized.
typically (adv.) - usually, most commonly
typical (adj.) - usual, common

  1. He is a typical man – always talking about sports!
  2. He greeted me with typical Asian friendliness.
well-adapted (adj.) - changed to become comfortable or suitable
  1. He found living in a foreign country difficult at first, but he is well-adapted now.
  2. Most animals are well-adapted to their environment.
wealthy (adj.) - rich, having a lot of money or resources
wealth (n)

  1. When he was young, he was very poor, but he became wealthy in later life.
  2. The wealth of many poor countries is in their natural resources.
widely (adv.) - happening over a large area
wide (adj.)

  1. These varieties are widely used in our country.
  2. Technical words are not widely understood.


staple (n) - the main crop produced or consumed in a country
  1. Rice is the staple food in most Asian countries.
wheat (Triticum sativum) - cereal grass with spikes filled with seeds. The seeds are used to make flour (for bread), cereals, etc.  Next to rice, it is the world's most widely used grain.
maize (Zea mays) - the native corn plant of America, cultivated for its food, producing yellow ears.
corn - any plant producing edible grains but in America meaning 'maize' and in England meaning 'wheat'
millet (Panicum miliaceum) - cereal grass. Its small grains are used for food in Europe and Asia. Also used for hay iin the United States and Europe.
sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) - type of grass known by the general name 'millet'.  The grasses are tall with edible stems and are found in the warmer parts of Europe, Asia and America.
roots - the parts of plants which keep them in the soil and absorb water and nutrients from the soil
tuber - short, thick part of an underground stem which stores food and produces buds from which new plants will grow
cassava (Manihot utillssima) - tropical plant producing large thick roots used in making tapioca and bread. Also called 'manioc'.
taro (Colocasia esculents) - tropical plant of the arum family, cultivated for its starchy, edible tuberous root.
tolerant of  - able to exist in difficult conditions without damage
  1. These plants are tolerant of cold weather. (same asThese plants are not damaged by cold weather.)
yam (Dioscorea alata) - often referred to as 'sweet potato'. Grows in tropical climates and is a valuable food source.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

English for Agriculture unit 3 UPLAND FARMING reading

Upland Farming
In many upland areas the soil is very poor.
However, local people have indigenous knowledge about their environment.
They know what will grow and what will not grow.
Many people in upland areas use swidden farming.
They clear a piece of forest, burn the vegetation and then plant crops for a few years.
Swidden farming is also called ‘slash-and-burn’ or ‘shifting cultivation’.
This type of farming was once common in all areas.
Now, it is found mainly in the uplands.
Most of the nutrients in a tropical forest are stored in the living vegetation, not in the soil.
Burning the vegetation releases the majority of these nutrients into the soil.
The fire kills weeds, pests and diseases.
The ash improves the soil structure.
The yields in the first year or two are good.
But soon, the nutrients are used up or washed away.
After a few years of farming, the soil is exhausted, and pests and weeds threaten the crops.
Traditional farmers leave the land fallow - to rest for a while and recover.
It takes several years for the soil to recover so the land can again be cleared for crops.

English for Agriculture unit 3 UPLAND FARMING grammar

Active Voice / Passive Voice
Look at the following sentences:
  1. Most rice is grown in the lowlands.
  2. Swidden farming is also called ‘shifting cultivation’.
  3. It is found mainly in the uplands.
  4. Most of the nutrients are stored in the living vegetation.
  5. Soon, the nutrients are used up.
  6. The land can be cleared for crops.
Please note that:
  • These sentences are all examples of passive voice constructions.
  • In passive voice, the emphasis is on what is done, not on who or what did it. Whereas, in the active voice, there is more emphasis on who is 'doing' the action.
  • Passive voice is very common in agricultural English, especially in writing.

Active and Passive Voice Constructions

Active Voice
subject   +   verb   +    object
Farmers grow rice
Passive Voice
changes to   +   verb   +   3rd
subject            'to be'       verb

Rice is grown (by farmers)
Using the above illustration, please note that:
  • The '3rd verb' is often called the 'past participle'.
  • In passive voice we often leave out who/what does the action (in this case, farmers) because we are more interested in what was done than who did it.
Active Voice
Passive Voice
Many people eat rice every day.
Rice is eaten by many people every day.
Many people are eating rice now.
Rice is being eaten by many people now.
Many people will eat rice now.
Rice will be eaten by many people tomorrow.
Many people are going to eat rice tomorrow.
Rice is going to be eaten by many people tomorrow.
Many people ate rice yesterday.
Rice was eaten by many people yesterday.
Many people have eaten rice.
Rice has been eaten by many people.
Many people can eat rice.
Rice can be eaten by many people.

Active and Passive Voice with Verb Tenses
Active voice and passive voice can be made in all tenses.  But passive voice is difficult to construct because:
  • The verb 'to be' is different for every tense
'to be'
Present Simple
is /
Rice is grown.
Potatoes are grown.
Present Continuous
is being /
are being
Rice is being grown.
Potatoes are being grown.
Future Simple
will be
Rice will be grown.
Potatoes will be grown.
Future with 'going to'
is going to be /
are going to be
Rice is going to be grown.
Potatoes are going to be grown.
Past Simple
was /
Rice was grown.
Potatoes were grown.
Present Perfect
has been /
have been
Rice has been grown.
Potatoes have been grown.
Auxilliary Construction
may be / can be /
should be / etc.
Rice can be grown.
Potatoes can be grown.
  • The 3rd verb (past participle) is often different to the 2nd verb (past tense).

English for Agriculture unit 3 UPLAND FARMING vocabulary


allow (v) - let something happen, permit something to happen
  1. Will you allow me to do this?
  2. We should allow enough time so that we can finish this work.
ash (n) - material produced when something is burned
burn (v) - to damage by fire or heat
  1. Take the rubbish out to the field and burn it.
  2. Burning of forests for agricultural land is now a serious problem.
clear (v) - to make clean, to remove everything
  1. Please clear the table. (same as Please take everything off the table.)
  2. After they burned the trees, the land was completely cleared.
emphasis (n) - the important part, the part made to stand out
emphasize (v) - to make something look important, to make one part stand out
  1. I must emphasize that this is very important.
  2. He does not think this is important. He wants a different emphasis.
especially (adv.) -  very, in particular
  1. Many people, especially those in Asia, depend on rice.
  2. My son likes all food, but he especially likes pizza.
exhausted (adj.) - very tired, no energy left, used up
exhaust (v) - to use up completely
exhaustion (n)

  1. After the 10 km race, all the runners were exhausted.
  2. We have tried everything  (same as We have exhausted all the possibilities.)
common (adj.) - found in many places, not rare, easy to find
commonly (adv.)

  1. These plants are very common in my country.
  2. These varieties are commonly found all over Asia.
fertilizer (n) - material used to improve soil fertility
forest (n) - large area of trees
indigenous (adj.) - from a particular country or region
  1. These plants are indigenous to this region.
  2. The "Aka" people are indigenous to northern Thailand.
local (adj.) - in a particular place, similar to 'indigenous'
locality (n) - place
localized (adj. - made local

  1. The local people are very friendly. (i.e. the people from that area).
  2. Most farmers in the north use local varieties. (i.e. varieties from the north).
majority (n) - most
  1. In most countries, the majority of people can read and write (i.e. most people).
  2. We have completed the majority of the work. (i.e. most of the work).
recover (v) - to improve after some problem, e.g. disease, accidents, etc.
recovery (n)
  1. After the accident, he spent 6 weeks recovering in hospital.
  2. I am sorry to say that your friend is very sick. I don't think he will recover.
release (v) - let go, send out, make free
  1. After 5 years, the prisoner was released from jail.
  2. I'm sorry, but I cannot give you that information. I cannot release it to anybody.
several (adj.) - many
  1. In some countries, a man can have several wives.
  2. I have written to him several times, but he never replies.
store (v) - to keep in one place
store (n) - place where things are kept

  1. You can store your things in the small room next to the bedroom.
  2. Our rice store can hold 400 sacks of rice.
structure (n) - building, the way something is built
  1. The bridge fell down because the structure was not strong enough.
  2. Scientists study the structure of plants.
threaten (v) - make dangerous for the future
threat (n) - a future danger

  1. Look at the black sky over there! I think it is threatening to rain.
  2. There are many threats to world peace.
tropical (adj.) - of hot, wet regions located in the tropics
tropics (n) - region between 23o 27’ north and 23o 27’ south

  1. These plants grow well in tropical climates.
  2. These plants grow well in the tropics.
vegetation (n) - plants, leaves, flowers, trees, bushes, etc.


characteristic (n) - a feature of a plant or animal transmitted from generation to generation. Sometimes also called 'character'.
characteristic (adj.) 
  1. This variety has many good characteristics.
fallow (adj.) - land which is not used, usually for a season, during which it is often plowed to kill weeds.
  1. We will not use that land next season. We will leave it fallow.
upland farming (n) - farming in high areas. In rice cultivation, often used to mean slash-and-burn cultivation, or growing rice in fields with no bunds.
nutrient (n) - substance providing nourishment, especially for plants or animals
  1. That soil is rich in nutrients.