Glossary of Terms

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Aflatoxin Toxic substance of fungal origin that proliferates on crops at specific level of moisture, temperature and oxygen in air. (FR: Aflatoxines)

Agro-ecological knowledge Knowledge of the local environment that enables farmers to adapt farming to the land they cultivate. (FR: Connaissances agro-écologiques)

Agro-ecological zone Mapping of an area according to farming and environmental issues. The mapping should inform the user of climate conditions, soils, water, and all the information necessary on environment for the farmers to make the best of their land. (FR: Zone agro-écologique)

Agro-ecology Science studying the environment with a view to improve farming. (FR: Agroécologie)

Agro-ecosystem Unit of measure. An area of cultivated land. (FR: Écosystème agricole)

Alfalfa A plant used as forage, green manure and livestock fodder. (FR: Luzerne)

Alley-cropping A method of planting consisting in alternatively planting rows of a crop and rows of fruit trees the roots of which enrich the soil, so that both crop benefit from each other and annual income is ensured. (FR: Luzerne) (FR: Culture en bandes)

Alternaria leaf blight Fungal disease caused by damping-off and stunted seedling. (FR: Alternariose)

Amaranth Perennial plant, cultivated as cereals, the flowers of which can be used as dyes. Some species are weeds. (FR: Amarante)

Angoumois grain moth Specie of gelechioid moth (insect). Pests of stored grain. They bore into the seeds of the host plant and feed inside the seed covering. (FR: Alucite)

Annual crop Crop of a plant who only lives for a single season. (FR: Culture annuelle)

Anthracnose Fungal disease, mostly affecting cultivated crops, causing leaves to fall and fruits to have red and brown spots. (FR: Anthracnose)

Aphid A small, generally pear-shaped, soft-bodied member of such families as Aphididae, Phylloxeridae and Adelgidae (Hemiptera), which infests the tender, growing portions of plants and sucks their juices. (FR: Puceron)


Bacillus thuringensis A bacteria used as biopesticide. (FR: Bacillus thuringensis)

Bacterial leaf streak Plant disease causing yellow stripes to appear on the leaves of the plant, and responsible for blight of rice. (FR: Maladie des stries bactériennes)

Barley yellow dwarf luteovirus Disease affecting cereals and their ability to photosynthesis. (FR: Virus de la jaunisse nanisante de l'orge)

Biennial A plant, the life cycle of which spreads on two years. (FR: Plante bisannuelle)

Biodynamic agriculture A type of organic farming which consists in benefiting from relationships between soils, plants and livestock and aims at sustainable development. (FR: Agriculture biodynamique)

Black chaff Bacterial disease that attacks cereals (wheat, barley, oats, rye, and numerous grasses). Black chaff refers to black lesions on glumes. (FR: Glume noire)

Black-eyed pea A legume producing edible beans. Many varieties exist. (FR: Dolique à œil noir)

Blossom end Bud, growing with nodes, internodes and leaves around. (FR: Extrémité apicale)

Bollworm Pest living in cotton bolls. (FR: Ver de la capsule)

Bordeaux mixture A fungicide, composed of copper sulphate and slaked lime, used especially for grape vines, potato blight, peach leaf curl and apple scab. (FR: Bouillie bordelaise)

Bread wheat Cultivated species of wheat, also known as common wheat. (FR: Blé commun)

Bt-maize Genetically modified maize, more resistant to pests thanks to Bt toxin. (FR: Maïs Bt)

Bush tomato Species of eggplants from Australia, able to survive in dry regions. (FR: Tomate non tuteurée)

Butterhead lettuce Species of lettuce with round, loose, tender leaves and a sweet flavour. (FR: Laitue beurre)


Cash crops A crop grown for sale, for profit. (FR: Cultures marchandes)

Cassava Also known as manioc. It is an annual crop which can be dried to extract tapioca. (FR: Manioc)

Cassava brown streak disease (CBSV) Disease affecting cassava plants in East Africa, causing roots to rot, thus becoming inedible. (FR: Virus de la striure brune du manioc)

Cassava leaf mosaic disease (CMV) Disease transmitted by whiteflies, causing the plant to lose chlorophyll or give its leaves a mosaic appearance. (FR: Virus de la mosaïque du manioc)

Castor leaf (Plant of the spurge family. Oil can be extracted from the leaves for medicinal purposes. (FR: Feuille de ricin)

Chinch bug North-American pests, feeding on cereals and grass. (FR: Punaise)

Clamp storage Structure for storing bulk materials. It is used in farming to store grain or fermented feed. (FR: Silo)

Club root A disease affecting plants of the Brassicaceae family, distorting the roots and causing galls to appear on them. (FR: Hernie du chou)

Cos lettuce A species of lettuce resistant to heat. Its leaves are rather firm and it has thick ribs. Unlike most lettuces, it has not a round shape but rather a long one. (FR: Laitue romaine)

Cover crop Crop planted for different farming purposes: prevention of soil erosion, green fertilizer, soil fertility... (FR: Culture de couverture)

Covered smut A fungal disease, which covers the kernels of the plant with dark smut. (FR: Charbon couvert)

Cowpea A food-legume crop belonging to the Vigna family, resistant to dry climate conditions. (FR: Haricot à œil noir)

Crop diversity or agro-biodiversity Variety and variability of plants and other micro-organisms used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture. It comprises the diversity of genetic resources (varieties, landraces, and breeds) and species used for food, fodder, fibre, fuel and pharmaceuticals. It also includes the diversity of non-harvested species that support production (soil micro-organisms, predators, pollinators), and those in the wider environment that support agro-ecosystems and their diversity. (FR: Agrobiodiversité)

Crop rotation Successively growing different crops on the same land to improve soil fertility. (FR: Rotation des cultures)

Cross-pollination Exchanges of pollen via bees to fertilize plants. (FR: Pollinisation croisée)

Crucifer Plants of the Brassicaceae family. They are mostly annual, biennial or perennial crops. (FR: Crucifères)

Cutting A technique to propagate plants without fertilization. A piece of stem or root is cut and planted in the soil. The stem or root then produces its own roots and becomes a plant of its own. (FR: Bouture)

Cutworm Larvae hiding in the soil and eating plants at night. Cutworms are agricultural pests. (FR: Ver gris)


Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane Odourless, colourless, tasteless insecticide used against mosquitoes. It is highly dangerous for humans. (FR: Dichlorodiphényltrichloroéthane)

Drainage ditch An artificial ditch the purpose of which is to regulate water supply and channel subsurface water to cultivated fields. (FR: Fossé de drainage)

Durum wheat The most cultivated species of wheat, mainly used for bread making and pasta. (FR: Blé dur)


Ecological compensation area In countries where most of the land is cultivated, areas left uncultivated to protect faunistic and floristic diversity. (FR: Surface de compensation écologique)

Economic threshold Threshold from which it becomes economically profitable to get rid of pests. (FR: Seuils économiques)

Ergot Fungus affecting cereals causing them to be very dangerous for those who consume these cereals. (FR: Ergot)


Fallowed (farmland) A field left uncultivated for a whole season in order for the soil to recover and generate nutrients.

Farmer field school A group of farmers go together in one of their fields and try to solve crop related issues, by sharing their experience and knowledge, thus learning about farming. (FR: École d'agriculture de terrain)

Food crops Any crop cultivated to feed animals. (FR: Cultures fourragères)

Fertilizers An organic or non-organic material added to the soil to help plants grow, by providing nutrients. (FR: Fertilisants)

Finger millet A cereal grown in arid regions and mountains, mainly India and Africa. It is an annual crop. (FR: Millet d'Inde)

Flavr Savr tomato A genetically modified tomato, to have a longer shelf life and a better taste. Production stopped in 1997. (FR: Tomate Flavr Savr)

Flood-prone lands Lands near a stream which is flooded during the floods. (FR: Terres inondables)

Flour beetle A pest which feeds with grains and flour, resistant to pesticides. (FR: Tribolium de la farine)

Fodder See “food crops”.Feeds with relatively low feeding value. (FR: Fourrage)

Fodder grass Grass used to feed livestock. (FR: Graminée fourragère)

Foliar disease Plant disease that dammage the leaves. (FR: Maladie foliaire)

Food crops Crops cultivated for human consumption. (FR: Cultures vivrières)


Genetically Modified Organism ( GMO ) An organism the genetic data of which has been modified to make it more resistant to pests and diseases. (FR: Organismes génétiquement modifiés (OGM))

Germination Process by which a new plant emerges from a seed and starts to sprout and grow. (FR: Germination)

Ginnery Establishment where the seeds of cotton plants are removed. (FR: Usine d'égrenage)

Grain borer A cosmopolitain beetle living in and that eats stored grain (FR: Grand capucin du maïs)

Grain moth Species of gelechioid moth. It is a pest of stored maize. (FR: Pyrale du grain)

Grain weevil Common pest in many places. It can cause significant damages to harvested grains that are being stored and may drastically decrease yields. The females lay many eggs and the larvae eat the inside of the grain kernels. (FR: Charançon des grains)

Grass Herbaceous plants, with long, narrow leaves growing from the soil. (FR: Graminée)

Green manure Dried plants which are left on cultivated lands to provide the soil with nutrients and help other plants grow. (FR: Engrais vert)

Green manure crops Plants cultivated to be used as green manure, for their ability to fix nitrogen. (FR: Culture d'engrais vert)

Greenbug Insects which are harmful to crops. Greenbugs inject a toxin into the plant while feeding. Can be countered by using biological insecticides. (FR: Puceron vert des graminées)

Green manure crops Plants grown to prevent soil erosion and nutrient leaching after harvesting, and to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil when being ploughed into the ground. (FR: Cultures d'engrais vert)

Growth promoter Feed additives for livestock to increase growth and ensure good health. (FR: Stimulateurs de croissance)


Hairy vetch A legume used as feed crop. (FR: Vesce velue)

Head scab A fungal disease affecting plants (mostly cereals), causing grains to have a light brown or grey colour. (FR: (Gale) Fusariose)

Head/cabage lettuce Annual plant grown for its big, edible leaves, and also for its stems and seeds. (FR: Laitue pommée)

Heading When the head of a cereal plant begins to grow. (FR: Laitue pommée)

Hedges A line of shrubs to separate two agricultural fields and enhance biodiversity. (FR: Haie)

Hilum A scar on a seed, left by the separation with the funiculus. (FR: Hile)

Hoe A tool for farming, used to move the soil, and composed of a long handle with a blade at its end. (FR: Houe)

Honeydew A sugar-rich liquid on the leaves of certain plants, secreted by insects that feed on this plant. (FR: Miellat)

Horticultural crop Plant which produces food. (FR: Culture horticole)

Host plant A plant which provides other organisms which live on it with food and nutrients. (FR: Plante hôte)

Hybrid variety Organism that is the offspring of two parents that differ in one or more inheritable characteristics. In agriculture, hybrids are bred to combine the favourable characteristics of the parents. (FR: Variété hybride)


Improved fallow (fields) Use of specific plants to achieve the aims of regular fallow faster. (FR: Jachère améliorée)

Inoculation Introducing a bacterium in a seed or the soil. (FR: Inoculation)

Inputs Quantity of goods, money and services entering the production process. (FR: Intrants / Facteurs de production)

Inter-cropping Cultivating several crops in the same field, to increase yields and diversity. (FR: Culture intercalaire)


Jassid Pests that suck plant juices. (FR: Cicadelle)


Kale Fodder kale belongs to the cruciferous family used as forage. (FR: Choux fourrager)

Khapra beetle Pest of stored grains. (FR: Trogoderme des grains)

Kohlrabi A perennial plant, cultivar of cabbage. (FR: Chou-rave)


Landrace A species of cabbage with large leaves. (FR: Cultivar)

Large headed cabbage Any of various cultivated cabbage plants having a short thick stalk and large compact head of edible usually green leaves. (FR: Choux pommé ou choux cabus)

Leaf blight Disease afflicting plants. Can be countered by reducing shading and avoiding irrigation in the evening. (FR: Brûlure helminthosporienne)

Leaf lettuce A species of lettuce with loose, large leaves in the shape of a rosette. (FR: Laitue frisée)

Leaf sheath A sheath on the stem at the base of the leaf. (FR: Gaine foliaire)

Lime A chemical solution used to clear sulphur dioxide. (FR: Chaux)

Loamy soil A soil composed of silt, clay and salt, usually very fertile, for it is rich in nutrients. (FR: Sol loameux)

Lodging Plants are forced to lie on the ground because of heavy rains or pests. (FR: Verse)

Loose smut Fungal disease affecting barley crop. Grain heads are covered with smut and the grain is infected. (FR: Charbon nu)


Manure Animal dung used as an organic fertilizer, supplying nutrients and nitrogen. (FR: Fumier)

Mildew A fungal disease, causing white spots to appear on the plant’s leaves and stem. (FR: Mildiou)

Mixed cropping / polyculture System of sowing two or three crops together on the same land, one being the main crop and the others the subsidiaries. It ensures variety of food and brings more ecosystem stability. (FR: Culture mixte / polyculture)

Monocropping Growing the same crop on the same land without crop rotation for several successive years. (FR: Monoculture)

Mulching Displaying mulch around a plant to improve soil fertility and prevent the growth of weeds. (FR: Paillage)

Mycorrhiza A fungi that grows on the roots of a host plant. (FR: Mycorhizes)


Napier grass A species of perennial grass, mostly used for grazing or as a pest repeller. (FR: Herbe à éléphant)

Neem Indian tree, the fruits of which are used to produce neem oil. (FR: Margousier)

Nematode Roundworm, usually unsegmented. Many varieties are parasites of poultry and the group includes gapeworms, capillaria, gizzard worms, the ascarids and heterakis. (FR: Nématode)

NPK fertilizer Fertilizer composed of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. (FR: Engrais ternaire)


Oil cake Small residues of oil seeds after oil extraction, used as fodder. (FR: Tourteaux oléagineux)

Okra A plant cultivated for its edible green seed pods. (FR: Gombo)

Open-pollinated variety A plant which has been pollinated by natural means (i.e. insects, birds or wind). (FR: Variété à pollinisation libre)

Organic farming standards Established national standards governing the methods used to grow, process, and market organic agricultural products. Standards prohibit the use of genetically modified ingredients, irradiation to decontaminate products, and sewage sludge as fertilizers for any food sold as an organic product. (FR: Normes de l'agriculture biologique)

Organochlorine insecticide A kind of insecticide which is not easily cleared, as it is passed along the whole alimentary chain, and has a strong impact on the environment. (FR: Insecticide organochloré)


Panicle A compound raceme, i.e. an inflorescence with a single stem. (FR: Panicule)

Parsley A biennial herb, cultivated as a spice. (FR: Percil)

Pasture A field where livestock may graze. (FR: Pâturage)

Pearl barley Barley which has been deprived of its hull and bran. It is the most frequent form of barley used for human consumption. (FR: Orge perlé)

Perennial crop Perennial crops such as oil palm, rubber, cocoa, and bananas have been grown for many years througout the humid tropics. The crops provide a cover for the soil and usually return sufficient residues to the soil to maintain a satisfactory organic matter level. Nutient replenishment is necessary if the system is to sustain productivity. (FR: Cultures pérennes)

Pesticides A substance used to kill or repel pests. (FR: Pesticides)

Phytoalexin A substance produced by plants in order to react to an infection. (FR: Phytoalexine)

Planting Introduce seeds in the soil to grow a plant. (FR: Semis)

Plantlet A young plant growing on the leaves of another plant. (FR: Plantule)

Platform head Cutter bar of a combine harvester designed for particular crops. (FR: Barre de coupe pour moissonneuse batteuse)

Pod Fruit of a legume, made of two parts containing smaller seeds. (FR: Gousse)

Powdery mildew A plant disease caused by fungi. (FR: Blanc)

Propagation Creation of new plants from other parts of the plant, such as cuttings and bulbs. (FR: Multiplication)

Pulses An annual leguminous crop producing seeds within pods. (FR: Légumes secs)

Push-pull method A technique involving intercropping silverleaf desmodium, a fodder legume, with maize, napier and Sudan grass to provide both immediate and long term benefits. Aromas produced by the desmodium repel (push) pests like the maize stem borer while scents produced by the grasses attract (pull) the stem borer moths and encourage them to lay eggs in the grass instead of in the maize. Napier grass produces a gummy substance that traps the stem borer larvae reducing the population. Desmodium roots produce chemicals that stimulate germination of Striga seeds, but preventing them from attaching successfully to maize roots. The Striga dies and the number of seeds in the soil is also reduced. Desmodium is ground cover and a nitrogen-fixing legume. (FR: La méthode push-pull («pousser-tirer»))


Rain-fed grain Plant that rely only on rainfall for water. It provides much of the food consumed by poor communities in developing countries. (FR: Céréale pluviale)

Rainfed rice Rice cultivated with local rainfall. (FR: Riz pluvial)

Raised bed An area of cultivation over the ground to repel weeds and improve soil fertility. (FR: Platebande surélevée)

Rake A horticultural implement, a long-handled tool with tines. (FR: Ameneur)

Recycling (seed) Practice to select seed for the next farming season. (FR: Recyclage (semence))

Rhizobia Bacteria living in legume's root nodules which is able to fix nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil. (FR: Rhyzobia)

Rhizoctonia root rot A fungal disease affecting mostly carrots and root vegetables. (FR: Rhizoctone commun)

Ridge Agricultural technique used to prevent crops from suffering from heavy rainfall, by digging small ditches between the rows. (FR: Billon)

Rosette Leaves near the soil and at the same height forming a circle around the stem. (FR: Rosette)

Row crop head Farm machine used to harvest fields. (FR: Cueilleur multi-rang)

Rust Fungal disease causing leaves to turn brown in spring or summer. (FR: Rouille)


Sap-sucking insects Insects that insert their beaks into stems, leaves, or roots to suck plant juices. Insects can also be a virus carrier. Above ground examples are: aphids, chinch bugs, and scale. They can be controlled with predatory insects. A below ground example are nematodes which requires fumigation for immediate termination. (FR: Insectes suceurs de sève)

Sclerotinia Plant pathogenic fungus which can cause a disease called white mold. It affects most broad leaf crops and weeds. (FR: Pourriture sclérotique)

Seedbed The soil in which a seed is planted. (FR: Lit de semence)

Seedling A young plant growing out of a seed. (FR: Semis)

Shallow soil Soil which is not deep and has little room for water storage. (FR: Sol mince)

Shelf life Lenght of time that foods and many other perishable items are given before they are considered unsuitable for consumption. (FR: Durée de conservation)

Shepherd's-purse Shepherd's purse is a common herb. Can be used in herbal remedies. Able to grow in any climate. (FR: Bourse-à-pasteur)

Shoot fly (Delia arambourgi) Fly whose larvae are harmful to crops. (FR: Mouche de la tige)

Sickle An agricultural tool with a curved blade used for harvesting grains. (FR: Faucille)

Silage FFermented fodder used to feed cattle. (FR: Ensilage)

Smut Fungal disease mostly affecting cereals and covering the grain with a black powder. (FR: Charbon)

Soil amendment Product used to improve soil fertility. (FR: Amendement du sol)

Solanaceae Flowering plants, many are toxic plants, but tomatoes and potatoes also belong to this family. (FR: Solanacées)

Spike A type of raceme with sessile flowers. (FR: Épi)

Spot blotch Leaf disease of wheat. It can also infects other plant parts. In conjunction with others pathogens, it causes common root rot and black point and may be harmful. (FR: Helminthosporiose du blé)

Starch A carbohydrate produced by plants. (FR: Amidon)

Striga A parasitic plant affecting cereals. (FR: Striga)

Substrate The material (land) on which plants and animals live. (FR: Substrat)


Tar spot Plant disease affecting the leaves of trees and causing black spots to appear on them. (FR: Tache goudronneuse)

Technology transfer Transferring technologies and skills from one government or university to another. (FR: Transfert de technologie)

Thinning Removing plants or parts of plants to give more space for other plants to grow and develop. (FR: Éclaircissage)

Threshing Separating the edible part of a cereal from the inedible part. (FR: Battage)

Tillage Manipulation of the soil with tools to obtain optimum environmental conditions for seed germination and seeding establishment. (FR: Travail au sol / Labour)

Tiller A shoot growing from a plant after the development of the primary stem. (FR: Talle)

Tine-hoe Instrument for pulling weeds without turning the soil. (FR: Sarcloir)

Tine-weeder An agricultural tool used to cultivate wide fields of cereals. (FR: Herse à céréale)

Topsoil Upper layer of soil, where all nutrients can be found. (FR: Couche arable)

Turn plough An agricultural tool used to turn topsoil. (FR: Charrue à versoir)


Upland rice Any rice variety which is not grown in paddies but on dry soil. (FR: Riz de plateau)


Vertisol Soil mostly composed of clay, which forms cracks during the dry season. Because of this, vertisols constantly mulch and there is no real subsoil. (FR: Vertisol)


Waterlogging When the soil is saturated with water, preventing oxygen from getting into the soil. (FR: Engorgement)

Weeding Removing weeds in a field before they reach maturity, to prevent them to be harmful for crops and to avoid competition within the field. (FR: Désherbage)

Weevils Any beetle from the Curculionoidea superfamily. Weevils are less than 6mm (0.24in), and herbivorous. (FR: Coléoptères)

Wind winnowing Throwing grains in the air in order for the wind to blow away chaffs and pests. (FR: Vannage au vent)

Windrow Row of cut hay or small grain crop. The windrow is often formed by a hay rake. (FR: Andain)

Winnowing Separating grain from chaff. (FR: Vanner)

Wireworm Larvae of a click beetle, which lives under the ground and eats the plants’ roots. (FR: Larve de taupin)

Woody plant A perennial plant producing lignin, one of the components of wood. (FR: Ligneux)


Yam Perennial herbaceous vines, the tubers of which are edible. (FR: Igname)

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