Thursday 16 January 2020

Lupine Publishers | Hamstring Injuries in Taekwondo: Injury Patterns and Performance Following Conservative Therapy-A Case Series Involving Four Elite Athlete

Lupine Publishers | Journal of Orthopaedics


Background: Hamstring injuries frequently occur in sports involving explosive movement patterns and can cause lengthy downtimes. Data on hamstring injuries in Taekwondo is completely lacking. In a case study with four top Taekwondo athletes we describe the specific characteristics of this type of injury, the resulting downtimes and the athletes’ performance following conservative treatment, for the first time.
Methods: In a retrospective study, the hamstring injuries of four top international athletes were examined. Injuries were diagnosed by means of MRI. All injuries were classified according to severity and given an MRI score (min. 3, max. 19 points). Performance parameters for assessment included the number match points achieved in the 12 months prior to and following injury, tournament participation and downtime. Recurrent ruptures and contra lateral injuries were also taken into consideration.
Results: Athletes were aged between 16 and 25 (average age 20.3 years).Injuries were exclusively proximal ruptures. The MRI score was between 5 and 9 (mean value 6.5 points). All injuries involved the semi membranous muscle. Ruptures did not extend significantly into the cross-section of the muscle. Manifestation of all injuries in the MRI was without retraction. The average downtime before returning to competition was 69.2 days. The number of match points gained in the 12 months following injury dropped by an average of 19.8. Two athletes suffered recurrent ruptures and two had contra lateral ruptures.
Conclusion: The most frequent form of hamstring injuries in Taekwondo appears to be the stretching type. They result in downtime and a considerable decline in performance. The high incidence of ruptures and the contralateral ruptures within the subsequent year emphasises the extreme biomechanical strain on this muscle group. Parameters are needed to determine the best time to return to the competitive level following conservative therapy.
Keywords: Conservative Treatment; Hamstring Injuries; Return to Competition Taekwondo


Taekwondo (TKD) is a traditional martial art that originated in Korea. It is currently practiced in more than 200 countries throughout the world and became an Olympic discipline for the first time at the 2000 Games in Sydney. TKD is a full-contact martial art characterised by its emphasis on dynamic attack and kicking techniques requiring rapid reactions, speed, agility and endurance. TKD is a popular sport in Germany, where the number of active athletes has risen considerably in the last few years. Injuries to the hamstring group of muscles generally occur in the two-articulated sections following sudden over-extension of the muscles with a maximum degree of hip flexion and knee extension [1]. So far, sprint sports such as American football, in which the rapid changeover from muscle contraction to relaxation occurs, were known to be high-risk sports [2]. In TKD such movement patterns during explosive high kicks are especially important, as attacks to the opponent’s head are only permitted with the feet and generally score highly. The frequency of general injuries to the hip is approx. 11 % [3-5] and to the lower extremities 44.5 % [6]. To date there is no explicit data on the frequency and patterns of hamstring injuries in TKD, as information on the occurrence of TKD injuries in the literature is unspecific [3,4]. This retrospective study is based on a case series and describes injury patterns to the proximal hamstrings among top TKD athletes for the first time.

Materials and Methods

This retrospective study involves four top elite TKD athletes from an Olympic training centre who suffered hamstring injuries during training or a tournament between 2012 and 2016. All were top international athletes from the German national Taekwondo team with regular participation in national and international tournaments. The parameter for the athletes’ performance was the number of World Taekwondo Federation ranking points attained twelve and six months prior to and after injury [8]. This ranking system allows the comparison of different athletes throughout the world. Each athlete is awarded competition points according to the place achieved in an international tournament. The more matches the athlete wins, the more points he is awarded in the tournament.
All athletes were examined by a qualified sports physician. In the case of suspected injury in the hamstring area an advanced MRI diagnosis was made within three days to allow scores and the time interval since injury to be compared [9]. A record was also made of athletes’ other injuries. An experienced sports physician was in charge of the conservative therapy and treatment was based on an adapted training plan. This ensured the avoidance for six weeks of forced flexion in the region of the hip due to high kicks. This was accompanied by measures and exercises to reduce muscle tone in the affected area and stabilise the pelvic muscles. The MRI images were analysed retrospectively by a radiology specialist for musculoskeletal MRI diagnostics. Injuries were classified according to the radiological criteria of the MRI signal and a previously validated MRI score; which denoted the severity of the hamstring injury and was determined on the basis of age, number of injured muscles, and location of rupture, retraction, diameter of injury and intensity of T2 signal [10]. A minimum of 3 and maximum of 19 points were allocated depending on the severity of the injury (Table 1).
Table 1: Competition points 12 month bevor/ after Injury and time for return to competition.


The athletes examined were aged between 16 and 25 (average age 20.3 years). All athletes participated in international tournaments with points system during the examination period (Tables 2 & 3). The MRI score for the hamstring injury was between 5 and 9. The mean value for all athletes was 6.5 points. Injuries and partial injuries were also differentiated (Table 2). With one exception, all athletes suffered injuries to the proximal hamstrings at the tuber are chiadicum. The semi membranous free tendon was involved in all injuries. Ruptures did not extend significantly into the cross-section of the muscle. Just one athlete exhibited an ectasia >75% with an injury at the musculo tendinous junction, the diameters of other ruptures were <25%.Manifestation of all injuries in the MRI was without retraction (Table 2). The athletes competed in an average of 2.8 tournaments in the six months prior to injury, this dropped to 2 tournaments, equivalent to a reduction of 29%, in the six-months following injury [8].
Table 2: Characteristics of Hamstring Injuries and MRI scoring.
Table 3: Involved Muscles and Re-Injuries.
The interval between injury and the return to international competition was between 28 and 158 days (average 69.2 days) (Table 3). The average number of points scored in a tournament during the examination period dropped from 57.8 points before injury to 38 points in the 12 months after injury [8]. This is equivalent to an average reduction of 19.8 points. None of the athletes achieveda score that equal ledor exceeded this level of performance in the six months prior to injury. Just one athlete achieved a higher score in the 12 months after the injury compared to the 12 previous months. It was interesting to note that this athlete also took the longest break before returning to competition after injury (Table 4). One athlete suffered Re-Injury during the examination period, while two athletes suffered contralateral ruptures of the proximal hamstrings (Table 2). No further serious injuries requiring downtime were recorded for any of the athletes during the 12 months after the return to competition.


Hamstring injuries are often found in sports requiring sudden sprints such as soccer, football [10,11] and track and field athletics [12]. The result for the athlete, depending on the sport, is often considerable downtime. Sprinting in these sports involves hamstring extension with increasing hip flexion, which is compensated by a relative decrease in knee extension. This means, the hamstrings have a braking effect on the knee during maximum sudden hip flexion [13]. This study deals exclusively with proximal hamstring injuries, which can only be explained as taking place during high kicks with eccentric muscle contraction, inflected hip and (hyper)extended knee [14,15].Hamstring injuries are known to occur often at the myotendinous junction [16].
Risk factors under discussion are insufficient warming up, malalignment of the pelvis, exhaustion and previous injury [17-20]. Due to the insufficient contraction potential, the ischiocrural muscle group does not attain its full range of movement in the hip and the knee joints at the same time [15]. In TKD the opponent is kept at a distance by raising the leg and slightly bending the knee, meaning that initial flexion is usually greater at the hip than at the knee. When the athlete aims for the opponent’s head he or she adopts a position of full hip flexion to allow the leg to reach as high up towards the opponent’s head as possible with almost simultaneous knee extension to make full use of the entire length of the leg. The high kick in TKD is therefore preceded by considerable pretension at the hamstring origin.TKD athletes often exhibit muscular imbalance in the hip to accommodate the heavy demands on the hip flexors. The quadriceps femoris and iliopsoas muscles are generally more developed. The resultant pelvic tilt also increases pre-tension in the proximal hamstrings.
In sprinting sports the most common injury is to the long head of biceps femoris [21]. In this study, however, it was found that almost all athletes suffered injury to the proximal free tendon of semi membranous, also known to be common amongst dancers. The reason for this injury pattern could lay in the small source area with additional muscle adduction moment. In TKD it could therefore more likely to be a stretching type injury rather than a high-speed type [22]. The general limitation of extension and retraction in the injured muscles is also consistent with this observation. A certain predisposition to this injury pattern could also be due to chronic pre-existing damage at the myotendinous junction of this muscle group. The fact that ruptures and injuries to the contralateral muscle group occurred during the study period supports this observation. In a study involving NFL players, the classification of hamstring injuries correlated strongly with the players’ downtimes [23]. The average MRI score of 6.5 among TKD athletes is moderate but resulted in a relatively major downtime of 61 days, comparable to professional dancers with similar injury patterns [22]. The wide range of values (28-158 days) before returning to competition can be explained by the irregular tournament cycle and the systematic competition training plan before important tournaments. Downtimes are therefore more difficult to define than they are in sports with regular match schedules. No statistical correlation between the ascertained parameters could be shown due to the small number of cases.
In American football and rugby [23,24] it could be shown that players with moderate hamstring injuries did not necessarily have to miss an entire season. Good mid-term functional results have been achieved following surgical reification of the proximal hamstrings, however, this is only indicated for high-grade injuries (involvement of the conjoint tendon as avulsion at tuber ischiadicum and retraction > 2 cm) [25-27]. On average, a return to pre-injury performance was not possible until six months after surgery. There is no data whatsoever on outcomes following conservative treatment in TKD. In this study, top TKD athletes returned to the competitive level after an average of 61 days, albeit with significant performance deficits. The direct comparison with the results of surgical intervention is however futile, as injury patterns only exhibited minor retraction. It therefore remains to be seen whether a return to TKD competition is possible, despite the moderate severity of hamstring injuries in an MRI Score. A closer investigation of this question in Taekwondo would require a longterm follow-up study of the injured athletes taking all injuries into account.


There has been no study on the extent and effects of hamstring injuries in world-class TKD. This is the first study to describe in detail the injury patterns and effects on the competitive success of a small number of athletes following conservative treatment. All of them were found to be stretching-type proximal injuries with mid-range MRI scores, which resulted in less frequent participation in competitions and a significant drop in performance. The incidence of ruptures or injury of the contralateral muscles within the subsequent year emphasises the extreme biomechanical strain on this muscle group in TKD. The provision of further recommendations for optimised treatment and parameters for the best time to return to competition in this sport requires the longterm functional follow-up study of a greater number of cases.

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Friday 10 January 2020

Lupine Publishers | A Mini Review- Investigation and Study of Risks in Oil Pipeline Construction Substations

Lupine Publishers | Trends in Civil Engineering and its Architecture


The era of oil and gas pipelines is enduring an informational renovation to recover enactment, minimalize ruptures and spills, and rise safety, and is fetching to resemble as an example of data-enabled substructure. Pipelines comes to the vision of public cognizance only when leak occurs, prominent to a toxic spill, or result in an explosion that outlays lives. The industry 4.0 is integrating sensing knowledge to monitor pressure, flow rate, pumping station parameters, temperature, viscosity, and other external parameters. The oil industry is habitually alienated into three foremost components: Upstream, midstream and Downstream. The midstream sector encompasses the transportation (by pipeline, rails, tanker or truck), loading, and comprehensive marketing of refined petroleum products. Pipelines can be incorporated to transport crude oil from primary production sites to corresponding refineries and distribute the several refined products to respective downstream distributors. Pipeline networks are tranquilized of several complex of equipment that function together to transfer refined oil products from main site to consumer location. This paper gives a short outline on the construction essentials and failure-risks rates involved in the construction of the oil pipeline substations.
Keywords: Oil pipelines; Substation construction and failure rates


Pipelines are one of the most secure, most proficient and feasible approach to move natural assets of high volumes through land over long run of distance. Oil pipelines are commonly separated into two fundamental segments called trunks and gathering lines. Trunks go in size from 20 to 60 centimeters in width while gathering lines extend from 5 to 15 centimeters in measurement. Indeed, even at these huge diameters across, it takes a significant measure of power to push oil into the pipelines [1,2].
Crude oil transportation is also partitioned into ‘Gathering Lines’ and ’Transmission Lines”. A gathering pipeline conveyances crude oil refined product from a production maneuver to a transmission line. Gathering pipelines also do not convey the endowment of prominent domain and its size varies between 4 to 29 inches in diameter extent [3,4]. Administrators must acquire an assortment of important allows and hold fast to strict ecological assurance benchmarks to prepare for disintegration, consequent sedimentation, expanded rates or volumes of tempest water overflow, guarantee wetlands and conduits are secured, and dodge effects to uncommon, undermined and imperiled species and their natural surroundings. A transmission pipeline transports refined oil based commodities from a gathering pipelines, frequently over very long distances at more prominent volume and weight, to another storage space or a dissemination framework for distribution [5].

Strategic and economic interest of oil pipeline system in India

With a continuous emergent population growth leading to an enhanced level of life, energy ingesting is anticipated to proliferate every year: energy requirement predictions prepared by a number of protuberant organizations, comprising the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Energy Council, all come to an agreement in that fashion [6]. Bestowing to the IEA’s base constraints, world mandate for prime energy should upsurge 21% by 2010 and 71% by 2030, for a manipulated regular growth rate of 1.9% a year. To concealment this proliferation in world energy request, it will be mandatory to activate all energy resources especially hydrocarbons which plays a very noticeable part in challenging world energy necessities (66 versus 63% today) [7]. To encounter these necessities, heavy crudes specified with magnitude of their current resources, will performance a more and more noteworthy role. Conferring to IEA, the current resources will requires 15% in the development of oil supply propagation between 2001 and 2030.
India witnessed stupendous development in oil refining part in the ongoing past [8]. India relies upon a system of more than 207,800miles of fluids pipelines, more than 300,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines, and more than 2.1 million miles of oil distribution pipelines with more securely and productively move refined products in order to fuel our country’s financial engine [9]. This nature of pipeline systems fills in as a national system to move the oil-based vitality assets on the requirements from production regions or ports of passage all through India to customers, airplane terminals, military bases, and industry consistently.
Cross-country pipelines are universally acknowledged as the innocuous, cost-efficient, energy-prominent and environmentfriendly mode for conveyance of crude oil and petroleum products [10]. As a innovator in oil pipelines in the nation, Indian Oil overseeing one of the world’s biggest oil pipeline systems, accomplished the most astounding ever throughput of 85.68 million metric tons for each annum (MMTPA) amid the year 2017- 18. With the acceptance of innovation in all fronts, this pipeline will wind up one of the technologically upgraded pipelines in the nation with the help of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) framework to continually monitor the mobilization of petroleum products through the pipeline [5,10]. The trunk communication framework utilizes Optical Fiber Cable innovation for voice and data correspondence [11]. The network of 12 pumping stations and 19 repeater stations is a constituent of excellent maintenance work and has the divergence of operating the petroleum products filled prime mover transmission lines and the pumps in its Pump Stations for more than 200,000 hours as appeared in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Transmission lines and storage tankers incorporated with SCADA.

Environmental concern and associated risks in oil pipelines

Environmental trepidations are the major concerns for the exploitation of transmission oil pipelines rather than gathering lines for transporting crude oil for the long run passages [12]. Pipeline protection plays a challenging complex task in the strategy of securing assets. Conversely, examining system dependability and launching optimum maintenance techniques also plays a crucial tedious procedure [13]. The failure rate, which is considered to express consistency of a system, is affected by numerous factors such as the environmental conditions (soil type, onshore/ offshore conditions etc.), internal pipeline influencing variables (the rate of viscosity, speed, chemical composition of oil, etc.), pipe structural characteristics (the material, diameter, length, wall thickness etc.), and maintenance variables (pressure, flow rate, temperature, etc.).

Specific protection techniques for pipelines

In present trend, oil pipelines are manufactured using steel or plastic tubes with inner diameter range of about 4 to 48 inches (100 to 1,220mm). In order to safeguard pipes from worst impact influences from abrasion, and corrosion, a various techniques have been handled. Those methodology comes under wood lagging/imported sand padding or by concrete coating/rock shield or covering by high-density polyethylene [14,15].
Crude oil comprehends erratic amounts of paraffin wax and in colder weather situations wax accumulation may transpire within a pipeline. Quite often these pipelines are examined and cleaned by carrying out of pigging by using “pigs” devices also called as “Go-devils”/”scrapers” on a pipeline. “Smart pigs” are known as “intelligence” pigs are used to identify abnormalities in the pipe such as dents, cracking or concerned mechanical damage, or metal loss caused by corrosion. These devices are propelled from pig-launcher stations and pass inside the pipeline which to be received at other down-stream station, which performs operations like removing deposition accrued inside the pipe and records the mechanical condition status of the desired pipes along the transmission [16].


The diverse category of crude oil that can be pumped through a corresponding pipeline is reliant on the physical characteristics of a pipeline mainly relies on length and diameter. In broad-spectrum, batch process or sequencing is activated to carry one of the refined product or crude oil grade category after one another on the pipeline transfer. Hence, pump stations requisite to be more closely positioned because crude oil inhibits higher viscous than petrol or diesel which could obliges an maximized pressure to maintain the same speed from the inlet station or the pressure at the outlet terminal of a pump station wants to be maximized. But enhancing the pressure at the pump station outlet entails stronger pumps and pipe to endure the operating pressure. It proceeds about 9 to 15 days to transport oil products over 1550 miles, by representing speed approximately at the rate of 2.5 to 5.8 miles per hour.

Conflict of Interest

All the contributors to this research work have no clashes of attention to announce and broadcasting this article.


This research work is carried out under the Senior Research fellowship received from CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) with grant no.678/08(0001)2k18 EMR-I.

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Thursday 9 January 2020

Lupine Publishers | Challenges in Learning and Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Lupine Publishers | Open access journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine


Logic thinking is the base of developing TCM and acupuncture theories. Pattern identification developed with Y-n-Yang and the Five Element theories should be the key principle in practice, especially for prescriptions and the scientific research verifying efficacy of TCM and acupuncture.
Keywords: Yin-Yang; The Five Element; Logic Thinking; Pattern Identification


  Both Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture originated in ancient China and has evolved for more than two thousand years. However, most of the people generally in Taiwan present themselves to the medical doctors first when they are in need of medical treatments. Part of this fact is because there are not sufficient scientific researches to prove the efficacy and safety of TCM, acupuncture, moxibustion, acupressure, cupping, Tui na, and tai chi. In Asia, such as Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, etc., herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, acupressure, cupping, Tui na, and tai chi are often used by TCM practitioners to integrate mind and body to treat or prevent health issues. Compared to the current TCM and acupuncture developments in Taiwan, acupuncture and TCM have gained more and more popularity in the past 40 years and been considered “essential health benefits” by people in the United States and the West, seeing and using acupuncture and TCM primarily as a complementary health approach [1]. TCM and acupuncture have established its status in the health system in the West, though they’re totally different from the Western medicine with the philosophy, diagnosis approaches, and pattern identification for treatment. Challenges exist at present, which deserves attention for those who are determined to learn or interested in understanding TCM and acupuncture. This paper, therefore, tries to present some issues for the better future of TCM, including acupuncture, and the Western medicine when there are integrated.

Fundamental Differences between TCM and West Medicine

TCM, including acupuncture, and Western Medicine have been viewed as two distinct and divergent medicines for long with the approaches to physiology and healing techniques. Therefore, the fundamental differences in both Western medicine and TCM deserve attention when healthcare providers are considering the feasible choices in clinical practice to patients [1].

In Theory

The philosophical concepts like Yin-Yang, the Five Element, pattern identification, and Qi and Blood are, to a certain extent, unique and abstract for learners to catch the whole picture with the functions broader than the anatomical knowledge in the Western medicine and are absolutely different from the theories of the Western medicine. In terms of relation of the human beings and the Heaven that can interact with each other in providing solutions to the health, it is totally different from the Western medicine that TCM sees the human body as a whole and as a microcosm of the universe in diagnosis and treatment, bringing the body, mind and spirit into harmony with Yin-Yang balance. It is believed that the concept of Yin-Yang balance is the unique concept indicating the harmony of internal organs and the dominating key of the TCM, which has served as the foundation and the guideline for the explanation of etiology of diseases, diagnosis, and treatments throughout the history of Chinese medicine and absolutely distinguishes TCM from the Western medicine [1]. Based on this concept, a disease thus refers to the loss of the balance of Yin-Yang [2].
On the other hand, TCM focuses on the “congenital constitution” of the body that can result in “root” problems in health, which can scientifically correspond to the core thesis of Precision medicine (PM), which proposes the customization of healthcare with medical decisions, treatments, practices, or products tailored to the individual patient’s genetic content. In TCM, constitutions of humans are categorized into the five patterns for understanding the “root” causes and predicting the health conditions in the future, based on the Five Element theory [1]. Western medicine is seeking the minor difference from the perspective of etiology and only concerned about diagnosing and treating the symptoms alone. The theory develops with seeing the organs separately and treating parts of the body like a machine. Each part of the organs has its function, and when a particular part fails, it needs the replacement or resection [1,3].

In Practice

Treatments by medical doctors directly target at the pathogen or etiology with the evidence by a large number of modern scientific instruments, such as blood, urine, and stool tests, X-rays, CT, and MRI, to check on the human body. In addition to history taking and physical examination, doctors do not make diagnosis until all evidence are collected. Without scientific instruments, TCM doctors or acupuncturists can only make diagnosis, based on symptoms related to the imbalance of Yin and Yang rather than diseases itself through analyzing a patient’s tongue, pulse, voice, and whole-body situation, including reaction, hair, and posture [1,3]. The most important key to the successful results is that an experienced TCM doctors and acupuncturists can only rely on four skills for diagnosis to identify the patterns and write up the prescriptions. In other words, patterns, which distinguish TCM from the Western medicine, should be the key concern for the TCM and acupuncture practitioners in making the decisions of treatments. Since diseases are understood to be a loss of balance between Yin and Yang as shown in Figure 1, good results cannot be expected without the positive consideration of Yin and Yang [2,4].
Figure 1: Characteristics of Yin and Yang.

Challenging Issues

Challenging issues for those who are interested in and learning TCM and acupuncture are presented in this section. These issues may have been discussed in the previous research, but new viewpoints are presented to attract more attention.


There is no doubt that cultural decoding relies mostly on words. It is strongly accepted that “word-for-word” literal translation method is the way paraphrasing the accurate lexical meaning. However, this cannot be applied to TCM and acupuncture. Language is therefore the most challenging issue that needs to be addressed first. With the popularity of TCM and acupuncture, language barrier surely needs learners’ attention. The fact in the West currently is that not all of the TCM and acupuncture classics are translated into English. On the other hand, correct translation requires good translators excellent in both Chinese and English. In addition to the good command of these two languages, the meanings of the characters used in the ancient time may be different from those at the present time, which may confuse and frustrate readers. Chinese characters, different from alphabet languages which only represent forms and sounds, are called ideographs with three features of forms, sounds and meanings [5]. The difficulties in understanding Chinese characters in the TCM and acupuncture classics can be classified in the following ways [5]:
A. Simplified Chinese is widely used all over the world; however, traditional Chinese is accepted and used in ancient classics and areas like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. For example, 黃帝內“經” in simplified Chinese is 黄帝内“经” in writing.
B. Pronunciation changed with usage. “能” is correctly pronounced neng in the modern Chinese, referring to “can” in English and. However, this character in Huang Di Nei Jing ( 黃帝內經, Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) means “state (態)” and the pronunciation is tai. This condition occurs when the characters were not enough for use in the ancient time.
C. “內” can be used either as a verb or a noun. It is pronounced na (equals納) when used as verb and nee when used as a noun referring to “inner” or “inside” in the modern use.
D. “平” is pronounced pin when it is related to an adjective “flat” in English. With writing mistakes, the pronunciation of this character is bian when it is used as a verb to mean “distinguish” in medical Chinese.
E. Different characters bear the identical meanings. “输”, “ 输”, and “腧” are different characters referring to the identical meaning of acupoint, and all of these three characters are pronounced shu.
The ability to understanding Chinese characters deserves attention as well in learning and understanding acupoints. For mastering acupuncture, understanding the real Chinese meanings of the acupoints is required. ST29-Guilai is the typical example for this aspect because Guilai (歸來) literally in Chinese means “return” and this acupoint is usually used for prolapse of uterus, menstrual irregularity, and dysmenorrhea [6]. 神(Shen) is translated differently into English in acupoints; for example, HT7-Shenmen ( 神門, Spirit gate) refers to the gate for Heart qi to get into and out of the body, while Heart governs Shen in TCM. Compared with the DU24-Shenting (神庭, Shen court), 門refers to gate in Chinese and 庭, court, which suggests that one must go through the “gate (HT7)” first and then get into the “court (DU24)” to hold or calm Shen. This difference highlights the importance of choosing acupoints in calming Shen. An acupoint may have different names with the historical developments. The nickname of KD3-Taixi (太溪) is呂細 (Lvxi) alternatively used in the acupuncture classics. On the other hand, the nickname of HT7 is 中都 (Zhongdu) completely identical with LV6 in Chinese, which may confuses learners.
Figure 2: Protocol matrix in using traditional acupoints and extra acupoints.
Note: Ea for Extra acupoints and Ta for Traditional acupoints.
In addition to the names of acupoints, extra acupoints also deserve close attention in consideration of combining regular acupoints with extra acupoints. Extra acupoints distinguish themselves from the regular acupoints on the traditional fourteen meridians with the unique indications, actions, and the great effectiveness in acupuncture theory and treatment, even though some of extra acupoints have not been verified with scientific evidence [7]. Pattern identification which derives from the Yin- Yang theory is surely the key concept of TCM. Unfortunately, this concept cannot apply to extra acupoints because they are not incorporated into the traditional meridians with the lack of Yin- Yang. The challenge acupuncture practitioners face is when it is the best time to consider extra acupoints in a protocol. The historical developments of extra points show that an extra point can surely play an essential role in acupuncture and be used alone or with the traditional regular acupoints for the treatment. Unfortunately, the actions and indications of extra acupoints have not be scientifically researched and verified as traditional regular acupoints. In strategy, a practitioner may take the principle of “Least needling for best results” into consideration to keep patients from pain, fear, or worry. The goal can be achieved with the following four choices shown in Figure 2 when it comes to the tactic [8].

Characterizations of Chinese Material Medica

The use of Chinese herb must be based on the patient’s conditions with accurate diagnosis, following the principles of pattern identification. Channels, properties, indications, and actions of the Chinese herbs in the different material medica classics are not always discussed in the same ways. The actions of Radix Ledebouriellae Divaricatae (Fangfeng) in Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu, 本草綱目), for example, are night sweat, migraine and headache, and constipation. However, actions like aversion to Wind, sweating, blurry vision, and vertigo are presented in The Classic of Herbal Medicine (Shennong Bencaojing, 神農本草經).
Licorice root (Gancao, 甘草) with properties of sweet and neutral to tonify and strengthen the Spleen qi is effective for sore throat, bronchitis, cough, and infections caused by bacteria or viruses. This herb is the good example that highlights the time to collect herb is an attention that cannot be ignored. Literature shows the best time to collect and dry Licorice root is in the autumn two to three years after planting [9], but no detailed information is found for the reasons. The possible explanation for harvest time and cultivation time may be much to do with the compound differentiation, which can vary with moisture, temperature, and sunshine. The Chinese term 木瓜 (Mugua) refers to both Chinese herb Fructus Chaenomelis and papaya. In other words, confusing situation like this Chinese herb occurs quite often to TCM and acupuncture learners.


The nature and indications of Chinese herbs change with processing for the required actions in treatment.
It is beyond doubt that Radix Bupleuri (RB) is one of the most popular traditional Chinese medical herbs in terms of treating diseases related to the Liver. Radix Bupleuri, named “Chaihu ( 柴胡)” in Chinese, is derived from the dried roots of Bupleurum Chinense DC. (Pei Chaihu, 北柴胡) and Bupleurum scorzonerifolium Willd (Nan Chaihu, 南柴胡) [10], which is the main ingredient of the most famous and frequently used preparations Xiao Chai Hu decoction and Da Chai Hu decoction. The major differences between Bupleurum Chinense DC. and Bupleurum Scorzonerifolium Willd are that the indication of Bupleurum Chinense DC. is dispersing stagnated Liver qi while Bupleurum scorzonerifolium Willd is raising Yang Qi in the Middle Jiao deficiency pattern.
For clinical use with indications changed to meet the patients’ needs, Radix Bupleuri is commonly selected in crude, fried, and vinegar-baked [11]. Among the characterizations of Chines herbs discussed above, dosage and ration are also two of the most important issues. Historic evolutions in the measurement show dosage, actually the top secret in learning Chinese formulas, has changed a lot and been a concern in practice for more than thousands of years. Quin (錢), the unique unit of weight measurement always used in TCM herbs, is different from that used in the Han dynasty, in which the author of Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders (The Shanghan Lun, 傷寒論) Zhang Zhongjing was born. In the meantime, one Quin equals 3.125g in China, but 4g in Taiwan, which suggests TCM and acupuncture learns need to bear the differences in mind when doing research. Another attention that should be given to the clinical use of Chinese herbs is dosage, which should draw attention with geographical factor. Zhang Zhongjing was born in Henan located in the south of China, where the temperate climate is humid subtropical. The climate may be one of the factors affecting his logic reasoning in the formulas; for example, the most used herbs in treating gastrointestinal diseases are licorice root, jujube, dried ginger, ginger, and Guizhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi) for the property of spicy to disperse stagnated Qi and tonify Yang. In other words, adjustments must be made, considering geographical factors.
In addition to weight, ration is also the concern that must been taken into consideration for the ingredient percentage of a formula. Liu Yi San (Six to One Powder, 六一散) indicates that the ratio of Talcum and Radix Glycyrrhizae (Licorice root) is 6:1. Actually, for learners who understand Chinese can easily catch the meaning of this formulas from the character 六 referring to six and-, 1. Dosages in practice must be adjusted, depending on the patients’ conditions. This is the most difficult to learn and understand because it reflects the experience of a TCM doctor or an acupuncturist. In other words, there is not golden rule to follow at all, and it is hard to be verified with quantitative analysis.


The logic thinking of the Chinese is inductive reasoning, compared to deductive reasoning of the Western people. Based on this logic model, TCM, including acupuncture, features similarities in theories with Yin-Yang, the Five Element, Qi-Blood, and Pattern identification. It is noted that most of the scientific researches for verification of efficacy of TCM and acupuncture only focuses on diseases, instead of following the Pattern identification of TCM, which cannot accurately exemplify the TCM and acupuncture theories to a great extent [11]. The historical developments prove that there are challenges ahead of TCM and acupuncture learners, such as when to combine regular acupoints with extra acupoints, how to decide the accurate dosage and whether or not select dried herbs, etc. More and more population in the Chinese communities like China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao seems to suggest that TCM and acupuncture benefit public health with its efficacy. This study may recommend that having a good command of Chinese can play a key role to learning and mastering TCM and acupuncture. Unfortunately, it is not easy at all for the Western learners to make a right decision when it comes to learning traditional or simplified Chinese characters. The debate on traditional Chinese characters and simplified Chinese characters has been an ongoing dispute concerning Chinese orthography among users of Chinese characters for years with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Looking back at the history of Chinese medicine, all of the great classics are written in traditional Chinese. This fact may give the learners the right direction that learning traditional Chinese enable the Western learners to acquire more profound knowledge of TCM and acupuncture. It is believed that “Englishword- for-Chinese-character” translation surely hinders learners from acquiring accurate understanding of TCM and acupuncture. However, there is not any Chinese medical terminology curriculum offered in the West.


Challenges exist before those who are learning or interested in TCM and acupuncture. Only accurate decoding of Chinese characters can exactly explain TCM and acupuncture concepts, so it is highly suggested that learning traditional Chinese characters must be considered for the Western learners when they really expect to explore and enjoy the beauty of TCM and acupuncture. With the natural and human restrictions, there is a long way to go for the contemporary learners and researchers to verify the efficacy of TCM and acupuncture with evidence-based research.

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Tuesday 7 January 2020

Lupine Publishers | Chemical Contaminants in Food Grains: The Burning Health Issues in Asian Countries

Lupine Publishers- Environmental and Soil Science Journal


Food security is a high-priority issue for sustainable global development both quantitatively and qualitatively. Once pesticides are applied, residues may be found in soil, on plant, on harvested product, on application equipment, in water and irrigation canals, in pesticide storage area, on cloth of applicant. Short term poisoning effects like nausea, vomiting, headache, chest pain, eye, skin and throat irritation etc. and potential long-term health effect like allergies, cancer, nervous system damage, birth defects, reproductive problem have been reported in recent decades, adverse effects of unexpected contaminants on crop quality have threatened both food security and human health. Heavy metals, metalloids (e.g., Hg, As, Pb, Cd, and Cr) from pesticides and fertilizers can jeopardize human metabolomics, contributing to morbidity and even mortality. Those during crop production include soil nutrient depletion, water depletion, soil and water contamination, and pest resistance/outbreaks and the emergence of new pests and diseases.


Growth in global population means that farmers must produce food for an estimated 9.1 billion people expected to inhabit the earth by 2050 [1]. Humans cultivate only about 150 of an estimated 50,000 edible plant species worldwide, with only 30 plant species comprising the vast majority of our diets. Just three of these (rice, maize and wheat) provide about 60% of the world’s food energy intake [2,3]. These plants are susceptible to 80,000 to 100,000 diseases caused by everything from viruses to bacteria, fungi, algae, and even other higher plants [4]. Again, Food plants have to compete with some 30,000 different species of weeds worldwide, of which at least 1800 species are capable of causing serious economic losses [5]. Globally, around 20-30% of agricultural produce is lost annually due to insect pests, diseases, weeds and rodents, viz, growth, harvest, and storage [1,6]. According to World Bank, South Asian countries are home to home to 33% of the world’s poor and economies have among the highest levels of public debt in the world [7]. Mean consumption of whole grains 38.4 g/day in between 1990 to 2010. Southeast Asian nations along with 2/3 Sub- Saharan African regions had the highest intakes. Overall, 23 of 187 countries had mean whole grain intake ≥2.5 (50g) servings/day, representing 335 million adults and 7.6% of the world adult population [8]. Southeast Asia is a region that produces high amounts of key food commodities and includes areas of divergent socio-economic status. The major grain crops produced in the region are rice and maize [9]. The potential sources for the contamination of grains are mostly environmentally based and include air, dust, soil, water, insects, rodents, birds, animals, microbes, humans, storage and shipping containers, handling and processing equipment [10]. The rates of destruction often are higher in less developed nations and they are now accounting for a quarter of the world’s pesticide use [5,11]. Therefore, judicious use of pesticides plays a major role in plant protection. Today’s more than 10,400 pesticides are approved worldwide. It has been reported that the consumption of pesticides accounts two million tons every year worldwide [12]. Interestingly, many pesticides still widely used in the USA, at the level of tens to hundreds of millions of pounds annually, have been banned or are being phased out in the EU, China and Brazil [13]. Pesticide residues reported in fruits, vegetables and grains of India [14], Nepal [15], Bangladesh [16], China [17] and Indonesia [18]. Farmers habitually apply fertilizers and hazardous insecticides in high quantities without assessing the actual field requirements due to inadequate knowledge [1,19]. Since pesticides are directly applied on crops, fruits, and vegetables in most agricultural applications, infants, children, and adults can be exposed to pesticides by the ingestion of those pesticide-contaminated foods [20-23]. Pesticides can exist in residential air by the evaporation of volatile and semivolatile pesticides, such as organochlorine pesticides, from crops and residential surface soil [24-27]. Soil is an important source for heavy metals (like mercury/cadmium) in crops and vegetables since the plants’ roots can absorb these pollutants from soil, and transfer them to seeds [28,29]. According Retamal-Salgado et al. 2017 cadmium (Cd) distribution in the different plant organs, more than 40% of Cd is absorbed and translocated to the aerial part of the plant (grain and straw), and it could be directly (grains) or indirectly (animals) ingested and negatively affect humans [30]. It accumulates in the liver and kidneys for more than 30 years and causes health problems. Toxicity of this metal involves kidney and skeletal organs and is largely the result of interactions between Cd and essential metals, such as calcium [31-35]. China feeds 22% of the world population with 7% of the worlds arable land. Sodango et al. 2018 reported that 20 million hectares (approximately 16.1%) of the total arable land in China is highly polluted with heavy metals, according to Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), China [36]. It is estimated that between 900,000 and 1,360,000 kg arsenic per year was introduced into Bangladesh soil through contaminated groundwater used for irrigation [37]. The use of sewage sludge for agricultural purposes can be limited by the potential content of heavy metals and toxic organic compounds that pose a threat to the environment [38]. Pajewska-Szmyt et al. 2019 reported that maternal exposure to heavy metals as Pb or Hg and persistent organic pollutants were associated with children neurodevelopment delay and also indirectly affects reproductive, respiratory, and endocrine system [39]. The use of pesticides has helped to increase rice yields but has also led to an increased pollution that presents a potential toxicity threat to the environment and public health [40]. Combined with outdated waste management technologies, there are potential health risks to farmers through occupational waste management practices, along with consumers through consumption of waste-contaminated products [41]. The WHO has estimated that more than three million farmers in developing countries are poisoned by agrochemicals each year [42]. In another study, WHO) and UN Environmental Program estimated that one to five million cases of pesticide poisoning occur among agricultural workers each year with about 20000 fatalities [43]. Skin injury, eye injury, headache, stomachache, and fever reported in cotton workers in southern Pakistan due to pesticide exposure [44]. Pesticide induced occupational hazards has been reported to many other similar studies in Nepal [45], China [46-48], India [49-51], Bangladesh [52], Sri Lanka [53], Myanmar [54] and Philippines [55]. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed more than 11,000 foodborne infections in the year 2013, with several agents like viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites, metals, and other chemicals causing food contamination [56]. Widespread agricultural use of pesticides and home storage make them easily available for acts of self-harm in many rural households. Stability of organophosphorus pesticides are also important issue [57]. It was found that malathion was more unstable than dichlorvos and diazinon, there was an over 70% loss in 90 days even at -20 °C in coarsely chopped form [58]. It could be another reason for haphazard use of pesticides in the field and stored food commodities [59]. Around 600 million food borne illnesses and 420,000 deaths occur each year due to poor food handling practice. Such contaminants get access to contaminate food mainly due to food handler’s poor knowledge and negligence during handling activities [60,61]. Hassan et al. says increased prevalence of diabetes in South Asia may be related to the consumption of arsenic contaminated rice depending on its content in the rice and daily amount consumed [62]. Sabir et al. demonstarted that arsenite can bind covalently with sulfhydryl groups in insulin molecules and receptors, enzymes such as pyruvate dehydrogenase and alpha ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, and glucose transporters (GLU-T), which may result in insulin resistance [63]. According to Kumar et al. 50%-60% cereal grains can be lost during the storage stage due only to the lack of technical inefficiency. Use of scientific storage methods can reduce these losses to as low as 1%-2% [64]. Factors like increasing climatic variability, extreme weather events, and rising temperatures pose new challenges for ensuring food and nutrition security in Asian region. The South Asian region is one of the least integrated regions according to Washington based-IFPRI [65]. Agriculturally beneficial microorganisms may also contribute directly (i.e., biological N2 fixation, P solubilization, and phytohormone production, etc.) or indirectly (i.e., antimicrobial compounds biosynthesis and elicitation of induced systemic resistance, etc.) to crop improvement and fertilizers efficiency [66]. Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have effects on the soil organisms that are similar to human overuse of antibiotics. Indiscriminate use of chemicals might work for a few years, but after a while, there aren’t enough beneficial soil organisms to hold onto the nutrients [67]. Also, resistance to certain pesticides against brown planthopper (BPH), Nilaparvata lugens, and the white-backed planthoppers (WBPH), Sogatella furcifera reported in Asian countries has been reported [68-72]. Also, the higher exposure of crop plants to heavy metal stress reduces growth and yield and affect the sustainability of agricultural production [73]. Cadmium (Cd) is a well-known metal imposing threats to human health, and it can be accumulated in polished rice over the permitted range of 0.2mg kg1 [74]. It leads to reduction in the plant productivities as well by inhibiting their growth, photosynthesis, pigments, nutrient uptake, germination, electron transport chain [75]. Applications of phosphorusbased fertilizers improve the soil fertility and agriculture yield but at the same time concerns over a number of factors that lead to environmental damage need to be addressed properly [76]. Easy availability of pesticides has another interesting but pathetic outcome. approximately 110,000 pesticide self-poisoning deaths each year from 2010 to 2014, comprising some 14% of all global suicides [77]. According to Serrano-Medina et al. higher rates of suicide committed in areas with intensive use of pesticides compared to areas with less use of pesticides [78]. In Bangladesh, selfpoisoning by pesticide is responsible for about 40% of poisoning cases admitted to hospital and 8-10% of overall mortality in medical wards [79]. At the Philippine General Hospital in Metro Manila, Philippines (2000- 2001), recorded pesticide poisoning cases showed that more than 80% were intentional in nature [80]. Public concern about the adverse environmental and human health impacts of organochlorine contaminants led to strict regulations on their use in developed nations since 1940 [81]. Nevertheless, DDT and several other organochlorine insecticides are still being used for agriculture and public health programs in developing countries in Asia and the South Pacific [82-86]. As a consequence, humans in this region are exposed to greater dietary levels of organochlorines (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Asian Continent with subregions (Source: Wikipedia)


Around 600 million food borne illnesses and 420,000 deaths occur each year due to poor food handling practice. Such contaminants get access to contaminate food mainly due to food handler’s poor knowledge and negligence during handling activities [87,88]. Accordingly, alternative methods for exposure and risk assessment have to be developed, which vary from the use of expert opinion and pre-marketing models to the use of combination of data from the literature, measurements, and expert opinion [89]. Many studies are there to overcome fertilizer/pesticide induced health effects. Rastogi et al. reported use of silicone nanoparticles can provide green and eco-friendly alternatives to various chemical fertilizers without harming nature [90]. It has been reported that selenium (Se) application decreases Cd uptake [75]. In similar studies, selenium, copper, zinc oxide and many other metallic nanoparticles [91-97] have been studied in food processing, packaging and preservation against phytopathogens and rodents. The washing with water or soaking in solutions of salt and some chemicals e.g. chlorine, chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide, ozone, acetic acid, hydroxy peracetic acid, iprodione and detergents are reported to be highly effective in reducing the level of pesticides [98]. Various foodprocessing operations include sorting, trimming, cleaning, cooking, baking, frying, roasting, flaking, and extrusion that have variable effects on mycotoxins [99]. Cooking rice in excess water efficiently reduces the amount of arsenic (As) in the cooked grain [100].

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Monday 6 January 2020

Lupine Publishers| Focusing on Food Security or Targeting the Economy: A Study on Maize and Cotton Production in Kandi Commune

Lupine Publishers- Environmental and Soil Science Journal


Maize and cotton are two crops that are highly produced in North Benin. Their production has advantages as well as constraints. These advantages and constraints are taken into account in the choice of the producer to cultivate one of them. The objective of this study is to present, at first, the advantages and constraints that the producers of Kandi commune face on these two crops. It also aims to expose the producers’ preference according to the advantages and constraints listed by them. To achieve this, the data were collected in two districts of the municipality over a period of two weeks. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fifty producers through an interview guide. Data processing was carried out using a dual approach (quantitative and qualitative) which, on the one hand, consisted in carrying out statistical tests and, on the other hand, analyzing the statements collected during the data collection. The main statistical test used in this study is Kendall’s W-concordance test, which has been used to prioritize constraints. At the end of the analyses, it appears that cotton, just like corn, enables producers to meet the needs and social development of their households. On the other hand, the non-organization of the maize sector, the lack of inputs and the delay in their distribution, maize prices fluctuation and difficulties in the evacuation of cotton are the main constraints reported by producers. Despite its lack of organization and the other constraints to which it is subject, maize crop is the most preferred. In view of this, it would be appropriate to consider the organization of the maize sector and the optimization of the services provided by the organizations in charge of the cotton sector. This will be beneficial to both production systems and also to all actors involved.


Agriculture is one of the crucial activities that human being cannot neglect for his survival. It keeps the human species alive and contributes to its evolution. In Benin, it plays a great role in strengthening the economy and provide about 75% of jobs [1]. Among all the crops produced in the territory, two prove to be vital both in the constitution of the national economy and in the fight for food security: Those are corn and cotton. Known as the main cash crop in Benin [2] and the engine of the Beninese economy [3], cotton alone counts for 27% of exports and contributes by 7% to the national GDP. Its production has not stopped growing over the last five years. It reached in 2016, a tonnage of 451,000, which is an increase of more than 70% from the year 2015 [4]. Due to its multiple outlets, the cotton sector remains the country’s best organized sector [5]. If cotton receives a lot of attention from the Beninese government, corn itself does not have such a privilege. Nevertheless, it is the crop that could be an alternative to cotton production [6] in northern Benin. It comes second, after cotton as a subsistence and cash crop [7]. Indeed, its cultivation occupies nearly 70% of the total area devoted to cereals in Benin and represents about 75% of cereal production [8]. Together with cowpea, cassava and yam, it forms the staple crops of people’s diet [9]. Studies have shown that 63.1% of households in Benin consume 7 days out of 7, maize being the main cereal in the food ration [9]; [10]. Apart from the aspects raised, corn also has medicinal properties. According to [11], the corncob is used in combination with other plants to cure knee and low back pain. Some use it to treat diseases such as malaria.

Material and Methods

Study Area

The study took place in the municipality of Kandi, county town of the department of Alibori. Located in the agro ecological zone of the cotton pan, it is limited by the communes of Malanville (North), Gogounou (South) Ségbana (East) and Banikoara (West). It is spread out an area of 3421Km2 and includes ten districts, sixty-seven villages and fifteen districts. The climate in Kandi is of Sudanese type characterized by two seasons that follow each other: The first, rainy from May to October and the second, dry from November to April. Climate change in sub Saharan Africa does not leave the Kandi commune on the side-lines. It is worth noting since a few decades in the commune and its surroundings an early drying up and a late or sometimes violent arrival of rains. Several studies carried out in the region have noted this [12-15]. In addition, the soil found at Kandi is of tropical ferruginous type. The relief is made up of plateau and one distinguishes by place hills made of granites and quartzite. As for vegetation, the town has grassy savanna, shrub and trees with some gallery forests. In terms of agricultural production, Kandi has a good reputation coming in second place after Banikoara, the giant cotton supplier in Benin. Apart from this asset, the municipality is essential in the department in terms of corn production. The following table gives an idea of the evolution of these two crops from 2011 to 2016 (Table 1).
Table 1: Production in tons of the last five years.
Analysis of this table shows a peak of cotton and maize production between 2014 and 2016 with a respective tonnage of 48853.09 and 102240. The respective average production of the two crops is 362681.86 and 66394.68 tons.

Methodological Approach

Among the ten districts of Kandi commune, only two were chosen to shelter the study. These are the districts of Angaradébou and Sonsoro. This choice was made in a participatory way with the coordinator of the Interprofessional Association of Cotton Producers. Firstly because of their performance in the production of both crops within the municipality and secondly because of their positioning. This choice was made for a wide variation of collected data and the obtaining of a socio cultural diversity in order to better touch the realities of the producers of Kandi as a whole. The data was collected using an interview guide designed to collect qualitative and quantitative data. The collection took place during the month of April of the year two thousand and eighteen (2018) and lasted 2 weeks. After an individual interview with five producers, the questionnaire underwent a slight adjustment. Faced with the unavailability of some farm managers, other people who were relatively close to them and involved in the farming activities of the households proved to be able to provide the necessary information for the study. A total of 25 subjects per district producing maize and cotton were included in the study. These have been identified by secretaries of cooperatives who hold leadership positions within their community. The following Table 2 provides an overview of the structure of the sample considered in the study.
Table 2: Structure of the study sample.

Data Analysis

The data capture and analysis was carried out exclusively with SPSS v21.0 32bits software. The data processing was done using descriptive statistics, speech analysis and Kendall’s W-concordance test. The descriptive statistics essentially allow to obtain the frequencies and average of variables characterizing from a social and demographic point of view the interviewed farmers. The comments received from producers were analyzed and then used to model the “benefits and constraints” section. This technique was chosen inspired by the work of several authors including [16- 18]. The Kendall’s W-concordance test was also used to prioritize production constraints in order of importance.


Table 3 below summarizes the socio-demographic characteristics of the producers surveyed in this study. It indicates that the subjects included in the sample are predominantly male (90%) with a low representation of women (10%). Ninety-four per cent of them live entirely depending on agriculture, compared to six per cent who make it as a secondary activity. Their farming experience varies from 3 to 40 years with an average of 16.92 years. Compared to the size of farm households in both localities (13 persons), the average number of farm active Worker (7 approximately) is relatively small. Farmers send their children to school until they are unable to move on. Sixty percent received formal education and forty percent got literate in local languages. Among those who have been literate 22% hold the certificate of primary school, 10% hold the certificate of secondary school and 2% hold the high school diploma and bachelor’s degree. Anyone wishing to cultivate cotton is required to belong to a Village Cooperative of Cotton Producers, this justifies the membership to an organization unanimously own by the respondents. The average area of cotton planted is 6.62 ha on an average total area of 15.62 ha. In contrast, the average area of maize grown is 5.69 ha. An observation of these figures allow to say that the cotton takes with a small difference, the top on the corn in terms of cultivated area in the commune. This could be explained by the several constraints faced by corn producers. Note that these results are quite similar to those obtained by [19] in their studies in the same commune. able 2: Structure of the study sample ese two crops from 2011 to 2016.
Table 3: Socio-demographic characteristics.


Advantages Related to Cotton Production

Cotton plays a major role in the lives of Kandi producers. From the exchanges held with the 50 people surveyed, it appears that several benefits are derived from the production of cotton. It allows heads of households and farms to make investments (buying cattle for traction, rolling stock, building houses ...), to perform ceremonies (marriage, baptism, burial ...) and then to meet regular expenses in their households and farms (schooling, food, expenses and debts of agricultural campaigns). The Interprofessional Cotton Association known as ‘’AIC’’ is the structure in charge of the cotton sector throughout the national territory. It has set in place a mechanism that allows producers to get inputs on credit before the campaign. They receive the inputs on credit, use them for production, and subsequently pay their debts at the time of payment. This approach is appreciated by the producers because, they lack sufficient financial means at the time of starting the campaign. Through the comments transcribed below, two producers support what has been said above. “The cash of cotton appears for me like a tontine, it allowed me to buy my bike, to build the house where I live. Thanks to the cotton I bought a ginning machine that serves me a lot after the corn harvest. My eldest son is already old enough to marriage. I need to buy him a motorcycle and prepare for his wedding by next year. It is on the cash of the cotton that I count to be able to do it. “ “The cash we get from cotton also allows us to do ceremonies. It is an obligation for us. In our culture, when someone close to your family dies, that means that your money is dying too. You cannot have money hidden somewhere without doing it. It’s like a duty for us.

Advantages Related to Maize Production

Corn in the first place ensures the food needs of households and the farm. After production, much of the crop is set aside to allow the producer, his family and those who serve him to overcome hunger, one of Maslow’s primary human needs. In the same way, the seeds used by the producers are taken from the previous crops. Apart from these two aspects, a great part of the producers have said that corn helps them financially. In fact, after harvest they reserve a larger portion for commercial purposes. The main reason behind this, is to cover regular expenses and household contingencies. These unforeseen events are usually cases of illness or death. Growing maize for the farmer is therefore a way to keep his relatives in safe from the food and financial point of view. The comments collected on this issue were analyzed and reissued below. “Corn helps us a lot, that’s what we eat at home almost all the time. In the form of dough, boiled, and akassa (local meal made with corn). When we are facing a financial problem we just have to take a bag of maize, sell it and the problem is solved. “Cotton’s cash lasts before coming. All the while, it’s corn that keeps us alive. Corn helps us a lot without lying to you.”

Cotton Production Constraints

The benefits of cotton and corn production are enormous. However, during the survey, producers listed a number of constraints they face every day. Seven main constraints came back during the exchanges. They have been grouped in the following table with their respective average ranks. It is noted after analysis of the table that the main constraint reported by the population studied is the insufficiency of the seeds supplied to them. The majority of producers have not only deplored the lack of seeds but also the late availability of these inputs. Similarly, the removal of seed cotton, the late payment of cotton costs, the inadequacy of herbicides and the high cost of inputs are the secondary constraints recorded in this study. It is also important to note through the Kendall coefficient (0.379) that the order of importance of these constraints varies quite remarkably from one producer to another (Table 4).
Table 4: Classification of constraints related to cotton production.

Corn Production Constraints

Concerning corn production constraints, there is a relatively high degree of agreement on the ranking (Kendall’s coefficient = 0.698). The first three constraints recorded are the lack of specific inputs for maize, the obligation to sell cheap the crops, and the lack of financial means to cover the expenses inherent to production. The lack of agricultural equipment and the fluctuation of the price of maize occupy the last places in this ranking (Table 5).
Table 5: Classification of constraints related to corn production.

Corn or Cotton

The objective of this section is to expose the respondents’ position after having simulated a situation where they are faced with making a choice between the two crops. It also aims to explain the reasons justifying their respective positions. Table 6 presents the distribution of producers according to the crop chosen. From this table, it appears that more than half of the producers (58%) chose corn, 22% cotton and 20% decided not to take a position. Table 7 below is a summary of the reasons given by the producers following the choice made. Producers, who opted for cotton justify their choice by the fact that the sector is organized, the price is fairly stable, and inputs are provided on credit. At the same time, those who chose maize justify this by its ability to cope with the producer’s financial problems, its ability to keep them alive before the arrival of cotton revenue and also by its easiness and short production cycle. Producers who have maintained a neutral stance argue that the two crops are inseparable and that in the current context, corn production is necessary in order to reap the benefits of cotton.
Table 6: Crop chosen by farmers.
Table 7: Summary of the reasons given by the producers following the choice made Farmer stances.


As maize is a foodstuff, it is mainly used to cover the food needs of producers and their households. The forms under which it is consumed differ from one region to another, or even from one social category to another [20]. In Kandi commune, it is consumed in the form of porridge, paste and akassa. Secondarily, it is the subject of a commercial transaction and generates significant income for producers. After discussions with these producers, it is noted that the income earned is used for security purposes and social fulfilment. Purchases of food, buildings and ceremonies (marriage, baptism, death ...) are the main uses made of these incomes. They also, but very rarely, invest money that can add value to their production. Purchasing production equipment is generally limited to the minor tools that are necessary. This could be explained not only by the relatively large size of households living at the expense of these incomes, but also by the primacy of physiological and security needs over other needs. The difficulties that undermine the maize sector in the municipality are enormous, as well as the benefits that result from it. The lack of specific maize inputs outweighs all constraints by unlawfully resorting to inputs for cotton production. According to [5]; [7] and [21], this diversion is reflected in the low yields obtained at the cotton level. One could say that maize seems to be in the study area a parasite of the cotton crop. Studies conducted by [22] on the corn seed production and distribution system in accordance with this study revealed that the lack of input is one of the main weaknesses of the maize sector. The study also shows that, apart from the lack of inputs, the sale at low prices of harvests is a strategy developed by producers in urgent need of financial means. They are often lacking when they harvest the cotton. Cases of illness or other unforeseen events arise occasionally. In response to these problems, they sell corn crops. Those who do not adhere to this practice generally resort to Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) loans as mentioned by [23]. The ‘‘warrantage’’, (a sort of securing by storing a part or the full harvest) implemented in Benin for more than a decade [24] in response to this situation hasn’t unfortunately had a significant impact in the study area. With regard to cotton, it is noted that income from production has the same purpose as corn, with the difference that cotton is exclusively sold and used more for sustainable projects. In some localities in the study area, cotton producers pay contributions after receiving cotton income to build classrooms or other community infrastructures. Numerous producers greet the organization around the cotton sector and mainly the credit-input which is granted to them. This credit would allow them, according to [25], to effectively fight against pests and raise the level of fertility of their land. Nevertheless, the high cost of inputs, the insufficiency of seeds supplied and especially the delay in their delivery are denounced as the real handicaps of the sector. Many are forced to informally leave money in order to have the extra amount of seed needed. Added to this, the evacuation of cotton harvests from the production areas to the factory loses its nature of gratuity at a given period of the campaign. All these constraints call into question the performance of the production system.


The aim of this study was to shed light on the two most important agricultural value chains in northern Benin. This, through the advantages and constraints that characterize their productions. At the end of the study, it appears that cotton as much as maize represents a lot. farmers. Corn is the staple of their diet and significant revenues are derived from the production of both crops. These revenues are mainly used to meet the needs of households and their social development. Cotton, on the other hand, enables producers to meet their economic and social needs. Besides, the two production systems are subject to constraints that need to be considered for the betterment of these sectors and the actors involved. Giving common attention to both crops through the organization of the maize sector and the optimization of the services provided by the AIC are means likely to boost the satisfaction of all the actors involved. 

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