One of the main objectives of the programme is to publish an illustrated multivolume handbook. The responsibility for preparing this handbook lies with the Publication Office at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. For the purpose of the Prosea handbook, the 7000 useful plants of South-East Asia were divided into commdity groups. This approach was chosen because it enables one group to be handled at a time and allows group specialists to treat general aspects of the group in an introductory chapter and to act as editors of a volume.
The commodity group approach also relates closely to daily practice and to the interests of readers. Nearly all plant species have several uses. For the handbook, species are grouped on the basis of their main use, but texts descibe all secondary uses as well. Secondary uses are mentioned in the relevant volume and readers are referred to treatment of the species in the volume of its main use. Coconut, for example, will be treated in the volume on ‘Vegetable oils and fats’. It is referred to in the volumes on: ‘Vegetables’, ‘Edible fruits and nuts’, ‘Fibre plants’, ‘Timber trees’, etc.
All taxa are treated in a similar manner with details on uses, distribution, botany, ecology, agronomy or silviculture, diseases and pests, harvesting, genetic resources, breeding, prospects and literature. The more important or potentially important plant species are given a full format textual description; the remainder are dealt with in a brief form.
A large international team of experts, many of them fromSouth-East Asia, is invited to prepare the texts on particular species or genera.