Go HarvestPlus!

by Luigi Guarino on September 20, 2017

Great to see HarvestPlus, part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, make it to the semi-finals of the MacArthur Foundation $100 Million Grant Competition.

With a $100 million grant, we would considerably scale up the delivery of biofortified nutritious crops in Africa, transforming the food system and breaking the cycle of nutrition insecurity to leave a lasting legacy for the continent’s future. The grant would allow us to set the stage for reaching 1 billion people globally with these crops by 2030.

There’s an interview with HarvestPlus founder “Howdy” Bouis on their website, explaining the history of the initiatiive. Biofortification is a great illustration of the importance on crop diversity.

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What will the 2020s be like for crop diversity conservation?

by Luigi Guarino on September 20, 2017

The low level of activity last week on the blog was due to the fact that I was at the Botanic Garden Meise in Belgium participating in the annual meeting organized by the Genebank Platform. You can get a flavour of what happened from Twitter. And yes, I’m sorry, I should have told you all about #genebanks2017 before the meeting, rather than after. My bad.

Anyway, we’re finalizing the Platform’s website and you’ll be able to read all about it there soon. In the meantime, you can see a nice pic of the genebank managers and others working in some of the world’s largest and most used genebanks on the Crop Trust’s Facebook page.

One of those managers is Jean Hanson, and she’ll be retiring from her job at ILRI at the end of the year. In her farewell presentation to the group she summarized the history of plant genetic resources conservation, from the point of view of the international collections, in this way:

  • 1970s: The Decade of Getting Started
  • 1980s: The Decade of Doing
  • 1990s: The Decade of Uncertainty
  • 2000s: The Decade Upgrading
  • 2010s: The Decade of Accounting

Jean didn’t say in her talk what she thought the 2020s were going to be the decade of, but she did share some thoughts during the Q&A. So let me open it up. What do you think? What do the 2020s have in store for the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture?

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Breeding tomorrow’s heirlooms

by Jeremy Cherfas on September 14, 2017

Interesting article in Modern Farmer, on Why We Need to Revitalize Organic Seed Farming. They rounded up the usual suspects, who offer the expected explanations, none of which detracts from the importance of what some breeders are doing.

“The heirloom boom of the nineties helped people see the value of preserving seed, but they don’t understand that it can get even better,” says Selman. “Public plant breeders are creating varieties that are more resilient and more appropriate for the future.”

Lane Selman talked to me about her work with the Culinary Breeding Network for Eat This Podcast.

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Brainfood: Eggplant germplasm, CC threat, Impact metrics, Drought & seeds, Burundi cattle, Wild chickpea, Banana collecting, Bambara groundnut diversity, CIP cryo, USA PGR policy, Australian forages, ILRI seed testing, Nepal intensification, Maize and CC

11 September 2017

World Vegetable Center Eggplant Collection: Origin, Composition, Seed Dissemination and Utilization in Breeding. 3,200 accessions from 90 countries, covering all 3 cultivated species, but not enough wild relatives. An integrated framework to identify wildlife populations under threat from climate change. Need to know about landscape connectivity, and genomic data would be useful too. Research impact: […]

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Caribbean genebanks in the firing line

8 September 2017

That’s quite a few genebanks in the way of Irma, with Jose to come. Stay safe, everyone.

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Sin maíz no hay país

8 September 2017

Town by town, I looked for these seeds, studying where they might be located. I started driving to many states in Mexico trying to find them, but there were none. It was so disappointing. One by one, I had people telling me that their grandparents planted them, but not anymore, and they lost the seeds […]

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GPGR4 busy distracting genebanks in Giessen

4 September 2017

The 4th International Symposium on Genomics of Plant Genetic Resources is off and running in Giessen, Germany, with a packed programme of cool examples of the application of the latest gizmos and fancy maths to the conservation and use of crop diversity. And yes, there’s a hashtag. As ever, if you’re there, and would like […]

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Bhuwon Sthapit RIP

4 September 2017

Very sad to hear a few days ago that Dr Bhuwon Sthapit, a tireless champion of the role of local communities in agrobiodiversity conservation, has died. There’s a lovely tribute on the Bioversity website. And a more formal obituary in the Himalayan Times. Bhuwon was a great guy and an inspirational scientist who leaves behind […]

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Brainfood: Maize trifecta, Montado grazing, Indian CWR, Amazonian cassava, Better breeding, Australian CWR, Apple routes, Citrus routes, African chickens, Ancient African ag, Ancient Mayan ag

4 September 2017

Genotyping-by-sequencing highlights original diversity patterns within a European collection of 1191 maize flint lines, as compared to the maize USDA genebank. “The joint analysis of collections by GBS offers opportunities for a global diversity analysis of maize inbred lines.” Genetic Diversity among Selected Elite CIMMYT Maize Hybrids in East and Southern Africa. It could, and […]

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