Nibbles: Indigenous people, Lentil day, Competition, Kibera kale, Afghan ag fan

by Jeremy Cherfas on August 12, 2013

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Wood August 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Looks like coffee – by the size on the fruit it may not be arabica. The article and links within it go on about local adaptation, as with: “Many of the traditional crops grown by indigenous people are more resilient to extreme weather and to pests or diseases” and (in a link) “…providing locally-adapted seeds that are able to meet future conditions of unpredictable rainfall and changes in temperature”.

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Dave Wood August 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Pressed the wrong button. This assumption of `local adaptation’ is dangerous. What Ethiopia needs now is not supposedly locally adapted species, but introduced potato, sweet potato, maize and rice and a wide range of Andean crops that can handle the altitude. The idea of screening genebank accessions and then distributing to farmers was the basis of something called (+ or -) the `Community Conservation and Development Project’ of about 20 years ago that produced nothing at all at some expense. In a fortunate escape from long-term colonialism Ethiopia suffered from the lack of the colonial mantra: “Introduce, introduce, introduce” and a corresponding lack of crops that had not co-evolved with local pests and diseases – biotic problems that plague Ethiopian farmers. Maintaining diversity in the fieldof an old introduction such as durum wheat simply maintains the pests and diseases in active evolution. And where did Ug99 originate?

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Jacob August 24, 2013 at 3:10 am

I was not aware of the reintroduction of genebank accessions under the Community Biodiversity Development and Conservation programme (which is the proper name, I think?). Which countries and crops?

Crop introduction is important, but will not replace durum wheat in Ethiopia before my retirement, in 30 years or so.

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Dave Wood August 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Sorry – they missed out the genebank bit – dirty word to the NGOs. They collected samples from all over the place, screened them and distributed to farmers, hoping all that diversity was what farmers wanted (and neglected the already-screened genebank samples). No hope. Farmers wanted good varieties and rejected most of the supplied varieties: quality rather than diversity (my experience of one of the CBDC projects on rice in the Mekong delta). If you have any actual reports of all the CBDC projects, I’d be interested in seeing them (and I did put a `more or less’ for the name – almost impossible to track down now as the instigators soon saw they were getting nowhere.) Durum wheat in Ethiopia is interesting – by my rules, as an introduction it should do well – but is hammered by disease. The Soviet Phytopathology Lab. in Ambo knew what they were doing looking for wheat nasties in Ethiopia (rather than good varieties). In contrast to the wheat problems in Ethiopia the (private) Delamere (as in Lord Delamere) wheat disease work in Kenya was a winner. It would be interesting to get the views of any of the local professional staff from the Ambo lab. from 35 years ago: did they actually find Ug99 before it became a problem in Uganda two decades later?

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Jacob August 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I will try to retrieve the CBDC materials.

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Dave Wood August 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Jacob, Thanks. I have a long-term interest in getting samples (back) to farmers. The CBDC seemed one way of doing it – but the project seemed to collapse with very little reported of what they did. It would be useful to know what went wrong to improve any future projects.

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Luigi Guarino August 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

I think Walter de Boef, who was involved in CBDC back in the days when he was at CGN, is now at the Gates Foundation…

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