Nibbles: Lathyrism, Ancient maize, Sustainable cacao, Bioversity on agrobiodiversity, Weird fruits, Carrot seed, Palm wine, Buckwheat, Halophytes issue, Weird(ish) crops, Urban malnutrition, Old oranges, Molasses, Indian tree institute

by Luigi Guarino on September 14, 2013

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Dave Wood September 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

“New Bioversity DG” Her comments are mainly welcome. However, the ‘Bridging Agriculture and Conservation Initiative’ will be a can of worms.
The flyer for the project says: “Current approaches to agriculture, which focus primarily on increasing agricultural productivity of a few major crops, are not a sustainable route to better food, nutrition and resilient, productive agricultural systems.” This is, of course, the usual polarization that wrecked the IAASTD. There is a continuity between old and new, fields and gardens, and across the vast range of crops and varieties grown and this is environmentally, socially, and economically `sustainable.
However, my biggest gripe is about the partners – big, rich, conservation agencies who have chracteristically blamed agriculture for their own failings – actually conserving anything `sustainably’. Lots of new specialists in `agroecology’: Patrick Holden moved on to the moneybags from the Soil Association; talk of `ecosystem services’ when these, in ecologically tricky areas, are usually performed by `natural monocultures’ and not `biodiversity’.
Bioversity is selling the crop research institutes of the CGIAR (and national programmes) down the river by chasing the moneybags of international conservation. And the technical basis is very questionable – taking sides with little evidence in the controversial debate on intensive versus extensive agriculture and their impact on conservation. There is a similar argument for forestry – what about the forest transition as forests spread with development? Keep farmers poor and they will junk the forests (and most marginal farmers I have come across are ardent hunters).

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