The World Vegetable Center has announced a grant of US$ 12 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to produce new varieties of vegetable adapted to Africa and to boost the production of vegetable seed in the region. The release points out that vegetables represent a good route to better health, through better nutrition, and better incomes. It says that “African vegetable production continues to rely on old or imported European varieties which are often unsuited to the disease and climatic stresses encountered in Africa. The project will deliver 150 new vegetable varieties in cooperation with African seed companies.” My questions:
- Will these new vegetable varieties be of the same old vegetables?
- Will any of the “Lost Vegetables of Africa” be involved?
- Will they be diverse enough to at least slow the evolution of pests and diseases?
- Will the poorest farmers be able to afford seeds from commercial companies?