Accra’s Daily Mail has a long and detailed article reporting that a large international meeting on Moringa is about to take place in that city, on 16-18 November. The Moringaceae have a home page here. The main useful species is Moringa oleifera, a tree which is native to India but now widely grown in the tropics. It has a network all to itself, Moringanews, which is organizing the meeting, but other species may also have potential. The main focus of the get-together seems to be the use of the leaves as a green vegetable, and how setting standards can aid in marketing this product, but really the adjective “multi-purpose” could have been invented for this plant. CTA, CDE and the GFU are providing support.
Researchers in Canada have developed an alternative to gum arabic by treating “soybean soluble polysaccharide” with some fancy enzyme. Bad news for gum arabic (an exudate of Acacia senegal) collectors and exporters in Sudan and Nigeria. Good news for soybean farmers around the world, I guess. But who’s in greaterÂ need of good news?
That’s some valuable biodiversity!
A friend alerted me to this great quote by Claude Ake from his 1988 paper “Building on the Indigenous” (in Recovery in Africa: a challenge for development cooperation in the 90s: Swedish International Development Authority):
â€¦My thesis is that we cannot significantly advance the development of Africa unless we take African societies seriously as they are, not as they ought to be or even as they might be; that sustainable development is never going to occur unless we build on the indigenous [â€¦]
The indigenous is not the traditional, there is no fossilized existence of the African past available for us to fall back on, only new totalities, however hybrid, which change with each passing day[â€¦]
The indigenous refers to whatever the people consider important in their lives, whatever they regard as an authentic expression of themselves. We build on the indigenous by making it determine the form and content of development strategy, by ensuring that developmental change accommodates itself to these things, be they values, interests, aspirations and or social institutions which are important in the life of the people. It is only when developmental change comes to terms with them that it can become sustainable.
I don’t suppose Ake had plant genetic resources in mind, but this could be applied verbatim to development in agriculture, couldn’t it?
Another addition to the literature on the tyranny of global commodities: in Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet Carol Off “investigate(s) the unjust means by which the raw material has been, and continues to be, procured.” See it reviewed here. Haven’t read it, so will not pass judgement yet, but it doesn’t sound from the review (or indeed the title) likeÂ the book gives a very balanced assessment of the contribution of cacao to livelihoods in West Africa. But I am probablyÂ wrong – and I certainly hope I am.