Under an Environment Ministry initiative in Brazil research groups have selected 775 species to encourage production and hopefully develop major markets. Read about it here:
Five books will be published this year, each dedicated to one of the five major regions of Brazil, containing the knowledge that has been accumulated about these “plants of the future”. Seminars for the business community will be held to spread the word about the potential of these plants, which are ornamental or used to produce foods, beverages, medicines, oils and perfumes.
Wes Jackson, the pioneer of perennial prairie polyculture, is to receive the 6th Environmental Award from Prescott College in Arizona for the work of The Land Institute, according to a press release. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Jackson and his vision of what agriculture could be, really learning from nature to craft a more sustainable farming system. It’ll be a while before we are “growing granola” in his immortal phrase, but The Land Institute’s experiments on mixtures of four or more species, drawn from different families to make optimal use of resources, are proceeding apace. The Prescott College award is by no means the first Jackson has received, but every bit helps to draw the attention of mainstream research to his ideas. Which is why I’m blogging it, I suppose.
The second instalment of the BBC’s excellent programme on nuts in Brazil, which I blogged about earlier, is online here. There’s also a short article here.
I just heard a programme on the BBC World Service in the One Planet series called “Nuts.” It looked at the problems encountered in developing the Brazil nut as a source of income for poor Amazonian farmers. Unfortunately, it appears that some very tight – some would say unreasonably tight – EU regulations about levels of aflavotoxins are preventing exports. There’s part two next week. The website for the One Planet series is here, but this particular programme does not seem to be online yet. I’ll keep looking out for it. Coincidentally, WWF also has a long piece on the Brazil nut out today, which you can find here. International Trade Forum had a piece on Brazil nuts here in 2004.
The Sunday Nation has a feature article in its Lifestyle section on silk making in the semi-arid district of Mwingi in Kenya. Apparently, the silk worm used is a hybrid of the wild species found in the area and the domestic strain. People collect eggs in the bush and rear them in mosquito net cages. When it comes time to harvest the cocoons, some of the pupae are allowed to mature and fly back to the acacia bushes. The Commercial Insect Programme of the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) has helped a local womens’ group establish the first silk processing factory in the region. According to the article, a different race of the wild silk moth is being evaluated in Pokot and other highland areas for the production of tussar or kosa silk. This is a much prized form of naturally coloured silk produced from cocoons from which the moth has emerged naturally in the wild. Fascinating business.