Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are really useful tools for networking and exchanging information on specific topics. There’s a Google Group on coconut which is really active and lively, and definitely worth keeping an eye on – and indeed joining – if you’re into things Cocos. All the more so as there’s a new addition to the information available, in the form of what promises to be a regular update from COGENT, the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network, on its poverty reduction activities. You can see the first newsletter here. Among various Yahoo Groups on coconut subjects there is the “People and Coconuts” group, which is described as being for people with “interesting coconut conundrums requiring answers.”
You may remember a post some time back on an atlas of agriculture in Bhutan. Now here’s an on-line database of governorate-level agricultural statistics for Syria. Maybe not as nice as an atlas, but still pretty useful for planning agricultural biodiversity conservation. Especially as there is time-series data going back to 1985, which could be used to identify areas of genetic erosion through the (admittedly imperfect) proxy of decreasing total acreage. But when will agricultural statisticians and census-takers start collecting data on numbers of varieties, at least of staple crops?
Google has started hosting Gapminder, a wonderful tool for visualizing development data developed by a Swedish NGO. Here’s an example of what you can do with it. Worth playing around with. But to see a master at work, check this out. There are only a few variables at the moment, but wouldn’t it be great if one day the data in FAOSTAT were to be added? Anyone want to volunteer to do the mash-up?
The Drum Beat is “a weekly electronic publication exploring initiatives, ideas and trends in communication for development.” This week’s edition focuses on indigenous knowledge and has lots of good stuff, including for example information on an online database of Tibetan folk medicines.
Here’s one that’s hard to characterize: scientists in the US and Brazil say that common vegetables contain many of the chemicals that chemists need to perform their research, and that scientists in the developing countries, who often lack the funds to buy reagents, should make use of these resources. I’m not competent to judge but the paper, in the Journal of Natural Products, contains a pretty impressive list of things you can make (chemically) from vegetables.