Nibbles: Ginger, Cover crops, Pulses, Campbell Soup, NASA, OWD, Göbekli Tepe, Sydney herbarium, Bourdeix museum, Mezcal folk vocabulary, Mango love, Probiotic ag, Andean ag

  1. China and Pakistan to collaborate on ginger. Including exchange of germplasm, apparently.
  2. US doubles down on cover crops
  3. …and pulses. No word on ginger.
  4. How Campbell doubled down on tomato breeding.
  5. Mapping farmland changes in Egypt. From space. Still waiting for that genetic erosion early warning system though…
  6. Our World in Data does global food. Genetic erosion next? Yeah, just dreaming here.
  7. Cool free book on Plant Food Processing Tools at Early Neolithic Göbekli Tepe.
  8. Digitizing a million herbarium specimens in Australia. How many crop wild relatives, I wonder?
  9. A coconut museum, but on Facebook. And a sort of museum of the plants themselves in India
  10. How to talk about mezcal using all the right words.
  11. A paean to the mango.
  12. Agriculture should be more “probiotic.” Mezcal, coconuts and mangoes would probably help.
  13. It kind of already is in the Andes.

Nibbles: Seed saving edition

  1. Seed saving in The Guardian.
  2. Seed saving in Nigeria.
  3. More seed saving needed in Zimbabwe.
  4. Save seeds instead of growing GMO crops? The “debate” continues…
  5. Is seed saving among the best-bet government interventions to fix our diets? Find out.
  6. Seed saving on rsmag.com, whatever that is.
  7. Will the new Oxford nature recovery centre look into seed saving, I wonder?
  8. Saving baobab seeds in Burkina Faso.
  9. We need joined-up food system thinking. Starting with seed saving?

The humble spuds gets its 15 minutes of fame

I’m just back from a few weeks’ break in Kenya, where the big news was that over the holidays KFC ran out out chips (French fries). It was not a question of inadequate production, though. There are plenty of potatoes in Kenya.

The problem, apparently, was that potential local suppliers had not gone through KFC’s quality assurance process that makes sure “our food is safe for consumption by our customers”, the company’s East Africa chief executive Jacques Theunissen told the Standard newspaper.

So KFC ended up importing potatoes from Egypt, and ran into supply chain snarl-ups.

Makes you think. What’s the point of fancy breeding projects to boost local production, including by the likes of the International Potato Centre, based on decades of research, and using genetic resources painstakingly collected all over the Andes over many years, if in the end local growers get screwed over standards they don’t even know about?

Anyway, let me say a few words about what exactly it is I linked to above about potato collecting, because it really is worth having a look at.

Professor Jack Hawkes was a world-renowned potato and genetic resources expert who spent much of his professional life at the University of Birmingham. He made his first trip to South America in 1939 to collect wild and cultivated species of potato. And on this expedition and others that followed he made several 16 mm films, which have recently been converted to digital format, and become available to view more widely for the first time.

Dr Mike Jackson, no slouch at collecting potatoes himself, put the website together with help from Dr Abigail Amey, who wrote the narrative to accompany the films.

Happy new year.

Nibbles: Seed saving, Ulu, Diet diversity, Azeri fruit/veg, Tomato breeding, Indigenous farming, AGRA-ecology

  1. Food security through seed saving in the African diaspora.
  2. Food security through breadfruit in Hawaii.
  3. Food security through the dietary diversity of women.
  4. Food security through preserving fruits and veggies in Azerbaijan.
  5. Food security through tomato wild relatives.
  6. Food security through Native American farming practices.
  7. Food security through agroecology.

The poetry of genebanks

This is definitely a new one for me. A genebanker and a poet have collaborated, and the result is Parchment Scalpel Rock: What’s Up, Doc?, a digital exhibition from Coventry Creates. Here’s a taste:

…genebanks are magicians’ hats from which all researchers
can magic the whole genepool’s variation when they need…

The genebanker is Charlotte Allender of the UK Vegetable Genebank:

I have never worked with a poet so I was excited to be paired with George and we had some really enjoyable discussions about carrots and the various drivers which underpin the current production systems which supply UK supermarkets. I was fascinated by George’s approach, where I had some input into the curation of his verse and the selection of pairs of lines for the final booklet.

And the poet is George Ttoouli:

Bringing Charlotte in to help me edit and curate the lines felt necessary, collaborative. I’m interested in decentering authorship, my own and that of others, through processes. With a little more time, I would have loved to devise a project to allow the rabbits (and hares) at Charlotte’s research centre to curate their own sequence of the poems I produced.

See what you think, and provide feedback on the Coventry Creates website.