An interesting juxtaposition of articles: from India, one of the cradles of the Green Revolution, the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) says that the government should now focus on â€œfaces before figures” (net income of the farm families rather than tonnes of farm commodities produced), while from Africa, which was largely bypassed by said revolution, a call for a new, uniquely African Green Revolution with a focus on nutrition andÂ the environment as well as markets and policies.
Over in Austin Texas, there’s a thriving urban farm that offers a massive slice of biodiversity. Author Tom Philpott sings the praises of the produce. Urban agriculture, and an appreciation of the myriad benefits of biodiversity, could be a great way to create a common cause between the rich and the poor, but few people make the connections. How hard would it be to twin farmers’ markets across the globe?
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has long been touted as a healthy source of flavonoids and other compounds claimed to protect against heart disease and other “civilised” ailments. A report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (abstract available freely here) says that Indian scientists have developed a new method of extracting sea buckthorn juice that results in a greater yield of juice that is higher in these protective compounds. An article suggests that sea buckthorn could now join “an ever-increasing list of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, noni berries, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients”. Ah, but will it taste good?
The Slow Food movement 20 years old this year.Â It isÂ having its annual showcase in Italy this week. Slow Food “aims to promote traditional farming techniques and products, to counter the spread of factory farming.” Its potential as a means of promoting neglected and underutilized species is clear, but I wish there were some tangible success stories from developing countries.
The question is: would Ethiopia trademarking its Sidano and Harar coffee result in a better return to local farmers through increased leverage or in a worse return through higher prices. Read about it here. I’d be tempted to bet on the former, or Starbucks wouldn’t be protesting so much. Or is that too cynical?