A good life grown on coconuts

The latest update from COGENT — the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network — is online in the Coconut Google Group. It traces some of the activities of the Kamnoedtone family in Thailand, who have used coconut diversity to improve their lives considerably. The Google group is billed as an “Information exchange for the coconut palm Cocos nucifera” and COGENT is just one of many users. Apologies for my error earlier.

Indian potato chips

Indian potato growers are turning to a new, low-sugar variety of potato because it is better for making chips (crisps if you’re British), for which there is rapidly increasing demand. Would be interesting to monitor the effect on “local” varieties, no?

Sweet smelling durian

Dr Songpol Somsri from Thailand has done a lot of crossing of wild species of durian to come up with one that doesn’t smell like decomposing cats. There should be more recognition for this sort of achievement: it has a greater potential to add to the sum total of human happiness than any number of Nobel Prizes for economics, say.

Swapping sorghum for tea

Farmers in areas of Uganda are being asked to plant tea instead of sorghum. The government will supply subsidized seedlings and will open a processing factory that will buy the leaves. The main motive is that tea earns double the income of sorghum. That may be, and diversification is a good thing, but I wonder whether the income from tea will buy as much nutrition as the sorghum it replaces.