Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) “is a coalition of seven of the most prominent non-profit food, agriculture, conservation, and educational organizations dedicated to rescuing Americaâ€™s diverse foods and food traditions.” You can download hereÂ their great book explaining what these traditions are. There’s also aÂ map of North America’s “totem foods.”
Same topic, different region: Dr Lois Englberger of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (right, with some of her NGO’s information products) has made Pacific Magazine’s list of “293 Pacific Leaders You Need To Know” because of her efforts to promote local island foods, food cropsÂ and food traditions. Congratulations, Lois, and keep up the good work!
Will the disappearance of the traditional Chinese tea-house lead to a decline in tea diversity? I’m not sure to what extent the diversity of teas we see in supermarkets and specialty shops is due to differences in provenance and processing as opposed to genetic differences among cultivars. No doubt a bit of both.
Flickr photograph by emily_mason_boyd used under a Creative Commons License.
The Prime Minister, no less, has told Tanzanian farmers to grow sorghum rather than maize, where appropriate, because maize “does not enhance their economic status”, according to a report in The Daily News. Mr Lowassa pushed millet and cowpeas too. He also expressed indignation at the way farmers were recklessly cutting down trees and allowing cattle to graze close to water sources.
And speaking of intellectual property, Spicy IP reports that the Indian National Plant Variety Register has finally set up shop, more than five years after the legislation was first proposed. The Register is an essential prelude to protection for modern plant varieties, and although initially limited to 12 species, including three of the four biggies, there are plans to extend it further. The Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) has always staunchly maintained that registration systems in and of themselves do nothing to promote genetic erosion and the loss of agricultural biodiversity. That may be so where the government continues to permit the informal seed sector to flourish and where the companies who register most varieties do not push them aggressively even in unsuitable areas. I don’t know how India will fare, but I have my doubts, and I would certainly expect some losses of traditional and older varieties.
I think WWF came up with a really powerful idea with their “climate witnesses.” These are ordinary people around the world who WWF has asked to act as spokespeople, a kind of warning system for climate change, and advocates for action. One is an old Kikuyu cattle-keeper, who spoke up at the recent climate change conference in Nairobi about the changes he has been experiencing. Makes me wonder if we in the agrobiodiversity community could link up with WWF and use this existing network to highlight specifically how climate change is affecting crops and crop wild relatives. Or do we perhaps need “genetic erosion witnesses” of our own?