While I prepare to toss part two of my own humble contribution onto the biofuel bonfire, pop on over to Biopact for a long analysis of Grist magazine’s recent series on biofuels. Biopact does a decent job of expanding Grist’s debate beyond North America. The whole “debate” seems to be doing a better job of generating hot air than biofuels at the moment, but out of this, I hope, only good can eventually emerge. Biofuel from biomass is not a panacea, but if sensibly embraced the idea could bring multiple benefits.
A large conference on indigenous vegetables and legumes ended last week in Hyderabad, India. A press report gives little detail, but abstracts are available here and one may expect the proceedings to be published.
The conference was organised jointly by The World Vegetable Center, the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bioversity International, the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the Global Horticulture Initiative.
We arrived in Nairobi a couple of days back and are still jet-lagged and trying to settle in. I’m writing this in a back alley cybercafe as it will take some time to get online in the apartment we are renting, I suspect. Anyway, in the Daily Nation this morning there was an article on the possible establishment of a potato genebank and breeding programme by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. It doesn’t seem to be online yet, but I will link to it as soon as it appears in cyberspace, as there’s a lot of interesting information on the history of potatoes in Kenya.
We alluded last week to a new paper showing that prairie grasses are a far better source of biomass for energy than anything else currently around. There’s obviously a lot to be said, but rather than clutter up the pages here (our goal is two longer articles a month) I decided to use my own blog to publishÂ a slightly closer look at bio-energy and to link from here to there. So what are you waiting for, go on over and read it. I’ll add links to the other parts as I publish them there.
The World Vegetable Center has announced a grant of US$ 12 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to produce new varieties of vegetable adapted to Africa and to boost the production of vegetable seed in the region. The release points out that vegetables represent a good route to better health, through better nutrition, and better incomes. It says that “African vegetable production continues to rely on old or imported European varieties which are often unsuited to the disease and climatic stresses encountered in Africa. The project will deliver 150 new vegetable varieties in cooperation with African seed companies.” My questions:
- Will these new vegetable varieties be of the same old vegetables?
- Will any of the “Lost Vegetables of Africa” be involved?
- Will they be diverse enough to at least slow the evolution of pests and diseases?
- Will the poorest farmers be able to afford seeds from commercial companies?