Another hymn to organic farming, with its emphasis on biodiversity and the services it provides, graces the pages of The Jakarta Post. There’s a lot of familiar stuff in the piece, and a couple of real eye openers, like this:
“It’s extraordinary, but many farmers today do not realize that the vegetables they grow produce seed. That they can harvest and grow seed from their vegetable crops. They are so used to having to buy seed for growing, it’s as though that’s all they know.”
I knew this was true for many people in the “North” but I had no idea it was also true for small farmers in Indonesia. The article contains lots of sound suggestions for increasing on-farm diversity, even without going the whole hog of organic certification.
The latest issue of New Agriculturalist online has several items of interest, among them a special section on biofuels and news of Aloe Vera in Kenya. Not strictly relevant, a report on how Lusaka has cleaned up its attitude to street food. No mention of whether nutrition there has improved along with hygiene though.
A paper in the latest GRACE looks at coloured potatoes as sources of natural colourants (anthocyanins). I suppose it is good to find other uses for these under-utilized varieties, but surely there are lots of people out there who’d really like to taste a purple potato. I know I would. And what about levels of micro-nutrients?
The BBC reports that the government in Kuala Lumpur is planning to give cash incentives to people who want to open Malaysian restaurants abroad. I’m all for it, Malaysian food is great. And it’s got to be good news for all those weird local vegetables, fruits and spices, right? But of course the idea wont get anywhere without a celebrity chef.
The International Sorghum and Millet Collaborative Research Support Program (INTSORMIL) based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln “works to improve nutrition and natural resource management and to increase income in developing countries, while developing new technologies to improve sorghum and pearl millet production and its use worldwide.” CropBiotech Update recently announced that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has given INTSORMIL a grant of US$9 M to continue enabling “plant breeders from U.S. land-grant universities to work with researchers in host countries through education, mentoring and collaborative research.” Sounds very worthy, but I must admit I hadn’t heard of this outfit before.