Map it or lose it?

Funny how stories which originate from opposite ends of the world but that are closely related sometimes appear — through sheer coincidence — on the same day. Here’s a case in point. Exhibit number one: an article on how Ndorobo tribesmen “over-ran a protected forest reserve in eastern Uganda last April and hacked down thousands of trees (which had been) planted by a Netherlands-based firm” called FACE (Forests Absorbing Carbon dioxide Emissions) as part of a carbon credits scheme. There’s no doubt the people were forced from their ancestral lands back in the 90s, but FACE says that these communities retained rights over some forest resources. Big of them. The article doesn’t say what kinds of trees were planted, nor what other resources the displaced people retained rights to, apart from firewood. Now here’s exhibit two: indigenous communities in Amazonia are using GPS and Google Earth to map their ancestral lands and the resources they manage within them. You have to wonder whether this technology would have helped the Ndorobo.

Moringanews in the news

Accra’s Daily Mail has a long and detailed article reporting that a large international meeting on Moringa is about to take place in that city, on 16-18 November. The Moringaceae have a home page here. The main useful species is Moringa oleifera, a tree which is native to India but now widely grown in the tropics. It has a network all to itself, Moringanews, which is organizing the meeting, but other species may also have potential. The main focus of the get-together seems to be the use of the leaves as a green vegetable, and how setting standards can aid in marketing this product, but really the adjective “multi-purpose” could have been invented for this plant. CTA, CDE and the GFU are providing support.

Fatal fungus

An insecticide based on fungal spores is devastating locusts in a trial in Mauritania, says a report from Reuters. The spores — dubbed Green Muscle — come from a species called Metarhizium anisopliae, whose locusticidal properties have been known since 1989. Green Muscle’s proponents have been waiting since 1998 for an opportunity to test it in the field, but have been thwarted by a lack of gregarious locusts.

The test showed that Green Muscle works well, with an added bonus that the weakened young locusts are a magnet for predators of all kinds, who despatch them even before the fungus has done its work. The treatment was developed by scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the good folks at FAO have said that if the Mauritania test is a success they will adopt it for widespread use in Africa.

Gumming up the works

Researchers in Canada have developed an alternative to gum arabic by treating “soybean soluble polysaccharide” with some fancy enzyme. Bad news for gum arabic (an exudate of Acacia senegal) collectors and exporters in Sudan and Nigeria. Good news for soybean farmers around the world, I guess. But who’s in greater need of good news?