- The economic impact of CGIAR-related crop technologies on agricultural productivity in developing countries, 1961–2020. In 2020, modern varieties bred by CGIAR or developed by other institutions using CGIAR germplasm were sown on about 190 M ha, about 26% of the total harvested area of these crops in developing countries, and 43% of the total area sown with modern varieties for these crops in developing countries. Yes, cool, but…
- Farming practices to enhance biodiversity across biomes: a systematic review. Less intensive practices generally enhance biodiversity.
- Effects of landscape simplicity on crop yield: A reanalysis of a global database. Simplifying landscapes is associated with lower rates of pollination, pest control and other ecosystem services, and lower crop yields.
- Biocultural diversity and crop improvement. Crop improvement can enhance crop diversity, but doesn’t always.
- Collaboration between Private and Public Genebanks in Conserving and Using Plant Genetic Resources. Vegetable breeding companies can contribute to the conservation of crop diversity by public genebanks, but it takes work on both sides.
- Eight arguments why biodiversity is important to safeguard food security. It’s not “stop hunger first, then worry about diversity afterward”. Or it shouldn’t be.
- Landrace legislation in the world: status and perspectives with emphasis in EU system. Policy can support the conservation and use of landraces. Or not. It’s a choice.
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Nagoya Protocol: Implications and Compliance Strategies for the Global Coffee Community. Maybe they should consider the Plant Treaty approach?
- The global distribution of plants used by humans. 35,687 of them, and their richness is negatively correlated with protected areas.
The Coalition for Conservation Genetics (CCG) brings together four field-leading organizations with a shared goal: Improving the integration of genetic information into conservation policy and practice.
If you think that sounds cool, consider applying to join. Deadline is 29 Feb.
This application is for potential new members of the Coalition for Conservation Genetics, or CCG. The CCG aims to better support policy and management of within-species genetic diversity globally, through outreach, coordination, dissemination, and engagement. We invite new members to help co-develop, plan and implement the future of the CCG as a global organization, and are excited to incorporate new vision, perspective, and leadership. We are seeking to expand our membership beyond high income and moderate-high income countries, and beyond mostly academic training, so we especially welcome applicants from, living in, and/or working in the Global South. Persons with government, non-profit, and indigenous and local knowledge or similar experience are also very welcome. Applicants do not need to be current members of the CCG founding networks (GEO BON, IUCN, SCB, and GBIKE).
Really attentive long-time readers may remember us posting a video of an interview with Edith Adjako, a Surinamese woman of Maroon descent, recorded by ethnobotanist Dr Tinde van Andel. Dr van Andel and her colleagues have been studying Maroon agriculture and how it relates to African practices. Recall that the Maroons are the descendants of enslaved people who escaped captivity during colonial times and established communities in the interior of places like Suriname which survive to this day.
Well, as it happens, my colleagues and I recently checked out a project the Crop Trust is supporting in Suriname that involves the regeneration and safety duplication in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault of Maroon rice varieties. The project is coordinated by ADRON, the national rice research institute, but is a collaboration with Maroon communities, as well as with Dr van Andel’s institute. It has now been written up in The Guardian, no less.
Here you see farmers from the Saramaccan community visiting a demonstration plot of some 75 local rice varieties one of them established under the project.
And here’s a selection of recent papers on Maroon agriculture:
- The ‘Botanical Gardens of the Dispossessed’ revisited: richness and significance of Old World crops grown by Suriname Maroons. “Spending time in the capital during childbirth or illness resulted in the loss of typical Maroon crops (e.g., Bambara groundnut), as seeds lost viability during the farmer’s absence. Motivation to grow specific crops and cultivars varied from tradition, food preference, seasonal spreading, rituals and traditional medicine.”
- The role of crop diversity in escape agriculture; rice cultivation among Maroon communities in Suriname. “Plots were farmed primarily by women and contained a broad range of different rice varieties. Naming and origin stories show a clear reference to the escape from plantations and the leading role of women in farming and food security. In some fields, a small patch was reserved for a rice type with very dark grains, used mostly for ritual purposes. Results also show adoption of more recently introduced rice varieties.”
- Vernacular Names of Traditional Rice Varieties Reveal the Unique History of Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana. “Maroon rice names are truly unique as they reflect the varieties that were available, the history of plantations and marronnage, climate aspects that influenced the selection of farmers, the many separate groups of runaways joining the Maroons, the adaptation to the Amazonian ecosystem, and their contacts with outsiders.”
- Maroon Women in Suriname and French Guiana: Rice, Slavery, Memory. “We combined information from ethnobotanical surveys, Maroon oral history, archival documents and published accounts to show how Maroon farmers today safeguard their agricultural diversity and cultural heritage by planting rice varieties that still carry the names of their female ancestors. We focus on a selected number of rice varieties named after the Saamaka ancestors Seei, Yaya and Paanza, Tjowa of the Matawai, Sapali, Ana and Baapa of the Ndyuka, and describe the stories attached to them.”
- Climate-resilient crops: Lessons from xerophytes. Breeding for Na+ exclusion to improve salinity tolerance in crops has compromised their drought tolerance, but both tolerances are down to more gene copies in key families when comparing species.
- Innovation and Technological Mismatch: Experimental Evidence from Improved Crop Seeds. Breeders should strive to give farmers what they want, even if it means releasing multiple locally adapted varieties rather than a single blockbuster.
- Stressors and Resilience within the Cassava Value Chain in Nigeria: Preferred Cassava Variety Traits and Response Strategies of Men and Women to Inform Breeding. Man and women want different things from cassava breeders.
- Intra-household discrete choice experiment for trait preferences: a new method. If only there was a new way to measure that…
- Genome editing to re-domesticate and accelerate use of barley crop wild relatives. No word on whether men and women would edit different genes.
- Understanding Genome Structure Facilitates the Use of Wild Lentil Germplasm for Breeding: A Case Study with Shattering Loci. I suspect neither men nor women would tolerate shattering lentils.
- Repeat turnover meets stable chromosomes: repetitive DNA sequences mark speciation and gene pool boundaries in sugar beet and wild beets. But you can’t use wild species in breeding if you can’t cross them with the crop, and in beet that’s down to the repeatome. So maybe this would make a better case for domestication through gene editing than barley or lentils?
- Development of trait-specific genetic stocks derived from wild Cicer species as novel sources of resistance to important diseases for chickpea improvement. Would be really cool to domesticate one of the really resistant tertiary genepool species.
- Developing Genetic Resources Within the Chenopodium Genus to Advance Quinoa Breeding and the de novo Domestication of C. berlandieri. Not that you need gene editing for domesticating crop wild relatives.
- Genomic traces of Japanese malting barley breeding in two modern high-quality cultivars, ‘Sukai Golden’ and ‘Sachiho Golden’. Old-fashioned breeding has been pretty successful, so who needs CWR, gene editing and discrete choice experiments?1
- Consistent effects of independent domestication events on the plant microbiota. I hope all those gene-editing de novo domesticators are considering the novo microbiomes.
- Last bit added purely for clicks, I’m desperate. [↩]