Rather than “too good to be true”, this scheme is too obvious to happen. Stakeholders, public or private, do due diligence, especially if the “flagship project”, “demonstration case” or “experiment” runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is of public concern.
Every once in a while I get the urge to remind everyone where they can get information on training courses in crop diversity conservation, and indeed training materials.
So, anyway, of course there’s the Plant Treaty. A couple of online courses are available, on the Treaty itself and on Farmers’ Rights.
Then there’s USDA’s GRIN-U. Great range of topics, materials and formats.
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership at Kew Gardens also has a bunch of training opportunities.
And finally there’s BGCI’s Online Training Platform. You need to register for the online courses but it’s worth it.
It’s kind of crazy that there isn’t a more formal place than a random blog post where different organizations can share opportunities and direct people to the right training for them, but there we are.
- Which crop biodiversity is used by the food industry throughout the world? A first evidence for legume species. Mainly soy, alas. Which is bad because…
- Diversified agriculture leads to diversified diets: panel data evidence from Bangladesh. …promoting diversified farming systems and market participation is good for women’s empowerment and better diets. Which is just as well because…
- Historical shifting in grain mineral density of landmark rice and wheat cultivars released over the past 50 years in India. …breeding hasn’t been good for nutritional content in staples.
- Surviving mutations: how an Indonesian Capsicum frutescens L. cultivar maintains capsaicin biosynthesis despite disruptive mutations. But if you can breed for extreme pungency, you can surely breed for better nutrient content.
- Exploiting Indian landraces to develop biofortified grain sorghum with high protein and minerals. Yep, simple selection can make a sorghum landrace more nutritious.
- Genome-edited foods. Or you could resort to gene editing.
- Adoption and impact of improved amaranth cultivars in Tanzania using DNA fingerprinting. Although maybe it might be easier to just eat more amaranth.
- Stakeholders’ perceptions of and preferences for utilizing fonio (Digitaria exilis) to enrich local diets for food and nutritional security in Nigeria. But documenting knowledge will be key in either case.
- Domestication through clandestine cultivation constrained genetic diversity in magic mushrooms relative to naturalized populations. And watch what you’re doing to diversity.
Jeremy’s latest newsletter summarizes a summary of a roundup of rotation research from northern China. Bottom line: more crops better.
Anthropocene Magazine has a handy summary of recent research into crop diversity on the North China Plain. Bottom line: adding more crops to the current dominant rotation of wheat and maize increases yields and profits, sequesters more carbon in the soil and reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions.
The researchers added sweet potato and a legume, like soybeans or peanuts, to the rotation and at the same time reduced the amount of synthetic fertilisers applied to the field. Sweet potato is a cash crop that increased farmers incomes by about 60%. Soybeans and peanuts have a lower impact on incomes (13–22% increase) but more than compensated for lower fertiliser inputs. Not surprisingly, lower nitrogen fertiliser results in lower emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. What was a surprise was an increase in carbon in the soil, perhaps because diverse crops result in more diverse microbial populations which in turn trap atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide.
[D]eveloping and adopting diversified cropping systems should be a key consideration in agricultural policy setting and a top priority for on-farm decision-making.
Projecting the experimental results to the whole of the North China Plain could, the researchers say, increase cereal production by 32% and reduce the need for fertilisers by 3.6 million tonnes. That alone, they say, would reduce China’s greenhouse gas emissions by 6%. And annual farm incomes would increase by 20%.
- What Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Are Available under the Plant Treaty and Where Is This Information? It’s really difficult to know, and it shouldn’t be.
- Bridging the gap? Public–private partnerships and genetically modified crop development for smallholder farmers in Africa. They really haven’t worked. But should they have?
- Recalcitrant maize: Conserving agrobiodiversity in the era of genetically modified organisms. Trying to keep landraces and GMOs both physically and conceptually apart won’t work, and doesn’t need to.
- Flavour, culture and food security: The spicy entanglements of chile pepper conservation in 21st century Mexico. Efforts to ensure food security needs to take flavour into account if they are to work.
- Gender differential in choices of crop variety traits and climate-smart cropping systems: Insights from sorghum and millet farmers in drought-prone areas of Malawi. Efforts to improve crop adaptation and resilience to climate change need to take gender into account if they are to work.
- A target cultivar-specific identification system based on the chromatographic printed array strip method for eight prominent Japanese citrus cultivars. Specific DNA markers can be used to enforce plant breeders’ rights.