There is one hidden advantage provided by universal literacy and that isaccess to ongoing information all one’s live. This brings about a revolution in agriculture. It is not that the knowledge is not there, ithas historically not been applied from simple ignorance.
In the developed world farmers learned to do much different things as amatter of course. The same will happenin the paddy lands of
As we progress, this item on wild seeds needs to be though through. Do we have some way for local land owners tocollect and keep seeds on an ongoing manner? Wild seeds are normally easy to collect. What is lacking is a good reason.
On top of that the local owner already knows were to look forsamples. As a farm boy, I was able tolocate and identify every known wild plant in
in one summer and within a distanceof perhaps one kilometer. I certainlycould have collected all the seeds over a summer while doing other tasks. Ontario
A successful collector can soon over a much larger region if it isconsidered appropriate.
Wild seeds seen as world crop'insurance'
British scientists say they plan to collect wild plant relatives of essentialfood crops including wheat, rice and potatoes to preserve their genetic traits.
The project,coordinated by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, aims to safeguard valuable genetic traits in wild plants that could be bred intocrops to make them more hardy and versatile, the BBC reported Friday.
The plant materialcollected will be stored in seed banks in the long term, but will also be usedin "pre-breeding trials" to find out if the wild varieties could beused to combat diseases already threatening food production.
"There is a realsense of urgency about this," said Paul Smith, head of the Millennium SeedBank at
London's . Kew Gardens
"For some ofthese species, we may just get this one bite of the cherry, because so many ofthem are already threatened (with extinction) in their natural habitats," he said.
The hope is that thewild relatives of food crops will help plant-breeders produce strains that cancope with changing climate, plant diseases and loss of viable agriculturalland.
"All our cropswere originally developed from wild species -- that's how farming began,"said
Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Cary
"Climate changemeans we need to go back to the wild to find those relatives of our crops thatcan thrive in the climates of the future."
No rice please, we're Indonesians
Cigugur, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 12, 2010 -Indonesia is one of the world's biggest producers -- and consumers -- of rice,but in the interests of public health and food sustainability the government has launched anambitious drive to wean people off their beloved staple.
For ordinaryIndonesians like Andi Santoso, a 23-year-old student, the thought of goingwithout rice for a day, as the government is proposing, is almost unthinkable.
"I eat rice forbreakfast, lunch and dinner," he said, a little bemused. "If I don'teat rice, I feel like I haven't eaten. What else can I eat?"
Welfare Ministrysecretary-general Indroyono Soesilo says the answer is simple, even if itsounds crazy to a nation that produces more than 40 million tonnes of rice ayear and consumes around 33 million tonnes.
He likens the push toalternative sources of nutrition to asking a smoker to give up cigarettes.
"We urgeIndonesians to kick their habit of eating rice. We need to diversify our diets.Many Indonesians still think that if they don't eat rice, they don't eatwell," he said.
"Indonesiaproduces 66 kinds of other carbohydrates, such as corn, sago, cassava, sweetpotato, potato and others. These all can replace rice for two out of three mealsa day, for example.
"We urgeIndonesians to diversify their eating habits from childhood."
With 240 millionhungry mouths to feed,
is the world's fourth most populous country. The average Indonesian consumesmore than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of rice a year, more than the Japanese andChinese. Indonesia
Improving farmingtechniques and a post-colonial food security drive have seen the country gofrom being the world's biggest rice importer in the 1960s to beingself-sufficient now.
But while rice is plentifuland cheap, the government is worried that the nation is becoming too dependenton a single crop.
The grain that springsfrom paddy fields across
is vulnerable to shifting global weather patterns, such as this year's unseasonalrains linked to cooler sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, known as the LaNina effect. Indonesia
Other concerns includepopulation growth and the shrinking availability of arable land due to factorslike urbanisation and rising sea levels from global warming, which thegovernment fears could slash Indonesia's rice production.
But for millions ofpoor Indonesians, rice is not just a food staple, it's a livelihood thatsustains life and deserves worship as a gift from the gods.
"Rice is life. Itgives jobs and food," explained Djati Kusuma, the "king" ofCigugur, a village in the middle of Java island where the annual Seren Taunfestival celebrates Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice.
For three days thevillagers gather "to ask for her protection in order to avert disaster andto get an abundant harvest", he told AFP at the festival last month.
No one in Cigugurappears to be thinking of growing anything different on the verdant green paddyfields that flourish in the rich volcanic soil around the village.
The people in Java'srice-growing villages see the grain as something noble, occupying an elevatedseat in the agricultural hierarchy compared to roots like cassava, which isassociated with poverty.
Industrial growershowever are rapidly seeing the potential of crops like cassava and sago fortheir dual uses as food and biofuel.
A September report bythe International Rice ResearchInstitute (IRRI) and the US-based
Asia Society said Asian countries need to sharplyincrease and better manage rice stocks to improve food security in a regionwhere 65 percent of the world's hungry live.
Rice is the staplefood for more than three billion people, about half the world's population.