Seeds, frozen for the future.

March 15, 2010

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is slowly being filled by agricultural and ecological scientists and seed collectors from around the world.  This month the USDA and the ARS have sent their third shipment of seeds to the vault to be stored for future use.

This shipment of 10,522  samples included a variety of major food crops including both cultivated and wild soybeans, semi dwarf wheat and rice. It also included a rare wild strawberry plant.

The seed vault currently houses around 500,000 seeds from around the world which is around 10% of its total capacity.  The ARS itself has 511,000 seeds, the majority of which will eventually be held at the facility in norway. This gene-bank is one of around 1400 around the world that are working to preserve the genetic of wild, rare and agriculturally important species.

The vault has come about its funding and support from a diverse group of backers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Syngenta Foundation and the Government of Norway.


A story of a fish and extensive agriculture!

March 10, 2010

Chef Dan Barber giving a talk at the TED conference in February, about his search for a sustainable fish to put on his menu.

His comparison of two fish farms and their incredible differences brings up a lot of topics that would be interesting to debate, from wanting food that actually tastes good, wanting to be environmentally responsible, feeding the world, the agribusiness paradigm, elitism and many more.

“Want to feed the world, lets start by asking how are we going to feed ourselves, or better, how can we create conditions that will enable every community to feed itself.”

Barber asks questions that dig to the core of our agricultural ideas and systems, and he’s a chef. We need to be finding answers and we need to be looking at our own system and related industries to put ourselves into perspective.

Small Farms can Feed the Hungry

February 24, 2010

When it comes to discussions of food and agricultural policies the question is frequently raised of how can we feed the poor and the hungry people of the world. For the past 50 years the mainstream idea has been that the subsidized production of specialized commodity crops provides the cheapest production of calories possible and that therefore those in hunger with little money would be able to afford more food. But recently their has been a major movement contouring this argument which believes that the production of the most calories both cheaply and environmentally in a local diversified system would be a better option. A newly published study showed that “small family farms can match or exceed the productivity of industrial-scale operations” another states “That’s the kind of agriculture that’s friendly to biodiversity, and that’s the kind of agriculture that peasant farmers actually do.” Maybe its time to take another look at our standards for agriculture and our food system.

Improving Farm Life in Haiti

January 29, 2010

Today, the front page of the University of Guelph website today is boasting an article about a research project aimed at researching sustainable farming methods for Haitian farmers. The lead researcher on the project is Manish Raizada is researching the potential of producing sustainable agriculture kits that could be distributed to small farms and improve their agricultural practices. This type of well thought out research is what Haiti really needs in this time of need, as opposed to the impact foreign intervention has had in the past as is mentioned in a recent Toronto Star article about the plight of creole pigs in rural Haiti.  Lets hope that their are good improving times arriving to Haitian farmers sooner rather then later!