Cowpea production has declined in the U.S. in recent decades. But with drought caused by climate change and depleted aquifers leaving farmlands in regions of India, the U.S., Africa and elsewhere high and dry, Close thinks the time is right to bring cowpeas back in vogue — and he’s doing his part.
As seed diversity plummets globally, securing varieties will likely become even more important. ICARDA counterparts and fellow genebanks in the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Iraq have been lost due to human interventions and natural disasters, making the success of ICARDA’s move from Syria even more commendable.
In my work, growing and saving seeds of rare and endangered cash crops, I was keen to gain an understanding of the challenges and realities for an expanding cohort of horticulturalists that were continuing a traditional, low-input sustainable model of cultivation and responding to an increasing demand for organically grown produce.
Seeds are the home of life, the promise of the future. They are the foundation of civilization and culture, the guarantor of full stomachs and secure governments. They are the quotidian miracle which prompt wonder in the writings of philosophers and theologians, essayists and poets.
One such organisation is OpenSourceSeeds (OSS). By equipping plant breeders and propagators with a free, open-source licence for the seeds they breed, they provide the necessary legal protection to prevent the patenting of the seed by other parties.
Tucked away along a country lane just outside Coventry is Ryton Organic Gardens and home of a charity, Garden Organic, which brings together thousands of people who share a common belief that organic growing is essential for a healthy and sustainable world. Open to the public, it’s a place more than worth a visit.
For the past four years, I have led an international research team that has made it possible to grow durum wheat in conditions of extreme heat along the Senegal River basin, a region highly affected by poverty. Our scientific breakthrough, essential in the fight against hunger in the region, has won the 2017 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security.
The Crop Trust, the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew, and their partners are confronting this problem on a global level by identifying gaps in the world’s collections of CWRs, supporting the collecting efforts of 24 national programs to fill those gaps, and working with more than 40 institutions to develop pre-breeding materials that will help adapt crops to a changing climate.
A first-of-its-kind educational partnership between the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) is training hundreds of new seed growers in organic production. Through an online certificate-granting educational platform and an accompanying structured internship program, the two groups hope to train enough farmers to help supply meet demand—and make a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loophole irrelevant.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is “supposed to last for eternity”, yet didn’t take the effects of climate change into consideration in its design and construction. One might wonder which “unknown unknowns” it’s not quite ready for either.
The Open Source Seed license, recently released by a group called OpenSourceSeeds, is trying to “make seeds a common good again.” The license amounts to a form of “copyleft” for new plant varieties, enabling anyone to use the licensed seeds for free.
Drive an hour northeast from Cusco, Peru, and you will encounter some beautiful high mountain lakes, historic Inca ruins, and the richest diversity of potatoes on the planet.