#Farming Friday 54: Building Climate Resilience in Fiji

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Cyclone Winston hit Fiji in 2016 and the days of rain that followed led to widespread erosion and crop loss. This was not an isolated event. In fact, warmer ocean temperatures are creating more intense flooding and storms than in the past. To the farmers here, climate change is a reality they have to deal with in the present, not something to be discussed about for the future.

The solutions that came up ranged from terrace farming and diversification of crops, to back up gardens and cooperative banking; options that might prove useful as farmers the world over face climate uncertainty.

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#Farming Friday 53: India’s Cotton Revolution

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(Image : By Kimberly Vardeman – Flickr: Cotton Harvest, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17157722)

 

Worsening conditions on the farm led an Indian farmer to participating in Bt cotton trials. Increased pest pressure was resulting in low and poor quality yields.

“We were losing money and slowly getting into debt. We saw no way out and every time I would get together with other farmers, the only topic of discussion was how to survive. I thought I’d have to give up farming.”

Instead, by adopting Bt Cotton, Balwinder Kang was at the forefront of a cotton revolution, thanks to the seeds that could withstand pests. Read his story here.

As of December 2017, India leads the world in cotton production.

 

 

 

 

Food Books….and other matters

It has been a while since I posted here. WordPress reminded me that this November was Thought+Food’s eight year anniversary. When I started out, blogs were the thing, and everyone was starting and growing their blog. Somewhere along the years, the conversation shifted to social media: some Facebook groups but mostly on Twitter. Absorbing all the information that social media brings up, involvement in the discussion, all of this takes up time and energy and the blog gets pushed to the to do list.

I intend to make space for the longer pieces once more. To get back into the reading-writing mode, I was browsing reviews of food books for the year. The Smithsonian has an interesting list here. I have not read any of these, so topping my list is “Where the Wild Coffee Grows” by Jeff Koehler; nice review here.

Looking forward to interesting discussions!

#Farming Friday 52: How the Rice Straw Went from Waste to Value

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A great story I had to share! Research in Vietnam found alternative to burning rice straw: it can be used as a growing medium for mushrooms. Consequently, rice straw prices are high, and mushrooms farmers are benefitting by increased production as well. The huge added benefit is the lowering of pollution which used to result from burning the rice straw.

 

 

(Image Courtesy: annankkml, freedigitalphotos.net)

The Role of Food Markets in Society

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The way we buy our groceries and prepare our food has evolved over time. As people started settling down and bringing produce to sell and exchange with others, markets became the central civic space for social interaction.  When cities developed, the  process became indirect involving traders as middlemen, that link grew weaker and in the era of the modern supermarket, there is virtually no human interaction at all. Even cooking is an optional activity with stores doing huge business in ready to eat meals. This piece suggests that farmers’ markets, community gardens, urban and backyard gardens would bring back that social engagement.

The idea is interesting despite some assumptions such as the identification of fresh and organic food with farmers’ markets, and conventional produce coming from industrial farms. According to the USDA,  97% of the farms in the US are family owned and organic produce is readily available in most supermarkets. While the popularity of farmers’ markets has certainly risen in recent years, recent research found that, of the different options for food sourcing, farmers’ markets were the least preferred. So while they do not fulfill all the requirements for grocery shopping, the reason for their proliferation might just be the social setting they provide.

(Image Courtesy: “Fruit on A Wooden” by start08, freedigitalphotos.net)

Thoughts on the newly nominated Ag secretary from a farmer: Who Is Sonny Perdue?

I’ll admit when I heard that Sonny Perdue was nominated as President Trump’s pick for the USDA Secretary I was a bit underwhelmed. Perdue’s name had been floated around for months, I wasn’t personally familiar with him, and all I knew was that he was the former governor of Georgia. But now that he has been nominated and I’ve done Continue Reading

Source: Who Is Sonny Perdue?

#Farming Friday 51: In England, A Farmer Tries No-Till

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In this piece, the writer follows a farmer practicing no-till farming for a year, instead planting a cover crop of fodder radishes. Notill farming (also called zero tillage or direct drilling) is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. The idea is to protect the soil, allow it to soak up more water, and replenish the nutrients, thus boosting soil health.

Does it work? In this story the yields were comparable to conventional farming using ploughing and  the farmer was hoping to recoup the big upfront cost of buying the machinery which would allow him to sow seeds directly into the cover crop in future years from lower input costs, and the benefit of good harvests from the richer soil.  Good development for a sustainable future!