Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

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TheWanderingScholar
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Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:05 pm

I recently found a series of books covering crops from the Andean mountain region and Africa. While I am have not read all of it (studying for a job interview tomorrow), I have read the Incas edition and found a couple crops ideas that can useful in the Baltic(sp?). I will need land to test it though so not at the moment.

Here are the links to the books. You can download a free .pdf version if you look to the right side:
The Lost Crops of the Incas
Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains
Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Vegetables
Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits

The reason I posted this here is because as the climate changes, old fruits can't survive in the new climate, while new fruits and vegetables can survive in the area. And while the possibility of invasive species from plants is possible (i.e. Kudzoo for those from the south), the possibility of having food sources is there, especially if the heat waves begin killing off crops such as wheat en masse (i.e. possibility in Southern Siberia which has very little large bodies of water to act as a buffer against sharp climate movements).

And we already do use some of these plants and vegetables such Potatoes, and Sorghum.

I will report back with some more ideas for plants and vegetables, such as those that can grow in the Arctic and other extreme climate regions as those will have certain traits that can useful in the changing world.

Have fun with this new knowledge! :)

Solvent
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by Solvent » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:30 pm

So I read somewhere, maybe FAO or UNDP, that there's probably still a lot of productivity gains to be had out of lesser known African crops. I don't know how accurate it is, of course, but it sounds plausible. Maybe someone more scientifically or agriculturally minded wants to comment.

The reasoning is that nearly all the research that has gone into increasing crop yields has been directed to maize, wheat, rice, and a few other European/American crops. There's still much of Africa where staples are sorghum, cassava, plantains or even teff. If more scientific resources are directed to these, then maybe there's scope for boosting food production again.

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:05 pm

@Solvent:
I think there is honestly, especially among lesser known species that have not been properly domesticated have much potential to learn about them, especially genetically and biological. And personally I think African Institutes should lead research in that regard as for them this will be great in increasing their academic sector and knowledge base so they can stand on their own.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:35 am

@solvent:

Focus on increasing yields will only make the situation worse. The average human is becoming increasingly malnourished even when obese, due to declining soil quality. For instance, the average apple grown in 1940 had 3x the amount of iron as the average apple grown today.

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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by Campitor » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:22 am

Not sure if this is the correct thread to post this but I came across a pair of videos about reversing desertfication. The 1st video is of a man who reversed the decline of a natural area by planting grass and the 2nd video is a man who has reversed dry land back into crop sustaining habitat by mimicking the grazing patterns of large herd animals. If we do this combined with biochar, we may be able to convert large areas of the earth that are dry, but receive some rainfall, back into grasslands and woods which may help mitigate climate change and provide food for the masses.
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSPkcpGmflE
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:53 am

@Campitor:

Much is possible given intelligent management which recognizes complex system, but given current realities, how will intelligent managers be "paid" for these efforts? Also, this form of intelligent management can't be very distantly applied. Sure, a genius permaculturist can come in and reverse desertification, but some level of continued local ongoing intelligent management, beyond robotic ticking off of checklist will be required.

For instance, one very gifted organic poly-orchardist in Canada was so successful in attracting bees and other pollinators he experienced a record bountiful harvest one year, but then the next year even though the bees were still buzzing about, the trees offered relatively low yield BECAUSE they had yielded so heavy the previous year. In nature, you have cycles upon cycles upon cycles, and very little possibility of avoiding change and variation, so intelligent management always has to be on site.

Also, it is sort of ridiculous to look to faraway deserts as source of increased or improved food or more sustainable food provision when what most humans grow the most of in the 1st world is lawn grass to be "chewed" by fossil fuel powered mower, and then digested into slime in a landfill.

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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by frihet » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:07 am

Thank you Campitor. I have seen the link on regrassing desert by grazing cattle. Intuitively it makes sense. After all the plains of the US for example was historically filled with Bison. Grass and grass eater in a symbiotic relationship.

Even here in Sweden traditionally the amount of fields planted with crop was limited by the amount of animals you could keep = fertilizer. And the amount of animals was limited by the grazing land available. This relationship is now of course screwed by chemical fertilizers all over the world. Which leads to soil depletion.

There is an old Swedish saying "ängen är åkerns moder" the meadow is the Mother of the fields...

Anyway without chemical fertilizers people would probobly starve so investigating "new" foreign crops is a very good idea.

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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by frihet » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:22 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:53 am
@Campitor:

Much is possible given intelligent management which recognizes complex system, but given current realities, how will intelligent managers be "paid" for these efforts
Indeed managers are needed, they are called farmers😉 and ideally they can charge enough for their product to get paid. As long as the health trend is ongoing grass feed cattle at least pays better than factory farmed.

But I guess you speak on a smaller scale? Then I don't know.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/peop ... -our-soil/

"Savory’s precepts for livestock raising are embedded in a decision-making system he calls Holistic Management. It requires close observation of pastures’ geography and grasses—the spreadsheet mapping out White Oak’s grazing plan covered one end of a wide table—but it is based on observations he made as a young game ranger in Africa: that the natural movement of cattle on grasslands, spreading out and then clustering tightly, is dictated by defending themselves from predators. On modern ranches where predators are excluded, clustering cattle into smaller pastures and moving them frequently simulates that natural movement."

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:05 am

@frihet:

I agree that livestock should be included in the system, and, in fact, can't not be included in any viable system if you include micro-organisms in the analysis. For instance, on very small scale, you are acting as a livestock farmer in relationship to saccharomyces cerevisiae whenever you bake a loaf of bread. OTOH, although providing significant food source for neighboring raccoons is not the stated purpose of growing mega-mono-crop of genetically modified corn, that is something that does occur within larger system. So, a Fritos eating vegan is on some level culpable for the increased level of raccoon road kill in farming community. No animal can survive without consuming total gross complexity greater than net complexity retained in own physiological system. AKA-systems level law of the jungle.

What I am attempting to communicate is that it may be the case that there is no functional way in which to resolve the conflict between the benefits of organization towards efficiency vs. organization towards resilience and/or sustainability at some level beyond on-board individual responsibility. IOW, looking at a couple labels and choosing the product stamped "organic" or "grass-fed" may not ever be good enough to serve, however multiplicative such labels become, whereas being able to recognize the farmer from whom you bought a side of beef when you run into him at the town hall meeting just might, and growing or otherwise obtaining your own food certainly would.

However, based on my own personal non-genius semi-dysfunctional attempts at creating permaculture projects, it is damn difficult, and the opposite of lucrative, to try to remake any portion of the food system towards long term functionality, within the current system of short-sighted gain. As the supply of fossil fuels (which fairly directly contributed 3/5 of the current bio-mass of humans on the problem) diminishes, there will likely be increased conflict between the desires of those who wish to construct an intelligently managed, high quality food supply vs. those poor individuals who will be rioting in the streets because they can no longer even afford a loaf of hyper-efficiently produced low nutritional quality bread.

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Kriegsspiel
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:30 am

Solvent wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:30 pm
So I read somewhere, maybe FAO or UNDP, that there's probably still a lot of productivity gains to be had out of lesser known African crops. I don't know how accurate it is, of course, but it sounds plausible. Maybe someone more scientifically or agriculturally minded wants to comment.

The reasoning is that nearly all the research that has gone into increasing crop yields has been directed to maize, wheat, rice, and a few other European/American crops. There's still much of Africa where staples are sorghum, cassava, plantains or even teff. If more scientific resources are directed to these, then maybe there's scope for boosting food production again.
For corn, soybean, cotton, and wheat:
While the average yield doubled between 1960 and 2015, the annual inflation-adjusted investment in research to improve those yields increased at least threefold. In some cases—for certain crops, over certain years—the research investment increased by a factor of 25. Agricultural businesses seem to be spending more and more on R&D, all while getting less and less out of it. link

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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by Solvent » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:47 am

@Kriegsspiel
Ummm, ok? Not sure that's really an interesting quote. Depending on the absolute quantities involved, a doubling of yields with a 25 times increase in research investment could be a brilliant payoff, depending in starting values.

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Kriegsspiel
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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:04 pm

It seems to me that if we have some virgin fields in cassava/sorghum/millet/plantains, the returns are going to be much higher in those crops than ones that we've been tinkering with already. Especially in Africa where those crops are (I presume) more adapted to the local conditions.

I don't know how true this is, but I also would figure that increasing yields more in crops like corn, wheat, and soybeans would result in plants that are more fragile and likely to be disrupted, since the high yielding varieties are already highly dependent on fertilizer and pesticides.

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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:38 pm

Cubic ft of fertile loam is the appropriate metric for capital in this context. Yield is annual production in lbs or kilocalories per solar acre. Acre is a square measure, not a cubic measure, so it offers no information about rate of inputs or decline in overall underlying capital.

Intelligently managed rotational grazing improves capital base, because grasses tend towards balance between length of blade and length of root. When herbivore bites off blade, equivalent portion of root structure dies and begins to decompose into soil. So, similar to composting or cover crop activities of organic gardeners.

In any attempt to simply increase yield through breeding or genetic modification, it will remain the case that nitrogen and water will then be the limiting factors of growth.

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Re: Lesser Known Crops of the World Resources

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:54 pm

Hey! Everyone nice that this discussion is really proactive and interesting!
A couple points:
I agree with @Kriegsspiel, that crops originating in Africa will be more resilient in Africa, or at least have more a bioregional history to the local population that provides locally sourced food to the area that has an innate consumer base as opposed to foreign crops.
However I agreed with @7Wannabe5, that ultimately the limiting factors are nutrient, minerals, and water. I did not specify nitrogen specifically as phosphorous it also a limited mineral resource which is not often talked about limitations to food supply*.



*Indeed, besides possibly creating bat towers to increase natural supply of guano, there is very little natural methods of increasing phosphorous supply. And in not that case, the increased supply is dependent on bats being in the area in the first place.

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