Fibers on display in Boston

by Luigi Guarino on October 30, 2014


That’s from the “[s]plendid, viscerally engaging … groundbreaking exhibition” called Fiber: Sculpture 1960-Present, now on at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. And it was pretty cool. But would it have killed them to include some pictures, or even live examples, of the plant (and animal) sources of the raw materials for objects such as this?1


Well, maybe not the animal sources…

  1. BTW, do you remember that 2009 was the International Year of Natural Fibres? []


The identity of “millet” in East Africa

by Luigi Guarino on October 29, 2014

A blog post from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs a couple of days ago reminded me that we had blogged about GYGA — the Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas — a couple of years back. Just to remind us all

…the target of the Global Yield Gap Atlas (GYGA) is to provide best available estimates of the exploitable yield gap (Yg-E) — difference between current average farm yields and 80% of Yp and Yw. Water resources to support rainfed and irrigated agriculture also are limited, which means efficiency in converting water to food, water productivity (WP), is another key food security benchmark included in the Atlas.

I’ve had a quick look at the GYGA website, and it seems serviceable enough, though it has the drawbacks, often remarked on in these pages, that it is difficult to share the maps you make, and import your own data into them. Here I’d like to point out another potential issue, though. This is what you get when you look at the yield gap for “rainfed millet.” Because of the aforementioned drawbacks, a clunky screenshot is the best I can manage, I’m afraid.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 3.46.02 PM

Now, the stuff in West Africa is clearly pearl millet, but what about in East Africa? Is there really that much pearl millet in Uganda, say? This is what Genesys knows about the two millets in East Africa. And yes, it’s a clunky screen grab too, but if I had wanted to, I could have downloaded separate KML files for the two crops and opened them both in Google Earth and then exported a nice JPG.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 4.47.16 PM

Pink is pearl, yellow is finger. There’s a little bit of pearl millet in Uganda, but not all that much. The millet there is mainly finger millet. So, which is the millet in GYGA? Is it confusing the two?


Lots of talking out there

by Luigi Guarino on October 29, 2014

In the interest of completeness, I should mention that the International Rice Congress is competing for the attention of us all with a couple of other shindigs:

You pays your money…


Green Revolution 2.0

by Luigi Guarino on October 29, 2014

At 1:10 in the afternoon of 31 July 2008, ignoring the advice of his neighbors, Mr. Pal made the decision not to plow under his severely ravaged and sick-looking rice crop. His field had been submerged for 17 days from two floods.

And that is when the second Green Revolution began, according to Dr Bob Zeigler, DG of the International Rice Research Institute (IIRI). Read more about it on his blog.1 And follow developments at the International Rice Congress, including on Twitter. As for me, I’d like to speed up that GR 3.0.


And if Dr Zeigler wants to know where those untapped Oryza species are to be found, I know where he should look.

  1. Incidentally, we’ve blogged about scuba rice on a number of occasions here. []


Apple pie

29 October 2014

It must be the season, but there’s been a ton of stuff on apples on the interwebs recently. Here’s a little sampler: Problems with Kazakhstan’s apples. Problems with Britain’s apples. Cambridge has a solution for those, though. Solutions, actually. And then there’s Dan Bussey‘s way. And Rowan Jacobsen‘s. (He of the Apple Renaissance.) Which basically […]

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Remembering the Irish Potato Famine

28 October 2014

Came across this monument in Boston last week. A stark reminder of what happens when crops are not diverse enough.

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Brainfood: Filipino rice synonyms, Jatropha breeding, Polish oats, Amazonian peppers, Wild lentils, Indian pigeonpea, Russian peas, Pulse markers, Wild pollinators, Phenotyping platforms, Almonds & peaches, Cerrado roads, Arboreta conservation

27 October 2014

Multiplex SSR-PCR analysis of genetic diversity and redundancy in the Philippine rice (Oryza sativa L.) germplasm collection. 427 rice accessions in the national collection with similar names resolve to about 30 unique profiles. I think. The abstract is a little hard to follow, and that’s all I have access to. Quantitative genetic parameters of agronomic […]

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More genebank manager photos

23 October 2014

True to my word in yesterday’s post, here’s a picture of John Wasswa Mulumba, head of the Ugandan national genebank. He’s bottom right corner. I missed one or two of the other genebank managers who came to the meeting in Arusha a couple of days ago. If you’re one of them, or were there and […]

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More than just a talking shop

22 October 2014

I suspect that our brief post a couple of weeks back encouraging everybody to follow the fun that assorted genebank managers were having in Arusha may have been a little too short of context to engage all but the most diehard of readers. So here’s the deal. All the genebank managers of the CGIAR centres […]

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Comparing the niches of wild, feral and cultivated tetraploid cottons, Conclusion

21 October 2014

We’re trying something new for us this week. Dr Geo Coppens co-authored an interesting paper1 recently which brings together a number of our concerns: domestication, diversity, crop wild relatives, spatial analysis… He’s written quite a long piece about his research, which we’ll publish here in three instalments. This is the third and final instalment. Here’s […]

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