Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Innovation Inside Tradition

via SciDevNet

Take a look--these are all potatoes. Beyond the skin colour, some even have coloured flesh. There used to be hundreds of varieties of potatoes alone--now, worldwide, we depend on about 30 crops for the majority of our food. More science isn't the answer. We've had plenty of science. We need farmers farming in traditional ways with research support to clarify what's happening and help traditional farming do better. After all, it already does as well or better than the industrial version in production of calories per acre.
SciDevNet has an article up on innovation in traditional farming practice:
Indigenous knowledge is innovative, not static, says Krystyna Swiderska. Protecting it will help food security.
When policymakers think of innovation they tend to think of laboratories or the spaces where designers and engineers create solutions to pressing problems. But this ignores a more longstanding and widespread form of innovation.

Communities that live close to nature continually create innovative approaches in farming and other sectors by building on knowledge and practices refined over generations. For instance, farmers around the world experiment with local crops to develop varieties that cope better with drought or pests.

This kind of innovation does not fit easily into policy frameworks. But its value will grow as the climate changes and population increases bring more mouths to feed.

Yet the biological and cultural diversity this innovation depends on is in steep decline. And modern systems of farming threaten to swamp traditional innovation. Now more than ever, it needs to be recognised and protected.

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