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Thursday, June 24, 2010

The time for perennial grain crops is about now

Despite doubling of yields of major grain crops since the Green Revolution, more than one in seven people are hungry and malnourished, a majority of who live in the developing world.

Global GDP is rising in places like China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. This is pushing further the demand for food, especially meat. Much of the arable land in the developing world is either eroded or at moderate risk of severe land degradation, largely due to agricultural operations associated with annual cropping.

Global food supplies depend primarily on annual grains. However, annual grain production takes a heavy toll on ecosystem resource and services, often pushing some to the brink of collapse. To ensure resilient food systems, farmers, especially in Africa will need more options under a less benign and uncertain climate.

In article just published in Science Vol 328 pp 1638-39, Glover et al suggest development of perennial varieties of important grain crops could expand food production options while taking pressure of the land and reducing cost of inputs such as fertilizers, seeds as well labour.

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