Retracing our genetic path of plant domestication can help us produce newer, better varieties to enhance food security, says the Earlham Institute’s Dr Peter Bickerton.
It wasn’t long ago that we first traded hunting for a more sedentary life – harnessing the grasses of the Fertile Crescent. Yet, over the last 12,000 years, though we have mastered the art of producing abundant yields, the time has come to rejuvenate our most staple of crops.
Since humans first discovered that some wheat plants, rather than shedding their seed upon ripening, instead kept their grains attached, we’ve developed a food system that has contributed to a population explosion of over seven billion people worldwide.
World markets are better placed than before to brace poor harvests, say Steve Wiggins and Sharada Keats.
It’s more than two years since the peak of the last spike in world grain prices, back in mid-2008. Since then prices have been drifting back to the levels last seen in 2005, or earlier.
The cause? Reports from Canada that harvests will be low on account of too much rain early in the season; while in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine drought has cut the forecasts for the harvest. These countries feature amongst the top eight wheat exporting countries, shifting around one third of wheat traded globally in the mid-2000s. Failing harvests in these countries hits world markets hard.
Continue reading Will wheat prices spike in 2010?