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February 2009: Notes of Interest

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Notes of Interest

Food to Fuel
New President for Seed Savers Exchange

Corporations Leasing Land in Developing Countries

  • In “More Food to Fuel” in the September 2008 issue of Growing for Market, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report: “ In experiments, sweet potatoes grown in Maryland and Alabama yielded two to three times as much carbohydrate for fuel ethanol production as field corn grown in those states. The same was true of tropical cassava in Alabama. ... Further studies are needed to get data on inputs of fertilizer, water, pesticides and estimates of energy efficiency. The additional research could help develop new biofuel sources without diverting field corn supplies from food and feed use to fuel, the ARS news service said.” We are concerned, however, about this narrow view, since both sweet potatoes and cassava are also important food crops.


  • From the same issue of Growing for Market anews brief reported that the Seed Savers Exchange has appointed organic farmer and writer George DeVault as president and executive director. “He succeeds Kent Whealy, a co-founder and former executive director. Seed Savers Exchange, or SSE, is a non-profit organization based in Decorah, Iowa, whose mission is to safeguard the world's diverse but endangered garden heritage for future generations by preserving heirloom plant varieties and educating the public about the value of agricultural diversity. Founded in l975, SSE operates an 890-acre certified organic farm known as Heritage Farm, with an annual budget of $2,500,000, where more than 25,000 rare fruit, vegetable, and plant varieties are regenerated and preserved in a central collection."


  • featured the article “The Breadbasket of South Korea: Madagascar” by Vivienne Walt. The article exposes a surprising new investment trend for international corporate giants: companies are leasing farmland in more-fertile, yet less-developed nations. Daewoo Logistics has negotiated a 99-year lease on 3.2 million acres of land in Madagascar which, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, is nearly half of Madagascar's arable land. The land will be leased for $12 an acre, and Daewoo says it plans to plant 2/3 as corn and the rest to produce palm oil for biofuels. This article can be found online at,8599,1861145,00.html





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