Eight billion people make for a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of rice, corn, and wheat. Which are the most cultivated and consumed crops around the globe.
For these crops to produce enough food for our growing appetite, it is necessary to always improve their yield, make sure they survive our changing climate and resist pests and diseases.
While you are having French fries for lunch, enjoying your cup of coffee, or shopping for new cotton t-shirts, hardworking agronomists, are constantly testing new plant varieties around the globe to secure tomorrow’s supply of plant-derived products.
You drink it everyday. It’s black. It smells good.
It tastes good too.
A lot of people drink it just like you. They order a “cup of coffee” and drink it quickly before work, or during a break.
Among the millions of people drinking this black fluid, only a few know about the wonderful life of the coffee trees. It’s a story about growing up in luxurious highlands or the slums of the lowlands. It’s the story of finding a good place for a good life.
It is the story of the coffee tree.
The room was simple: two small windows to let some light in and enough space to fit three cows. The bed was a slim wooden mattress put on a metallic base. Food was given two times a day, lunch, and dinner. There was no breakfast. Patients were expected to always stay in their small room and not burn calories.
Hiro arrived a few weeks ago from a city beyond the mountains. In that city, the virus had spread in a few weeks, blindly killing thousands of people. Hiro had run away and hiked his way back to his parents’ province…
A coffee shop. Me, seated next to the window. Waiting. Waiting for Tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a girl I have ‘met’ online. Not on a dating app, but at an online conference. The kind of awkward conference with hundreds of people who look nice, but you cannot talk to.
Tomorrow was not part of the crowd but was an affluent speaker talking about climate change. A problem of today.
Tomorrow happened to come to the city I was living in. She got a gig about climate change. She loved the topic and made it her job title, ‘climate change consultant’.
There is something magical about the streets of Hanoi. The city is an organized anarchy both practical and in a certain way beautiful. The streets of Hanoi are a pleasing chaos. They were built and then left to the imagination of the city dwellers, arranging them as they wished.
For those who have not had the chance to visit or live in Hanoi, I find it crucial to tell them about motorbikes. We usually know motorbikes as two-wheel engines transporting people, usually one or two. …
Young people are beautiful. They are full of energy and well-versed with new technologies and social media. Young people are the future.
But who listens to young people? Among the older generations, who has ever opened the TikTok app? I haven’t. This sadly puts me in the box of the not young anymore. Today, most decision-makers and global leaders are old people who have never heard of any famous TikTok influencers.
For more than 90% of human history, we’ve been hunter-gatherers. As nomads with no true home, we roamed the hills and shallows of the prehistoric Earth in small groups, hunting what was needed and gathering as we went.
Then, around 11,000 years ago, we created agriculture.
The reasons why are widely debated, and range from population growth to climate change, but at the end of the day — or rather, the beginning of it — we began to plant seeds and tubers in the ground. …
If you have ever been in Vietnam or Southeast Asia in general, you have probably noticed how important rice is to people.
In Vietnam, people eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like corn in Mexico or wheat in Europe, rice is the main source of energy for Vietnamese people.
Planting trees among fields of crops like coffee is not new. Before the green revolution and the global intensification of agricultural systems to feed a growing population intercropping various species of plants was the rule.
Traditional agricultural systems included a lot of plant diversity, for example the Mexican milpa had corn, peas, pumpkin, chili, and other vegetables all planted together. For crops like cacao and coffee, it was common to grow them under various layers of shade trees like timber or fruit trees.
Farmers knew long before agronomists that shade trees could provide physical protection against extreme weathers, high and…
The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is a tropical palm from West Africa and is native in eight countries: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The oil palm now grows throughout the tropics in Africa, South and Central America as well as Asia and Oceania. Oil palm thrives under warm temperatures, 25–35 deg. C, and high rainfall, 2000–3000 mm a year.
Its scientific name Elaeis guineensis Jacq. literally means Oil of Guinea. This name indicates its noteworthy feature; ‘elaion’ means oil in Greek. …