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B4FA 2013 Ghana: History of agriculture - Bernie Jones

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B4FA 2013 Ghana: History of agriculture - Bernie Jones

  1. 1. Plants and Agriculture – a history Bernie Jones
  2. 2. 3 1 4 14 1 What do you know about farming? 1. I am a farmer 2. I grew up and/or have lived in a farming community 3. I am a city person, but members of my family farm 4. I have no experience of farming 5. What’s a farm?
  3. 3. 5% 5% 9% 27% 55% When did people start to farm? 1. People have always farmed 2. Around 10,000 years ago 3. Around 5,000 years ago 4. Around 2,000 years ago 5. Around 500 years ago
  4. 4. How did it start?
  5. 5. Early Farming
  6. 6. Domestication
  7. 7. When? Why? How? 9000BC Wheat/barley, Fertile Crescent 8000BC Potatoes, South America 7500BC Goats/sheep, Middle East 7000BC Rye, Europe 6000BC Chickens, South Asia 3500BC Horse, West Asia 3000BC Cotton, South America 2700BC Corn, North America
  8. 8. Diversity & Traits Living things are variable (This is genetics!)
  9. 9. Selection
  10. 10. Selection • Early farmers discovered they could select better traits in their crops • This becomes a continuous process
  11. 11. Crops already “genetically engineered” over 1000’s of years… Selection
  12. 12. Change: mutation & crossing • Natural mutations and crosses • Selection for desirable traits • Deliberate crossing/hybridisation
  13. 13. Deliberate plant breeding • Realisation that attributes of plants could be deliberately influenced • Launched plant breeding as necessity (disease) and “pastime” • Gradual realisation that there must be principles underlying this process • Constant searches to find new plant material for cross-breeding
  14. 14. Breakthrough of “genetics” • Could observe some underlying principles… • Led to gradual understanding and discovery of genetics and inheritance. More of this in next session • But allowed breeding, and breeding process, to become much more focussed and productive
  15. 15. Where are we today • All our crops are “modified” in some way • Plant breeding and selection have been basic way of life for farmers for millennia • Techniques have developed over time • Current technological options just part of this continuum • Risks from traditional breeding?
  16. 16. Agricultural systems • Crop rotation • Sustainable agriculture • Sustainable intensification • Organic But these are all potentially complementary techniques, not alternatives
  17. 17. Colonisation, migration and agriculture • Centres of origin vs most productive zones now • Why are Africa’s staple crops what they are?
  18. 18. 8 2 3 1 12 Which of these are “African” crops? 1. Cassava 2. Maize 3. Sorghum 4. Cocoa 5. Oil palm
  19. 19. 12% 4% 12% 20% 52% Which of these are “African” crops? 1. Pearl Millet 2. Mango 3. Rice 4. Sugarcane 5. Cotton
  20. 20. Modern-day crops/foods • Are often not indigenous • Have (in the main) been significantly altered by humans over 1000s of years • And are therefore “genetically modified” (but are NOT GMO’s)
  21. 21. Genetics/Breeding recap • Natural (genetic) variety/diversity in crops • Selection (natural, accidental, deliberate) • Mutation (environmental, genetic) • Crossing & hybridisation (natural, deliberate) GENETICS!
  22. 22. Recap • Agric practices and environments complex • Planting material/crops complex – “natural breeding” – deliberate and accidental breeding – constant process • No silver bullets

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