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Nyani’s Sixth Visit (Polyculture)

Visit 6, in which Nyani meets Steve’s wife Sahara and they discuss Polyculture and Monoculture.

This meeting happened at Steve’s house.  Steve and his wife Sahara sat out on their porch waiting.

“I don’t know exactly where she arrives when she comes.” Steve said.  “All I know is that she comes walking down the street.  I’m glad you finally get to meet her.”

Sahara replied.  “Me too.  You and the kids really have me curious with all this Nyani talk.”

“There she is now,” remarked Steve, “And look at that outfit she has on!”  Nyani had on cowboy boots and jeans, a denim blouse, and a cowboy hat. “I guess even females from other planets like to try on different clothes.”

As Nyani approached, she said, “Hi Steve, hi Sahara.  I’m glad to finally meet you.”  Sahara only heard a beautiful singsong language, but nothing she understood.  Nyani handed her the translator stone, and then repeated her greeting.

Sahara replied, “I’m certainly glad to meet you also.  That language was beautiful, almost tropical or Polynesian.”

“It’s called Endante.  It’s similar in a way to some Polynesian languages.  We are going to learn about Polyculture today.  Not Polynesian Culture, but plant polyculture.”  She paused, then added, “I know I usually want to stay outside, but today we need to use your inter-net.”

As they all moved into Steve’s office, Sahara asked, “Do you have an internet on Fruitoka?”

“Yes, but much more powerful than what you have.  I’ll show you a bit later.  We’ve talked about personal nutrition in other visits, but now I want to explore the ecological picture.  Your planet is suffering from your agricultural methods, and millions of people are going hungry also.”

“And this polyculture has to do with people going hungry,” asked Steve.

“Well, yes it does.  Look up polyculture on your web.”

Steve looked it up in Google.  Nyani said, “That first link looks good, the Wikipedia one.  By the way, that Wikipedia is a fantastic collaborative effort.  Such joint efforts are common on Fruitoka, but more rare here on your planet.”

Sahara read the Wikipedia entry out loud, “Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture.”

“Yes,” said Nyani.  “It’s not the best definition, but it will do.  You won’t find much monoculture on Fruitoka, or in nature.  Your world’s present approach to solving world hunger relies on only six crops.”

“Really? What are they?” asked Sahara.

“The six major staples are rice, wheat, maize (corn), cassava, sweet potato, and beans.  They all are rather starchy foods.  Another drawback is that they all need to be cooked.  In many places on your planet, forests are being lost due to fuel needed for cooking.”

Steve asked, “So you are saying that it’s not good to rely on just a few foods, but that we need to have thousands of types of food instead?”

“Yes, and billions of people growing food locally in yards and small plots, rather than gigantic fields of single crops.  Monoculture creates plant weakness.  That’s why the farmers have to use so many pesticides to protect the crops.  When you grow foods in balance and harmony, like nature, your plants will be strong and you’ll get more food overall.”

Nyani pulled out a small stone shaped like a pyramid.  She laid it on the table and said, “Here, let’s connect to our Net and I’ll show you some examples.”  A beam shot out into the air from one side of the pyramid and expanded into a holographic display of a garden environment.

Note (Story continued in the next post):

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Notes – read more about plant diversity here (Rare Crops Needed to Tackle World Hunger)

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