Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A Treasure to be cherished - Biodiversity!

A simple definition to biodiversity is "the variety of life on Earth". Many have encountered this term across the media or at school but very few appreciate its worth. Today I had the opportunity to visit a very rich and varied farm in Malta. The vast patch of land is not only a commercial farm where a variety of fruits and vegetables grow, but also a showcase of species, most of which are being lost. Fig, local apple, the small Malta June pear, also known as "Bambinella" and many others made part of an old farm that sustained a rural community throughout olden times. The grandmother of the farmer I met used to say that "even in times when food was scarce, the fruit trees provided enough food to sustain their family". The trees yielded fruit at different times of the year and this was an insurance of their own future.

Nowadays we overlook the hardship our ancestors have been through. Whenever we need food we go and buy it from the closest supermarket or green grocers. Little do we appreciate that many of the local species are being lost since they are not being seen as "commercially viable" by the industry. Interesting to note that a few years ago, Bambinella attracted Marks and Spencers officials. After visiting Malta and tasting this delicate fruit, they went into agreement with some farmers to ship a good load of Bambinella to England. This is a good example of how a minor fruit species can be marketed in a country where it isn't available.

More info about Bambinella: A success at Londons Marks and Spencers

How can we help in all this? Surely, by buying local products we would be preventing the loss of our agricultural biodiversity. The loss of agricultural land is the biggest threat, and the only way to fight this is not through legislation but through education and awareness. Each and every patch of land lost to other activities such as construction, we would be destroying another piece of land that could be potentially utilised to preserve our biodiversity and traditions!

This video gives an insight of how serious and damaging is the loss of biodiversity: The Need for Biodiversity

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bigilla and the GMO saga