As with other high yield crops like rice, meant to feed large groups of people on the cheap, domesticated crops are chosen to be grown in mass often leaving the crop's biodiversity in jeopardy. But thanks to the time honored rice harvesting traditions of Thai rice farmers, many of the less prevalent but still incredibly important rice crop varieties remain intact. A new study shows that the established tradition of Thai rice farmers in Thailand has led to the preservation of some lesser known varieties of rice. According to an article on Eco-Worldly, the Karen people, a small rice farming group in the rural hills of Thailand, play a vital role in maintaining their crop's genetic diversity by exchanging and choosing seeds to plant the following year. "They take into consideration a multitude of factors which vary annually, including soil type, elevation, and temperature," according to the study done by Barbara A. Schaal, Ph.D., the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and her colleagues at Chiang Mai University in Thailand.
Preserving Rice Crops For Future Generations
The Karen People seems to practice careful measure to ensure the diversity of interesting crops of rice. For example, they discovered a beautiful species of purple rice and took care to ensure to test and preserve the crop by growing a bit of the rice in a small corner of field in order to taste test and see how it grew. The fact of the matter is that keeping heirloom seeds in seed banks could become an ineffective means for preserving plant species if we don't know how to grow the crops. Adaptability when it comes to harvesting the seeds is just as important as having the seeds in the first place.
Genetic Biodiversity Is Not Just For Flavor
If we don't maintain the necessary biodiversity in our crops we could run into some serious issues down the road in terms of our abilities to feed the masses. Different species of rice don't just taste different, they stand up differently to climate variations, and as our climate changes, genetically modified mega chains of rice, corn, and other crops could potentially not withstand the climate change.
More on Plant Biodiversity:
Ramsar Wetland Convention Meeting in Korea: Protecting Rice Paddies
NY Chef Urges Congress to "Stop the Blandness!"
More Than Pretty Heirloom Tomatoes: Saving Seeds Critical to Combatting Climate Change