US Scientists Discover New Crop That Never Dies, Which Can Be The Key To Save The Planet   

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Can a cereal grain, smaller in size than even a wheat grain, save our planet? The actual truth is more fascinating than it sounds, as revealed by a group of researchers at The Land Institute in Kansas, USA. The crop, named ‘Kernza’ is a hybrid derived from wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) and was specifically developed by scientists to be the future of agriculture, in the times of drastic climate change.

Unlike any other crop in the world, Kernza is a perennial grain which need not be resown after a harvest season, as the plant regrows over and over again with its roots reaching deep beneath the ground. This helps to reduce the soil carbon emission which happens during harvesting and resowing of seeds, reports World Economic Forum.

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– Anne Frank

The history of Kernza

The story of Kernza dates back to 1983 when scientist Wes Jackson was looking to produce perennial grain crops for human consumption. At a lecture at Oregon State University, Jackson debated that the choice of seasonal crops like wheat and rice as staple was a flawed step in the history of humanity. He reasoned that planting seeds twice a year in the same soil requires the destruction of the soil’s natural vegetation. Weeding thus affects the natural nutritional balance of the soil, requiring additional chemicals to supplement it. Tilling the soil releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the nitrogen cycles are disrupted. This, in turn, leads to infertility in the soil and erosion of the upper layers.

Working as per Jackson’s vision, scientists at Rodale Institute started researching with intermediate wheatgrass, a Eurasian variety of fodder grass. The final Kernza grain was developed by selecting the best seeds from each generation of the crop over the past four decades. The result? Kernza grain is being deemed as the answer to climate change.

What makes Kernza the best

Kernza roots reach a depth of up to 3 metres in the soil which is more than twice that of wheat. They increase the soil retention capacity and preserves the natural biome of the soil. Krenza also acts as a pump which absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and preserves it in the soil as organic compounds. It also helps to trap nitrogen and prevents the leaching of harmful nitrogen compounds into water sources.

The present variety of Kernza grain is one-fifth of the size of wheat grain. The researchers at Land Institute are trying to develop high-yielding varieties of the grain, which would make it more appealing to the farmers and spread its popularity among people. Although, it might be another decade before we see Kernza hitting the market on a widespread scale.

The present and future of Kernza

At present, Kernza is being grown in a limited area of 500 hectares in the prairies of Kansas. Recently, US food corporate General Mills marketed a breakfast cereal prepared from Kernza. They are also providing funding to Land Institute for large-scale cultivation of Kernza. Another international company has brewed a new type of beer from Kernza. Many food hubs in the USA are also making pasta, bread, pizza from Kernza flour and the feedback from the consumers is quite positive.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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