The Director of Ofscoff's Equalities Office, Dr Rhoderic McSwain, confirmed in a statement today that he was looking into the scheme that the Chinese authorities put in place for numbering plants during the 2008 Olympics:
"This was a bold initiative in terms of equalities and more broadly in relation to social justice", Dr McSwain said, "and the Chinese government was to be congratulated not only for their plans, but also for the vigour with which they were pursued."
"Where something like this happens, it's really important that it's properly funded, and rigorously applied",
He confirmed that Ofscoff is in talks with government about introducing a similar scheme in England, noting that this fits particularly well with Whitehall's plans to develop the rural economy. Dr Flora MacIvor, Ofscoff's Head of Increasing Underemployment Studies, added that if such a scheme were introduced here it would bring a massive boost to employment in the countryside:
"There will be a need for inspectors and auditors on an unprecedented scale", she added, "which will boost rural incomes. This is a win-win development."
In response to an enquiry about costs and efficacy, from the regulatory framework correspondent of Rhubarb and Celery Today, Ofscoff's Head of Forcing, Dr Malcolm Graeme, said that he thought that there would be little difficulty in the agricultural sector where compliance to Ofscoff's policies was well established, and a robust system of incentives was in place. However, referring to a recent internal report from Ofscoff's Vegetable linearity in agricultural practice task group (VEGELAP) there were likely to be problems in allotments and private gardens where opposition to the benefits that Ofscoff brings was still to be found. Dr Graeme said that talks were in taking place with the newly appointed Director of Ofplot [Note 1] to see what could be done to allign policy and practice both in relation to chaotic growing practices and inappropriate attitudes.
Dr McSwain denied rumours that, at this stage anyway, there were plans either to name individual plants, or to number components of plants (such as peas inside pods). Acknowledging that the logic of the initiative did argue for this, McSwain confirmed that the technology was not yet in place to enable this to happen.
Ofplot is the newly set up government quality agency for allotments, domestic and school gardens, window boxes, patio tubs, and all hitherto unregulated growing spaces in England. Its new Director, Professor Caleb Balderstone, said that he looked forward to working with Ofscoff, and did not envisage too many turf wars over territory or jurisdiction. Balderstone added that Ofscoff's new initiative complements his own interests in whether plants with special growing needs do better when grown separately, or when integrated into borders.