Thursday, 31 May 2012

Deyu Agriculture Corp. Promotes Acting CFO

BEIJING, May 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia-FirstCall/ -- Deyu Agriculture Corp. (DEYU.PK) (the "Company"), a Beijing, China based vertically integrated producer, processor, marketer and distributor of organic and other agricultural products made from corn and grains, today announced that it has promoted Ms. Amy He from Acting Chief Financial Officer to Chief Financial Officer of the Company.
Ms. He has served as Deyu's Acting CFO since February 2012. She previously served as the Company's Financial Controller in 2011.
"We are very pleased that Ms. He will continue to be a part of our management team," said Mr. Jianming Hao, Deyu's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "She has considerable experience in financial management, strategic planning, operations and manufacturing, and we are confident that her background and skill set will continue to significantly benefit Deyu and our shareholders as we further implement our growth strategies."
Ms. He previously served as an audit manager for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA Ltd. in China fromJuly 2005 through September 2011. At Deloitte, she served multinational corporations and Chinese corporate clients, including private companies and public listed companies in the United States. Ms. He earned a Masters Degree in Management from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from Tsinghua University in China. She is qualified as a Certified Public Accountant in China and a Certified General Accountant in Canada.
"Deyu has many exciting opportunities ahead as it addresses the rising demand for natural, green and organic foods in China," commented Ms. He. "I look forward to continue leading the Company's finance team and working with our investors as we strive to become a higher value-added grain-based food processing company."
About Deyu Agriculture Corp.
Deyu Agriculture Corp. is a vertically integrated producer, processor, marketer and distributor of organic and other agricultural products made from corn and grains operating in Shanxi Province of the People's Republic of China. The Company has access to over 109,000 acres of farmland in Shanxi Province for breeding, cultivating, processing, warehousing and distributing grain and corn products. Deyu has an extensive wholesale network in over 15 provinces and a retail distribution network of approximately 20,000 supermarkets and convenience stores in 29 provinces across China. Deyu's facilities include advanced production lines and modern warehouses with a total production capacity of over 105,000 tons for grain products, storage capacity of over 100,000 tons and annual turnover of 700,000 tons for corn products. The Company's website is located at
Safe Harbor Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements made under the "safe harbor" provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward looking statements are based upon the current plans, estimates and projections of Deyu's management and are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from the forward looking statements. Such statements include, among others, those concerning market and industry segment growth and demand and acceptance of new and existing products; any projections of sales, earnings, revenue, margins or other financial items; any statements of the plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations; any statements regarding future economic conditions or performance; uncertainties related to conducting business in China, as well as all assumptions, expectations, predictions, intentions or beliefs about future events. Therefore, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: business conditions in China, general economic conditions; geopolitical events and regulatory changes, availability of capital, changes in the agricultural industry, the Company's ability to maintain its competitive position. Additional Information regarding risks can be found in the Company's quarterly and annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Investor Contact:

Mr. Kevin Fickle, President
Tel: +1-925-330-8315
Company Contact:

Ms. Amy He, Chief Financial Officer
Deyu Agriculture Corp.
Tel: +86-10-5224-1802 X389

Ms. Cynthia Yang, Assistant to Acting CFO
Tel: +1-646-820-8060
SOURCE Deyu Agriculture Corp.
Original Article Here

Agriculture Ministry proposes Rs 170/qtl hike in paddy MSP

NEW DELHI: In view of rising farm input costs, the Agriculture Ministry has proposed a Rs 170 per quintal increase in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy at Rs 1,250 per quintal for the 2012-13 crop year (July-June).

According to sources, the ministry has circulated a Cabinet note among various ministries recommending MSP of Rs 1,250 per quintal for common variety paddy and Rs 1,280 per quintal for 'A' grade variety of paddy for 2012-13 crop year.

For the 2011-12 crop year, paddy MSP of common and 'A' grade varieties were fixed at Rs 1080 per quintal and Rs 1110 per quintal, respectively.

Paddy is grown in both Kharif and Rabi season. The Kharif sowing begins with the start of the south west monsoon in June and harvest starts from October.

Sources said the Agriculture Ministry's proposal on support price of Kharif crops for 2012-13 crop year are in line with recommendations made by the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices ( CACP).

Besides paddy, the ministry has recommended Rs 800-1,000 per quintal increase in support price of pulses for 2012-13. It has suggested Rs 4,500 per quintal for moong, Rs 4,300 per quintal for urad and Rs 4,000 per quintal for tur this year.

Last year, support price of moong, urad and tur stood at Rs 3,500 a quintal, Rs 3,300 a quintal and Rs 3,200 a quintal, respectively.

"Pulses require special attention as they are in short supply. The substantial increase in MSP has been suggested to raise domestic production and reduce imports," sources said.

To boost oilseeds production, the ministry has proposed up to 37 per cent hike in MSP. It has suggested support price of Rs 3,700 per quintal each for groundnut and sunflower seed and Rs 2,200 per quintal for soyabean for 2012-13.

In 2011-12, MSP of groundnut and sunflower seed was fixed at Rs 2,700-2,800 per quintal. Whereas soyabean MSP was Rs 1,650 per quintal.

With regard to cotton, the ministry has recommended Rs 3,600-3,900 per quintal for 2012-13, as against Rs 2,800-3,300 per quintal last year.

With substantial increase in support price, the Agriculture Ministry aims to achieve a new record in foodgrains production. In 2011-12 crop year, the country is estimated to have harvested bumper 252.56 million tonnes of foodgrains.
Original Article Here

Agriculture at a standstill

Minister of Agriculture Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, speaking passionately during his address at the National Consultation on the White Paper for Agriculture yesterday at the Savannah Hotel. Dr. Estwick indicated that he would resign if his adminstration does not take the agriculture sector seriously.

The agricultural sector in this country is in need of a medium term development plan.

That was but one of the frustrations voiced by Minister of Agriculture Dr. David Estwick, as he lamented the slow pace of diversification within the sector and, by extension, the lack of development.

Estwick, who also holds the Cabinet portfolios for Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, said that successive governments have failed to diversify the agricultural sector and he added that the same ideas that were being promoted as far back as the 1950s are still taking centre stage today. In a wide-ranging address about the agricultural sector, the Minister said that unless somebody is prepared to do what has to be done, he is afraid that the agriculture sector would not move forward.

The Agriculture Minister went as far as to tell the sizable audience of stakeholders gathered at the Savannah Hotel for the National Consultation on the White Paper for Agriculture, that he was fed up that such development was not being taken seriously and he contended, “It is either that my administration is going to take it serious[ly] or I will resign – simple as that. I don’t waste my time, I don’t butt my head against a wall – I either move the wall or I [am] gone.”

Estwick maintained that a medium term development plan was necessary to feed into a long-term development plan to take the sector forward. Moreover, he said that such a plan was lacking because there is a view that Barbados should be a service-driven economy and that, he charged, is the reason why with every recession dating back to the 1970s, Barbados has experienced significant fallout.

Additionally, the Minister expressed concern that his Ministry only receives 1.5 per cent of the national budget, while other countries that understand the importance of agricultural diversification and the contribution of the sector to economic growth and linkages, are spending between six and seven per cent.

“...We are at 1.5 [per cent] and decreasing. So this slow pace of diversifying the Barbados economy is exactly why it is the external shocks become so debilitating to us – because we have no counter,” he said.

The Minister continued, “[But] until we make a concerted effort not to have the Barbados economy be dependent only on tourism and related international business and financial services, we will continue to make the same mistakes we made in the 70s, 80s, 90s and we are making now.”


Moreover, he said that successive governments did not understand and take advantage of the linkages that could have been developed with the health care sector, energy or even tourism. Likewise, he lamented that over the years, the country has failed to see the benefits of technology to agricultural production.

“So we never saw that if we went forward and established a cogeneration plant from the production of biomass – as we are trying to do now with the transformation of the sugar industry to a sugar cane industry – that we would save $50 million in the import of diesel. We never saw that the production of the 23-megawatt plant, cogeneration plant at Andrews – that we are pushing hard to produce – would result in 150 000 megawatts of electricity being produced in Barbados, so that you can now have 75 000 household be supplied by the sugar industry and related biomass. We didn’t understand those things, so we did nothing to execute the transformation,” he said.

Estwick further suggested that the linkages he highlighted would execute the transformation of the local agricultural sector that is urgently required, but that it cannot be fully achieved with only 1.5 per cent of the national budget. He therefore suggested that it will require other investment structures to be put in place that would encourage the private sector to become involved at the level of financing and at the level of joint venture relationships with the Government. (JRT)
Original Article Here

Pakistani daily wonders why no tax on agriculture

For decades Pakistan has "flirted with the idea of imposing taxes on the agricultural sector", but the effort has met with little success, rued a leading daily.
An editorial in the Dawn Thursday said the latest but as yet unpublished agriculture census finds that up to 80 percent of the people in the country's farming sector own just 28 percent of all privately-owned agricultural land.
"The bland statistics obfuscate one of the most serious disconnects in the country," it said.
"Whichever sector is examined, be it agriculture, healthcare, education or practically any other, the elite - who constitute a fraction of the overall population - are using up the overwhelming bulk of the available resources. In plain terms, the minority appropriates what the majority needs to pull itself out of its misery," the daily added.
The editorial said that "for decades the country has flirted with the idea of imposing taxes on the agricultural sector so that the economy as a whole can benefit. The effort has met with little success, given that in many cases the elements that have the power to bring about a veto are the very ones that have large and lucrative stakes in agricultural land and the related economy".
"Will a government ever have the will to bring agriculture into the tax net?" it asked and added: "That remains a moot point."
Original article © IANS / Daily News 2012
UPDATE 1-China investigates Agriculture Bank vice president
(Adds statement from bank)
May 30 (Reuters) - A vice president at Agricultural Bank of China Ltd , China's third largest bank by market value, is under investigation by the Communist Party's discipline authorities, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Yang Kun has not been in his office in over a week, the source told Reuters on Wednesday, and has been taken away by the party's disciplinary body, which typically probes allegations of corruption and other crimes before handing suspects over to judicial authorities.
Agbank's Hong Kong-listed stock closed down 4 percent on Wednesday, while the main index fell 1.9 percent.
The state-owned bank, which has a stock market value of $137 billion and reported January-March net profit of 43.45 billion yuan ($6.8 billion), said Yang was "currently assisting relevant mainland authorities in connection with certain investigations".
"The board is of the view that, as at the date of this announcement, the bank's business, operations and financial status have not been affected," it said in a short statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
"The bank will follow the development of this incident and will make further announcement as and when appropriate."
The website of Chinese magazine Caixin, a respected financial publication, reported separately on Wednesday that Yang had been taken away to assist in an investigation and banned from leaving the country.
The article, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, added that a close relative of his had also been taken in recently for questioning.
Caixin said Yang was suspected of involvement in a gambling case involving a Beijing real estate company.
Nobody answered the telephone at the spokesman's office for the party's discipline body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Yang joined the bank in 1981, a biography on the bank's website shows. His 2011 remuneration was 915,600 yuan, a bank submission showed in March.
The biography says he was responsible for several of the bank's operations, including corporate and consumer banking, the international department and real estate lending.
Historically, Agbank was a policy bank supporting China's farmers under Chairman Mao Zedong. It was the weakest of the big four banks and so was the last to go public.
It held an initial public offering in 2010, selling a record-breaking amount of shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai, raising more than $20 billion. ($1=6.36 yuan) (Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Don Durfee and Anthony Barker)
Original Article Here

Agriculture fair showcases products designed to reduce labour

COIMBATORE: A five day agricultural trade fair, 'Agri Intex 2012' began on Wednesday at CODISSIA in the city. Firms exhibited agricultural equipment designed to reduce the use of labour in agriculture.
Farmers at the exhibition said that due to severe labour shortage, they would consider buying such machines. P Aruchamy, from Udayampalayam who owns 2 acres of land, said that though he cannot afford the machines, the acute labour shortage is forcing him to think about procuring suitable machines.
Officials from firms which develop agricultural infrastructure say that it may take time to convince farmers to buy such machines, but eventually they believed that they would come around.
Rajesh Chikkara, assistant manager of 'Class' an agricultural machinery manufacturer, said that these are products which can reduce dependence on labour and increase the efficiency. "We have a machine called the 'Paddy Panther 14', which can eliminate labour to a great extend. Planting an acre of land with paddy will take 3 to 4 labourers a full day. This machine can plant 3 to 4 acres of land in a day," he said.
For many companies, the focus is on attracting the young. S Muralitharan, an official of 'Redlands' another agricultural manufacturer, said that their firm is planning to make an air conditioned cabin for their machines. "This will appeal to youth," he said.
Syntek Xtreme Fuel Treatment, a liquid which its manufacturers say will increase fuel efficiency and performance of vehicles. Mohan Murali, an executive of the firm said that if a millilitre is mixed with four litres of fuel, this would increase the mileage by 10 to 15 percent.
The exhibition also included show pieces made from coconut products. MG Prabhakaran, an official from the coconut board said that they conduct free training programmes for those interested in developing products from coconuts. Ravindran said that art work is in great demand. Though there are many artists who make such products in Kerala and Orissa, not many people in Coimbatore develop such products, he said. "Coimbatore is an ideal city to make such products as it is filled with coconut farms," an official said.
Original Article Here

Tanzania: Agriculture Sector to Get Hefty Funding

Arusha — The African Development Bank (AfDB) has vowed to help boost the Agriculture Sector in the country through provision of major grants as part of its future strategy to aid developments on the African Continent.
"We are also going to help improve the country's electricity services through improving its infrastructure and funding new power sources including alternative means of generating power," said the AfDB President, Dr Donald Kaberuka.
Speaking to members of the press during the ongoing African Development Group's series of meetings taking place here Dr Kaberuka revealed further that, so far Tanzania is the biggest recipient of the AfDB's grants.
"But we are satisfied with Tanzania's economic performance, which has been holding very well despite challenges of global financial meltdowns. However, the country has a role to maintain the success and the only way to achieve that is through boosting the agriculture sector," said Mr Kaberuka.
He added that ample food production and security is what will help African states to remain immune to the fluctuating global economy stability by making them more self reliant.
But in the Tanzanian case, agriculture is also the biggest employer. So, Tanzania is biggest recipient of AfDB grant funds, with greater focus on road and electricity infrastructure and agriculture. The country receives half a billion US dollars.
The AfDB President also inspected the ongoing construction of the Arusha-Namanga to Athi-River road which links Tanzania to Kenya through a 250 kilometre corridor and which is among the projects that are funded by AfDB.
"I was pleased with the works on Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road which links Arusha City in Tanzania to the Athi-River township of Kenya. The time taken to travel between Nairobi and Arusha is now shorter compared to the past," he said.
"We have high hopes with the single (One-stop) border post about to be constructed at Namanga which will further ease the pace of communication and trade between the two East African Countries," added Mr Kabaruka.The AfDB boss also said that he would send a team of experts from the Bank to technically asses the construction works in the wake of claims that the Tanzanian side of the highway had been badly done.
Recently, the Minister of Works, Dr John Magufuli, ordered the Chinese constructor working on the road to repeat the works on various segments of the 104 kilometre road between Sakina and Namanga Township.
Original Article Here

Agriculture Is Solution To Unemployem

The Global Centre For  Transformational Leadership (GCFTL), an international organization  has  confirmed  an Honorary Doctorate  on the  Managing Director of the Benntronic  Company, a  leading   Kumasi   based   dealers in agro   chemicals  and    other farming inputs, Mr. Benard Kwasi Dwomo   for his  contribution  towards the development of  agriculture in the  country.
 In a citation the Vice President of the GCFTL, Rev.  Dr. Mrs. Comfort  Drusilla  Adu,  indicated  that , Mr. Dwomo  among  a few Ghanaians have played  a  lead  role to propel  the agricultural sector which is the main pivot on which  the national economy revolves.
She  noted that   part  from his  contribution to  sustain agriculture,  he has  equally dotted  branches of his company  in many parts  of the country by which  large number  of the  youth  are  making  their  living.
Speaking to this paper in  a post award interview, Mr. Dwomo  explained that  the new title confirmed on him  would  spur him up  to  do a lot more ,“ I’m very  elated by the   honour  done me  by  this great institution, the award would definitely be a motivational factor  for me  to  go  step  further,” he  remarked.
According to him,  if the vast number of  the graduate jobless persons  could  have ventured into  agriculture, the  situation of the  high rate  of unemployment among them  could  be  reduced if not  eradicated completely.
“The efforts  to eliminate  the  problem of unemployment  among  our university graduates  could be  a thing  of the  past if  they  go into  farming,’’ he said.
He  averred that  country  could boost her agricultural  sector  if such graduates  could  erase   the  notion that  portrays  farming  as the solely  reserved   job  for   the uneducated  and   rather  venture into it.
“The country stands to benefit significantly from the agric sector if those graduates would go into Agriculture,” he added.
He believed  that  the involvement of  graduates  in  farming  would be a good omen for the country  to enhance the process of  modernizing agriculture  in the sense  that  if  vast   percent  of them  were into  agriculture  it would witness  a tremendous  transformation as  technology  and modern  innovations would be  injected into the sector   to make  very attractive.
“I wonder why the country is  endowed  with  vast arable  land  yet  most   graduates  are refusing to  go into the land ,  the over dependency  on the  government to create  white  collar  for them has compounded the situation of  unemployment  among them in recent  times,” he observed.
Mr. Dwomo called   his  client farmers  to always  read and  carefully follow  the  instructions on  the chemicals  they  use  on  their crops  , “as  dealers in agro chemicals  , my humble  advice  to our cherished  farmers out  there is , they should always read and carefully follow the instructions on the chemicals  in  order to avoid over  usage which in  turn could  destroy their crops,” he advised.

Ghana, Brazil seal agricultural equipment deal

By spyghana
Brazil has approved Ghana’s request for the supply of equipment to mechanise the country’s agricultural sector.
This follows a meeting in Brasilia between Vice President John Dramani Mahama and Mr Pepe Vargas, Minister of Agrarian Development of Brazil.
These were contained in a statement issued from the Office of the Vice President in Accra on Wednesday, copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA).
Mr Vargas told Vice President Mahama that Brazil, in line with her earlier commitments, was ready to provide funds for the supply of Brazilian agricultural machinery and equipment to Ghana.
The farm tractors, boom sprayers, planters, water pumps, threshers, reapers, harvesters among others that will be supplied by Brazil is aimed at promoting Ghana’s agricultural sector through mechanisation.
The Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Finance and Economic Planning are expected to validate the prices and terms of financing by the end of next week, for confirmation by the Brazilian Government.
Vice President Mahama explained that once the processes were completed, Cabinet would discuss the details for approval and laying before Parliament for consideration.
Source: GNA
Original Article Here

Bauchi seeks autonomous College of Agriculture

House of Assembly begins amendment of Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic's establishing law

In a bid to facilitate the establishment of an autonomous college of agriculture, the Bauchi State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, began the amendment of the law establishing the Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic.
The amendment followed the adoption of a report by the House Special Committee on the de-merger of the School of Agriculture, Bauchi, from the polytechnic.
Presenting the report, the Chairman of the committee, Baba Abubakar, said the School of Agriculture could not work effectively due to inadequate funding, neglect and bureaucratic bottlenecks.
He added that it was imperative to amend the existing laws of the polytechnic, to fast-track successful take-off of the proposed college.
"The school of agriculture should be an autonomous college from Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, with a governing council," Abubakar said.
"The House should prepare a draft bill for the de-merger of the school to a college, in order to give the concept the enabling environment of sailing through."
He added that the college needed to undergo total renovation and be provided with additional laboratories, classrooms and hostels.
"This is to enable it expand the scope of courses for the manpower needs in the agriculture sector of the state and the country at large."
Abubakar decried the “serious neglect” of the school by the polytechnic management, adding that upgrading the institution to a college would encourage agricultural activity and reduce poverty.
The house, presided over by the Speaker, Yahaya Miya, unanimously adopted the report and ordered its Legal Department to draft a bill for the establishment of a College of Agriculture.
The School of Agriculture, Bauchi, was established in 1971 by the defunct North-Eastern State, to provide manpower in the agriculture sector.
Sequel to the creation of Bauchi State, the school was merged with other tertiary institutions under the polytechnic.
The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) has accredited all 10 Higher National Diploma (HND) and Ordinary National Diploma (OND) courses run by the school.
Original Article Here

Garden wisdom earned, and shared

Jerry Apps, author of several books on gardening, at The Morton Arboretum… (Nuccio DiNuzzo, Tribune…)

A well-seasoned gardener spills the beans on growing vegetables and, OK, even a few flowers
By Nina Koziol, Special to Tribune Newspapers
When you've been gardening for six decades, you're apt to discover a few things in between all the planting, weeding and watering — like the enchanting sound of bird song on a cool summer morning, a hawk gliding overhead in search of a midday meal, or the scent of freshly turned soil, which Jerry Apps describes as a pungent, powerful smell full of history and promise.
A professor emeritus in the department of agriculture and life sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, storyteller, rural historian and author of dozens of books, his newest book is "Garden Wisdom: Lessons Learned From 60 Years of Gardening" (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), and it covers the joys of growing vegetables.
The book contains hard-earned advice along with insights on how tending a garden can lead to a deeper understanding of nature. The project was a family affair, with recipes supplied by Ruth, his wife of 51 years, and photos taken by son Steve Apps at Roshara, the family farm and garden in northwest Waushara County, Wis., 100 miles north of Madison.
We met up with Apps at a recent lecture and book signing at The Morton Arboretum, to unearth his secrets to successful gardening.
Q: You began gardening during the Depression. How do you keep the fourth generation of Apps interested?
A: Gardening is the easiest way to introduce children to nature and to the soil and to help them understand where food comes from. Kids have a terrible time understanding that carrots come out of the ground. And carrots don't grow all the same size — you don't know what you're going to find when you harvest them. That's the mystery and mystique of gardening.
Q: You grow your vegetables in rows. Have you tried other methods?
A: I have a lot of room so I plant in rows, but there are all kinds of ways to do a garden. Square foot gardening (planting in blocks) is a wonderful idea, as is gardening in raised beds.
Q: Do you have a favorite tool?
A: My hoe. I have three hoes and my favorite is one with a 2-inch wide rectangular blade. Hoeing is an integral part of gardening. (He devotes an entire chapter to the art of hoeing.)
Q: Are you surprised at the resurgence in vegetable gardening?
A: In the '60s, the students on the Madison campus decided to grow gardens as part of the back-to-the-land movement. They had no idea of what a hoe was or how to use it. What they didn't understand was that the vegetables grow but so do the weeds, so it wasn't such a romantic idea, but it's come back as a roaring movement.
Q: What's your favorite vegetable?
A: Potatoes, followed by tomatoes. That's because I grew up eating potatoes three times a day during the Depression: fried, baked and in soup. They're nutritious. I went to a one-room country school and in October we had a two-week potato vacation because all the kids picked potatoes. I also grow a Three Sisters Garden: corn in the center, pole beans in a circle around the corn and squash around the outside of the beans. The Indians believed that corn, squash and beans were inseparable sisters that grew and thrived together.
Q: How do you deal with bugs?
A: I avoid all pesticide use. When potato bugs come out, I pick them off and throw them in a bucket of water. Keep an eye out for insects; you'll take care of 70 percent like that.
Q: Your growing season is just 100 days. What's key to harvesting the most vegetables?
A: I plant in stages. To keep track of everything, I use a planting list on a pad of legal paper. I start tomatoes in March indoors for planting outdoors in May. One of the earliest things we do is plant potatoes outdoors. Each potato is cut into sections so it has an "eye" (bud). Buy them from a garden center — don't use supermarket potatoes because they've been treated and the eyes won't grow. Next, radishes and carrots are planted together (outdoors). The radishes come up first and I harvest them, which makes room for the carrots. We love onions and we grow them from sets (dried bulbs). Peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, squash and pumpkins go in next.
Q: What's new in your garden this year?
A: Every year we plant something a little exotic. I like broom corn because the seed heads make great bird seeds. One of the reasons for gardening is the aesthetics of just doing it. Sometimes you plant something just so you can look at it. For example, gourds are really fun. There are little bitty ones and big ones that can be used as birdhouses.
Q: And flowers?
A: I'm really a vegetable gardener, but sunflowers — oh, my gosh — what is more beautiful than to go out in your garden on a sunny day and be welcomed by a sunflower?
Q: What's the most important lesson you've learned?
A: Gardening is a way to connect to nature and the land in one of the most meaningful ways. We're not making any more soil. Through gardening, we learn to be a part of — not apart from — nature. It's also taught me patience. Be surprised and enjoy it. You have to realize that there's more to gardening than putting seeds in the ground and pulling weeds.
Original Article Here

Kibbie to continue promoting agriculture and community colleges in retirement

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
EMMETSBURG, Iowa —Senate President Jack Kibbie is retiring, but don't expect him to disappear.

"I'll still promote the community college system and ag interests," Kibbie said in a recent interview at his home on the shore of Five Island Lake in Emmetsburg.

Kibbie is considered the father of Iowa's community college system and helped develop agricultural legislation during more than 30 years in the Iowa House and Senate.

Kibbie, a Democrat, was elected to his first term in the House in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected president. After two House terms, he was elected to the Senate in 1964.

"That year we had the largest Democratic landslide in the nation's history with a big majority of Democrats in the House and Senate," Kibbie said.

Gov. Harold Hughes campaigned on having four state-owned vocational technical schools in 1964. Kibbie, as a new senator, was asked to chair the Senate Education Committee.

"That was a surprise to me," Kibbie said. "While I'd worked on trying to save the junior colleges (he had two in his district in Emmetsburg and Estherville), I had never had any education beyond high school and people rolled their eyes at that."

In the 1965 session, he worked to broaden the tax base for junior colleges, which at that time were run by kindergarten to 12 schools. Junior colleges got extra state aid, about $1.25 per day for each student. At that time, 16 junior colleges served 9,000 students.

Kibbie's committee met for six weeks crafting SF 550, which created merged area schools under the Department of Public Instruction, now the Department of Education. Hughes agreed to support the proposal if the schools provided primarily vocational technical education. The bill passed out of committee on a bipartisan vote and was debated on the Senate floor for three days.

Iowa ended up with 15 merged area schools. In Kibbie's area junior colleges in Emmetsburg and Estherville became Iowa Lakes Community College. Sheldon, Sioux City, Waterloo and Calmar, which had no community colleges, started vocational programs and later added liberal arts and sciences.

Kibbie was defeated in 1968.

"It was the biggest favor ever done for me," he said. "I had a young family, and I was farming."

In 1971, he began serving on the Iowa Lakes Community College board, a post he held until 1988 when he was re-elected to the Senate. Today, his son, Pat, sits on the board.

Kibbie said the most important part of SF 550 is that it "married liberal arts and vocational education."

"That is what really made the Iowa community college system stick out above all others in the nation," Kibbie said.

The law called for a small amount of property tax for operating and bricks and mortar with the state general fund as the main method of financing.

"That is where the state has failed to keep up with enrollment," Kibbie said. "Enrollment is now 110,000 full-time students."

Tuition is the only flexible funding source so to keep up, community college boards have hiked tuition.

"We're at the point where tuition is getting so high that people are not going to be able to go to school," Kibbie said. "The state needs to step up to the plate."

Community colleges did pretty well during this year's session, but Kibbie said more support is needed.

He is happy for the role he played in creating Iowa's community college system.

"I got a lot of credit, but no one person can do anything," Kibbie said. "It takes everyone working together to accomplish anything."
Original Article Here

US Agriculture Futures Trading

Outside market pressure overshadowed strength in the boxed Beef market and hopes for steady to firmer cash Cattle trade later this week.

Wheat futures were pressured throughout the day. Chicago Wheat ended roughly 0.02 to 0.03 lower. Kansas City closed 0.01 higher in Jul and Sept while deferred months were slightly lower. Minneapolis was 0.06 to 0.08 lower through the Mar contract. While the HRW wheat crop is limping into harvest due to hot and dry conditions in the Southern Plains, fresh supplies are pressuring the market.
Corn futures closed 0.03 to 0.0475 higher in all but the Jul contract, which settled 0.03 lower. All but the Jul contract ended on or near session highs. Futures did not stray far from those levels in after-hours trading. Price action was highly choppy in the corn market today as negative outside markets battled building concerns with this year’s crop given dryness issues, especially in the southern and eastern Corn Belt.
Soybean futures were under pressure much of the day, but they trimmed losses as the day progressed and finished around 0.13 lower in old-crop futures while new-crop futures closed narrowly mixed. Soybean futures continued to improve in after-hours trade. A sharply higher USD and general risk off mode weighed on the Soybean market Wednesday.
Original Article Here

Agriculture show to be bigger and better

The 2012 Crest Agriculture Show is set to be the biggest ever when the event is staged at Churchill Park in Lautoka from August 6 to 11.

With the theme 'Grow Me Fiji', the one-week show will display various ministries, departments and the role they play as well as business houses, financial institutions and stakeholders of the agriculture sector.

Crest Agriculture Show chairman and the Department of Agriculture permanent secretary Mason Smith said the Ministry of Primary Industries was all geared up for a hectic one-week with different activities planned for everyone.

"Special days are set aside for different activities and members of the public are urged to come out in numbers," Mr Smith said.

"The financial sector headed by the Reserve Bank of Fiji will provide information on micro financing that will assist farmers grow their business;  the health sector on NCDs; oratory contests by school children; tourism sector on the promotion of growing local produce and many more."

Crest Company has been awarded the naming rights for the show with a sponsorship of $40,000.

Lautoka City Council also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Agriculture for hosting this year's event. This agreement has prompted the council to give $25,000 in kind for the usage of its facilities.

The event will end with an awards night for the Prime Minister's Crest Agriculture Farmer of the Year Award. Other awards will include Young Farmer of the Year, Woman in Agriculture Award and FSC Sugar Cane Farmer of the Year Award.
Original Article Here
Students mentor students in agriculture
Kynoch classes tour ag complex at Marysville High School
With dirt on their hands or fingers moist from baby goat nibbles, 100 Kynoch Elementary School second-graders toured Marysville High School's new agriculture complex in the last two weeks for a hands-on lesson in plant and animal science.
The children scuttled from station to station, enthusiastically peppering the high school tour guides with questions and comments. The agriculture tour concluded the day-long field trip, which began with a historical tour of downtown Marysville and ended with planting seedlings, plant propagation and meeting goats, pigs and a miniature horse.
"We never get to do anything like this," said Hunter Valencia, 8. "You get to have a plant and take it home. You get to grow your plants and help the community."
The new $1 million complex, which was funded by a voter-approved bond measure, opened last year and includes a barn, greenhouses and corral with bleachers. Agricultural science teacher Bonnie Magill said she's eager to host more field trips and community activities.
"This was the whole point, to make the facility open to the community," she said.
Teacher Laura Anderson was thrilled to have such an educational outing for nearly no cost and something that complements social studies and life sciences children learn in school. At Kynoch, the students have their own greenhouse at school, and some classes have been raising baby chicks this spring.
"They were so excited to see a real garden," she said. "When we get out to water or weed or deadhead, they feel it's the coolest thing."
Anderson also thinks the field trip has deeper influence, although students may be a little young to recognize it.
"This is an agricultural area — they need to know this stuff," she said.
At one station, the second-graders scooped big handfuls of soil into little plastic pots, taking delicate care to nestle in pepper, marigold and sunflower seeds. Nearby, other students plucked trailing vines off mature plants and plopped them into soil.
"We are picking these off the plants and sticking them in the holes to start new plants," explained Jaxon
Finley, 8, as he tucked stems into soil. "It's fun because our teacher has a lot of plants, and we work in our garden at school."
Nearby, other students traversed through a Mediterranean garden as guides explained the plants were drought-tolerant, so they did not get thirsty as often as other plants. And when students explored the cherry, almond, peach and apricot trees, Amber Wagnon, 8, told one of her classmates the green fruit they saw was not yet prime for picking.
"They are supposed to be orange when they are ripe," she said.
A major highlight came when students watched Eli, the miniature horse, get shaved of his long winter coat. As MHS junior Amber Elliot, 16, asked, "You guys want to pet him now?" hands shot into the air and students crowded at the gate for a chance to rub his soft, velvety sides.
"I think it was cool because we got to see the horses being shaved and see how they feel," said Christina Hatfield, 8. "I would describe it as soft. It kind of felt weird."
Students soon moved into the ag barn with shouts of "Hey piggy, piggy. Oink, oink." A few bleated greetings at the goats before reaching in for a feel, giggling as the baby animals nibbled on their fingers.
"Because they wanted to drink off the bottles," said Kayla Hodges, 8. "They think it was the mother."
Tour guide Marisa Marquard, 16, said the field trip combined two of her favorite activities — spending time in the arboretum and being with kids.
"They got to learn a lot about what they are going to be doing in the future when they get to high school," she said.
Marquard and her classmates said they enjoyed seeing younger students get so excited about the plants and animals.
"I think it's great to open their eyes to what options they have if they want to go into ag," said junior Brooke Fletcher, 17. "Kids are awesome."
CONTACT Ashley Gebb at or 749-4783. Find her on Facebook at /ADagebb or on Twitter at @ADagebb.
Original Article Here

Crops unsafe after 2011 disaster

AP Photo
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Last year’s crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat, but Toraaki Ogata is back at his rice paddies, driving his tractor trailing neat rows of seedlings. He’s living up to his family’s proud, six-generation history of rice farming, and praying that this time his harvest will not have too much radiation to sell.
That conflict is shared by several thousand farmers in more than 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres) of Fukushima, where some of last year’s harvest exceeded government safety standards because of radiation released when the March 2011 tsunami set off the world’s second-worst nuclear accident.
For their rice to be sold, it will have to be tested — every grain of it.
“All I can do is pray there will be no radiation,” Ogata, 58, said last week, wiping his sweat during a break in his 1.5-hectare paddy 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. “It’s not our fault at all, but the land of our ancestors has been defiled.”
Rice farming is almost sacred in rural Japan, and the government protects farmers with tight restrictions on imports. Many farmers are too close to the nuclear disaster to return to the fields, but others have gotten the go-ahead, even with the risk their harvests may end up being too radiated to ship.
Hopes are high in this major agricultural northeastern prefecture (state) that farmers will meet the unprecedented challenge of producing safe-to-eat rice in contaminated soil.
Following orders from the government, they have sprinkled zeolite, a pebble-like material that traps radioactive cesium, and added fertilizer with potassium to help block radiation absorption. That work is part of the 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) Tokyo has allocated for decontamination efforts this year.
There had been no time for that last year. Tens of thousands of bags of rice from that harvest were too radiated to be sold. The government bought those crops, which sit in giant mounds in storage.
Rice planting has been banned in the most contaminated areas, but the government allowed it at some farms in areas that produced contaminated rice last year, including Ogata’s. After the October harvest, their rice will be run through special machines that can detect the tiniest speck of radiation.
Ogata is filled with uncertainty. Though the government recently set up a system to buy and destroy his crop from last year, he has no assurances that it will do so again if this year’s rice can’t be eaten.
He also doesn’t know which experts to believe. Scientists often come to Fukushima to discuss radiation at neighborhood meetings, but some say there will be no health effects at all, while others say tens of thousands may get sick.
Radiation is expected to decline year by year. But Ogata and other farmers acknowledge they are in for a long haul.
Japan has a safety limit of radiation exposure at 1 millisievert per year, although some areas in Fukushima measure higher at about 20 millisieverts. A 20-kilometer (12-mile) no-go zone was set around the nuclear plant, displacing some 100,000 people.
Right next to the no-go zone, in Minami Soma, 135 farms have been granted special permission to plant rice as an experiment but on the condition that all rice, regardless of radiation levels, will be destroyed.
“We couldn’t even plant last year. We are doing everything we can as a whole town so we will be growing rice next year,” said Yukio Nishi, a Minami Soma agricultural cooperative official.
The government toughened its restrictions on radiation in rice and other food from April to 100 becquerels a kilogram (2 pounds) from the emergency 500 becquerels set in March last year. The limits are lower for milk, baby food and drinking water.
Medical experts say risks from low-dose radiation can’t be ruled out, but it may be impossible to prove whether a person got cancer from radiation or something else.
Exposure is cumulative and differs among individuals, depending on size and age, diet and habits. Certain foods, such as mushrooms and bamboo shoots, tend to be high in radiation. And children are more susceptible to radiation-related sicknesses.
“The balance that the government is now trying to strike is between allowing people to stay in the Fukushima area and recover their lives, and keeping the rest of Japan happy about buying food,” said Edward Lazo, who advises Fukushima as a radiation expert at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency. “And that’s a really difficult job.”
Christopher Clement, an expert at the International Commission on Radiological Protection, a global nonprofit authority on radiation health, says the food standards in Fukushima are safe. They are lower than the maximums set in Europe after Chernobyl.
Still, people across Japan — and even in Fukushima — are shunning food grown here, though Takeshi Takagi, a manager at the York Benimaru supermarket chain, said customers are gradually returning to locally grown produce.
York Benimaru has clearly labeled shelves for Fukushima-grown food, and bright banners encouraging shoppers to support local farmers. But some pass right by.
“We have our rice shipped from outside Fukushima,” said Tomohiko Hashimoto, a 30-year-old house-husband, strolling his infant son through the aisles. “We’re careful about what the mother eats, too. She is breastfeeding.”
Last year’s sales of Fukushima vegetables and fruit on the Tokyo wholesale market were 20 percent lower than the 2010 total, according to Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market data. Masataka Kase, spokesman for Tokyo Seika Co., a major wholesaler, said the drop came from crop damage from the disaster, shipment bans for radiation and consumer fears about Fukushima.
Ogata won’t need to sell his rice to skeptics. He plans to sell some of his 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of rice direct to customers he has cultivated for years, families who live in the area. The rest he will sell to a local farming cooperative that distributes to corporate buyers, such as restaurants, that are more willing to buy Fukushima rice.
A handful of farmers are giving up on growing rice. Some are switching to flowers, which don’t require radiation checks. Others are suing Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operates Fukushima Dai-ichi, for damages.
Fukushima farmer Shoichi Watanabe is angry he even has to worry about radiation.
“See how peaceful this place is,” he said, pointing to paddies filled with gently croaking frogs. “I want to say at the top of my lungs that we would not be going through all this suffering — if only Tokyo Electric had done its job right.”

Original Article Here


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