Friday, 30 November 2012
By Hadi Laghari
Today, banana growers from Thatta Sindh..........has reported that I have lost my 8 acres due to this problem in my banana plantation & this problem has now being shifting to neighboring banana fields........Initially preliminary lab tests suggested that it was Erwinia "a bacteria" but now it seems that it is much more than Erwinia perhaps a fusarium if it is then I think it is much bigger threat
I have planned to go & visit the site & prepare the samples to be sent to following...........for fusarium it's free..........
Dr Gert HJ Kema (Netherlands)
Senior Scientist Pathogen Genetics
Wageningen UR, Plant Sciences Group, Plant Research International Secretary European Federation for Plant Pathology
A new info graphic that maps the progress of the agricultural sector in addressing climate change throughout the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations has been launched on the sidelines of this year's climate summit in Doha.
Launched ahead of Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day 5 on December 3, The Story of Agriculture and Climate Change: The Road We've Travelled highlights significant events in the international calendar, such as the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the initiation of REDD in 2005 and the first ever Agriculture and Rural Development Day in 2009.
"Agriculture is already being hard hit by climate change and the outlook is even worse. However there are many options for adaptation, and some of these even bring mitigation co-benefits," said Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research program.
Agriculture supports over 1 million of the world's rural poor, yet is responsible for 80% of overall deforestation and an estimated 31 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing agricultural yields and improving farming techniques are just some the way that the sector could help reduce its overall contribution to climate change.
As such negotiators at COP18 in Doha must "support the unique role of agriculture in the global climate change response", argues Tracy Gerstle, co-Chair of Farming First.
The infographic features a call-to-action from 19 of the world's leading agricultural organisations, calling for the creation of a Work Programme on Agriculture under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice (SBSTA) - a scientific advisory group to the UNFCCC.
It is hoped that a new SBSTA work programme would document and share knowledge of improved agricultural practices to inform decision-making around agriculture and climate change to the UNFCCC's Conference of the Parties as they prepare national strategies to address climate change.
"Now is the time to act. Farmers around the world are experiencing the impacts of climate change today and they need support if they are to adapt. Farming can also become part of the solution, given the potential of agriculture to mitigation," added Gerstle.
The infographic was created by Farming First, a coalition of farmers associations, engineers and scientists, in partnership with the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research program (CCAFS) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
Thursday, 29 November 2012
THE Ministry of Agriculture has sacked its director of communications, Cecil Thoms, who was accused by junior minister Ian Hayles of taping his conversations without permission.
The sacking comes less than a day after Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn ruled that no criminal offence was committed, after reviewing the file submitted by the police on the alleged taping.
"My lawyer and I are examining all possible legal options for breach of redress and, therefore, we will be contesting this because clearly there has been a breach of natural justice and we think that it is something that is worth contesting," Thoms told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Thoms, a former radio reporter, said the Public Service Commission (PSC) in terminating his services cited Section 23, Sub-section 3 of the Public Service Regulation of 1961, which states that "you do not need a reason to fire someone who is on probation".
"But Thoms has taken issue with the way in which the matter was handled, noting that he was not on probation and had been with the ministry since May 2010.
"My dismissal was unfair and given the circumstances, especially in light of the director of public prosecution's ruling, it could have been handled differently," he added. DPP Paula Llewellyn had recommended that both parties seek to have the matter mediated in the best interest of all.
In the meantime, Thoms' attorney Patrick Bailey said his client was dismissed unfairly, adding that they were exploring all their options.
DOHA, Qatar (28 November 2102)_A new infographic that maps the progress of the agricultural sector in addressing climate change throughout the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations has been launched on the sidelines of this year’s climate summit in Doha.
Launched ahead of Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day 5 on December 3, The Story of Agriculture and Climate Change: The Road We’ve Travelled highlights significant events in the international calendar, such as the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the initiation of REDD in 2005 and the first ever Agriculture and Rural Development Day in 2009.
“Agriculture is already being hard hit by climate change and the outlook is even worse. However there are many options for adaptation, and some of these even bring mitigation co-benefits,” said Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research program.
Agriculture supports over 1 million of the world’s rural poor, yet is responsible for 80% of overall deforestation and an estimated 31 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing agricultural yields and improving farming techniques are just some the way that the sector could help reduce its overall contribution to climate change.
As such negotiators at COP18 in Doha must “support the unique role of agriculture in the global climate change response”, argues Tracy Gerstle, co-Chair of Farming First.
The infographic features a call-to-action from 19 of the world’s leading agricultural organisations, calling for the creation of a Work Programme on Agriculture under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice (SBSTA) – a scientific advisory group to the UNFCCC.
It is hoped that a new SBSTA work programme would document and share knowledge of improved agricultural practices to inform decision-making around agriculture and climate change to the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties as they prepare national strategies to address climate change.
“Now is the time to act. Farmers around the world are experiencing the impacts of climate change today and they need support if they are to adapt. Farming can also become part of the solution, given the potential of agriculture to mitigation,” added Gerstle.
BY EVA MEIGNEN
Maputo — On November 27, the CTA organized a seminar followed by a discussion on the preliminary results of the study entitled "Taxation in the agricultural sector in Mozambique", funded by USAID / SPEED.
The study, made by Jo Beth Mertens and presented by the economic adviser of the CTA, Hipolito Hamela, presents taxation in agriculture with an emphasis on exit tax of 20%, the absence of documents, such as invoices and receipts issued by the peasants for tax purposes, the existence of numerous peasants without Individual Number of Tax Registration (NUIT) that are outside the tax system.
According to the study, the requirement of "documented expenses" for tax purposes and the exit tax are the two major problems that negatively affect the agricultural sector. Several recommendations were made, including:
Do not require registration to the regime of Simplified Tax for Small Taxpayer (ISPC) from producers having a turnover of less than 36 monthly minimum wages, highest minimum wage as at 31 December of the year preceding that to which the activity refers.
The elimination of the simplified VAT system, rendered useless by the existence of the ISPC, because in reality, ISPC replaces the simplified VAT system.
Changing the VAT Act with a clear indication of the products that are exempt and those that apply a zero tax rate.
The representative of the Tax Authority noted that it was important not to encourage measures to promote non-tax registration and noted that 24,000 "disseminators" had been trained and certified by the Tax Authority to disseminate tax information in the districts.
Questions have been raised about Law of Freight Transport, which requires among other things that the carrier, buyer and seller of goods hold a NUIT; VAT and the application of high customs tariffs on imported goods of prime necessity in the agricultural value chain, such as milk substitutes and food for animals, prevent Mozambican agriculture to be competitive.
In conclusion, it was emphasized that these fiscal problems were not limited to agriculture but involved different sectors of the economy.
BY MASAHUDU ANKIILU
The European Commission has signed a co-operation agreement with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) to improve the protection of traditional agricultural products (geographical indications -GIs) in Africa.
This will involve, among other matters, promoting the GI legal framework, informing producers and other stakeholders and enhancing the public's awareness of GIs and their potential for African producers.
The following names have been proposed as candidate for GI protection in joint work carried out by the EU and the African Union. These include: Ghana Fine Flavour Cocoa, Shama shea butter from Ghana, Rooibos and Karoo lamb, both from South Africa and Rift Valley Coffee from Tanzania.
Dacian CioloÅÂŸ, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said "This cooperation will result in better protection for farmers' traditional and indigenous products across Africa. This is an important initiative, which will help secure the interests of African farmers."
He added, "I urge officials on both sides to work together and with stakeholders to make the geographical indications programme a reality in 2013. This will make a strong contribution to the FAO's International Year of Family Farming in 2014."
Speaking at the opening plenary of the 36th session of ARIPO's Administrative Council in Zanzibar, Tanzania, where the agreement was signed, Dr Gift Sibanda, ARIPO's Director General, declared "I am delighted with this agreement.
We took a strategic decision last year to develop geographical indication protection. Through this cooperation with the Commission, we hope to build a system of effective GI protection, suited to African farmers' needs."
Instructively, the (non-legally binding) agreement is an administrative memorandum of understanding in which the Commission's agricultural department and ARIPO undertake to work together in development of GIs.
The EU has developed over time a comprehensive scheme of protection of geographical indications, which encourages diverse agricultural production, protects product names from misuse and imitation and helps consumers with information on specific characteristics of products.
In December 2011 the ARIPO Council adopted a decision to develop a system for protection of geographical indications. The Commission has worked with ARIPO through regional seminars to promote the use of intellectual property rights in inter-regional and international trade.
The present memorandum of understanding will formalise this cooperation in respect of geographical indications.
ARIPO is based in Harare, Zimbabwe, and brings together 18 member countries (Botswana, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and 12 observers.
"She has literally been fiddling while our agricultural heartland burns," Democratic Alliance spokeswoman Annette Steyn said in a statement.
"It is her responsibility to ensure adequate disaster relief funding transfers from the national budget to provinces ravaged by natural disasters."
She claimed Joemat-Pettersson had issued no instructions to secure relief from the national budget for provinces affected by fires.
The DA was also unhappy that Joemat-Pettersson had not called for an assessment of the extent of fire damage.
Steyn said this was "the last straw", and accused the minister of a number of failings in the past three weeks.
"[Joemat-Pettersson] implicitly condoned violence in the Western Cape by saying that she would instruct the National Prosecuting Authority to withdraw all charges... against those responsible for causing bloodshed in the wildcat [farm labour] strikes."
She also failed to reduce the total allowable catch for rock lobster, despite scientific evidence that the present quotas put the sustainability of the marine delicacy at risk.
"[Joemat-Pettersson] displayed a blank cheque attitude toward public money."
This was a reference to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's finding that Joemat-Pettersson had violated the executive ethics code during a trip to Sweden in December 2009.
The business trip was combined with a family holiday, which started on December 23, at the end of her official trip.
Madonsela said on Monday the department's acting director general should recover about R150 000 the minister incurred for return flights for her two children and their au pair from Sweden to South Africa in January 2010.
The ministry's spokeswoman Palesa Mokomele responded to this on Tuesday.
"The perception by the media that the minister was extravagant is rejected with the contempt it deserves."
The ministry, however, welcomed Madonsela's recommendation of remedial action.
Mokomele said she would respond to Steyn's statement as soon as possible.
Original article Here
Organic Agriculture may just hold the key to these problems. It is one of the best practices that ensure environmental sustainability by sustaining soil fertility, ecosystems and the health of people. It relies on locally adapted improved ecological processes and cycles as well as natural biodiversity rather than the use of synthetic inputs and genetically modified materials.
Published studies show that organic farming systems are more resilient to predicted weather extremes and can produce higher yields than conventional farming systems (Drinkwater, Wagoner and Sarrantonio 1998; Welsh, 1999; Pimentel, 2005).
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is currently advocating the adoption of organic agriculture worldwide.
World-wide local governments need to promote such agricultural practices that boost local agricultural yields, thereby helping alleviate failing crop yields. In Africa, countries like Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda; currently suffer from extreme droughts, floods and invasion of migratory pests that affect crops.
Organic agriculture can be the solution. Let’s think sustainability for future generations!
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Dharambir Dhami, an agriculture expert, said: "The weather is cold and dry. It's so dry that children are falling sick and same is the case with old people. It's really difficult. Also, the farmers are suffering. Agriculture and horticulture have taken a severe hit. Apple production has also been adversely affected and farmers incurred heavy loss. Agriculture is in a bad shape, the last season was bad and even this year there is little hope, as farmers have not been able to cultivate wheat as yet."
Dhami also said that apple production would particularly be affected in the low-lying regions of the state.
The dry weather has also affected the production of other crops such as wheat as the growth of the crop is dependent on a good amount of rainfall
Although not cold by the standards of Europe and North America, the drop in temperature can have a devastating effect on the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in India. (ANI)
President Pranab Mukherjee today sought a rethink on agricultural sector to ensure food security in the country and said a coherent and comprehensive policy having synergy among various elements be put in place.
He also stressed on the necessity for a collaboration between the states and the central government on monitoring and appraisal of various schemes in the agricultural sector.
"We need to do a rethink on agriculture in India. We need to do this urgently to ensure food security in India. We must have in place a coherent and comprehensive policy that has synergy among its various elements," he said inaugurating the 'International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture for Food and Livelihood Security'.
The conference was organised to mark the golden jubilee celebrations of Punjab Agricultural University here.
Mukherjee said government's initiatives are of little use without efficient systems for their implementation and sought a coordinated and integrated approach at the grassroots level to implement various schemes for agriculture sector.
He suggested various measures to put in place a comprehensive strategy to accelerate agriculture growth after identifying priorities and acting swiftly.
He put training and entrepreneurship development high on his priority and said it required urgent attention.
"To this, I would add the task of developing and reaching appropriate technology to farmers, agricultural marketing reforms, studying the present yield gaps and methods to harvest wastelands, address wastage and overuse of fertilisers and develop simple IT tools for farmers that are user friendly," he said.
Seeking farm mechanisation he suggested linking farms with markets to help employment generation, entrepreneurship development and increased profits to farmers.
Mukherjee also suggested investment in food processing sector to give it a major boost by providing fiscal incentives and easy land leasing policies, especially in rural areas, for it to become a lucrative option, both for farmers and private sector that was willing to invest.
He also sought increase of expenditure on research and development in the agriculture sector from the current level of 0.6 of GDP to 1 per cent in the 12th Five Year Plan.
"I believe that a multi-pronged strategy involving technological development, new marketing methods, precision in farm operations and innovative polices instruments is required to ensure agriculture sustainability and food and livelihood security," he said.
As part of the reassessment process of the sector, he sought mapping and indexing of crops and livelihood to anticipate market demand to ensure maximum output that would give the country an edge in the global market.
Earlier, Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil suggested use of latest technology to extend agricultural knowledge and take up the present and future challenges confronting the humanity.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said agriculture should be made remunerative and the agrarian sector brought out of the present crisis.
The head of Australia's biggest agricultural company believes Australia could be at risk from invasion unless it makes the most of its assets to feed the region. David Farley told a business lunch the country needed to pay more attention to the agriculture sector and develop policies to help it lift production.
Monday, 26 November 2012
NEW DELHI: The country's farm sector is at "crossroads" despite growth in production, due to pressure of growing population, depleting resources, climate change and constraints in availability of cheaper technology, among other things, Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar said here today.
Even as considerable progress has been made in raising India's foodgrains output from 52 million tonnes in 1951-51 to a record 257.44 million tonnes in 2011-12, per capita consumption of most of the food items in the country is still lower than the desired level, he said.
"The agriculture sector has undergone a considerable change during the last two decades, but is atcrossroads today with the pressure of increasing population, rising income and prices, dietary changes, depleting natural resources, fragmented land holdings and non-availability of less costly technology, he said.
Anwar, who was addressing the International Agronomy Congress here, also expressed concern over the rising population putting pressure on farm land which he said was shrinking due to its use for non-agricultural purposes.
According to official data, the per capita availability of land has fallen from 0.91 hectare in 1951 to about 0.32 hectare in 2001 and it is expected to decline further to 0.09 hectare by 2050.
The Minister said climate change would have its effect on crops and milk/fish production. He said mitigation measures through systematic research are important to meet future challenges of food and livelihood security.
"More planned efforts are required on production and marketing fronts, in the coming years," he said. He said for meeting the desired farm growth, there was a need to achieve incremental productivity gains and technology diffusion across regions.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Agriculture Charandas Mahant said scientists should come up with solutions to address challenges of producing more with less resources.
The 3rd International Agronomy Congress organised jointly by Indian Agronomy Society and government research body ICAR will deliberate in the next four days on agricultural diversification, climate change management and ways to improve farm livelihood.
The FINANCIAL -- Increased research in weed control is urgently required now to address the severe agricultural problems of today and tomorrow.
As Bayer AG announced, this was a fundamental consensus among all participants of a two-day symposium in Frankfurt and Monheim organized by Bayer CropScience. Sixteen renowned external participants, among them the Nobel Prize-winners in Chemistry Professor Robert Huber and Professor Hartmut Michel, discussed possible solutions and ways forward with some 40 experts from Bayer CropScience.
“For over 25 years no herbicide for broad acre crops with a new mode of action and commercial relevance has been discovered and brought to market by the global crop science industry,” said Dr. Hermann Stübler, Head of Research Frankfurt and Weed Control Research at Bayer CropScience. “There is tremendous selection pressure for herbicide resistance in weeds in all major row crops, and options are shrinking. Weed resistance is a growing problem that is changing agronomic practices and threatening the long-term viability of economical weed control,” added Professor Stephen Powles, Director at the University of Western Australia.
The objective of the symposium was to discuss options for an urgent turnaround in weed-control research. For this purpose, the participants worked in groups on different topics such as how to increase our understanding of plants as whole systems; focusing on new ways to discover new herbicide modes of action and improve chemical lead discovery; and defining collaboration opportunities with leading institutes. The successful moderation of the workshops and the resulting recommendations were thanks to the personal commitment of Professor Herbert Waldmann, Director at the Max-Planck-Institute (MPI) for Molecular Physiology, Professor Detlef Weigel, Director at the MPI for Developmental Biology, and two pioneers in plant molecular biology and founders of several biotech companies, Professor Lothar Willmitzer, Director of the MPI for Molecular Plant Physiology, and Professor Marc Zabeau, Head of the Technology Transfer Office at the University of Ghent.
As Professor Willmitzer stressed in his presentation of the results, “The need for new herbicides with alternative modes of action and/or resistance breaking capabilities is more urgent than ever. This could be achieved by increasing the efforts towards research into plant systems biology and systematically screening for novel in vivo phenotyping technologies followed by elucidating the underlying molecular targets and pathways. This scientifically challenging task could be addressed via innovative collaboration models, for example by setting up science hubs at scientific hot-spots with resources shared with public research organizations, such as the MPI. We have to look at new sources for novel compounds, including natural products, and engage in further dialog with our health care colleagues. Another innovation source would be the development of truly synergistic formulations combining herbicides with novel modes of action.”
Sunday, 25 November 2012
The increased use of technology in the agricultural sector can continue to generate more income for the country and help Malaysia become self-sufficient in its food production.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the agricultural sector must be modernised to make it a more value-added industry.
He said the government had approved RM200 million which has been utilised for the Technofund scheme under the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi).
“Through this, more than RM7.5 billion worth of value- added products have been produced under the National Key Economic Areas for agriculture, ranging from that under the biotechnology and biomass sectors, as well as many others,” Muhyiddin said, adding that the value-added products can create new riches for the country.
He reiterated that the agriculture and agro-based in dustry's scope also needs to be widened to meet the varied needs of many, as well as in addressing the issue of food security.
“Food security still remains unresolved and is afflicting the global community.
“Although our country is still working to become a self- sufficient nation, we still need to produce more to be able to export it to other countries and address food shortages, given the increasing global population,” he added.
Muhyiddin also called on youths to participate in the agriculture and agro-based industry and discard stereotypes that the industry did not offer good returns.
“With the increased use of modern technology, youths can put their creativity and skills to good use in this sector.”
He said that with the right training programme, youths can be absorbed into the agriculture and agro-based industry.
Muhyiddin said that the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism International Show (MAHA) 2012 is a great platform to exchange knowledge.
Muhyiddin was speaking after visiting the MAHA 2012 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) here yesterday.
The event which began on Nov 23, has already received more than 600,000 visitors in just two days and will end on Dec 2.
SERDANG: A SECOND echelon in the agriculture sector is needed as the nation needs to sustain this crucial sector.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the second echelon should comprise of the younger generation who could incorporate modern technology and innovation into the sector.
He said restructuring the agriculture sector into a modernised field could bring in big returns as it had huge potential.
He said this at the opening of the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism International Show 2012 (Maha) and also the Farmers, Breeders and Fishermen's Day 2012, here yesterday.
Najib said Maha was the perfect platform to trigger innovative thinking and changes to the agriculture sector.
He said the nation's transformation in the agriculture sector had been positive and credited it mainly to innovative thinking.
He said the agro food sector contributed RM6.7 billion for the third quarter of the nation's gross domestic product, up 6.4 per cent from last year.
"This proves that transformation in the agriculture sector has happened and is continuing."
He said crop, livestock and the fisheries subsectors registered positive growth, at RM2.6 billion or 7.6 per cent, RM1.7 billion or 7.1 per cent and RM2.4 billion or 4.7 per cent, respectively.
The export value of food products from January to June 2012 amounted to RM9.9 billion, an increase of 2.8 per cent compared with the same period last year.
"The government will continue to focus on the agriculture sector to increase national income from projects like oil palm, rubber, high-value herbs and padi."
Later during his visit to the various booths and pavilions, Najib launched a new padi variety produced by Mardi.
The new variety named MR 269 is a normal inbred variety which has a better resistance against the leaf blast disease and pests.
He also launched a mill specifically for the fragrant rice.
Present were Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, secretary-general of the ministry Datuk Mohd Hashim Abdullah, and the director-general of Mardi Datuk Dr Abd Shukor Abd Rahman.
The seventh edition of MAHA started on Friday and will last until next Sunday.
It is hosted by the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry and organised by MARDI.
More than 2,200 local and foreign companies from 23 countries are participating in the show.
CORNER BROOK Their areas of expertise may be a little different, but Dave Jennings and Antony Card both see collaboration as a necessity for the agriculture industry.
Jennings, a director with the Department of Natural Resources, said agriculture is a growing industry that is essential to the future of the province.
“It’s one of the basic strategic things that we need to do in this province is to have a healthy agriculture sector.”
Jennings made those comments following the conclusion of the “Our Food, Our Future, Growing the Agriculture Industry in Newfoundland and Labrador” conference Friday.
He said the event was aimed at creating collaborative efforts and formalizing a relationship between the Department of Natural Resources, agrifoods, Memorial University, Agriculture Canada, and the Research and Development Corporation.
Jennings said research and development will be a major component of growing the industry.
“We know we have a lot of questions to answer to help this industry grow,” he said.
Questions around new crops, diversification of the industry, land base management and climate change.
Helping answer those questions is where Grenfell will play a role.
Card, associate vice-president (research) at Grenfell said the university is investing $8 million in its environmental science labs and will be hiring five research professors who will work across the forestry and agriculture disciplines.
“We will be at the high end of research and development,” said Card.
“That’s how we will lead.”
Card said the conference was all about bringing the various parties and stakeholders together.
“We know what we’re doing but we needed to engage the others and to start that conversation. Today is the start of the conversation.
“It’s the watershed event that actually brings everybody together.”
Saturday, 24 November 2012
“Make no mistake about it. Our region is in the throes of the greatest crisis since independence. The specter of evolving into failed societies is no longer a subject of imagination. How our societies crawl out of this vicious vortex of persistent low growth, crippling debt, huge fiscal deficits, and high unemployment is the single most important question facing us at this time. Indeed, if CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) wishes to be relevant to the lives of the people of the region, then that issue should dominate its deliberations at the next summit. CARICOM cannot be seen to be impotent when societies and economies are at risk, on the brink of collapse.” These were the words of Dr. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia to a meeting of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry on October 31.
While fighting an uphill battle in an unfriendly global economic environment, a key part of the Caribbean’s socio-economic descent has to with the collective failure to take the necessary steps to integrate the region and find alternatives to support agricultural production. Due to the dictates of World Trade Organization (WTO) which dismantled protected trade agreements with Europe, a great deal of the Caribbean agricultural industry was left for dead. It was assumed that due to economies of scale the Caribbean was producing agricultural goods in an inefficient manner and that they should free up their human resources to focus on areas in which they held a “comparative advantage” (i.e. tourism or offshore financial services—which catered to powerful interests).
This feeling was so pervasive that in the late 1980s U.S. Secretary for Agriculture John Block argued that “The idea that developing countries should feed themselves is an anachronism from a bygone era. They could better ensure their food security by relying on U.S. agricultural products, which are available, in most cases, at much lower cost.”
Much to the surprise of the expert economists, the comparative advantage to replace agriculture never showed up. The small farmers of the Caribbean were forced into redundancy and the results are telling. During the start of the U.S. led “Banana War” at the WTO twenty years ago the countries which form CARICOM produced a net agricultural surplus of roughly $3 billion; today CARICOM’s food import bill stands at $3.5 billion per year. The loss of agricultural jobs contributed significantly to the sharp rise in unemployment, poverty, and hunger, with it also contributing to a sharp decline in government revenues. Furthermore, according to Ryerson University’s Center for Studies in Food Security much of the newly imported food is harmful, as “nutrition-related, chronic non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are the main causes of disability, illness, and death in the region”.
Given that the Caribbean is one of the most fertile regions on the planet and that it was colonized primarily for agricultural reasons, the fact that most of the Caribbean countries are now designated as Net Food Importing Developing Countries—meaning that they cannot grow their own food—is highly problematic. While this is predominately due to the actions of the WTO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and bi-lateral loan conditions, the Caribbean leaders must take responsibility as well for not moving fast enough to build new links in the agricultural sector and reduce vulnerability due to high levels of food insecurity.
However, the delay on diversification should not be considered as a very recent phenomenon, as many Caribbean dependency theorists and progressive politicians also warned about the ongoing overreliance of the region on outward oriented protected trade agreements. Expressing the demand for greater economic self determination, diversification, and shift away from unequal trading, during the short lived St. Lucia Labour Party government of Allan Louisy, Winston Cenac and George Odlum remarked that:
“We (St. Lucia) have inherited our export economy in which the very operation of the economy was geared to external and not domestic demands and needs. The best resources in our country were utilized for producing the export staple .... Whatever resources remained, which were both few in both quantity and quality, could not satisfy our domestic requirements. The result was a large import bill and a disincentive to local production fostered by an attitude which maintained that foreign goods or anything with a foreign label was superior to our local products. The basic problem associated with the import/export economy lay also with the nature of our exports and imports. Our exports are primary products like bananas which suffer from the vagaries of the weather and sensitivity of their prices to factors outside our control .... Our imports, on the other hand, are high valued goods, covering every category from food to capital goods.”
The new service oriented direction that the Caribbean was forced into was not much different from the unequal trading terms which existed under agriculture. Looking at the nature of the tourism industry for example, in all inclusive resorts, all guests pre-pay for their visits, and such a great deal of the money does not come into circulation in the local economy. In addition, a great deal of the food is imported, as seen by the 2006 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association study titled The Caribbean Accommodation Sector as a Consumer of Locally Produced Goods and Contributor to Government Revenue, which revealed that less than 20% of fresh fruit, fish, and eggs were acquired locally. Furthermore, a 2008 World Bank study titled OECS Increasing Linkages of Tourism with Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Service Sectors which showed that food imports for the tourism sector were estimated at a value of US$366 million, representing 20-25% of total agricultural imports.
While many Caribbean economies were overdependent on protected banana exports, the banana industry was highly regarded for the levels of economic growth due to what economists refer to as the “multiplier effect.” Bananas affectionately became known as “Green Gold” amongst the small farmers, as the steady prices enabled them to raise their humble standard of living. Due to the nature of the banana industry, the farmers spent their income in the local economy, creating spinoff jobs, which leads to more spending and the cycle continued.
While the United Nations has announced that the Caribbean is geographically unable to provide 100% food security, Belize Guyana and Suriname, with comparatively larger land masses, can do a great deal to reduce the region’s vulnerability. There are some small slivers of hope, as last month, Guyana and Trinidad announced the creation of a food-security facility with hopes of increasing agricultural and livestock production, reducing dependence on foreign food imports, and at the same time encouraging the regional goal to reduce food insecurity in CARICOM by 25% by the year 2015. Jamaica has recently announced in April that it would be launching a $150 million, 2,000 acre rice cultivation project. These are all promising steps in the right direction.
While refocusing on agriculture will not be a salvation in and of itself, it provides the opportunity for some stability for the region’s most vulnerable people. The resources, markets, and technical knowhow and experience of the Caribbean population already exists, it is just being underutilized. Additionally, governments must be stronger when dealing with the tourist industry and mandate that they must buy local first, then secure imports after. By supporting the agricultural sector, it will free up a great deal of revenue for health and education projects which are currently used up on food imports.
Furthermore, regional and national banks must offer credit to expand production and improve technology for small scale farmers. If the leaders simply continue to talk and do nothing to deepen regional integration, then Dr. Anthony’s warning of becoming a failed society will become reality. The real test will be to see which government takes the lead to make sure that this doesn’t happen—and whether others will do their part to implement the much needed reforms.
By Dave Keating
One of the most important aspects of the budget talks will be what happens to agriculture funding. In the latest compromise draft, put forward by European Council President Herman van Rompuy, funding for agriculture would be cut by €14.5 billion, a 6% cut from the European Commission's proposal. Farmers warn that this could have a devastating effect on European agriculture.
This afternoon, farmers organisation Copa-Cogeca outlined what it believes is at stake. “Agriculture spending, which is less than 1% of EU expenditure, has been falling continuously for many years while other countries like the US, China and Brazil are investing strongly in their agricultural sector to maintain competitiveness,” said the organisation's Christian Pees.
“The [Van Rompuy] draft would be a further cut in agriculture expenditure, on top of the EU Commission proposals which already reduce the CAP budget by 10% in real terms.” The compromise, he said, would mean a cut of 17% in real terms.
But the CAP has some strong defenders among the member states. France is expected to oppose any major cuts to the agricultural budget. The Commission has also stood by its original proposal for CAP reduction. Dacian Ciolos, the European commissioner for agriculture, has criticised the Van Rompuy proposal, saying that it “goes against our efforts to make CAP fairer, greener and more efficient”.
European Commission President José Manual Barroso said yesterday: “Europe needs a strong, up-to-date, competitive, innovative and green CAP more than ever, to meet the European public's demands for food supplies and a healthy lifestyle, but also to help combat climate change and contribute to the sustainable management of our natural resources,” he said. “Have we really thought about what would happen if there were no common agriculture policy - if we had market fragmentation in Europe as a result of 27 different national agricultural policies?”
Environmental campaigners fear the cuts proposed by Van Rompuy would derail efforts to 'green the CAP' during 2014-20. The CAP is divided into two pillars – the first containing only direct payments to farmers, and the second pillar based on rural development, which contains payments because of environmental and land-stewardship measures.
The cuts proposed by Van Rompuy hit the second pillar hardest. His plan would see cuts in direct payments to farmers of 5.8% but it would cut rural development funds by 9.3%, even though that first pillar is three times as large as the second pillar.
Environmental groups fear the new CAP could be even less green that the existing one. They fear that member states will discard the greening measures that the Commission has tried to insert into the first pillar because of the budget cuts, and what environment measures are left in the second pillar will be underfunded.
“If agriculture ministers understand that the overall CAP money is decreased, they will fight even more strongly against greening measures,” said Marco Contiero of Greenpeace.
But those who have traditionally complained about the cost of the CAP are eager to trim the programme down.
By Teresa Ellera
NEGROS Occidental is now leading in the organic farming movement in the country.
This was revealed by the Bureau of Agricultural Products and Fisheries Standards (BAPFS) in a survey conducted among all the provinces in the Philippines.
Salvador Salacup, Assistant Secretary and BAPFS Director, said Negros is the most active in the country in terms of the organic farming movement, specifically in terms of the hectarage of lands that are converted into organic farms as well as stakeholders.
Salacup represented Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during the opening of the Organic Festival Wednesday.
Salacup said he personally witnessed the growth of organic producers in the province.
“The secretary is happy with the turnout of this organic festival. There are a total of 120 participant-exhibitors today and it's an indication of the interest and the passion of the Negrenses to really support the organic farming movement,” he said.
Salacup was also in the province during the last two years that the organic festival was held.
Last year there were 65 participant exhibitors, up from 40 in the last two years.
“Negros is now in the forefront in the organic movement and we can see the determination of your leaders here,” Salacup further said.
The Organic Festival is jointly supported by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental.
Salacup said that DA has been doing productivity enhancement by making sure that the farmers know of the organic technology and methodology in organic farming. The agency also provides services like vermiculite technology and shredders.
He said that he discussed on Wednesday with Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. the possibility of producing organic feeds like corn and taugi in the province.
Salacup also discussed with Marañon plans to expand the Negros Organic Sugar production.
“We will come up with all the plans and make sure that it is certified that they are surely organic products for international market. Japan who has been buying muscovado from Negros, Australia and Korea are very much interested,” he said. (TDE)
But they are also working on some pretty interesting solutions.
Cornelius, a technical assistance specialist with the Intertribal Agricultural Council, will describe some of those ideas during a talk entitled Exploring American Indian Agriculture and Food Systems on Monday, Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St.
Cornelius, one of 13 technical assistance specialists that the IAC employs across the nation, works primarily with tribal producers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Much of his work focuses on helping producers get better access to federal agricultural funding and technical assistance programs.
They've had low participation in such programs in the past, he says.
He says that one of the big challenges facing tribal producers is finding ways to retain more of the value of their agricultural products within tribal communities.
Another has to do with giving them better access to markets and giving tribal communities better access to better quality food.
"One idea we're trying is a mobile farmers market. It's really two things in one - a mini food distribution operation and a mini grocery store. It's a way to work with tribal producers on expanding market access and going into tribal communities to provide access to fresh food," he says.
"Another challenge is dealing with adverse impacts of climate change, exemplified in this region by the impact of this year's extreme weather on wild rice and maple syrup production," he adds.
Cornelius's talk is part of an ongoing series of Culture of Agriculture events presented by the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.
Original Article Here
Original Article Here
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said his focus would be on securing the best possible deal for Ireland when the negotiations resumed.
He said Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other government leaders had worked hard on Thursday night to defend the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) budget and this had resulted in an €8 billion increase in agriculture funds. “Ireland will continue to maintain a strong defence of the Cap budget during our [EU] presidency next year,” he said.
Irish Farmers’ Association president John Bryan said farmers were disappointed that agreement was not reached at the heads of government meeting but “no deal is better than a bad deal”. He called on Mr Kenny to maintain the pressure in the ongoing negotiations.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin said the talks breakdown was “a significant setback” to achieving the right Cap deal.
Goromonzi — Johnson Mhaka, 50, an agro-dealer based in Goromonzi, about 40km southeast of the capital Harare, is enjoying robust 2012-13 sales thanks to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) innovative electronic voucher system, which is helping communal farmers access agricultural inputs.
Mhaka, who used to stock mostly groceries at his rural store, has become an authorized dealer in maize seed, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and farming tools such as wheelbarrows, ploughs and hoes.
"In the past two years, when farmers from this area started using vouchers to buy farming inputs, I have been recording relatively high sales and have made it a point to adequately stock my shop at the beginning of the farming season," Mhaka told IRIN.
"Even though I have always sold agricultural inputs, particularly maize seed and fertilizer, before registering as an agro-dealer with the FAO, the stocks were small because not many farmers came to buy," he said.
The farmers were deterred by the inputs' high prices, as Mhaka bought his wares from Harare and then added his own mark-up.
But the initiative makes inputs and tools more accessible to cash-strapped small-scale farmers. In the "market-based input assistance initiative", farmers are each given US$128 in e-vouchers, with beneficiaries additionally contributing $32.
The system is designed to improve food security among vulnerable households through crop and livestock production, said the FAO in a statement. It also aims "to resuscitate the fragile rural agricultural input supply chain through re-engagement of markets, provision of subsidized inputs... [and] farmers' timely access to inputs".
"Through the voucher system, many more farmers are coming to buy from here," Mhaka said. His client-base has increased from about 90 people - buying mainly 50kg bags of fertilizer and maize seed - to more than 300 this year.
The initiative receives financial and technical support from the UK's Department for International Development (DfID), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the European Union and Zimbabwe's agriculture ministry, which also provides extension and training services.
In a major agricultural advancement, soil scientists at Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV), Raipur have developed a technique to improve soil quality and production of various crops, fruits and vegetable by using fly ash.
The solution discovered by the scientists of IGKV will simultaneously resolve the storage problem of fly ash and also increase the agricultural production by many folds, claimed Dr KK Sahu, principal scientist and public relation officer of the university. Fly ash is one of the residues generated as a by-product after combustion of coal and lignite in thermal power plants. Fly ash is slowly emerging as serious threat to human health and environmental hazard due to the absence of proper storage facilities, believe environmental experts.
Fly ash being discharged by about 11 power plants in Chhattisgarh is calculated as 9.7 million tonne per year which could raise storage problem in the country in coming year, said Dr Sahu, adding that use of fly ash in agriculture field concurrently resolve storage problem and also improve soil health.
Speaking about the benefits of using fly ash in cultivation of different crops, Dr Sahu, said fly ash contain various nutrients to nourish plants, elaborating that fly ash not only improve soil quality but also act as fertiliser. Use of the industrial residue along with nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and other requisite things in recommended quantity will greatly help the farmers to increase their production by many folds, asserter principal scientist.
Application of fly ash in farming will be emerged as boon for farmers of Chhattisgarh because its use in the field helps to lower the acidic nature of soil, informed the principal scientist of IGKV and further informed that about 60 per cent land area in the State is acidic in nature. Several parts of Korba are highly acidic in nature, he added. Besides improving soil quality and chemical properties of soil, the use of fly ash in the field will also improve production of various crops, vegetables and fruits, he claimed. With the application of fly ash, fertility of entisols (weekly developed soil) could be improved, said Dr Sahu.
Greatly impressed with the innovative research and positive results achieved by scientists of IGKV in using fly ash for agriculture purpose, General Manager of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Korba has assured to provide fly ash to farmers free of cost and also expressed his consent in providing transportation facility for the same. To spread awareness about the recent agricultural break through, IGKV in association with NTPC, Korba recently organised a day-long Farmer Fair at Lakhanpur, Katghora. Dr Sahu further informed that the fair was attended by scientists of IGKV along with general manager of NTPC, Korba, additional general manager, deputy general manager and other officials of NTPC, Korba. During the fair, the scientists threw light on the pros along with the cons of using fly ash on the agricultural fields. The fair was attended by over 300 farmers.
By michael harris ~ nass partner
The first documented census of agriculture was recorded by Ancient Nile Valley Civilizations, counting every person to provide essential spiritual development utilizing ethnic speciality crops full of nutrients. Today, Black Agriculture producers should be protected and supported as an endangered species. We must work to achieve a complete count nationwide, inclusive of urban agriculture production that is sold in the marketplace if we are to expand Black agribusiness job creation, career development and community development. In the spirit of Rosa Parks, on her 100th Birthday Celebration scheduled for our U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, we must move from the back of the "US Agriculture Bus" and move our Black Agriculture producers beyond 1% of the the U.S. Agriculture producers, targeting explosive growth and opportunity.
Washington DC ~ As our nation’s farm families gather this Thanksgiving to count their many blessings and reflect on this year’s harvest, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) urges producers to ensure their farm or ranch is also counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The Census is a crucial tool that provides farmers with a voice in the future of their community and operation.
Thanksgiving reminds us how easy it can be to take for granted having a safe and bountiful food supply just when farmers are doing such a great job ensuring our nation has the nutrition and resources it needs to live well. But to ensure farmers can continue feeding and clothing a growing world, we need to provide them with the programs, services, and tools they need. To do this, we urge them to speak out and take this opportunity to be counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
Conducted every five years by NASS, the Census is a complete count of the U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation.
Results of the Census are used to serve farmers and their communities today, and help benefit the future generations of farmers tomorrow. Legislators at various levels of government use the data when shaping farm policy, and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remind farmers how important they are and how much the nation appreciates their hard work. It’s also a good time to remind them that they have a voice and a responsibility to use that voice to make a better future. Tools like the Census enable farmers to help shape the future of agriculture and their own local communities.
Census forms will be mailed out in late December and responses are due by February 4, 2013. Producers have the option to complete their forms online or by mail. After all, the Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility. For more information about the Census,
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stressed that investments are crucial to help rehabilitate Haiti’s agricultural sector in the wake of various natural disasters this year that caused colossal damage to the farming and fishing industries.
“If we don’t invest today, we will pay the price tomorrow,” said Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Haitian President Michel Martelly at FAO Headquarters in Rome yesterday, Mr. Graziano da Silva pledged to support Haiti through interventions that address the country’s immediate crisis situations as well as the root causes of its food insecurity and poverty.
FAO and the Haitian Government are currently seeking $74 million over the next 12 months to help long-term resilience in the country. The funds would be used to rehabilitate irrigation schemes and rural access roads; restore local seed production; provide seeds, fertilizer and agricultural tools to small farmers; support inland fisheries; and vaccinate livestock, among other activities.
The funds would also go towards helping farmers plant crops for the next planting season which starts in December.
Mr. Graziano da Silva said the objective is “to make Haitians, especially farmers, more resilient to climate and other challenges.”
Last month, Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to Haiti’s crops, land, livestock, fisheries and rural infrastructures. It killed 60 people and flooded, destroyed or damaged some 18,000 homes, as well as hospitals, schools and public buildings.
It was the third disaster to hit Haiti in the space of a few months. Between May and June, a severe drought struck at the beginning of the critical spring cropping season, and in August, Tropical Storm Isaac battered the country, displacing thousands of people. Together, the three disasters left two million Haitians at risk of food insecurity and resulted in losses of $254 million to the agricultural sector.
“If we don’t intervene quickly, over 60 per cent of the population deriving their livelihood from agriculture will be put at risk,” said FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation Laurent Thomas.
Out of the $74 million sought, FAO has so far secured $2.7 million, with indications of a further $5 million-$6 million from different donors. The agency will also implement short- and medium-term projects in response to the current crisis, ranging from immediate relief activities to interventions that have a longer-term economic and environmental impact.
Inefficient revenue system of agriculture dept: three sugar mills fail to pay over Rs 10 million cane cess
Three sugar mills - M/s Ansari Sugar Mills, M/s Larr Sugar Mills and M/s Kiran Sugar Mills - failed to pay Rs 7.475 million of sugar cane development cess besides a penalty of Rs 3.249 million to the agriculture department in FY 2010-11. M/s Larr Sugar Mills, Sujawal and M/s Kiran Sugar Mills Rohri had also not paid penalty of Rs 3.249 million on late deposit of sugar cane development cess, it was revealed on Thursday.
These disclosures are mentioned in "Audit report on the accounts of revenue receipts government of Sindh audit year 2011-12," prepared by Auditor General of Pakistan, a copy of which was obtained byBusiness Recorder. The report mentioned in Audit paras 2.4 "Short realisation of sugar cane development cess No Rs 7.475 million" that: as per Sindh Government's notification No 8 (142)/SO/(Ext.)/95-XXIII dated 20th October 2010, "sugar cane development cess @ 50 paisa per 40-kg on cane crushed during the financial year 2010-11, by each sugar mill in the province should have been realised."
The Cane Commissioner Sindh short realised sugar cane development cess of Rs 7.475 million from M/s Ansari, Matli, M/s Larr, Sujawal and M/s Kiran, Rohri in FY 2010-11, the report revealed. "The recovery was not affected due to inefficient revenue collection of agriculture department. The short receipt of cess dues from sugar mills caused revenue loss to the government."
The short realisation was pointed out to the department in August, October and December 2011 but no reply was received till finalisation of this report. The Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) meeting was not convened by the concerned authorities despite request to the PAO, the report stated.
The report added that: As per Rule 3(3) of sugar cane development cess rules 1964, "the non-depositing of sugar cane development cess into government treasury within 15 days of close of each fortnight ie 5th and 20th of each month is liable to be 100 percent penalised of equal amount of the sugar cane development cess not deposited into crushed season. "Sindh Cane Commissioner did not recover penalty of Rs 3.249 million on late deposit of sugar cane development cess from M/s Larr and M/s Kiran."
The non-recovery of penalty impacted negatively on tax revenue of the government, it stated. The Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) meeting was not convened by the department despite request to the PAO, the audit para concluded. Reliable sources told Business Recorder that the said three sugar mills are the properties of three high-profile political bigwigs belonging to major ruling party.
When contacted, recently-posted Cane Commissioner Riaz Soomro told Business Recorder that he has no knowledge of the previous issues as he has joined this post only a couple of days ago. The Cane Commissioner hoped for implementation of the law saying that he would implement all Acts concerning the sugar industry in letter and spirit.