Sunday, 18 August 2013

Labor spurns Greens for Katter in Qld

LABOR is pinning its hopes of winning critical Coalition seats in regional Queensland on a preference deal with Bob Katter's party rather than with the Greens.

The gamble will cost the ALP ­support from the Greens in crucial seats elsewhere in the state, including in Brisbane, the most marginal ­Coalition seat in Queensland.
Elsewhere around the country, Labor will give the Greens its Senate preferences in return for the minor party putting Labor ahead of the Coalition in all but a handful of crucial seats.
The Greens will also preference Labor ahead of the Coalition in the ­Senate in what it says is a bid to prevent Opposition Leader Tony Abbott ­winning control of both houses.
In Queensland, Labor did a deal with Mr Katter in which the ALP would direct its Queensland Senate preferences towards Katter's Australian Party. In return, the KAP will put Labor first on its how-to-vote cards in the ­Coalition-held seats of Hinkler, Herbert and Flynn. It will also preference the ALP in Capricornia, where the incumbent Labor MP, Kirsten Livermore, is retiring.
One senior Labor source said the deal with the KAP in Queensland has "severely strained relations" between Labor and the Greens.
The Greens retaliated in Queensland by declining to preference Labor in the marginal Coalition seat of Brisbane, a must-win for the ALP if it is to have any chance of victory on September 7.
A JWS Research poll published in The Australian Financial Review on ­Saturday shows the Liberal MP for Brisbane, Teresa Gambaro, had a 4.1 percentage point two-party preferred lead over Labor rival Fiona McNamara.
Similarly, the Greens decided to issue a two-sided ticket in the Queensland seat of Longman, another marginal Coalition seat in Labor's sights.
The Greens will, however, preference Labor in the Coalition seat of Forde, where former Queensland premier Peter Beattie is seeking to unseat Liberal MP Bert van Manen.
The JWS poll shows Mr van Manen holding a commanding lead.
Original Article Here

In Peru, drones used for agriculture, archaeology


Drones are most often associated with assassinations in remote regions of Pakistan and Yemen but in Peru, unmanned aircraft are being used to monitor crops and study ancient ruins.
Forget Reapers and Predators - the drones used here are hand-held contraptions that look like they were assembled in a garage with gear from a hardware store. They are equipped with a microcomputer, a GPS tracker, a compass, cameras and an altimeter, and can be easily programmed by using Google Maps to fly autonomously and return to base with vital data.
“These aircraft are small in size, are equipped with high-precision video or photo cameras and go virtually unnoticed in the sky,” said Andres Flores, an electrical engineer in charge of the UAV program at Peru’s Catholic University.
Flores heads a multidisciplinary team brainstorming the best ways to use drones for civilian purposes. “Up to now we have managed to use them for agricultural purposes, where they gather information on the health of the plants, and in archaeology, to better understand the characteristics of each site and their extensions,” Flores said.
One UAV model built by Catholic University engineers is made with light balsa wood and carbon fibber. At a glance the devices look like souped-up hand-held glider.
One limitation is that these drones must fly below the clouds. If not their instruments, especially the cameras, could fail, said Aurelio Rodriguez, who is both an aerial model-maker and archaeologist.
Mapping Ancient Cities
Some of the earliest human settlements in the Americas are found in Peru. There are thousands of archaeological sites, many unexplored, dotting the Peruvian landscape, most of them pre-dating the Incas, a major civilization which was defeated by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
Along the dry coastline, where the main construction material was adobe brick, whole societies flourished. After centuries of abandon some of these ancient cities have deteriorated to the point that they are hard to distinguish in the sandy, hilly region.
Archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo is using drones to help map the 1,300 year-old Moche civilization around San Idelfonso and San Jose del Moro, two sites on the Peruvian coast north of Lima.
“We can convert the images that the drones provide into topographical and photogrammetry data to build three-dimensional models,” Castillo told AFP. “By using the pictures taken by drones we can see walls, patios, the fabric of the city.”
Separately, Hildo Loayza, a physicist with the Lima-based International Potato Center, is perfecting ways to apply drone technology to agriculture. “The drones allow us to resolve problems objectively, while people do it subjectively,” he told AFP.
“In agriculture drones allow us to observe a larger cultivation area and estimate the health of the plants and the growth of the crops. The cameras aboard the drones provide us with 500 pieces of high-technology data, while with the human eye one can barely collect ten,” Loayza said.
Precise, high-quality images allow experts to measure the amount of sunlight the plants are getting, and study plant problems like stress from heat, drought or lack of nutrients, he said.
Other potential civilian drone use, Flores said, includes closely observing areas of natural disasters or studying urban traffic patterns.
In the thick Amazon jungle, where access by ground is often extremely difficult, drones can be used to study wild animals. “Every time an animal goes by, it can snap a picture,” said Flores.
There are no laws in Peru regulating the civilian use of drones, which allows advocates to push for all kinds of projects. Their use in urban surveillance, however, could be seen as an invasion of privacy. While experts are still dreaming up new ways to use the aircraft, security officials do use drones for military and police intelligence purposes, especially in Peru’s rugged and remote valleys where coca - the source plant for cocaine - is grown.–AFP
Original Article Here

'Growth relatively low due to government's anti-agriculture policies': President's claim disputed



Bodies representing the farm community have disputed President Asif Ali Zardari's claim that government policies have resulted in higher agriculture growth maintaining that growth in agriculture sector has been relatively low due to anti agriculture policies of incumbent government.

The government has failed to achieve 3.4 percent growth target of agriculture sector during 2011-2012 because of less than estimated growth in major crops including wheat and cotton, the Farmer Associations stated to this correspondent. They said that production of some crops recorded an increase primarily due to favourable weather conditions and had nothing to do with government policies.

The government set the target of 25 million tons for wheat production for fiscal year 2011-2012 whereas wheat production was only 23.5 million tons for the period. Similarly, the rice target was fixed at 7.2 million tons for year 2011-2012 but the total production of rice could not exceed 6.4 million tons, stated agriculture experts while talking to Business Recorder.

Sarfraz Ahmad Khan, Vice President of Kisan Board Pakistan, said the government had missed the set target of agriculture growth rate of wheat, rice and cotton due to anti-agriculture policies. "The government has imposed GST on fertiliser, pesticides and other agriculture equipments, especially tractors which accounts for a considerable increase in the cost of fertilise and pesticides," he said.

He said that due to GST and prolonged gas loadshedding the price of urea increased from Rs 832 per bag to Rs 1,800 per bag and the price of DAP increased from Rs 2,300 to Rs 4,200. "The higher price of fertiliser and DAP resulted in 30 percent decrease in the use of fertilisers," he said.

He queried as to how agriculture output could increase in a country when the use of fertiliser decreases by 30 percent. Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan, concurred and said that due to poor and anti-agriculture policies of the government the country had missed the target of wheat and rice in 2011-2012. The agriculture growth for 2011-2012 was relatively not good and ranged between 2.4 to three percent given that in the past (2006-2007) it reached five percent, he said.

He said President Asif Ali Zardari needed to correct his agriculture figures and added that President's advisors had misguided him by sharing incorrect figures regarding agriculture growth. According to Economic Survey 2011-12, agriculture sector during 2011-2012 registered a growth of 3.13 percent against the set target of 3.4 percent. During 2011-12, the country missed agriculture growth target because of negative growth of wheat and minor cops.

Wheat registered a negative growth of 6.7 percent mainly due to 2.6 percent decline in area under cultivation and delayed sowing. Wheat was cultivated on an area of 8,666 thousands hectares in 2011-12, showing a decrease of 2.6 percent over last year's area of 8,901 thousands hectares. The production of 23.5 million tons is estimated during 2011-12. The Survey revealed that the major crops excluding wheat registered a growth of 3.18 percent. The major crops including cotton, sugarcane and rice witnessed growth in production of 18.6 percent, 4.9 percent and 27.7 percent respectively.
Original Article Here

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Annual Agricultural Celebration puts focus on farmers By Marcia MorrisBy Marcia Morris Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/16/4236944/annual-agricultural-celebration.html#storylink=cpy


There was no red carpet or phalanx of photographers, but there was a buzz of celebration and excitement in the air as folks gathered for the eighth annual Agricultural Celebration on July 30. Instead of evening gowns and tuxedos, attendees wore T-shirts and dungarees to this event where farmers have the rare opportunity to socialize.

The celebration, coordinated by the Cabarrus County Agricultural Advisory Board and the local cooperative extension, brings together everyone registered with the county’s voluntary agricultural districts and others who support local agriculture.

To get the scoop on voluntary agricultural districts, I talked to Tommy Porter, chairman of the county’s Agricultural Advisory Board. He and his wife, Vicky, hosted the Agricultural Celebration at their cattle farm.

Tommy Porter explained that the ordinance creating voluntary agricultural districts was passed by county commissioners in 2005. It allows farmers to enroll their land, designating it for agricultural use. Farmers who enroll in the enhanced program agree that the land will not be developed for 10 years.

Farming’s influence helped by districts

Not only does the creation of voluntary agricultural districts promote pride and economic health in agriculture, it also sends a message about development.

When a piece of land is designated as a voluntary agricultural district, that information will show up in title searches. Porter says that anyone looking to buy or develop land adjacent to a voluntary agricultural district should know what to expect from their neighbors: slow-moving vehicles and animal smells, among other things that go along with farming.

Likewise, county government knows what to expect when land is placed in voluntary agricultural districts: It tells them that they don’t need to plan for development – sewer and water service, roads and schools – for that property.

But most importantly, says Porter, the voluntary agricultural district ordinance gives farmers a stronger voice than ever before. Politicians, he believes, are often far removed from agricultural life, and farmers joining together to promote their way of life impacts their influence in local government. Porter’s seen the difference voluntary agricultural districts have made, and he’s always encouraging more farmers to enroll, to turn up the volume on the voice of the agricultural community.

The agricultural celebration was a time to make that voice heard to elected officials in attendance, including a representative from U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson’s office.

Farmers’ biggest social event

But most of all, the gathering was a time to visit with friends and neighbors, and to enjoy a delicious meal.

Tommy Porter says that this is the big social event of the year for farmers, when they can take some time to relax and appreciate their rural way of life. He likens it to the old days when people would gather after a harvest to socialize and give thanks.

This year’s celebration included hamburgers and hot dogs, cobs of corn as long as your forearm, and homemade peach and blueberry ice cream, freshly cranked by tractor engine.

It may not have been fancy, but it was good … just like living in rural Cabarrus.
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.



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Original Article Here

Uganda: Agricultural Mechanisation Enhanced Farming in Uganda



Mechanised agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to simplify farming with the aim of increasing productivity. Though Uganda is endowed with fertile soils and favourable climate, the major factors that influence agriculture, the country continued to produce at a law scale.

Studies have shown that 99.4% smallholder farmers in Uganda use traditional, rudimentary and obsolete technologies and methodologies for post-harvest operations.

These are contributing factors to low farm output. To change this, the Government came up with agriculture mechanisation as a strategy of restructuring the sector.

Efforts were put in place, which has seen farmers change their ways of farming, mechanisation has become one of the key pillars of agricultural transformation and modernisation. The efforts directed into the occupation of cost-effective farm tools and the Government has tried to integrate majority Ugandans who represented over 70% of the country's labour force.

Benefits

Besides improving production efficiency, mechanisation encourages large-scale production and improves the quality of farm produce. Morris Rwakakamba, the special presidential assistant in charge of research and information, says a lot is needed to ensure that mechanisation is promoted at a large scale.

"The Government needs to strengthen the current mechanisation policy; commit funds for the farmers and private sector to acquire farm machinery and equipment," he says. Rwakakamba adds that there is also need to promote local manufacture of farm tools and equipment for post harvest handling and creating Government-managed central and regional workshops to provide technical back-stopping and critical maintenance services.

Government support

"The Government has tried to put all these in place. But since the system is new in Uganda, it takes time for the common people to adapt to it," Rwakakamba explains. Mechanised operations are largely limited to land preparation; 8% utilise draught animal power and 2% use tractors.

The Government has come up with many programmes that have helped farmers in Uganda improve their farming and National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) has been the lead. Farmers have been provided with equipment and quality seeds, which has helped them grow on large scale.
Original Article Here

Scenario planning in agriculture


Scenario planning is an important part of business strategic planning. In agriculture, scenario planning is even more important given the number of variables and the level of uncertainty associated with production. Within the field of agriculture, scenario planning is a part of strategic planning where the business imagines how different organizational decisions may be played out to show possible futures.

For scenario planning producers should focus on primary questions surrounding the industry. For example, “What will the state’s beef industry look like in the year 2025?” Then the question of “What might we need to do?” in this situation be considered. From these focal questions a list of possible scenarios can be created. Continuing with the example from above “If we are faced with an increase in the price of inputs, what could happen to the cost of weight gain?”, and “If consumers are to change their attitude and perception of point of production origin for beef, what changes in business practices (product traceability) must occur?”

After discussing possible futures, a diagram can be used where two uncertainties at two different levels can be compared with different future out comes (figure 1). The manager can look at different outcomes in terms of quadrants. In figure 1, the first quadrant (right top) is the preferred future, the second quadrant (left top) is the expected future, the third quadrant (left bottom) is the second alternative future, and the fourth quadrant (right bottom) is the least preferred or feared outcome.


Continuing with the example from above a visual depiction of four possible futures with varying, plausible, probable, and preferred outcomes can be created. Figure 2 is broken down into different quadrants. The first quadrant contains the preferred outcome or where the market is thriving and the state has a booming agriculture meat sector. The second quadrant contains the most likely outcome where fewer producers exist and beef becomes more of a novelty. The third quadrant contains a less likely alternative where the beef industry in the state operates the same way it has in the past, large producers continue increasing in size and scale, and meat suppliers operate in a commodity system. The fourth quadrant is the worst case scenario in which the majority of consumers purchase only ground beef with poultry and pork exceeding beef consumption, and many farms begin to disappear.

This example shows different possible outcomes for the state’s beef industry. Through the use of scenario framework development producers, managers, and suppliers of agriculture products can identify and evaluate potential, conceivable, and preferred futures. Once a preferred future is discovered, a framework for present day decision making can be used to guide the decision maker to the preferred outcome.
Original Article Here

Fourth Annual Wine & Agriculture Tour



Wine & Agriculture Tour 2013 will be hosted by the Umpqua Soil & Water Conservation District

This year’s tour includes:


Elkton Community Education Center native plant nursery and gardens tended by Elkton High School students and a visit the Fort Umpqua replica. Lunch with a variety of sandwiches, chips, cookies, and beverages.

Rick Shepherd’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program restoration project. Shepherd and CREP Technician Donna Fouts will describe components of a CREP project applied to a working ranch along Elk Creek where historical information has been used to restore the site. Also visit an oak restoration site, wetland meadow and pond.

Anindor Vineyards where Anindor’s viticulturist will show us around the vineyard, describe the art of growing grapes and making wine followed by wine tasting at the vineyard’s tasting room.



When: Saturday, August 17, 2013



Transportation: From Reedsport at 9:00 a.m. in the parking lot behind the Reedsport Natural Foods Store. From Elkton at 10:00 a.m. in the parking lot at the Elkton Community Education Center.



Cost: $25 per person which includes transportation and lunch.



RSVP Required: Please contact Umpqua Soil & Water no later than August 12th to reserve your space on the tour by calling (541) 662-1341, (541) 271-1647or
Original Article Here

Impact Investor and Advocate of Sustainable Agriculture Discusses European Organic Farming Legislation



On August 17, impact investor and advocate of sustainable agriculture, Philippe van den Bossche, discusses the proposed review of Europe’s organic farming legislation.

According to an August 7th, 2013 article published on Euractiv.com, entitled, “Commission looks at possible revamp of organic farming legislation,” the European Commission is due to reconsider the EU’s rules on organic farming this September, reviewing certification standards and surveying potential risks posed by genetically-modified crops.

Europe’s leading organic farming group, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements EU(IFOAM)’s president, Christopher Stopes, says, “The Commission’s review of the legislative and policy and framework for organic food and farming provides the opportunity to build on the success of the organic sector.”

Currently, organic farming remains a “tiny part” of European agriculture. According to the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, only 2.2 percent of European farmland is organic. However, the European Union (EU) has strong nation support programs in “Austria, Sweden, Estonia and a few other countries.”

Philippe van den Bossche, an impact investor and advocate of sustainable agriculture, hopes that the potential revamp of the European Union (EU)’s organic farming legislation will enable expansion within its own industry. “This proposed legislation should be revised in a way that will allow the EU to capitalize on the success they’ve already seen.

It should call for more land being organically farmed, resulting in more organic food being eaten by European citizens. This upcoming review is a display of the great progress the global sector of organic farming is making as the benefits are becoming more apparent.”

Philippe van den Bossche is an impact entrepreneur and investor and Chairman/ Owner of Advancing Eco Agriculture (AEA), a leading organic agricultural and horticultural consulting and manufacturing company located in Middlefield, Ohio. AEA provides consulting services and specialty nutritional products to farms throughout the United States and Canada. Mr. van den Bossche is an advocate for organic farming and agriculture.
Original Article Here

Agriculture sector can still recover


Column by Eric Bloch

So great was the agricultural production that Zimbabwe was renowned as the region’s “breadbasket”.

Not only did the nation produce enough to feed the entire population, but it was also exporting considerable quantities to neighbouring countries and further afield.

The produce included maize, beef (much was exported to the European Union, over and above fully addressing national needs), sugar, cotton, tea, coffee, citrus, and much more.

Zimbabwe was also the world’s producer of the second largest quantities of quality virginia tobacco.

Because of the magnitude of the country’s agricultural operations, more than 300 000 Zimbabweans were gainfully employed, enabling self-sufficiency for these farm employees, their families and dependants.

Thus, over two million people were directly beneficiated, over and above the downstream economic inflows generating employment for many more, and yielding comprehensive revenue inflows to the fiscus.

Tragically, almost the entirety of Zimbabwean agriculture sustained a massive and prolonged downturn from 2001 onwards, albeit a major increase in tobacco output from 2008 onwards, and a marginal upturn concurrently in the production of other agricultural produce.

However, overall the agricultural sector remains a fairly minimal contributor to the national economy, in contradistinction to its former economic role.

Several factors explain the critical contraction of agricultural production, the first and foremost being the manner in which the land reform programme was carried out.

Government decreed that all rural lands were henceforth state-owned and tacitly condoned innumerable farm invasions and concomitant expropriations by some elements of the population, mostly the “war veterans”.

This was not helped by the unilateral and contemptuous disregard for domestic and international law, human and property rights, as well as for prevailing Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.

Many of the invasions were targetted only at white farmers, with massive expropriation of plant, machinery, equipment and livestock rather than at any productive usage of the land.

In consequence, Zimbabwe was suddenly denuded of much of the agricultural expertise accumulated over many years, as well as much-needed equipment and other resources.

Moreover, because of the government’s invalidation of all title deeds and the vesting of ownership wholly in the state, new farmers did not have collateral needed in order to access bank or alternative loan funding needed for each season, as very few of the new farmers had the required funds.

Compounding these production hindrances, government recurrently failed to ensure timeous availability of essential agricultural inputs and frequently prescribed unrealistically low prices for produce that mandatorily had to be sold to state-controlled enterprises such as the Grain Marketing Board.

As a result, other state enterprises (such as the Zesa), failed to provide regular and reliable supply of power at viable tariffs.

Meanwhile, a long overdue trigger for agricultural recovery has been activated.

The new constitution prescribes that the state-issued farm leases will be accorded negotiability and transferability status, enabling them to be used as security for agricultural borrowings.

However, if that is to be successfully implemented, there is need for government to issue leases to the new farmers, because the majority of those farmers only have offer letters, but have never received proper leases.

Also of key importance to enable access to the necessary funding, the state must create an economic and political environment which will ensure substantial inflows of funds into banks and financial institutions, enabling them to provide the greatly-needed facilities for the agricultural sector.

Yet another constructive measure would be for government to incentivise contract farming. The agricultural crop that to date has enjoyed the greatest recovery is tobacco. From a record national crop of over 237 million kgs in 2001, production progressively declined, to less than 40 million kgs by 2007.

But then several major tobacco companies embarked on contract farming where they accorded farmers access to essential inputs such as seed, fertilisers and chemicals.

They also provided funding for other operational costs, recovering the costs incurred and the funding availed to the farmers by mandatorily requiring the sale of the crops to the company which provided the resources.

As a result, there was a marked increase in tobacco production, reaching approximately 160 million kgs in the 2012/2013 season (which is still far short of the record 2001 production, but markedly greater than that between 2002 and 2007).

It would be advantageous to Zimbabwe if contract farming could also be extended to maize, winter wheat, cotton, sugar, citrus and livestock production.

That facilitation and motivation of diverse contract farming could be readily achieved if government would diminish its quasi-monopoly to purchase and on-sell certain crops, and if it would incentivise private sector funding of crops on a contract farming basis by the introduction of appropriate tax incentives and allowances.

The state should facilitate and motivate agricultural joint ventures and should seek to entice some of the experienced and skilled farmers who were forcibly ousted from their successful farming operations.

Yet another potential trigger for recovery could be to terminate the leases and farm occupancies of the many who have acquired such farms without meaningful production, instead using them solely as living quarters or weekend “getaway” destinations. The repossessed farms can then be reallocated to those who use them effectively, including some of the unjustifiably displaced.

The availability of water is also important and Agriculture ministry and Zimbabwe National Water Authority as well as by the Energy ministry have a task on their hands to ensure the available water can be regularly and reliably pumped to the fields, and to ensure the required operation of irrigation systems.

It also entails substantive de-siltation of rivers and dams, construction of further dams, and constructive funding programmes for the acquisition and installation of requisite irrigation systems.

These actions should be reinforced by the discontinuance of all customs duties and other imports on irrigation equipment and the waiver of Value Added Tax (Vat) thereon.
Original Article Here

Don't sell our farms: Greens


WHILE the ALP has drawn ire from the farming sector for broadly endorsing agricultural foreign investment, the Australian Greens this morning (Saturday) are proposing a stricter foreign ownership policy at a launch in Brisbane.

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said the government should be cracking down on foreign investors buying up Australian farms to protect not only the economy but also long-term food security.

"Australia is one of the countries being targeted by foreign buyers to secure their nation’s own food security," Senator Milne said.


“Keeping control of our prime agricultural land water resources is critical to maximise our own resilience and provide exports to the global market."


The Greens this week blasted Mr Rudd's idea of lowering the barriers to foreign ownership for northern Australia, saying the ALP's northern development plan "undermines our sovereignty and risks sustainability", while federal Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was recently criticised by National Senators for his stance on overseas investment.


Speaking at the Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne in July, Minister ­Fitzgibbon said the agricultural industry needed to embrace an influx of foreign funds.

"If we really want to capitalise on the opportunities Asia offers us, we will need a lot of capital, we will need a lot of investment," he said.

"Our national interest is first and foremost. We should embrace foreign investment, not fear it."

Mr Fitzgibbon's comments came as the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) considers US company Archer Daniels Midland's (ADM) proposed $3 billion takeover of agribusiness GrainCorp, Australia's only independent grain handler, a move strongly opposed by Coalition Senators Fiona Nash and Bill Heffernan.

In launching its 'Our Food Future' policy on August 8, the Greens called for a lowering of the threshold from $248 million to $5m for consideration of the national interest purchases of agricultural land and water, including cumulative purchases, to legislate a mandatory national interest test and maintain a live register of foreign ownership of agricultural land and water assets to track overseas purchases.
Original Article Here

In Peru, drones used for agriculture, archaeology


Drones are most often associated with assassinations in remote regions of Pakistan and Yemen but in Peru, unmanned aircraft are being used to monitor crops and study ancient ruins.
Forget Reapers and Predators - the drones used here are hand-held contraptions that look like they were assembled in a garage with gear from a hardware store.
They are equipped with a microcomputer, a GPS tracker, a compass, cameras and an altimeter, and can be easily programmed by using Google Maps to fly autonomously and return to base with vital data.
“These aircraft are small in size, are equipped with high-precision video or photo cameras and go virtually unnoticed in the sky,” said Andres Flores, an electrical engineer in charge of the UAV programme at Peru’s Catholic University.
Flores heads a multidisciplinary team brainstorming the best ways to use drones for civilian purposes.
“Up to now we have managed to use them for agricultural purposes, where they gather information on the health of the plants, and in archaeology, to better understand the characteristics of each site and their extensions,” Flores said.
One UAV model built by Catholic University engineers is made with light balsa wood and carbon fibre. At a glance the devices look like souped-up hand-held glider.
One limitation is that these drones must fly below the clouds. If not their instruments, especially the cameras, could fail, said Aurelio Rodriguez, who is both an aerial model-maker and archaeologist.
Some of the earliest human settlements in the Americas are found in Peru.
There are thousands of archeological sites, many unexplored, dotting the Peruvian landscape, most of them pre-dating the Incas, a major civilization which was defeated by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
Along the dry coastline, where the main construction material was adobe brick, whole societies flourished.
After centuries of abandon some of these ancient cities have deteriorated to the point that they are hard to distinguish in the sandy, hilly region.
Archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo is using drones to help map the 1,300 year-old Moche civilisation around San Idelfonso and San Jose del Moro, two sites on the Peruvian coast north of Lima.
“We can convert the images that the drones provide into topographical and photogrammetry data to build three-dimensional models,” Castillo said.
“By using the pictures taken by drones we can see walls, patios, the fabric of the city.”
Separately, Hildo Loayza, a physicist with the Lima-based International Potato Center, is perfecting ways to apply drone technology to agriculture.
“The drones allow us to resolve problems objectively, while people do it subjectively,” he said.
“In agriculture drones allow us to observe a larger cultivation area and estimate the health of the plants and the growth of the crops. The cameras aboard the drones provide us with 500 pieces of high-technology data, while with the human eye one can barely collect ten,” Loayza said.
Precise, high-quality images allow experts to measure the amount of sunlight the plants are getting, and study plant problems like stress from heat, drought or lack of nutrients, he said.
Other potential civilian drone use, Flores said, includes closely observing areas of natural disasters or studying urban traffic patterns.
In the thick Amazon jungle, where access by ground is often extremely difficult, drones can be used to study wild animals. “Every time an animal goes by, it can snap a picture,” said Flores.
There are no laws in Peru regulating the civilian use of drones, which allows advocates to push for all kinds of projects.
Their use in urban surveillance, however, could be seen as an invasion of privacy.
While experts are still dreaming up new ways to use the aircraft, security officials do use drones for military and police intelligence purposes, especially in Peru’s rugged and remote valleys where coca - the source plant for cocaine - is grown.
Original Article Here

Friday, 16 August 2013

Q&A: Minister of Agriculture Pat Pimm talks the future of farming in B.C.

Second term Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm entered into politics as the president of a local golf club, and has now progressed all the way to becoming the province’s Minister of Agriculture. He sat down with
The Vancouver Sun to discuss the opportunity presented by Liquefied Natural Gas in his riding, what he sees for agriculture in the province and how he wants to make farming cool.
Q: I’m told you were an electrician before becoming an MLA.
A: I’d been an instrument mechanic, actually. I have an electrical instrumentation firm, but it’s a lot easier to say electrician than instrument mechanic, because nobody knows what an instrument mechanic is.
Q: What is that?
A: They deal with instrumentation, they deal with operational aspects of different plants, control systems for cooling systems or whatever. All that kind of stuff. You’re kind of a repairman.
Q: Why did you decide to run for provincial office?
A: It’s kind of a progression. Probably the first place where I got a taste of politics was being president of the local golf club for four years, and then that progressed into the municipal council and I was there for 12 years. I think it gets into your blood and you want to keep giving back to your community.
Q: You were president of the local golf club. Are you any good? What’s your handicap?
A: Ten. I can play — a little bit. Hit and miss.
Q: Do you think with this last election campaign, and the focus on LNG, that the province is starting to understand and appreciate your area of the world a little more?
A: Absolutely. You wouldn’t have an LNG opportunity if you didn’t have the natural gas that comes out of the northeast. You have to have that gas. That’s the driver. You can’t put an LNG plant in and then turn a tap on in Surrey and think you’re going to get gas. That’s not going to happen. It’s got to come from an area, and our area is that. Certainly it’s nice to be noticed and our area definitely is a huge contributor to the provincial well being. That helps with your health care service, it helps with your education, it helps with all your social programs, and I think we’re very happy to be contributors.
Q: The NDP, during the campaign, was talking about increasing ‘buy local,’ and trying to get hospitals to buy local food. Is that an idea you think is worth looking at?
A: We have the ‘buy local’ program that we’ve been working with as well and it’s certainly part of our agrifoods strategy and it’s something that’s been well received around the province. It’s an advertising campaign that promotes the ‘buy local’ aspect. A lot of the health authorities now are buying local where they can. So we’re going to continue to promote that. We’re not going to go down the avenue of completely tying them to making them buy in that particular area, because what if we can’t supply them? So we’re not going to handcuff anybody at all, but we’re going to be promoting it to health authorities. In fact, we’re going to be promoting it in other government areas as well.
Q: You’ve been asked to find new markets for B.C. wines. How do you start to do that and what do you think some of the barriers are?
A: We’ve already started that process. The federal government has lifted the regulations so you’re allowed to bring wine from other jurisdictions across boundaries now, and that was a good first step. British Columbia, we’ve taken the next step. We’ve now said that our borders are basically open so if our folks want to go over and bring something back, we’re allowing that to happen. We think that’s a good initiative on our part. We’re now going to be looking out to some of the other provinces and ask if they’ll follow B.C.’s lead and work toward making that an interchange that’s going to be provincewide.
Q: I’m trying to get you in trouble now. What’s your favourite B.C. wine?
A: I don’t drink a lot of wine, personally. I actually have a bit of an allergy to wine, in fact. If I have more than about two or three glasses, I can wake up with a fever of 102 or 103 degrees. Maybe that’s a good thing; I’m not sure. Certainly we have an awful lot of great B.C. wines that have been recognized on the world scale so putting one ahead of another would be something that I wouldn’t do even if I was a wine drinker.
Q: What do you think needs to happen with the Agricultural Land Reserve, and what do you see for the future of farmland in British Columbia?
A: There’s more land in the ALR now than when it was first brought into play in 1974. I think there’s an additional 39,000 or 40,000 hectares of lands that are in the ALR now. We’re going to continue to make sure we have a strong ALR. We’ve got to make sure we have a place for our food security. But the other thing is we’ve got to make sure we have farming families that are going to be able to continue on. We want to make sure that we’re adapting so we have succession planning.
Q: Do you think we’re in an environment now where if a family decides they want to become farmers, they can do that and go up against some of the bigger competitors and make a good living out of farming?
A: I think there is a way to make a living out of farming. Unfortunately in our region a lot of the smaller farmers have to subsidize their operations — they might have to go and work in the oilfields in the winter months — that’s commonplace in some of the farming communities. I think there’s good opportunities for the farming community. I think we have to make sure farming is attractive for the younger folks. I think we haven’t done a good enough job of keeping those young folks on the farm, getting them ready to take over from grandpa or whatever. I think that’s something we have to look at a little closer. It’s one thing to have the agriculture land and save the land, but if you don’t have the farmers to move onto that land you’ve got to look after that piece of it as well. I wouldn’t even mind seeing a piece of farming even be put into the school curriculum and get a little higher profile. I think we need to make it cool to be part of the farming community, to be part of the folks that are building the future and making our province self sustainable. I think we can do that.
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Colorado State Fair: Shaping agriculture's future


Later this month, Coloradans from across the state will converge on Pueblo for the 141st Colorado State Fair. While the event promises a top-notch carnival, national recording artists, and entertainment galore, don't forget the true mission of the fair is based on agriculture and education.

The Colorado State Fair is the centerpiece of our effort to educate the public on the importance of, not only the food system, but on the efforts of the entire agricultural community and the Colorado Department of Agriculture. It's more than a state fair -- it's Colorado's premier celebration of agriculture.

Don't overlook the importance of agriculture. It is one of the most important, vibrant industries in our state. It contributes more than $40 billion to our state's economy, and it supports over 170,000 jobs. The Colorado State Fair is a valuable partner in that effort. The Fairgrounds provides nearly $34 million in economic activity to Colorado throughout the year; $29 million of that activity is driven by the annual State Fair event. During the annual event, the State Fair also expands to a tremendous job creator; the jobs provided by the Fair equates to 371 year-around positions.

This industry doesn't just impact our economy -- it impacts you. Our Colorado farmers and ranchers help feed you, your family, your friends and the world. The Colorado State Fair provides the opportunity to educate fairgoers on this amazing industry. Intertwined between the carnival rides and funnel cakes, are livestock, rodeos, crops and youth who have dedicated their lives to this vital industry. The Fair provides $340,000 of its annual budget and facilities for the FFA and 4H organizations. These organizations do more than teach students about agriculture, they provide valuable lessons in leadership, animal husbandry, and becoming the future leaders of our state.

This year, the Colorado State Fair is celebrating the 50th annual Colorado's Touchstone Energy Cooperative Junior Livestock Sale. The Sale is instrumental in supporting the future of Colorado's agribusiness as it demonstrates to youth the importance of raising quality livestock and the work required of those who pursue careers in agriculture. Over the past 33 years the Colorado State Fair Junior Livestock Sale has raised a combined total of $7,801,265 for the youth involved in 4H and FFA; proceeds from the sale go to the education funds of youth exhibitors or towards reinvestment in future agriculture projects.

The importance of teaching new generations about agriculture and where their food comes from is priceless. To take it one step further, you can visit the Colorado Building and support local agriculture at the Colorado Proud Store. All the products here are made by Colorado businesses, in Colorado.

As you enjoy the full array of entertainment at this year's State Fair, be sure to absorb its true mission. The Colorado Department of Agriculture fills the Agriculture Pavilion every year with educational fun and excitement designed to entertain and educate the young and young-at-heart. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can about the Colorado Department of Agriculture and role the agricultural community plays in your way of life.

Our fair has earned its place in history. Before Colorado became a state, approximately 2,000 people converged on what is now Pueblo for a horse exhibition and from that was born the Colorado State Fair. The Fair continues to call Pueblo home, and in fact, has only canceled the fair once during its entire history. In 1917, during World War I, the Fairgrounds' horse stables and open space offered an ideal training facility for the Army National Guard, thus canceling the Fair for that year.

The Colorado State Fair runs Aug. 23-Sept. 2, 2013. For more information, visit
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Colorado agriculture exports grow 2% in first-half 2013



The value of Colorado's agricultural exports grew by 2 percent in the first half of 2013 from the same period of 2012, despite a slump in sales to Mexico and Russia, the Colorado Department of Agriculture reported Friday.

Ag exports reached a value of $725.6 million in the first six months of 2013, up $14.5 percent from a year earlier. The total is up 20 percent from two years earlier, the department said.

Exports to Russia declined by $27 million between early 2012 and early 2013, and Mexico exports fell by $26 million, the report indicated. It cited Russia’s decision to close its markets to U.S. red meat imports and Mexico’s weak economy.

But Colorado state saw growth in shipments to seven of its 10 largest agriculture-export markets, including a $23.1 million gain in exports to Canada and an $18.2 million rise in Hong Kong ag shipments.

Overall, Colorado ag exports went to 102 countries in the year’s first half, with new markets for state farm and ranch goods opening in Tunisia, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent/Grenadines, Anguilla and Aruba.

“Colorado’s broad market reach is critical for our industry,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar. “By increasing our global markets, Colorado can continue to increase sales well into the future.”

Other key takeaways from the Agriculture Department report:

• Brazil has become one of Colorado’s top 10 ag export markets, with sales growing from $328,000 a year ago to $9 million. “Brazil is importing wheat directly from Colorado for the first time with purchases of $8.5 million,” the report said.

• Red-meat sales account for all the growth of ag exports to Hong Kong.
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Governor Ahmed Advocates Better Funding For Agriculture



Governor Ahmed made the call when then National Economic Summit Group led by its Chairman, Mr Folusho Philips paid him a courtesy call at the Government House in Ilorin.

Addressing the group, Mr Ahmed noted that financing agriculture cannot yield desired results on the

The Governor said his administration’s agricultural policy as encapsulated in the Kwara Agricultural Master Plan include the establishment of agricultural malls where real farmers can access agricultural inputs and expertise as well as the emergence of 160 farmers, in the first instance, who will be change agents in the promotion of commercial agriculture.

In his response, the Chairman, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr Folusho Philips disclosed that the group was exploring the potential of agriculture in driving the non-oil sector of the national economy.

According to Mr Philips, it is expedient that the country takes advantage of its natural endowments of good weather and abundant outlays of rivers to maximize its potentials in agriculture.

Mr Philips commended the state government’s initiative in promoting agriculture as a business through the Shonga farm concept and solicited the assistance and participation of the Kwara State Government in the group’s forthcoming summit on the agricultural sector.
prevailing lending format since it requires a different timeline and inherent risks.
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Agricultural industry wants immigration veto overridden


By law, Gov. Pat McCrory has to reconvene the legislature to consider veto overrides within 40 days of adjournment, which falls on Sept. 4. The General Assembly will have to meet then or inform the governor the session would be unnecessary, which requires they send him a petition signed by a majority of both chambers by Aug. 25. If they do that, the legislature could also wait until next year’s short session to take up the override.

McCrory on Thursday vetoed two bills: House Bill 786, the immigration legislation, and House Bill 392, which would have allowed welfare applicants to be drug-tested. The provision in the immigration bill that prompted McCrory’s veto was a little-noticed part of a complex, controversial package dealing with driving permits and changes in the criminal justice system affecting illegal immigrants. In the end, the bill was watered down to simply require a study of those issues.

But a small part of the bill that remained turned out to carry major consequences for agriculture. Under current law, employers don’t have to screen workers through the E-Verify immigrant status check if they employ them for less than 90 days in a year. The federal program checks whether someone can legally work in this country.

The bill originally would have exempted all seasonal workers from E-Verify, but a late amendment reined that in by setting the exemption at up to nine months. Rep. John Blust, a Republican from Greensboro who wrote that amendment, said Friday nine months was sufficient for seasonal workers and he didn’t want to “totally eviscerate” E-Verify.

The veto leaves the current 90-day law in place, unless it is overridden. While agriculture preferred the original version, the final bill was still an improvement for growers over the current law. But McCrory said that would make it easier to hire illegal immigrants, take jobs away from legal residents and spread to other industries.

Crops ‘left to rot’?

“This bill was originally designed to help our farmers,” McCrory said in a video message in which he asked residents to call on lawmakers to sustain his veto. “But what was created was a loophole big enough to drive a truck through that many businesses can abuse at the expense of our North Carolina workers.”

On Friday, a North Carolina chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly praised McCrory’s veto, saying the bill would inconsistently subject workers to E-Verify, leave employees – especially Latinos – vulnerable to unprincipled employers, create confusion among employers, and increase unemployment.

But agricultural interests say they have a hard enough time finding enough workers to get them through their various seasons.

N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Steve Troxler thinks the current 90-day exemption isn’t sufficient for most farmers, said his spokesman, Brian Long. Growing seasons aren’t limited to 90 days, Long noted.

Tobacco growing season begins in the winter and can last through harvest as late as October, he said. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes and apples are other examples of seasons that extend more than three months.

“If foreign workers who are in the country legally perceive one state as having more hoops to jump through, they will avoid that state,” Long said. “That could put farmers at risk of not being able to hire sufficient numbers of workers. Ultimately, crops could be left in fields to rot.”

‘They’re not taking jobs’

The size of the problem comes into focus on a blueberry farm such as Carter’s, where between 300 and 600 seasonal laborers work the crops on a well-established route that brings them to North Carolina from Florida, and then north to New Jersey and Michigan.

“We’ve got very few local people who will come out and work,” Carter said. “It is hands-on labor. They’re not taking jobs, as the governor thinks. They’re jobs that people will not do, is what it comes down to.”

Carter said farmers are already documenting the seasonal workers, as required by federal law, but they need relief from the current requirement to run all those employees through E-Verify if they are only around for three months. “It’s going to cut our labor force down,” he said.

Larry Wooten, president of the N.C. Farm Bureau, said his organization isn’t upset with McCrory but its members still want to see the veto overturned.

“What the General Assembly of North Carolina needed to do to be helpful – not only for agriculture but for the nation – was to link arms in a bipartisan way and urge Congress and our congressional delegation, Democrats and Republicans, to put pressure on Washington to get the broken immigration problem fixed,” Wooten said.

“If they do that, many of the issues we’re dealing with – E-Verify, driver’s permits, attendance at schools, proper identification, a whole host of other issues – can be corrected.”

Tillis, responding to the veto in a statement Thursday, also blamed Washington. His office said Tillis would be talking to Republican lawmakers in the coming days to decide what to do about the veto.

In Congress, the House and Senate have competing immigration-overhaul bills, although both chambers agree on requiring employers to use E-Verify, along with some other key provisions. The Senate passed its bill in June, while the House is still working out details. Once the House acts, negotiators from both chambers would try to come up with a compromise bill.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/16/3113730/growers-want-immigration-veto.html#storylink=cpy

RALEIGH — The state’s agricultural industry is pushing for an override of the governor’s veto of an immigration bill that would have made it easier to use seasonal laborers.

The N.C. Farm Bureau said Friday it is working with legislative leaders to persuade members of the General Assembly to reconvene in less than two weeks for override votes. They say the matter is urgent because without an override there will be a shortage of workers, which will lead to rotting crops and then less produce in grocery stores.

“With the veto, it’s going to be devastating for our industry and for the majority of the farm industry, period,” said Ralph Carter Jr., a blueberry farmer from Bladen County.

Challenging the governor’s veto has traction with agricultural interests and with House Speaker Thom Tillis, both of whom say they are concerned about more than that single bill. Both blame inaction in Washington for failing to address the nation’s immigration issues. Tillis is a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and is already talking about immigration.
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Agriculture tax to be imposed in phases: Punjab Finance Minister

Punjab Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujja ur Rehman has said that tax in the budget 2013-14 has been
levied only on affluent segments while there is also a proposal to impose tax on agriculture sector. He was speaking to various delegations of Party workers here on Friday, disclosed an official. He said agriculture tax will be implemented in phases and provincial income will be increased due to reforms to be introduced in tax collection system.

"Property tax, motor vehicle tax and tax on services are the major sources of provincial income. The development of education is the top priority of the provincial government and a sum of Rs244 billion has been allocated in the new budget for this sector which is 26 percent of the total budget. Similarly, an amount of Rs102 billion will be utilised on the provision of health facilities, which is 10.9 percent of the total budget. A huge amount of Rs7.5 billion is being spent on the provision of free treatment and medicines to the poor and destitute in public sector hospitals of the province," he added.

According to him, the public sector hospitals are being modernised and also Rs300 million has been reserved for dialysis facilities for poor kidney patients. Medical facilities are available to influential people in the past; however, the present government is ensuring availability of free of cost medicines to the deserving and poor patients. The administrative affairs of government hospitals are being corrected.
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Time to take the drudgery out of Agriculture

WITH agriculture facing many challenges at this present time, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management (MAFFW) decided that it was time to place much more emphasis on this sector.

To that end, they have launched an inaugural Agricultural Science, Technology and Innovation Competition. Under the theme, ‘Improving Lives Through Innovation in Agricultural Science and Technology’, Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Charleston Lucas, has challenged Barbadians to ‘take the drudgery out of Agriculture’.

“The Ministry, this year, thought that we needed to place an emphasis in agriculture, in terms of looking at ways and means in which we could have a greater thrust forward,” he noted.

Speaking at the 2nd Workshop for the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), held at the Ivan Harewood Centre, Christ Church, he explained that there was a strong link between food, health and productivity.

Explaining that for this competition, they were looking mainly for innovative ideas, he stressed that such ideas also needed to be commercial and easily implemented.

“So we thought that we would have a competition where we zoned in on agriculture and what we are asking is for a new idea, a creative idea, something useful,” he noted.

Continuing, he stated, “We are talking about innovation, that just means there is knowledge out there, ideas and some little things being done and what we want persons to do is just to harness them together. Use this knowledge and create something that is useful to agriculture, take some of the drudgery out of agriculture. Enable us to increase efficiency in probably somewhere in farming, marketing or the production side.”

Stating that it was important that the idea could be implemented almost right away, or at least ‘very soon’, he explained that it also needed to increase productivity, which would have a great positive impact on being competitive, which should result in larger quantities being sold.

To those interested, he noted that the deadline for a two-page synopsis of the idea was by October 13, 2013 and that they would be assessed in the following ways: Innovativeness will be 50 per cent, Market Potential and Usefulness will be afforded 30 per cent and the Implementation Process will be 20 per cent.
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Agriculture university to set up first solar power plant

He will also inaugurate Solar Green Houses, a step forward in the government’s fight against energy crisis that will provide green energy and reduce crop production cost for farmers, university officials say.

The university is setting up the plant in collaboration with Apollo Ampex (Private) Limited in an attempt to produce clean and pollution-free energy.

According to the officials, the university has taken some tangible steps including the launch of degree programmes in energy system engineering, food engineering and environmental engineering aimed at producing a pool of professionals who will help cope with energy demand through alternative energy.

UAF is also going to establish Punjab China Biogas Institute in association with the Biogas Institute of Ministry of Agriculture, China.

Moreover, UAF has designed and installed a commercial biogas tube well system and off-grid power generation (15kva) for solving problems of the farming community.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2013.
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Insect and river health improves after tobacco agriculture removed


The study shows that using insects as indicators of environmental health may provide new techniques that are useful for monitoring agriculture to keep it sustainable, and that these methods may actually be cheaper than traditional chemical assays.
Led by by Dr Vincent Pettigrove and Bryant Gagliardi from the Centre for Aquatic Pollution and Identification Management (CAPIM) at The University of Melbourne, the work is published in the current issue of the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.

The researchers observed deformities in the freshwater insect, the chironomid or 'non-biting midge' and found the occurrence of physically deformed mouthparts in the aquatic insects (including missing, additional and fused teeth) indicated the presence of pollutants in the river system including the now banned insecticide DDT.

Dr Pettigrove said once the tobacco crops were removed, the chironomid deformities declined, indicating that environmental recovery was possible and that the insect-based techniques used would be helpful in monitoring agricultural practices to keep them sustainable.

“We have seen that land-managers can make decisions about how they use their land that positively impact aquatic ecosystems because current farming practices in the area are having a lesser impact on the Ovens River,” he said.
“The improvement in health of the chiromonid is significant as an indicator of river health as they are found in every type of freshwater environment worldwide and are an important food resource for fish.”

The original study was conducted by Dr Pettigrove for an EPA Victoria study conducted in 1988 and 1989 when tobacco cultivation was widespread and again in 2010 after tobacco cultivation ceased in the region.

During 1988/89 chironomids collected from the Ovens River, dams and billabongs in the vicinity of tobacco farms had a higher incidence of deformities than those collected from areas upstream and more than 10 km downstream of the tobacco region. 

The 2010 study was conducted to determine whether there was still evidence of pesticide pollution in the former tobacco region in the absence of intensive tobacco cultivation.

They found there were significantly less deformities in this region in 2010 compared to those present in 1988/89. Therefore, the removal of this intensive agriculture has resulted in a recovery in neighbouring aquatic ecosystems.
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Kalangadoo Women in Agriculture and Business celebrate 90 years together


In 1923, women who lived in Kalangadoo weren't happy about attending the mens Agricultural Bureau, only to be asked to cook the men supper and clean up after the meeting.

So they formed their own, the first in the South East and it was called the Kalangadoo Women in Agriculture and Business.

Meetings were held on Saturday afternoons when the shops were still open so the hard-working women could combine their new roles as members with shopping duties at the time.

Today marks an important day for the Kalangadoo ladies - they first met 90 years ago.

Secretary for the Women in Agriculture and Business Kalangadoo branch, Josie Flanagan, and President, Lorraine Rayson, joined Mornings to discuss the celebration.

"We're looking at fifty to sixty and I think they'll be absolutely thrilled with how the hall has been set up. We've tried to re-enact when Kalangadoo won the Glover Cup and they won that through their entries into the agricultural, horticultural shows," Ms Rayson said.

"The members have put all of this together and got hold of heaps of information and it's absolutely marvellous what they've done."

Delving into the history, Ms Rayson said there were some notable examples of differences spanning the years from the WAB's beginnings to now.

"They had this question box often and I think that's where they ask questions about different things, farming or cooking and I find that quite interesting.

"They didn't seem to do a lot of activities like we seem to do today."

Secretary Josie Flanagan has been absent for the last twenty five years put upon returning to the area last October, rejoined the WAB community.

"You always come back to a good place don't you."

"They're a fabulous group of ladies at the WAB here and they're very active within the community and I think the organisation, what they've come up with today, it's great to be a part of something like that."

For Josie Flanagan, membership with the WAB is something of a family tradition.

"My grandmother, Lucy Rogers, was a member for a number of years with the Kalangadoo branch."

"It didn't sound very exciting back then but her name's popping up in all the minute books and it's good to see that we've got new generations continuing through the WAB."

"It's nice that we're continuing the tradition for the families."

"I don't know that our sponges are quite as good though!"

Today, meetings are held at the Kalangadoo Institute on the second Tuesday of every month.

Hear the full interview with Josie Flanagan and Lorraine Rayson by selecting the audio to the right.
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Penn State tells state, local leaders of agricultural accomplishments during Ag Progress Days Published: August 14, 2013 Updated 8 hours ago Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/08/14/3737030/penn-state-tells-state-local-leaders.html#storylink=cpy


ROCK SPRINGS — Penn State administrators in Old Main and on Ag Hill were elated months ago that the state was proposing flat funding for the university’s agricultural research and extension line items.

They were hopeful for extra money, but in tough economic times, they weren’t going to count their chickens before they hatch.

As it turns out, a state budget passed that would give the College of Agricultural Sciences $1.5 million more than administrators originally anticipated for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

On Wednesday, at the university’s and college’s annual Ag Progress Days, administrators gave public thank-yous to state officials and groups who support agriculture during the annual government and industry lunch. It’s an event that brought together nearly 700 attendees consisting of agri-businessmen and women and municipal, county and state officials.

“There is too little public recognition of how much we all depend upon farms as stewards of our soil, water and wildlife resources,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson told the crowd, quoting the late John F. Kennedy. “We’re working to change that. Special thanks go to our agricultural advocates, who have made it their mission to preserve and protect Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage and future.”

Ag Progress Days gives Penn State the chance to show off its contributions and achievements to agriculture. The events will wrap up Thursday.

Wednesday’s invitation-only lunch had a slew of local figureheads who ate the buffet lunch, such as state lawmakers Jake Corman, Kerry Benninghoff and Scott Conklin, and Penn State agricultural trustees Keith Masser and Carl Shaffer.

During his speech, Erickson rattled off a list of accomplishments in the College of Agricultural Sciences, such as its being ranked No. 9 worldwide in the fields of agriculture and forestry and a $10 million federal grant received last fall for research into growing energy crops on marginal and abandoned land.

He mentioned student achievements, too: Students took first place in a national competition for their creation of a quiche-like dairy product they dubbed a “ moofin.” And he said Penn State can boast that its alumni are the superintendents at the golf courses that hosted this year’s Master’s, U.S. Open and PGA Championship, the three premier golf tournaments.

Erickson, who said he was born into farming, will return to farming when he retires next year.

Benninghoff, a representative from Bellefonte, said after the lunch that it was beneficial to hear how funding is used for education and research in agriculture. It’s ultimately taxpayer money that the legislature distributes, he said.

“It’s nice to be able to bring the bacon back home, as they used to say,” he said. “It just comes full circle, and I’m glad to see that.”

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, stressed to the crowd the continued importance of agriculture when it comes to national security.

“The threat to national security is when we would have to rely on another country for our food supply,” he said. “You keep that from happening. You feed the nation and you feed a lot of the rest of the world.”

He also got a laugh out of the crowd, using a play on words, when he made fun of himself saying that he was given 15 minutes to make remarks.

“With that much fertilizer, I’d burn crops off at the roots,” he said.

Later Wednesday, Thompson was more serious when he and state agriculture Secretary George Greig fielded questions from the public.

When asked about immigration and farm workforces, Thompson said farmers and ranchers need properly trained workers.

“We cannot get Americans to do those jobs. That is the reality of farming,” he said. “If we can’t get a trained workforce, then we can’t feed ourselves.”

One man asked about the status of farmland preservation, and Greig said the state has 475,000 acres that are preserved. It’s tough, he said, as Pennsylvania’s close proximity to population centers in the Northeast puts pressure on the state’s farmland.

Thompson also said farmers throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed region have worked to keep their cattle out of streams, out of concerns that the cows contribute to polluting the waters. One woman disagreed that the problem had gone away, and Thompson said work needs to be done.

The hourlong session will air soon on PCN, but a specific time and date wasn’t immediately available.

Penn State is budgeted to get $46.2 million from the state this fiscal year, an increase of 3.4 percent over last year.

Barbara Christ, the college’s interim dean, has said that money will mostly help maintain programs and minimize downsizing. The college will create three research centers using $300,000 from the bump in state funding, and information about the centers will be presented Thursday at Ag Progress Days, Christ said.

In addition, Christ said the college has restructured its extension programs in a way that is more collaborative and team-oriented than in the past.

For instance, she said, an expert in dairy nutrition who works at the Lancaster County Cooperative Extension office would be synced up with other extension workers across the state who have expertise in the dairy field.

The college continues to operate an extension office in all 67 counties, but the college’s vision would essentially remove the county boundaries so that people who use the extension services can access help across the state, she said.
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Can India’s Agriculture Sector be Saved?


Onions are front-page news these days across newspapers in Delhi. Onion prices, along with those of several other vegetables, have been steadily rising. There is almost a sense of déjà vu, as each year one or two vegetables become a cause célèbre for the middle class. What it also does is indicate the vast inefficiencies across the agricultural supply chain in India.

That India’s farm economy must be made more efficient and productive – urgently – hardly bears repeating. Despite a glut of seemingly pro-agriculture subsidies, policies and sops given to the agricultural community by successive governments, the outlook on India’s farm economy remains anything but healthy. Thousands of tons of grains are wasted because of lack of storage and transport facilities, even as farming remains a gritty battle of a profession.

Clearly, the multitude of policies and short-term thinking has only made Indian agriculture unsustainable, although there was some good news in 2012: India overtook Thailand as the world’s largest rice exporter, and emerged as the world’s top exporter of buffalo meat (known as carabeef in the global market).

Still, agricultural experts and observers fear these advantages and strides are unlikely to last. Agricultural scientist Professor M S Swaminathan recently said, “unless a productivity-cum-quality revolution take place the apprehension voiced by experts about the India becoming a net importer of food grains in another 20-30 years cannot be ignored.”

It doesn’t seem likely that we will stumble on a silver lining in the agriculture sector, or much else in the Indian economy right now. But, as with most things in India, while things remain the same (or get worse), there are also smart and worthy efforts at improvement. In the case of agriculture, a handful of venture capital and private equity players are focused on making Indian agriculture both more productive and more profitable.

Mumbai-based Omnivore Partners is one such venture capital fund. Founded in 2010, Omnivore has already invested in six start-ups in what they call “ag-tech” (agriculture technology). Mark Kahn, a founding partner at the firm, believes agriculture in India urgently requires the application of technology. It’s difficult not to romanticize Kahn’s journey so far. A Harvard Business School grad, his passion for – and knowledge of – Indian agriculture are impressive. As is his spoken Hindi, picked up over the past several years spent living in India. I recently had the chance to chat with Kahn in Delhi, where he laid out his wish list for Indian agriculture, and the big fix-it’s the sector needs to mature.

During the conversation, I asked him to lay out the top three “misses” as far as the farm sector in India is concerned. What keeps Indian agriculture unproductive, and what are the solutions? Here is what he said:

“First, there must be a revamp of agricultural education. It is an incredible crime against rural India that agriculture is not taught as a subject in rural schools. It reflects a one-size-fits-all approach to education which denies the basic fact that half of this country is attached to cultivation as a full-time/part-time job, and it denies the rural masses an opportunity to avail themselves of the benefits of agricultural sciences which will increase agricultural yields, and improve the sustainability of Indian agriculture.

“Bihar (an eastern Indian state) has begun a fledgling initiative to introduce agriculture as a core subject in primary and secondary schools. The western state of Maharashtra (where agriculture ecosystems are among the most developed in India) has approved in certain pockets a vocational course in agriculture. There should be a national effort to design a curriculum for agricultural education from grade six through grade 10, and to recruit a separate cadre of agriculture educators who would serve multiple rural schools, imparting both classroom education and practical exposure to real agriculture.

“Second, we need to have a national policy rethink on land consolidation, which is not to say that we need to encourage small farmers to sell their landholdings. Rather, we need to make it easier for people who intend to keep the ownership of their ancestral land to lease it or rent it to corporate or other organizations who will take over farming of that land. They need to be able to do so without the fear that such land will be taken away from them. The precedent for this is Argentina, where you find that many urban Argentinians continue to hold rural, agricultural land even though they haven’t tilled the land, and specialist agricultural companies have come up, such as Los Grobos which manages hundreds of thousands of hectares of land for small farm land owners across Latin America.

“The problem in India today is that you have tremendous legal uncertainty when leasing land, especially to one’s neighbors, and also to corporates. That prevents farmers from focusing on urban opportunities, or merely working in town. This does not require new laws. But, it requires a different approach to the regulation of land. The state of Rajasthan has done some good work on this, and there’s a huge possibility for other states to follow too.

“Most of all, agriculture in India ails from policy inconsistency. The government of India seems totally allergic to consistent policies. It’s impossible to advance agriculture in India if the government changes every policy without giving the earlier policy a chance to show its possible impact, and benefit. There are an incredible number of dramatic policy shifts – look at the way we ban exports on sugar, the way we ban exports on cotton, or how we create a futures exchange, then ban half the items listed on the futures list when global prices go up.

“There shouldn’t be this many cooks stirring the pot. We should decide what our strategic goals are and set a policy to achieve them. Otherwise, it makes it exceedingly difficult for anybody – private, government or NGO to make long-term rational policies. To be honest, on the issue of policy, I’m not optimistic of great change, even with governments that claim to be pro-agriculture. Our ministers are warring with each other, and there is a complete absence of both consensus and direction.”
Original Article Here

New farm wage ‘human capital’


LEADING agricultural economist Mohammad Karaan on Wednesday appealed to farmers to accept the controversial minimum wage for farm workers that was introduced this year.

"But don’t fight the minimum wage," he told delegates on the second day of a Produce Marketing Association conference in Somerset West on Thursday. "It is more important for agriculture to be humane in terms of wage levels and to develop human capital, and then we can build from there."

Prof Karaan, the dean of agricultural sciences at Stellenbosch University and a presidential appointment to the National Planning Commission, expressed sympathy for farmers trying to create employment and admitted that the R105/day minimum wage announced in February would inevitably lead to job losses.

Although the wage increase would play havoc with the commission’s goal of creating a million jobs in agriculture, the sector had been "lucky" that it had come at a time when it was affordable, he said.

Tommie van Zyl, head of the Limpopo-based ZZ2 farming dynasty and one of South Africa’s leading farmers, said it was "imperative" that local farmers paid "market-related’ wages. "Our market is not only domestic but international too, and as our sector becomes more competitive internationally, the higher wages will become more affordable," Mr van Zyl said.

He said, however, he would be "pleased" if the higher wages were part of a long-term strategy that involved the government, agricultural economists and the workers, "not just in response to a popular uprising". Mr van Zyl was referring to the farm workers’ strike in the Western Cape late last year and earlier this year.

"The minimum wage has been a shock. In ZZ2 it has wiped out our profit for this year.

"Luckily in the past year there has been a price adjustment not related to wages — the rand collapsed, which was a huge bonus for exporters, and hail and frost (in Limpopo) cut production and pushed up the prices of tomatoes," he said.

ZZ2 is South Africa’s biggest tomato producer, also marketing onions, a range of other vegetables and fruit, such as avocados. He says the 52% increase in the wage bill will have to be carefully managed.

Prof Karaan said agriculture still has the greatest labour-absorbing capacity, and it can also resolve the land question. The most compelling argument for agriculture is that most other "advancing nations", such as Brazil and Mexico, have done so on a healthy, industrialised, exporting agricultural sector.

He pointed to recent unrest in Egypt and Brazil, where it broke out ostensibly over bus fares. It was difficult to predict where the "next eruption" would come from.

The goal of 1-million jobs that he had presented to the commission, was based on bringing more available land into agricultural production, making more water available to the sector and expanding export markets, Prof Karaan said. "It seems that hypothetically, despite the setback of the wage increase, if these other conditions are met, we can still create that 1-million jobs."
Original Article Here

Peruvians use drones for agriculture, archaeology

Drones are most often associated with assassinations in remote regions of Pakistan and Yemen but in Peru, unmanned aircraft are being used to monitor crops and study ancient ruins.
Forget Reapers and Predators — the drones used here are hand-held contraptions that look like they were assembled in a garage with gear from a hardware store.
They are equipped with a microcomputer, a GPS tracker, a compass, cameras and an altimeter, and can be easily programmed by using Google Maps to fly autonomously and return to base with vital data.
“These aircraft are small in size, are equipped with high-precision video or photo cameras and go virtually unnoticed in the sky,” said Andres Flores, an electrical engineer in charge of the UAV program at Peru’s Catholic University.
Flores heads a multidisciplinary team brainstorming the best ways to use drones for civilian purposes.
“Up to now we have managed to use them for agricultural purposes, where they gather information on the health of the plants, and in archaeology, to better understand the characteristics of each site and their extensions,” Flores said.
One UAV model built by Catholic University engineers is made with light balsa wood and carbon fiber. At a glance the devices look like souped-up hand-held glider.
One limitation is that these drones must fly below the clouds. If not their instruments, especially the cameras, could fail, said Aurelio Rodriguez, who is both an aerial model-maker and archaeologist.
Some of the earliest human settlements in the Americas are found in Peru.
There are thousands of archaeological sites, many unexplored, dotting the Peruvian landscape, most of them pre-dating the Incas, a major civilization which was defeated by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
Along the dry coastline, where the main construction material was adobe brick, whole societies flourished.
After centuries of abandon some of these ancient cities have deteriorated to the point that they are hard to distinguish in the sandy, hilly region.
Archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo is using drones to help map the 1,300 year-old Moche civilization around San Idelfonso and San Jose del Moro, two sites on the Peruvian coast north of Lima.
“We can convert the images that the drones provide into topographical and photogrammetry data to build three-dimensional models,” Castillo told AFP.
“By using the pictures taken by drones we can see walls, patios, the fabric of the city.”
Separately, Hildo Loayza, a physicist with the Lima-based International Potato Center, is perfecting ways to apply drone technology to agriculture.
“The drones allow us to resolve problems objectively, while people do it subjectively,” he told AFP.
“In agriculture drones allow us to observe a larger cultivation area and estimate the health of the plants and the growth of the crops. The cameras aboard the drones provide us with 500 pieces of high-technology data, while with the human eye one can barely collect ten,” Loayza said.
Precise, high-quality images allow experts to measure the amount of sunlight the plants are getting, and study plant problems like stress from heat, drought or lack of nutrients, he said.
Other potential civilian drone use, Flores said, includes closely observing areas of natural disasters or studying urban traffic patterns.
In the thick Amazon jungle, where access by ground is often extremely difficult, drones can be used to study wild animals. “Every time an animal goes by, it can snap a picture,” said Flores.
There are no laws in Peru regulating the civilian use of drones, which allows advocates to push for all kinds of projects.
Their use in urban surveillance, however, could be seen as an invasion of privacy.
While experts are still dreaming up new ways to use the aircraft, security officials do use drones for military and police intelligence purposes, especially in Peru’s rugged and remote valleys where coca — the source plant for cocaine — is grown.\
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