A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘agriculture

[LINK] “Brazil Coffee Output Set for Longest Decline Since 1965″

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Bloomberg’s Marvin G. Perez and Morgane Lapeyre share the bad news.

A prolonged drought in Brazil has already claimed about half of Jose Francisco Pereira’s coffee crop. Next year could be even worse as the country heads for the first three-year output decline since 1965.

“Everybody is praying for rain,” said Pereira, general director of Monte Alegre Coffees, a grower with 2,500 hectares (6,280 acres) based in Alfenas, Minas Gerais, that forecast this season’s harvest at 45,000 bags, down from 82,000 last year.

Production in Brazil, the world’s top grower, may drop as much as 18 percent to 40.1 million bags when the harvest ends next month, the National Coffee Council estimates, after a 3.1 percent slide last year. With damage worsening before the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the council said farmers may collect less than 40 million bags in 2015, creating the longest slump in five decades.

Citigroup Inc. forecast Aug. 21 that a global production deficit may last into 2016 because of the shortfall in Brazil, which accounted for 36 percent of world supply last year. Futures that have gained more than any other commodity this year may rally 15 percent further by the end of December, to $2.25 a pound, a Bloomberg survey of 18 analysts showed. The surge is forcing buyers including J.M. Smucker Co., maker of Folgers, the best-selling U.S. brand, to raise retail prices.

“The market is vulnerable to the upside given all the problems in Brazil,” Donald Selkin, who helps oversee $3 billion as chief market strategist at National Securities Corp. in New York, said yesterday. “People are anticipating tighter supplies and are waiting for more dramatic weather developments.”

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 7:46 pm

[NEWS] Some Sunday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes India’s concern about the possible domination of BRICS institutions by China, and looks at controversies surrounding gender in the French education system.
  • BusinessWeek notes that some Chinese have taken to growing their own food in their apartments to avoid contaminated produce, and comments on the troubles of hookah bars in Russia.
  • CBC notes problems for Canadian pot tourists in the United States.
  • The Economist observes that relations between China and Vietnam are quite poor.
  • Foreign Policy comments on African skepticism about free trade agreements with rich countries and analyses the spectre of “Novorossiya” in Ukraine.
  • MacLean’s reports how seven different foriegn newspapers covered Canadian confederation in 1867.
  • National Geographic writes about the Panana Canal’s Lake Gatun.
  • The New Yorker argues that Iraq and Syria each have long histories.
  • Open Democracy comments on China’s speculative and opportunistic responses to the Crimean crisis and observes that Uzbekistan’s government prefers to stay out of regional trade agreements so to strengthen its government.
  • Transitions Online u>compares corruption in Bulgaria to that of Italy and notes the rebirth of the wine industry in Kazakhstan.
  • Wired examines the causes of the Ebola outbreak, looks at analyses of the networked structure of Jewish religious texts, and examines vintage space station designs.

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

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  • Al Jazeera America argues that depending on cars will hurt Newark’s urban renaissance, notes the emerging Indian-Israeli alliance and the import of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in sectarian communities in Northern Ireland, looks at the slowly reviving film industry of Côte d’Ivoire, chronicles the human rights issues of LGB Ukrainians and of Christian sects in the Caucasus, examines the legacies of German immigration in Brazil, and looks at the shantytowns of Mongolia.
  • Al Jazeera examines Russia’s Eurasianism, notes emergent water shortages in Syria, looks at the reaction of Sephardic Jews to a new Spanish citizenship law that would give them access to Spain, and chronicles the persecution of the Ahmadiyya in Pakistan.
  • Bloomberg notes that sanctions on Russia may hurt the Greek economy, notes the collapse in wages for young people in southern Europe, and looks at Germany’s serious impending demographic issues.
  • BusinessWeek looks at Tinder’s shabby treatment of a female co-founder, examines the stagnant economy of Thailand, looks at hospitals which mine credit card data to predict their future patients.
  • CBC notes with disappearance of anonymous public WiFi in Russia, takes a look at the consequences of the shutdown of the McCain potato processing plant in Borden-Carleton, points out the ongoing collapse of a caribou herd on the Québec-Labrador border, shows the sad toll of the Air Algérie plane crash in Québec, and notes that Vancouver’s aquarium can no longer breed cetaceans.
  • Global News looks at the impact of Air Algérie’s disaster in Montreal.
  • MacLean’s suggests Canada is not immune to an American-style housing crash, argues that the Canadian job market is weaker than it appears, and reports on the claims that restrictive American immigration policies could work to the benefit of Canada.
  • National Geographic notes some surprisingly social cephalopod populations and looks at naming ceremonies for some gorillas in Rwanda.
  • NPR reports that some big data firms claim Snowden’s data release has given terrorists ideas as to how they can be quieter, and notes some Ivoirien cacao farmers who taste
  • The New York Times notes the closure of an Upper East Side restaurant priced out by rising rents.
  • Reuters observes the worsening demographics of Italy.
  • Transitions Online takes a small-scale look on the effects of emigration in Uzbekistan.
  • Universe Today looks at how some Martian canyons were formed by different water releases.
  • Xinhua notes how emigration from Portugal has become mainstream.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Discover‘s Collideascape notes that, even as agricultural land is falling worldwide, the productivity of this land is increasing even more sharply.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper examining the extent to which saline water might make cooler planets better for live, and to another paper suggesting that planetary magnetic fields are so importance for life (and oxygen levels) that brief reversals in the history of Earth have led to mass extinctions.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a Ukrainian report that the country’s military has captured a Russian tank.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that vehemently anti-gay Minnesota archbishop John Nienstadt is being investigated for allegedly having sexual relationships with men.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, despite economic collapse, there are some jobs (like low-paying fieldwork) that Portuguese just won’t do.
  • The New APPS Blog’s Gordon Hull notes the gender inequity involved in the recent Hobby Lobby ruling in the United States.
  • pollotenchegg maps the slow decline of Ukraine’s Jewish population in the post-1945 era.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle writes eloquently about his connections to and love of Lake Erie.
  • Strange Maps’ Frank Jacobs links to a cartographic examination of the time spent by French television news examining different areas of the world.
  • Towleroad notes a faux apology made by the Israeli education minister after attacking gay families.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Jonathan Adler notes the future of contraception coverage under Obamacare.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on fears that Crimean Tatar organizations will soon suffer a Russian crackdown, and suggests that the West should reconsider its policies on Belarus to encourage that country to diversify beyond Russia.

[LINK] “Ancient Europe Colonized by Island Hoppers?”

Andrew Curry’s National Geographic News article takes a look at how movements of early agricultural populations westwards across the Mediterranean are reflected in contemporary genetics.

By leapfrogging from island to island across the northern Mediterranean, Neolithic people were able to quickly spread their farming lifestyle across southern Europe some 9,000 years ago, a new genetic study suggests.

Archaeological investigations have shown that individuals in the Near East first developed farming and herding around 12,000 years ago. Agriculture then quickly replaced the more mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle—in what’s called the “Neolithic transition”—as farmers migrated into Europe and other parts of the world.

“The establishment of agriculture provided the possibility for population growth, and that growth led people to expand to new horizons,” said University of Washington geneticist George Stamatoyannopoulos.

In a new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stamatoyannopoulos and his colleagues analyzed the DNA of individuals from modern Mediterranean populations to reconstruct the migration patterns of their ancient ancestors.

The genetic data showed that the people from the Near East migrated into Anatolia-modern—day Turkey—and then rapidly west through the islands of Greece and Sicily, before making their way north into the center of the continent.

“The gene flow was from the Near East to Anatolia, and from Anatolia to the islands,” Stamatoyannopoulos said. “How well the genes mirror geography is really striking.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

[LINK] “The quest to fix Quebec’s wines”

Martin Patriquen of MacLean’s had an interesting article describing the nascent Québec wine industry and its troubles.

In many ways, Quebec in 2013 is where Ontario was in the mid-’80s; strewn with disparate, stubborn winemakers eager to overcome their backwater reputation. Unlike Ontario, where winemakers benefited from promotion by the Grape Growers of Ontario wine association, Quebec has two winemaking associations that are completely at odds on how to move forward.

Grapes have grown in Quebec for centuries. When Jacques Cartier first saw Ile-d’Orléans in 1535, the mouth-shaped island in the St. Lawrence was overrun with native vitis riparia grapes. He called it Ile de Bacchus, even though the small blue grape was unsuited for wine. The province’s first winery, Côtes d’Ardoise (“slate hills”), opened in 1981 in Dunham, which sits in the valley between Sutton and Bromont mountains in the Eastern Townships. It did so illegally; the Quebec government had yet to devise a licence for residents to make alcohol, let alone sell it.

Then Charles-Henri de Coussergues, an agricultural exchange student from the Languedoc region of France, arrived in 1982. Languedoc was in the midst of a crisis because demand for its cheap table wine had collapsed; essentially, the French were becoming wine snobs. De Coussergues bought a 20-hectare dairy farm just down the road from Côtes d’Ardoise and began making and selling wine from the premises.

[. . .]

The trouble is Quebec’s 107 or so wineries can’t agree on how exactly to meet that challenge. It is a fundamentally divided industry, with the more established Association des Vignerons du Québec (AVQ) challenged by the upstart Vignerons Indépendants du Québec (VIQ), founded in 2006. Winemakers are a stubborn bunch, and there are many sticking points. But one of the main ones is certification and what varietals should and shouldn’t be part of it.

Standards are inconsistent. In 2007, an attempt to create a Canada-wide Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) stalled; Ontario and British Columbia wanted nothing to do with hybrid grapes­­—thought to be of lower quality­—and objected to the method many wineries used to harvest ice wine grapes. The AVQ has its own certification process, though only 22 wineries take part.

Then there’s the climate. Quebec is cold. Ontario and British Columbia less so. The crux of the argument is what, exactly, Quebec wine should be. People like Carone say Quebec will only be recognized as a true winemaking region when its wineries adopt the vitis vinifera grapes grown in Europe. The first commercial crop in Canada was planted in Ontario’s Niagara Region in 1978.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Canada, Economics

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[URBAN NOTE] “Mississauga’s last family farm hangs on”

Wendy GillisToronto Star article describing the last family farm operating in the city of Mississauga caught my attention. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the economics are dire, the younger Hustler men having to work off the farm as well to keep to farm going as a viable business. Will it be much longer until it’s sold off at a hefty price for real estate development?

As if he knew the house would one day sit on the edge of one of North America’s busiest highways, British settler Jacob Scott laid the red brick walls of his farm house 14 inches thick, then slapped on a layer of horse-hair plaster for good measure. For that, the Hustler family is forever grateful — their home, built by Scott in 1828, is uncannily quiet.

Outside on the farm, it’s a bizarre cacophony of urban and rural noise. Massive Hereford cattle bellow. Three dozen sheep swap nasally baas. Titan and Bailey, the Hustler farm dogs, bark replies.

The animal chorus competes against the roar of cars speeding down the 401 and the on-ramp to the 407, which together form the Hustler farm’s northern boundary. To the immediate east, the cars swerve in and out of the bustling big-box shopping centre, a maze of chain stores and restaurants.

“The cows used to summer pasture across the road,” says 34-year-old Jason, a fifth-generation Hustler, trudging through soggy grounds on a recent spring day.

“Basically, where the Rona is, the Buffalo Wild Wings, the Michael’s.”

Once just another farm in a predominantly agrarian region, the Hustlers today operate the last working farm in Mississauga, a 52-acre lot tucked in the very northwest corner of a city better known for cosmopolitan condos and sprawling subdivisions.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm


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