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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture

[LINK] “Coffee Harvest in Indonesia to Tumble From Record on El Nino”

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Bloomberg’s Yoga Rusmana and Eko Listiyorini note that El Nino is set to hurt Indonesia’s coffee crop.

Coffee production in Indonesia will probably drop 20 percent next year from a record as the strongest El Nino in almost two decades hurts crops in the world’s third-largest producer of robusta beans.

The harvest may slide to 560,000 metric tons in the year starting April 1 from 700,000 tons this year, according to the median of estimates from six traders and analysts compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the steepest decline since the 2006-07 season, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

A smaller Indonesian crop will potentially widen a global deficit of the beans used by companies including used by Nestle SA, and support prices that slumped 20 percent last year. El Nino is largely responsible for the dryness in the fourth quarter of 2015 in Indonesia, according to Rabobank International. The weather event has hampered cocoa crops in Ivory Coast, curbed the monsoon in India and forced the Philippines to import more rice.

“Dryness in Indonesia is textbook El Nino,” Carlos Mera Arzeno, commodities analyst at Rabobank in London, said by e-mail Jan. 13. “We expect robusta prices to go up to above $1,580 a ton by mid 2016, as a double-whammy of a lower robusta crop in Brazil and in Indonesia hits the market from April onward,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2016 at 3:48 pm

[LINK] “Ebola-Free Sierra Leone Bets on Cocoa to Spark Recovery”

Bloomberg’s Silas Gbandia and Isis Almeida report on the struggles of Sierra Leone’s nascent cocoa agribusinesses to survive Ebola and its aftermath.

In July 2014, Adrian Simpson was on a night out in Sierra Leone’s third city of Kenema to celebrate his biggest deal yet: a contract to supply a new business partner with cocoa beans from his company’s plantation.

But as he and the business partners sat drinking beer, an unexpected visitor brought some distressing news.

“We were having a great evening,” said Simpson, managing director of the cocoa unit of London-listed Agriterra Ltd., by phone from London. “Then, an American girl who was studying Ebola wandered over to our table, sat down and said, ‘I think Ebola has arrived.”’

Fast forward to November 2015, and Sierra Leone was declared free from the disease that ultimately claimed almost 3,600 lives in the country, making it one of the hardest-hit by the worst Ebola epidemic yet. The double blow of Ebola and a slump in iron-ore prices devastated the West African nation. While growth is forecast at 0.1 percent this year, the economy contracted 0.25 percent in 2015. Before Ebola began to spread, the government expected growth to reach 14 percent in 2014. Instead, it grew 4.6 percent.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 8, 2016 at 4:04 pm

[LINK] “Kitchen Gardens are Victory Gardens in Boosting Nutrition and Incomes in Western Kenya”

Justus Wanzala, writing for the Inter Press Service, looks at the kitchen gardens of Kenya.

Busia County in western Kenya is home to an array of indigenous vegetables. But for decades there has been a shift in popular taste leading to leading to little interest in what is indigenously grown. This relegated the vegetables to the periphery with most farmers cultivating kale and cabbages among other more exotic varieties.

However, but this has been changing courtesy of awareness created by nutritionists and the emergence of kitchen gardens. A kitchen garden is an area in a homestead where leafy vegetables, fruit or herbs are grown.

Subsistence farming is the mainstay of communities in Busia County with an average acreage being two hectares. Thanks to a local a local community-based organisation (CBO), Sustainable Income Generating Investment (SINGI), and its partners, the concept of kitchen gardens is in vogue having a huge impact on nutrition and food security in the county.

SINGI works with over 50 farmer groups in the county with members running up to hundreds. Women however dominate the membership. Buoyed rains that come two seasons each year, with some farmers being able to practice irrigation, most households are able to maintain their kitchen gardens throughout the year.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm

[LINK] “Soy Boom Revives Amazon Highway”

Fabiana Frayssinet’s Inter Press Service article lokos at how the soy fields of Amazonia are expanding, at significant ecological cost.

The BR-163 highway, an old dream of the Brazilian military to colonise the Amazon jungle, was revived by agroexporters as part of a plan aimed at cutting costs by shipping soy out of river ports. But the improvement of the road has accentuated problems such as deforestation and land tenure, and is fuelling new social conflicts.

The 350-km stretch of road between the cities of Miritituba and Santarem in the northern Brazilian state of Pará look nothing like the popular image of a lush Amazon rainforest, home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the world.

Between the two port terminals – in Santarém, where the Tapajós and Amazon Rivers converge, and in Miritituba on the banks of the Tapajós River – are small scattered groves of trees surrounded by endless fields of soy and pasture.

Cattle grazing peacefully or resting under the few remaining trees, taking shelter from the high temperatures exacerbated by the deforestation, are the only species of mammal in sight.

“A common phrase heard in the area along the BR-163 is ‘whoever deforests, owns the land’ – in other words, deforestation has become an illegal instrument for seizing public land.” – Mauricio Torres
“When we came here 30 years ago this was all jungle,” local small farmer Rosineide Maciel told IPS as she and her family stood watching a bulldozer flatten a stretch of the BR-163 highway in front of their modest dwelling.

Maciel doesn’t miss the days when, along with thousands of other Brazilian migrants, she was drawn here by the then-military government’s (1964-1985) offer of land, part of a strategy to colonise the Amazon rainforest.

Thanks to the paving of the highway that began in 2009, it takes less time to transport her cassava and rice to the town of Rurópolis, 200 km from her farm.

“It’s been easier since they improved the road,” she said. “In the past, there were so many potholes on the way to Rurópolis, and in the wet season it took us three days because of the mud.”

BR-163, built in the 1970s, had become practically impassable. The road links Cuiabá, the capital of the neighbouring state of Mato Grosso – the country’s main soy and corn producer and exporter – with the river port city of Santarém.

Of the highway’s 1,400 kilometres, where traffic of trucks carrying tons of soy and maize is intense, some 200 km have yet to be paved, and a similar number of kilometres of the road are full of potholes.

Accidents occur on a daily basis, caused in the dry season by the red dust thrown up on the stretches that are still dirt, and in the wet season by the mud.

But compared to how things were in the past, it is a paradise for the truckers who drive the route at least five times a month during harvest time.

Truck driver Pedro Gomes from the north of the state of Mato Grosso told IPS: “When soy began to come to Santarém, three years ago, sometimes the drive took me 10 to 15 days. Today we do it in three days, if there’s no rain.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 7, 2016 at 10:14 pm

[ISL] “Charlottetown company aims to rekindle interest in Maritime cheeses”

Jim Day, writing for The Guardian of Charlottetown, reports on a Toronto acquaintance of mine who has set up an interesting cheese business on the Island. Well done, Victoria!

Victoria Goddard is eager to slice into the cheese business.

The 33-year-old author established a small farm in Grandview earlier this year with plans to grow mixed fruit and flowers.

[. . .]

In addition to old favourites, her company will focus on regional and specialty cheeses not readily available on P.E.I.

Goddard will sell cheeses made in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario as well as cheeses imported from Belgium, Italy, England and France.

“The Maritimes and Quebec produce some of the world’s best cheeses,” she says.

“We’ll be stocking local favourites, and will gradually increase our selection each week as we grow.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 2, 2016 at 5:38 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Antipope Charlie Stross takes down the flawed universe-building of fantasy fiction.
  • Anthropology.net notes that apparently, continents without agriculture saw their populations grow as much as continents with agriculture.
  • Centauri Dreams considers Wolf 1061c.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that the Puebloans took part in long-distance trade, as noted by their food.
  • The Extremo Files notes a new effort to map the badly underexplored oceans of our world.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the five-year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Mexico’s lawsuit against BP for Deepwater Horizon’s spill.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw is critical of New South Wales’ new regulation of cyclists. (I personally think much of it should be copied in Ontario.)
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes satellite observations of Earth changing through the seasons.
  • Spacing reviews Ladders, an exciting-sounding book about urban development.
  • Window on Eurasia notes a poll suggesting three-quarters of Russians blame the West for their country’s economic problems.

[LINK] “Antigua: Surrounded by Sea but Catchments are Empty”

The Inter Press Service’s Kenton X. Chance describes how the Caribbean island of Antigua is coping, or not, with an increasingly intense drought.

Antiguan Veronica Yearwood no longer panics when she hears that the rainfall forecast for the tiny Caribbean island is again lower than average rainfall.

Not because she is a hydrologist in the water department of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority. “We went passed that stage. We did panic, but we have now settled down to the reality that the drought is really going to be a very bad one; it’s not going to end tomorrow,” she told IPS.

“So we’ve decided to look at ways to mitigate, use what we have sufficiently,” Yearwood said.

Antigua, a 108.5-square mile island of 80,000 people in the northern Caribbean, has been experiencing severe drought conditions for the past two years.

“All of our surface water catchments are bone dry. Our aquifers have shown a decline in the level of the water, and we’ve moved from 60 per cent desalination to 90 per cent desalination,” Yearwood told IPS, adding that citizens are coping “as best as they can.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 7, 2015 at 12:40 pm

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