Farming

High risk of food shortages without pesticides, says chemical giant

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Head of Syngenta, world’s biggest pesticide maker, says rejecting farming tech could have serious consequences within 20 years Damian Carrington in Basel The Guardian The world is likely to face food shortages within 20 years if pesticides and genetically modified crops are shunned, according to the head of the world’s biggest pesticide manufacturer. J Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta, also said the technologies to produce more food from less land are vital in halting climate change, but that better targeting ... Read More »

Crop exports to wilt as autumn rains fail over much of Australia

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Australia’s third-driest May on record has compounded the misery facing many of the nation’s farmers, with the window for winter plantings closing fast. Peter Hannam The Canberra Times Projections by Rabobank released on Friday indicate 21.6 million hectares of winter crop will be planted this year. While down 2 per cent on the previous year, the drop in Queensland and NSW will be much more severe at 11 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively. Rainfall last month was down ... Read More »

Lunch with the ruralists

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Landowners control Brazil’s parliament A group of wealthy agribiz owners get to make self-enriching policy affecting millions because they backed the overthrow of Dilma Rousseff. by Anne Vigna  Le Monde diplomatique he parliamentary ‘ruralist’ group meets every Tuesday in a villa in a classy district of Brasília, and, according to its PR, ‘they have lunch and discuss a different topic every week.’ The ruralists form a lobby of powerful landowning parliamentarians, and the results of their discussions later reach Congress ... Read More »

A Reparations Map for Farmers of Color May Help Right Historical Wrongs

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In an effort to address centuries of systemic racism, a new online tool seeks to connect Black, brown, and Indigenous farmers with land and… Andrea King Collier CivilEats When Leah Penniman and her family founded Soul Fire Farm, in Petersburg, New York in 2011, they had a vision of a multi-racial, sustainable farming organization that would run food sovereignty programs with the… To achieve these goals, Soul Fire Farm offers training to Black and brown farmers, activism retreats, food justice ... Read More »

Madagascar’s vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation

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As the price of pods has soared so has violence – and forest defenders are increasingly risking their lives to protect precious wildlife habitat from being felled for profit Jonathan Watts The Guardian The vanilla thieves of Anjahana were so confident of their power to intimidate farmers they provided advance warning of raids. “We are coming tonight,” they would write in a note pushed under doors in this remote coastal village in Madagascar. “Prepare what we want.” But they either undervalued ... Read More »

Time running out to save the Earth’s plants and animals

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Five new reports unveiled at a UN biodiversity summit in Colombia are sounding the alarm over the rapidly deteriorating state of biodiversity on our planet. Dave Keating DW But they also provide the tools to fight back. Delegates at a major international summit on biodiversity in Medellín, Colombia have been rattled after being presented with stark new evidence about the state of the world’s biodiversity. The 750 delegates from 115 countries are meeting for the sixth plenary of the Intergovernmental ... Read More »

UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment

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Formal recognition would help protect those who increasingly risk their lives to defend the land, water, forests and wildlife, says the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment Jonathan Watts The Guardian It is time for the United Nations to formally recognise the right to a healthy environment, according to the world body’s chief investigator of murders, beatings and intimidation of environmental defenders. John Knox, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said the momentum for such ... Read More »

How lasers and robo-feeders are transforming fish farming

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Fish farming is big business – the industry now produces about 100 million tonnes a year – and with salmon prices soaring, producers are turning to lasers, automation and artificial intelligence to boost production and cut costs. By Chris Baraniuk, Technology of Business reporter BBC How do you know if farmed salmon have had enough to eat? Well, according to Lingalaks fish farms in Norway, which produce nearly three million salmon each year, the fish make less noise once the feeding ... Read More »

Cape Town drought declared a ‘national disaster’

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South Africa has declared the drought which has seen Cape Town hurtling towards “Day Zero” a national disaster. BBC The government made the announcement after reassessing the “magnitude and severity” of the three-year drought. It has badly affected three of the country’s nine provinces. The decision came as Cape Town announced its water saving measures, which require each citizen to use less than 50 litres a day, had successfully pushed back “Day Zero” to 4 June. Just a matter of ... Read More »

Zimbabwe’s exiled farmers urged to return home as agricultural industry struggles

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The Zimbabwean Government’s message to exiled farmers is clear. Come home.  SALLY SARA ABC It is offering land leases to commercial farmers in an effort to re-start the nation’s agricultural industry Basil Nyabadza from Zimbabwe’s Agricultural and Rural and Development Authority says Zimbabwean farmers in Australia should return to home soil. “We have a lot of capital resource dotted around the world, including Australia,” Mr Nyabadza said. “We are saying, if you are Zimbabwean, there is now a real opportunity ... Read More »

Emmanuel Macron breaks French taboo on farm subsidies

French presidential election candidate for the En Marche ! movement Emmanuel Macron looks on in a farm in Usseau near Poitiers, central France, on April 29, 2017 while campaigning ahead of the second and final round of the presidential elections which takes place on May 7.  / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Eric FEFERBERG        (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Facing a multibillion-euro cash crunch in the EU budget, Paris is dropping its insistence on preserving the status quo for farmers. By EMMET LIVINGSTONE, MAÏA DE LA BAUME AND DAVID M. HERSZENHORN Politico France’s president has crossed the manure-lined Rubicon In a shift liable to ignite a civil war in French politics, Emmanuel Macron is breaking with France’s traditionally ironclad defense of farmers’ subsidies. If one thing was ever considered certain in negotiations over the EU budget every seven years, it was that ... Read More »

Flemish farmer busts conventional wisdom on EU farm policy

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Community-supported model thrives without subsidies from Brussels By SIMON MARKS Politico LEUVEN, Belgium — The EU does not spend much time thinking about farmers like Tom Troonbeeckx. But as Brussels prepares to propose a reform of its landmark €58 billion-per-year Common Agricultural Policy in 2018, the softspoken Flemish farmer offers an alternative model to Europe’s conventional wisdom over the last half century. Troonbeeckx runs 30 hectares of farmland near the Belgian city of Leuven, only 20 kilometers east of Brussels, without… Flemish ... Read More »

Venezuela crisis: Farmers struggle as people go hungry

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The state of Portuguesa is Venezuela’s breadbasket – full of crops like rice, beans, soya and sunflowers. Katy Watson BBC It is also where Venezuela’s staple corn is grown – the raw material for much-loved corn patties or arepas. Imposing metal silos stand tall on the horizon. At a time when people in the country are going hungry, Portuguesa is a strategic part of the economy. But the breadbasket is looking a bit emptier these days. Ronald Lakra and his family ... Read More »

Bangladesh arrests cleric over fatwa against women farming

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A Muslim cleric accused of issuing a fatwa banning women from working on farms has been arrested in Bangladesh, police said on Dec. 13. DHAKA Hurriyet The imam and five mosque officials face charges after their announcement prompted locals in the western town of Kumarkhali to try and prevent women from going to work in the fields. “They took the decision after prayers on Dec. 8, banning women from going out of their homes,” local police chief Abdul Khaleque told ... Read More »

How Olive Oil Became Green Gold

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In the United States, profits from fraudulent oil can be more lucrative than dealing cocaine. Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber The Atlantic  Olive oil is not what you think it is. According to Tom Mueller, the author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, an olive is a stone fruit like a plum or cherry—meaning that the green-gold liquid we extract from it “is, quite literally, fruit juice.” And, while we’re blowing your minds, have you ... Read More »

Modern slavery to be targeted in new laws recommended by Australian parliamentary committee

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Australia needs a comprehensive suite of new laws to stamp out modern slavery, a Federal committee’s report today tabled in Parliament has found. Sarina Locke  ABC The report by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry was tabled in Parliament on the final sitting day for the year. It adds details to its earlier recommendations released in August. The committee recommended provisions for a mandatory supply chain reporting requirement that requires large businesses to report on… ... Read More »