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Food & agriculture - Aug 23

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Global warming to decimate China's harvests

AFP
Global warming is set to cut China's annual grain harvest by up to 10 percent by 2030, placing extra burden on its shrinking farmland, state press reported Thursday.

Zheng Guoguang, head of the State Meteorological Administration, said the impact of global warming means that China will likely need an extra 10 million hectares (247 million acres) of farmland by 2030.

The year 2030 is a key date because that is when the nation's population is expected to peak at 1.5 billion people, up from just over 1.3 billion today, requiring an extra 100 million tons of food to feed them.

"Global warming may cause the grain harvest to fall by five to 10 percent, that is by 30-50 million tons, by 2030," the China Daily quoted Zheng as saying.

"Warmer weather will shorten the growth period of some grains and their seeds won't have enough time to ripen."
(23 August 2007)


Chicago Wheat Gains on Speculation U.S. Export Demand to Rise

Jae Hur and Madelene Pearson, Bloomberg
Wheat futures in Chicago advanced for a fourth day on speculation export demand for U.S. grain may rise as Australia's New South Wales needs rain within three weeks to save part of its wheat crop. Soybean futures rose.

``Parts of the wheat belt are in dire straits,'' said Frank McRae, technical specialist in charge of cereals at the Department of Primary Industries. ``If we went three weeks without rain, a lot of the western wheat crop would be in trouble,'' he said in an interview. Australia is the third- largest exporter of the grain.

``This will deepen concerns over global supplies following a production decline in Europe,'' Naoyuki Omoto, director of Andre Far East Inc. in Tokyo, said by phone today.

...Overseas orders for U.S. supplies are up 86 percent since June 1 from a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Unfavorable weather has damaged crops in several major exporting countries, including Australia, the U.S. and Ukraine.
(22 August 2007)


Farmers use human urine as fertilizers, pesticide

Joseph Mazige, Sunday Monitor (Uganda)
If you are a farmer, you may want to think twice about flushing your urine down the toilet. Urine may be a waste product but it also has many uses, and the best part of it is that it comes with no price tag.

Farmers in various parts of the country use human urine as fertilizers and to fight crop diseases. The method started in Baitambogwe Village in Mayuge District but has now spread to over 21 districts. Through knowledge sharing via telephone Short Message System commonly known as SMS, farmers in Baitambogwe are propagating the method to their counterparts in various parts of the country.

"We no longer waste urine in our homes. Each member of the family is allocated a tin every night where she/he urinates then in the morning we pour it into a big container and ferment it for 28 days," said Mary Batwaweela in a recent interview. After that period (28 days), the urine, according to Ms Batwaweela, is then mixed with water at a ration of 1:1 and taken to the gardens and poured in rows so that the plant can feed on it from the soil.

The aim is to increase soil fertility so that the crop can have the necessary nutrients. As a result, the soil remains fertile and crops can be grown all year round supported by watering (irrigation). "You don't have to pour it directly on the plant because it will burn," she explained.
(19-25 August 2007)


Bullock Brothers Homestead - A 25-Year Permaculture Project
(Video and audio)
Janaia Donaldson, Peak Moment via Global Public Media

pm68_120.jpgTake a tour with Joe, Doug and Sam Bullock on their Orcas Island property, site of a yearly Permaculture design course. Using nature as their model, they create edges and wildlife habitat, move water through the landscape, promote diversity, and raise an astonishing variety of plants from sub-arctic to tropical -- a wise investment in these climate-changing times. Episode 68.

Janaia Donaldson hosts Peak Moment, a television series emphasizing positive responses to energy decline and climate change through local community action. How can we thrive, build stronger communities, and help one another in the transition from a fossil fuel-based lifestyle?
(21 August 2007)


The Bounty Around Us
From farmers to families, they hope to fix global by eating local

John B. Saul , Seattle Times
The emphasis lately in that changing and often socially conscious world has been on eating local foods, organic alone not being enough to cure the ills of the world. No pesticides or herbicides, yes, but also no food that burns up more calories getting to the dinner plate than it can deliver once it's there.

Author Barbara Kingsolver is the latest to discover food doesn't have to travel hundreds of miles in a refrigerated truck. She writes about that discovery in her new book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life."

And for their book, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon spent a year eating only food that came from within 100 miles of their Vancouver, B.C., apartment.

That's nothing for Berman: Most of the food he and his family ate for more than 20 years came from within 500 yards of where they lived. An organic farmer for 27 years and a chef for 24, he's glad the books have made more people aware of the benefits of eating locally grown food. But he was already there.

He's seeing that awareness in his job of the past 16 months as Small Farms Program coordinator for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. As "farmbudsman," he's working to develop markets for local farmers, awarding grants and trying to make it easier in general to eat something grown here instead of there, especially when "there" is thousands of miles away.
(19 August 2007)
More at original. The article is more in-depth than most pieces on eating locally. -BA

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