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Harvest: Around the world in crops
Harvest marks the end of the growing season, and as the weather changes, crops around the world are gathered in. While many crops are harvested mechanically on a mass scale, traditional small-scale practices still exist in many countries.
(17 October 2007)
Sixteen gorgeous photos of what human life depends on. Check out the pumpkins – so big that a pick-up truck can only carry one at a time! -BA

World Bank Neglects African Farming, Study Says

Celia W. Dugger, New York Times
The World Bank, financed by rich nations to reduce poverty in poor ones, has long neglected agriculture in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa, where most people depend on the farm economy for their livelihoods, according to a new internal evaluation.

…The evaluation of the bank’s role in African agriculture was conducted by an internal unit that assesses all of its operations and answers to the bank’s board and president, not its management.

In the 1980s and 1990s, when African governments faced severe fiscal crises, the bank pushed for the public sector – often badly managed and inefficient – to pull back from agriculture, incorrectly assuming that market forces would jump-start agricultural growth.

“In most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew,” the evaluation found.
(15 October 2007)

The Challenges of Chinese Organics

Erica Barnett, WorldChanging
…Chinese organic produce, milk, and even livestock are serving demand thousands of miles away. (Previous Worldchanging coverage here.) In 2003 alone, Chinese organics accounted for $142 million in exports to markets around the world; by 2004, that number had increased to $200 million. According to The New York Sun, imports of Chinese organics tripled globally between 2003 and 2005. In that year, the BBC reports, Chinese organic exports totaled about $350 million; the number of acres of organic farmland in China, meanwhile, totaled about 5.7 million, behind only Australia and Argentina.

(China does not export all its organics. Chinese urban dwellers, in particular, are increasingly interested in healthier, safer, more wholesome foods — their interest fueled by food contamination scandals such as one in 2004, when transparent “glass” noodles were found to be bleached with a lead-based whitener. On the other hand, China’s first organic supermarket recently closed because of lackluster sales — consumers weren’t prepared to pay the higher prices organic entailed.)

The trend of organics originating in China has been percolating for many years.
(15 October 2007)

Climate change creating jobs for some

AAP, Sydney Morning Herald
Climate change presents unprecedented headaches for the nation’s farmers but will fuel a jobs bonanza in agriculture, according to new research.

The University of Sydney study found 123,000 jobs – mostly graduate positions – will be created in the agriculture sector during the next six years, which is a 36 per cent increase on current levels.

Professor Les Copeland will present the findings to a meeting of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture in Canberra.

He said the challenges posed by climate change required an injection of expertise in the areas of science and policy.

“Australia’s agriculture sector is facing seismic challenges from climate change, the drive to sustainability and the corrosive effects of the country’s skills shortage,” Prof Copeland said.

“In light of these challenges, we believe that over the coming decade Australia’s agriculture sector will experience an almost unquenchable thirst for graduates from a range of agriculture disciplines.”
(17 October 2007)