Search Results for Tag: food
Rice crop in danger in Madagascar
In the coming days, rice fields will be buzzing with activity again in Madagascar – at least that’s the hope. The end of November usually spells harvest time in the small island country. But last November, there was simply no rice to harvest in the northeast of the country, near the Marojejy National Park. When I visited the director of the park, Jean Hervé Bakarizafy, in early 2012, he told me that cultivating rice is supposed to run like clockwork. “In Andapa, a small town near the entrance of the park, people plant rice twice a year. They plant at the end of January and harvest in May. In July, they prepare their fields for the second season. They plant again in August and harvest for the second time at the end of November,” he said.
But Bakarizafy’s face dropped when he told me about the changes that occurred in 2011. “In the middle of 2011 – during our winter season – it was too dry to plant the second round of rice. There was absolutely no water left,” he said. And he’s certain that it wasn’t just a fluke. Elderly villagers who have lived in the area their entire lives started to speak up, and they all seemed to agree: in recent years, the weather seemed to be getting drier and drier.
The World Bank’s climate data portal confirms their concerns. “In the central regions and along the east coast, the amount of rainfall has fallen steadily between 1961 and 2005, accompanied by longer periods of drought,” said the World Bank, identifying the declining precipitation as a “major trend” for Madagascar. The organization also said that rainfall was noticeably less in winter and spring months – the middle of the year for Madagascar, which is located in the southern hemisphere.
Bakarizafy added that those weather patterns could spell disaster for rice farmers. “The people are very worried because if it goes on like this, they might not be able to get in the second harvest of the year anymore,” he said. That would mean the people in and around Andapa wouldn’t have enough rice for themselves, and they would be forced to sell less. At the market, prices for one kapoka, or scoop, of rice would go up.
And that in a country that is one of the largest consumers of rice in the world. The average person in Madagascar eats nearly 100 kilograms of rice a year. There is rice soup in the morning, and at lunch and dinner there is rice with white beans, green beans and carrots, a chili paste or meat. Back in 2010, the island’s agricultural minister said that rice accounts for more than half of all calories consumed in the country and 80 percent of all village families worked in rice cultivation. At that time, Madagascar had just joined the non-profit research center AfricaRice, and the organization estimated that Madagascar would need to import some 200,000 tons of rice a year to meet the growing demand.
So it’s no wonder that the farmers of Andapa are hoping they can harvest as much rice as possible in the next few days.
Author: Franziska Badenschier
Editor: Sumi Somaskanda
DateNovember 27, 2012
Tagscrop, food, franziska badenschier, harvest, madagascar, morjejy national park, rice, world bank
Grape skins as energy?
If you’re familiar with biomass, you know that an increasing amount of food products are being used to generate energy – from diesel fuel to electricity and heat, scraps of corn, soy and other crops have become big business.
But students at a technical school in Sardinia came up with a novel idea: using grape skins to create a photovoltaic system. According to the students’ teacher, who helped them develop the project, the skins of grapes contain photovoltaic power cells – and unlike blueberries, grapes are affordable and the skins are left over after wine production. The students are hoping their innovative project will give them an edge at the EU Contest for Young Scientists this September in Bratislava, Slovakia.
DateMay 2, 2012
World Water Day: Humans are guzzling too much water
With World Water Day, the United Nations will draw attention towards mankind’s water consumption, especially in industrial nations. Today, about 7 billion people live on our planet. The number is expected to grow by about 2 billion by the year 2050. Of course, each one of them will need water. That includes drinking water as well as water used in every day life, like for showering or food production. All together, that adds up to a lot of water. Just keep in mind, producing one kilo of beef consumes 15,000 liters of water, and one kilo of wheat guzzles up 1,500 liters.
The United Nations recommends a sustainable diet. That means we should be aware of how water-intensive products are. We also should reduce the amount of food we waste, says the UN. 30% of the food produced worldwide is thrown away. The water used to produce it is therefore lost forever. You can learn more about the World Water Day on the official UN website. The latest Environmental Outlook report by the OECD also draws a bleak picture on rising sea levels that are swallowing cities and millions of people who will be suffering water shortages.
The UN also provides a very interesting FAQ about the value of water. Facts and figures about water can be found from the National Geographic. If you are a U.S. resident, the National Geographic provides another interesting feature, a water footprint calculator to estimate your water use on a daily basis.
DateMarch 22, 2012
7 billion, and counting
There are now more than 7 billion people living on our planet! It’s a reason to celebrate and a stark reminder of how many people live and depend on the planet’s resources. Human population looks like it will continue to grow at breakneck speed, and that means it’s vital we make sure the earth can meet the needs of all 7, 8 or even 9 billion people – when we get to that point.
Climate change poses the biggest threat to meeting the basic food supply needed to nourish the world. Severe weather, changing rain trends and other turnarounds in global climate patterns have put important basic crops at risk – from wheat and corn to coffee. As the supply falls, the prices for food soar, making it too expensive for many in the world’s developing countries.
On top of that, more people means more energy use, and the need for clean, eco-friendly energy on a wide scale will become even more crucial in the coming years. So you’re now one of more than 7 billion people on the planet. What can every person do to keep the world safe?
DateNovember 1, 2011
Cooking smoke a greater killer than Malaria
Lots of money and effort has gone into awareness raising, public health campaigns and law suits in a bid to wean the world off smoking. Lots of money and effort also continues to go into the prevention and treatment of malaria. But there’s another type of smoke that some three billion people around the globe can’t escape and that, according to recent findings, kills more than Malaria.
According to the World Health Organization almost half the world’s population cook their food and heat their homes using open fires or leaky stoves that run on wood, coal or biomass. And nearly two million people die prematurely as a result of inhaling the smoke day in and day out. That makes it a greater killer than malaria. Women and children are particularly affected as they tend to spend more time at home while men are working outside.
But there are also other problems with open wood fires. They emit CO2 and the wood used for cooking is often logged unsustainably. GLOBAL IDEAS has reported on clean and safe alternatives.
Efficient stoves in Peru Click here to learn more
Solar cookers in India Click here to learn more
DateOctober 14, 2011