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TOPIC: agriculture

Green

Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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How The War Is Doing Long-Term Damage To Ukraine's Fertile Soil

Ukraine's fertile soils used to feed the world. But even when the war ends, food production will take decades to recover because of damage to the land.

KYIV — After the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, most of the world's consumers of agricultural products such as wheat, sunflower oil and corn suddenly learned that most of these products were grown in Ukraine. They also discovered that this is a country whose fertile lands feed a significant part of Africa and Europe.

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Without its wheat and sunflowers, many all over the world will starve to death. So, the war in Ukraine has become a world war. And even when the hostilities end, Ukraine will not be able to immediately resume feeding the world, as Russian troops are destroying the basis of its agriculture — chernozem soil.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, during the war in Ukraine, significantly degraded agricultural land increased by 13%. A significant percentage of the land is at risk of degradation. Scientists call it ecocide – the deliberate destruction of Ukraine's ecosystem. More than 200,000 hectares of territories in the combat zone are contaminated with mines, shells, and debris.

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Why Uganda Doesn’t Drink Its Own Coffee

In Uganda, people grow coffee to export but rarely consume it themselves. Now a push to dispel myths about the beverage and introduce new ways to use the beans is changing that.

WAKISO — There are many reasons Ugandans give for not drinking coffee. Olivia Musoke heard it causes vaginal dryness. When she was breastfeeding her children, people also told her it would dry up her breast milk.

Musoke grows coffee, bananas and cassava. The mother of five from Mukono, in central Uganda, has been a coffee farmer for more than 42 years. Although the cassava and bananas she plants are for her own consumption, she has tasted only a handful of coffee beans after a friend said they would keep her alert in her old age. She sells most of the coffee she harvests.

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Deep Inside The Ecological Devastation Of Mexico’s Avocado Production

As avocado production stifles biodiversity, depletes water reserves and takes over once-forested land, farmers and environmentalists in Jalisco warn that Mexico’s “green gold” may not be so green after all.

ZAPOTLÁN EL GRANDE — Ten minutes away from downtown Ciudad Guzmán, the municipal capital of Zapotlán el Grande, is a small century-old ranch, where fruits and vegetables sprout from the ground and fall from the trees. It’s a picture of biodiversity fast fading from Mexico's western state of Jalisco.

Ranch owners Rogelio Trejo and Yaskara Silva, who inherited the land from Trejo’s parents, have seen the change take place. Once upon a time, sage would turn surrounding mountains into a sea of blue-green. Now, there are avocado farms as far as the eye can see.

“They’ve destroyed our natural forests,” Trejo says.

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Green
Mubashir Naik

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

Sowing The Seeds Of Paranoia

"They must be dumping garbage — good, it makes for good fertilizer!"

"Dottoré, I know a lot of flags, and let me tell you why. I grew up in the province of Caserta, and — like everybody in those days — my parents owned a piece of land, and they would take me with them to farm it.

I remember there were other kids in the fields around us. But then, slowly, we were the only ones left because everybody was selling the land, making a lot of money off of it too.

Papà wouldn't listen to reason and he kept the land. But in the meantime, instead of farmers, trucks began to arrive. Many many trucks, unloading thousands of barrels and burying them into the ground.

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Green
Uranchimeg Tsogkhuu*

As More Land Turns to Desert, Fights Over Water Erupt In Mongolia

There are too many animals for the available water supply in the Gobi desert region. The situation worsens each year.

DALANZADGAD — The scorching sun glares at them from directly above, and everything under their feet is parched, dusty and barren. The sheep and goats squeal and squeak, their nostrils sunken, their eyes glazed. Batbaatar Tsedevsuren, a herder with more than two decades of experience, knows this is how his animals behave when extremely thirsty.

He has walked with his 700 animals for several days in Mongolia’s Gobi desert in search of water and green pastures, when suddenly Batbaatar sees a well, and a fellow herder sitting on its edge. He comes closer with a smile, he later recalls, but the herder doesn’t reciprocate. “There is no water in the well,” the other herder quickly says. Batbaatar knows that isn’t true, and that the herder is just acting stingy. But he can’t afford a fight.

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Green Or Gone
Aline Suárez del Real, Adriana Alcázar González*

Mexican Youth Turn To Urban Agriculture To Connect With Their Roots

When the pandemic disrupted livelihoods and supply chains, young urban Mexicans decided to learn to grow food themselves.

CUAUTITLÁN IZCALLI — Growing up in a concrete city of more than 5 million people, María de Lourdes Félix never thought she would harvest corn and worry about worms.

But during the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, the 32-year-old enrolled in an online three-month economics course offered by Instituto Mexiquense de la Juventud, a Mexican government agency. Inspired, 10 classmates started a project to plant and harvest corn, calling themselves Maizkali. They borrowed a piece of farmland that had been in one of their families for generations.

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Economy
Sadiel Mederos Bermudez

The Many Paradoxes Of Cuba's Eternal Milk Shortages

Milk shortages are not new in Cuba, where the state pays producers less for their milk than what they can make by selling it on the black market.

HAVANA — "There is no milk" ceased to be a repeated phrase on the island, because everyone knows it and, probably, by now they have resigned themselves.

Children under seven and the elderly with medical diets don’t receive it with the necessary frequency, even if they are the only sectors of the population with the right to acquire it through a government subsidy.

Because there simply is no milk in Cuba.

The rest of Cubans must buy it in stores in freely convertible currency (MLC). However, powdered or fluid milk hasn't been available in stores in MLC for months. Last time, at the beginning of the year, the price of a bag of 1 to 1.2 kilograms was between 6 and 8 MLC ($6-8).

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Green
Cristina García Casado

Who Will Be Left? A Message From The "Inextinguishable" Fires Of Zamora

The droughts and extreme temperatures due to climate change, together with the abandonment of the countryside, have caused fierce fires in Spain that have devastate the livelihoods of the few people who still live there.

TÁBARA — Francisco Vicente and Delia spent two days inside a tractor. In their town, Tábara, in the northwestern Spanish province of Zamora, the flames tried to enter from all fronts for hours without mercy or truce.

Many neighbors, like them, disregarded the Civil Guard's eviction order and stayed behind to defend their houses, their crops and their animals. This is all they have. The official fire extinguishing techniques are not designed for the massive fires of the 21st century.

"If the people hadn't stayed behind, the fire would have reached the town and burned it," says Francisco Vicente Casado Fresno, a farmer, just like his father, grandparents, uncles and those who preceded them.

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Economy
Thayalini Indrakularasa

Sri Lanka: How Protecting The Environment Is Killing Agriculture

When Sri Lanka banned agrochemicals last year, the law’s impact on the island’s ability to feed itself was immediately evident. As political upheaval continues in the capital, here's a related back story in the countryside with global implications.

CHEDDIKULAM, SRI LANKA — Sellan Yogarasa returned to Sri Lanka in 2014, after more than two decades of exile in India. He leased nine acres of agricultural land and began growing rice, a staple food for the island’s 22 million inhabitants. A harvest typically yielded about 288 bags of paddy, each weighing 25 kilograms (55 pounds), enough for a decent livelihood. But overnight this calculus crumbled for Sellan — and for many others in the Sri Lankan labor force, over a third of whom are involved in the paddy sector.

In May 2021, the government banned agrochemicals, with the professed aim of becoming the world’s first country free of chemical fertilizer. A year on, as the country reaps the consequences of that decision — while also grappling with a broader economic crisis that has led to warnings of an impending food shortage and set off the past month of political upheaval.

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Geopolitics
Shaun Lavelle

How Dutch Farmers Became The New Protagonists For Global Conspiracy Theorists

As anti-vax protests fade from public debate, “alternative media” have found an unlikely new hot topic: Dutch farmers. And across the Atlantic, some sources claim a convenient would-be connection to Canadian truckers who blockaded trade earlier this year.

AMSTERDAM — Tractor-riding farmers in the Netherlands have descended on different parts of the country over the past few days, blocking supermarkets, distributions centers, and roads in and out of major cities. The protests have escalated, with a few cases of violence.

The agriculture sector is protesting Dutch government plans to reduce the nitrogen oxide and ammonia pollution produced by livestock. The plans would require farmers to use less fertilizer and reduce livestock numbers, with cuts reaching 70% in some cases and about 30% of farms expected to have would to give up raising livestock altogether.

The agriculture protests aren’t new. They’ve been happening sporadically since 2019. What is new this time around is that the Dutch farmers have unlikely new allies — conspiracy theorists around the world.

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