Sunday, November 29, 2009

Safety net

"With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Small farmers go hungry

""The amount of hungry people announced by the FAO includes, for the vast majority, those who produce food," Antonio Onorati, of the International Civil Society Planning Committee (IPC), told IPS. "And this represents the most incredible aspect of hunger.""

US hunger

According to the USDA's annual poll, 17 million U.S. households reported some degree of food insecurity in 2008, up from 13 million households in 2007.

Gaza worker solidarity fund


Am out of the country, and here is Badael in AlAkhbar, with an article on urban farming in Beirut by Lucile Garcon, another on organic products by Muhammad Muhsin, and my editorial on rural development needs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The truth about WTO

"More importantly, Lamy's claim that the poorest will benefit from the conclusion of the Doha round is utterly without foundation. Academic assessments concur that the deal currently on the table will mostly benefit the world's richest countries, as well as certain export sectors in powerful developing countries. The World Bank's analysis shows that 80% of gains from the Doha round will go to high-income economies, and that the six countries of China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil will scoop up almost all the rest." (Thanks Laila)

Syria food security

This is an important article on the drought in Syria and the decline in food security. It is important because it says that when Syria moved from its centrally planned economy to neo-liberalism, its food security was lost...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Changing tack

"This record of failure is one reason that the government of Qatar, in addressing its food-security concerns, has chosen to concentrate on investing in existing agribusinesses rather than just acquiring land. That’s just one of many ways to invest in farming without removing the African farmers. On a bright Rift Valley afternoon, I went to see another option, a cooperative scheme under which a group of around 300 Ethiopians, working plots of 4 to 10 acres, were getting into export agriculture. During the European winter, they grew green beans for the Dutch market. The rest of the year, they cultivated corn and other crops for local consumption. The land had been irrigated with the help of a nonprofit organization and an Ethiopian commercial farmer named Tsegaye Abebe, who brought all the produce to market."

American hunger

"The four largest firms took in $22.5 billion in profits through September. Meanwhile, far more people are going hungry in the United States than previously thought. The Department of Agriculture estimates 50 million Americans, including a quarter of all children, struggled to get enough to eat last year."


"The solution to cut emissions is to stop eating beef. It leads to emission of methane which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide," he said.

"The best thing for us, India, is we are not a beef-eating nation.

The United States, the world's largest emitter along with China, is also the world's greatest beef-eating nation and consumes 25 per cent more than Europe.


Marcy has again sent me a great link, this time about a boycott campaign by students in support of farmworkers. We have been talking a lot about this, and we have started working on documenting farmworkers conditions in Lebanon. We have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but at some point, it is going to be necessary to link the BDS movement with labor movements, especially that the organizations on the boycott lists are often the same. (see here and here about Coke)

Here's an interesting article

    "The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a community-based worker organization. Their members are largely Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. They recently won a huge victory in their national boycott of Taco Bell this March 2005 when amidst growing pressure from students, churches and communities throughout the country, Taco Bell agreed to meet all their demands to improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers in its supply chain.
    I like this best:
    As one of our members said, “One who does not analyze continues to be a slave.
And here's a link to "How to organize" Student/Farmworker


Eight steps Obama could take to save food (Thanks D.)


Am a bit late in posting the link to Badael this week. The akhbar site was down when I tried to access it.

with my editorial of the Food conference in Rome, and Ali Darwish's article on the conference too. Aziza Hamiyyeh wrote a portrait of a woman who farms a small plot of land in the middle of Furn el Chebback: Rahmeh...

Breast milk

"Breast milk, long revered for the nutritional advantages it gives a newborn, could be just as vital in terms of infant development, a leading scientist will claim this week. Up to three different types of stem cells have been discovered in breast milk, according to revolutionary new research.

Dr Mark Cregan, medical director at the Swiss healthcare and baby equipment company Medela, believes the existence of stem cells means breast milk could help a child "fulfil its genetic destiny", with a mother's mammary glands taking over from her placenta to guide infant development once her child is born." (Thanks Laila)

Friday, November 20, 2009


"Oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both much wealthier nations, had significantly higher rates of stunting prevalence -- 20 and 17 percent respectively.
Yemen had the highest rate of stunting prevalence in the Middle East -- a staggering 58 percent -- meaning more than half of all Yemeni children under five were significantly short for their age"

The Khudarji Report 23: 7/11/09

Chestnuts have arrived from China (6,000 LL/kilo), as have pomelos (2,500 LL/kilo), and bags of small white onions.
The new lemon crop is in (2,000 LL/kilo), the lemons are uniform in size and of the same light-green color. They are described as "American" in terms of their seed origin.
Cherry tomatoes have arrived and are 2,000 LL/box.
Customers check the stems of black grapes to determine how fresh they are; green stems equals freshness.
The Somalian bananas are from Costa Rica and carry the Chiquita label.

The Khudarji Report, by Zayd, reflects conditions unique to a neighborhood in central Beirut; the status at your local mahal al-khudra will most likely vary.

The Khudarji Report 22: 31/10/09

The pistachio season is over; it might fairly be stated that nothing in the market is more missed when its season is over than fresh pistachios.
The local red and yellow apples have started arriving, and they are joined by local Granny Smith apples. When questioned about them, they are described as "American" in terms of their seed origin. A discussion on apples elicits the statement that given two years, the local apple varieties will be replaced by this foreign apple; the reason given is the customer desire for appearance and uniformity over taste or local flavor. A younger shop worker states, "they are all the same!" His older co-worker starts listing for him the local varieties of apple, which are named for their color and their place of origin. A customer chimes in: "yaa haram"--"what a shame".
Small local persimmons have been joined by a larger variety. A large variety of pomegranate has also arrived. One pomegranate fruit is always left cut in half so customers can taste; some prefer sweet, some prefer sour.

The Khudarji Report, by Zayd, reflects conditions unique to a neighborhood in central Beirut; the status at your local mahal al-khudra will most likely vary.

The Khudarji Report 21: 24/10/09

Clementines have arrived green and on the sour side. Because of their larger size, many customers refer to them erroneously as (yusuf) ‘afendeh, tangerines.
There are still stone-fruits in the market, as the season advances, their origin moves north and up into the mountains.
Plums are from Turkey.
A tiny green fruit called hanbalas (myrtle) has arrived.

The Khudarji Report, by Zayd, reflects conditions unique to a neighborhood in central Beirut; the status at your local mahal al-khudra will most likely vary.

The Khudarji Report 20: 17/10/09

Lubiyeh (green beans) are in abundant supply and are at 2,500 LL/kilo. Bazela (green peas) have arrived, and are at 3,500 LL/kilo. They are described as "English" in terms of their seed origin.
There are three kinds of dates in the market now: "bilih" (fresh yellow); "kaghlooleh" (large red), and "tamr" (medium-sized and dried).
It is possible to grow date palms from seed. Take the dateseeds from the variety you would like to grow and soak them in water for four days, changing the water each day. At the end of four days, scrub away any remaining date flesh and fine hairs; place each seed in a separate pot of sterilized potting soil. Water as needed; it is important that the soil not go dry. Be patient!
The date palm sends down a tap root first before a sprout will appear; this can take upwards of four to five weeks--the warmer the location of the container, the sooner the germination. After this time, a green shoot will appear, at which point the seedling should be transferred to a larger container.
Mangoes are from Egypt and are at 6,000 LL/kilo.

The Khudarji Report, by Zayd, reflects conditions unique to a neighborhood in central Beirut; the status at your local mahal al-khudra will most likely vary.

Where it began

"To end poverty, you have to know how it began - with globalisation. No, not the 20th century variety engendered by multinationals and their friends at the IMF, World Bank and WTO. They just codified practices that kept developing countries poor.
French Filmmaker Philippe Diaz, in an illuminating documentary opening in New York Friday, traces globalisation back 500 years to the Spanish and Portuguese conquests of the Americas. Diaz shows how the colonial North used the South's resources to build its industrial base and how its continued control over resources, global trade and debt rules prevents developing countries from ending poverty. "

Watch the trailer of the movie here

A potential link with BDS?

"This was a David-and-Goliath battle. Activists were armed with photocopies to educate citizens about the dangers of corporate control of their groundwater resources, but Nestlé pent hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars to influence the vote in the small seaside community. However, its campaign backfired, as the townspeople were overwhelmed and annoyed by the barrage of ads, and the appearance that Nestlé was trying to buy their vote.
It wasn't enough that Nestlé was pouring money into the campaign like water to convince people that they are good environmental stewards. The company's PR firm resorted to employing many dirty tricks, such as printing the wrong polling hours on not just one advertising piece mailed to every household, but two." (Thanks Marcy)

Bello on migrant workers

"Thus, to seriously address the problems they confront, migrants and migrant advocates cannot but be involved in a two-front war. On the one hand, we must struggle in our countries of origin to end the conditions of structural adjustment, trade liberalization, and other neoliberal policies that have eroded our industrial and agricultural base and destroyed millions of jobs. We must tell the US government and the European Union that we do not need aid; what we need is for them to stop imposing bilateral trade agreements and economic partnership agreements on us. What our countries demand is a halt to the structural adjustment programs still in effect in scores of countries in Africa and an end to further liberalization of trade under the WTO and bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Of course, development has many other requirements, but stopping structural adjustment and indiscriminate trade liberalization is a sine qua non, a condition without which other indigenous development initiatives cannot prosper.
When it comes to the other front, in our host countries, the agenda is clear. We must aggressively assert what is the unvarnished truth: that migrants overwhelmingly make a positive contribution to the economy and culture of their host countries. We must frontally oppose state repression of migrants and confront the right wing populist groups that scapegoat them. We must demand an end to the deportation of undocumented migrants, the rapid legalization and granting of full citizenship rights to those with papers and their children, and the facilitation of the achievement of legal status of those without papers. "

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Olive oil and yoghurt...

"Life was simple, tranquil and often hard but despite the lack of modern amenities or even what was then available in the city, it was happy. There was no electricity or running water. We used kerosene lamps that gave poor lighting and kerosene stoves for cooking. The best stoves for indoor cooking were of the Swedish-made Primus or Radius brands. Weather-permitting, we cooked outdoors, often using a pottery pot, placed on three stones with a wood-fire underneath.

Food was tastier, simpler and healthier then, although we had no refrigerators. People dried fruits for the long, harsh winter, first by oiling them (which preserved tenderness) and then exposing them to the hot summer sun. Vegetables were sprayed with sea salt before drying. All our winter tomatoes were sun-dried, although nowadays that is a delicacy." (Thanks Marcy)

Nawf on the agenda

"Ce qui surprend avant tout lorsque l'on découvre les motifs qui constituent les Nawf, c'est qu'ils soient restés si longtemps méconnus. Il y a encore un an, ces tentures et coussins aux motifs ancestraux n'existaient que pour celles qui les confectionnaient et, accessoirement, ceux qui vivaient avec elles. Il aura fallu qu'un professeur de l'AUB, Rami Zurayk, les découvre par hasard pour qu'ils soient portés à la connaissance du public.

La veille de son arrivée au village d'Awsh Al Arab, dans la vallée de la Bekaa, un grand ménage de printemps venait d'être fait. Les femmes de la tribu bédouine Abu 'Eid avaient brûlé une trentaine de vieilles tentures jugées désuètes et sans intérêt. Et à voir de quoi il s’agit, on comprend sans peine que l'intéressé ait consacré un peu de son temps à préserver et développer cet artisanat. Car à l'évidence, c'est un patrimoine qui était en péril et qu'il s'agissait d'abord de sauvegarder, pour sa partie historique, mais surtout de faire vivre au présent. En tète: l'idée d'en étendre la commercialisation et la renommée."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The crocodiles of Rome

Khaled Saghieh in Al Akhbar on the Food Conference in Rome.
تماسيح روما
خالد صاغية«اليوم سيموت أكثر من 17 ألف طفل من الجوع. طفل كل خمس ثوان. ستّة ملايين في السنة. هذا غير مقبول. علينا أن نتحرّك».هذا ما أعلنه الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون بعد افتتاح قمّة الأمن الغذائي التي نظّمتها منظّمة «الفاو» في روما أمس. بابا الفاتيكان لم يكن أقلّ راديكاليّة، إذ صبّ غضبه على المضاربات التي باتت تطال أسواق الحبوب، كأنّما الغذاء قد تحوّل إلى سلعة كأيّ سلعة أخرى.ورغم حضور زعماء ستّين دولة، أخفقت القمّة في التوصّل إلى إقرار المساعدات الغذائية المطلوبة سنوياً، أي 44 مليار دولار فقط لا غير. كما لم تلتزم بمهلة عام 2025 التي كانت مقررة سابقاً للقضاء على الجوع.إذاً، سيتكيّف العالم مع فكرة وجود مليار جائع على سطح الكوكب. الأسوأ من ذلك أنّه سيتكيّف مع وجود مليار جائع في الوقت الذي ينتج فيه الكوكب نفسه ما يكفي من الغذاء لسدّ رمق جميع سكّانه. المشكلة إذاً ليست في الإنتاج وزيادة فاعليّته، بل في التوزيع.ورغم ذلك، فإنّ أصحاب النيّات الحسنة، وسماسرة البكاء فوق جثث الجوعى في العالم، لم تصدر عنهم إدانة للشركات المتعدّدة الجنسيّات. فتلك الشركات لا تعمل على احتكار سوق الغذاء في العالم وحسب، فتحدّد أسعاره من دون حاجة إلى السوق ويده الخفية، بل تؤدّي أيضاً سيطرتها على مساحات واسعة من الأراضي في الأرياف إلى إعادة توجيه الزراعة باتجاه الإنتاج من أجل التصدير، وحرمان سكان الريف من زراعاتهم المحلية، علماً بأنّ هؤلاء السكان يشكلون 80% من جوعى العالم.لم يعد هذا الواقع مقنّعاً. والمجتمعون في روما يعلمون تماماً ما يجري. لكنّهم يريدون البحث عن حل «يرضي المزارعين والشركات المتعدّدة الجنسيات في الآن نفسه». وفي الانتظار، يمكن الموت أن يستمرّ في موسم الحصاد.على مدى أربعة أيّام، سافر المزارعون الإيطاليّون من مناطق الجنوب الفقيرة كي يصلوا أمس إلى روما للمشاركة في مسيرة احتجاجيّة. جاؤوا من الأرياف إلى العاصمة على متن جرّاراتهم. ثلاثمئة جرّار فقط سُمح لها بدخول المدينة. أمّا الآخرون، فأجبروا على الانتظار في الضواحي. مشهد معبّر في رمزيّته. فبين الجوع الذي يجتاح الأرياف، والمدن التي تلفظ فقراءها، مساحةٌ آخذة في التمدّد. إنّها الضواحي. غرفة انتظار بين الموت والحياة.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Food choices and political ideology

The executive summary, in a nutshell:

Conservatives trend towards “homey”, familiar, comfort foods and meat-heavy options. They are more likely than liberals to indulge in fast food and enjoy splurges like cheeseburgers or deep dish pizza. Their idea of international food is a “mainstream” option such as Italian.

Liberals are more likely to be adventuresome eaters, choosing international options such as Japanese or Thai. They eat fast food less frequently than conservatives, and when they do splurge on fast food they have a tendency to favor specialty, regional chains. Liberals are more likely to choose healthy or vegetarian alternatives when given the choice.

Although there are plenty of food-related differences that skew by political ideology, there’s still plenty of common ground for the dinner table. So there’s no need to let a little political disagreement get in the way of a great shared meal. (Thanks Marcy)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bedouins of Palestine by Josh Jones

I thought I knew what strength was before I came to Palestine. Really. I thought that if you could take a blow and not flinch, you were strong; that if you could risk your life in order to save what you loved the most, you were strong. That strength is about fighting for what you believe in.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ali Darwish wrote a very strong article asking: "Who is really the stupid in the "Age of Stupid"?". Bassam al Kuntar reviewed Chirine Yazbek's new book about Lebanese Terroir Cuisine and my editorial was to the new minister of agriculture: What is your vision for agriculture?

The new face of USAID

"The Obama administration is currently undertaking at least two fundamental reviews of international development policy, one from a national security prespective, the other led by the State Department, of which USAID is a part. There had been rumours that, having originally talked about turning USAID into a stand alone division of government separate from the diplomatic wing of foreign policy, much like Britain’s Department for International Development, Team Obama was leaning towards scrapping USAID altogether. Shah’s nomination lays that idea to rest, and now he will be looked to for big ideas on how to improve the effectiveness of international aid.

USAID’s record is under attack from all sides, from those such as Bill Easterly and Dambisa Moyo, who have argued powerfully that aid harms the world’s poorest countries by breeding corruption and dependency, to the likes of Senator John Kerry, who want aid to play a bigger role in winning the “battle of hearts and minds” in places where America’s enemies currently flourish. Shah’s task will be to develop an aid policy that works on both fronts." (Thanks D.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Do I really need to comment on this?

"We contacted many kibbutzim in an effort to have Sudanese asylum seekers released for farm work," she said. "Despite the argument they desperately needed workers, most of the coordinators at the kibbutzim rejected my request after they learned they would have to pay the asylum seekers at least minimum wage, as provided by law, [and] could not make deductions from their salaries beyond what the law on foreign workers requires." (Thanks Yaz)

and please hit hard

"Hitting Israel where it hurts – its economy – is the best chance we have for breaking down the wall of Israeli intransigence. Diplomatic relations have failed, and the violence promoted by certain Palestinian factions is not the answer. In BDS we have the potential to build a truly international coalition through completely legal and ethical action – a nonviolent means to strike against a system of asymmetric power and high-tech violence. And the beauty of the strategy is that it’s a multipronged attack: It’s not only though large-scale institutional divestment and international litigation that we can bring real pressure to bear on Israel – we push back every day simply by paying attention to the products we consume and the companies we support. BDS has worked before, and it will work again. The key is inspiring people and showing them that through solidarity and perseverance, we can end the Israeli occupation of Palestine." (Thanks Rania)

What will food look like?

"Oglio, a third generation farmer eschews modern farming techniques -- chemicals, fertilizers, heavy machinery -- in favor of a purely natural approach. It is not just ecological, he says, but profitable, and he believes his system can be replicated in starving regions of the globe.

Nearly 5,000 miles away, in laboratories in St. Louis, Missouri, hundreds of scientists at the world's biggest seed company, Monsanto, also want to feed the world, only their tools of choice are laser beams and petri dishes.

Monsanto, a leader in agricultural biotechnology, spends about $2 million a day on scientific research that aims to improve on Mother Nature, and is positioning itself as a key player in the fight against hunger.

The Italian farmer and the U.S. multinational represent the two extremes in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the future of food." (Thanks Anna)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Old religion meets new religion

"The event, being organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), has been described as 'the biggest civil society movement on climate change in history,' by the UN.

Faith communities own between 7-8 per cent of the habitable land surface of the planet, run (or are involved in) half the world's schools and control more than 7 per cent of international financial investments." (Thanks Laila)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free fall-but where to?

"The production of groundnuts, Senegal's third-largest export product after fishing and phosphates, is in freefall. The 2008 harvest fell by over 47 percent, according to the most recent report of the groundnut producers' association, the Cadre de concertation des producteurs des arachides.

According to the report, groundnut prices are increasingly tight in Europe, its main market. Drought and soil degradation – too severe to be corrected by applying fertiliser - are the root causes of Senegal's agricultural difficulties.

Samba Ka, regional head of the National Council for Dialogue and Cooperation of Rural People, says if the countryside is plagued by problems, the fault lies with farmers who expect government assistance for everything. "

"Farmers in Senegal have failed to instill a love of the land and an appreciation of livestock in their children. The earth is not tilled, it is scratched at. Livestock is no longer looked after, it is merely used," he explains to IPS

And you thought poor countries had the monopoly on child labor?

"An ABC News investigation has exposed how one of the country’s largest blueberry growers uses child labor on its fields. Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company in South Haven, Michigan is at the center of this scandal. Wal-Mart and the Kroger supermarket chain were among Adkin’s high-profile customers that have now cut ties with the blueberry grower. We speak to ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and Teresa Hendricks of Michigan Migrant Legal Aid. "

But hey, who cares now that we have democracy?

"BAGHDAD, 8 November 2009 (IRIN) - More and more people in Iraq are being affected by food insecurity, a senior official has said.

Reduced domestic agricultural production, inflation, unemployment and a crumbling system of subsidized food distributions have hit poor people the hardest.

“There is still a big percentage of Iraqi people who can’t secure enough food. With unemployment running at 18-20 percent they can’t buy what they need,” said Muna Turki Al-Mousawi, head of the state-run Centre for Market Research and Consumer Protection, adding that about 20 percent of Iraq’s 25 million people live below the poverty line.

Domestic agricultural production - already affected by reduced rainfall - has also been hit by a lack of government support and lax controls on cheap food imports, with which farmers cannot compete in some cases, she said.

On 31 August, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Iraq had its worst cereal harvest in a decade and that its wheat harvest was set to fall to one million tonnes, from an average of 3.5 million tonnes per annum over the past decade. Domestic rice production also fell from an average 500,000 tons a year to an estimated 250,000 tons this year. " (Thanks Marcy and Bessma)

...and that's from a country that used to be self sufficient in food. The invasion and occupation will not be forgotten.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Badael in Al Akhbar: Free trade agreements, Arak in Akkar and Labaniyyeh in the south.


Syria in the National Geographic Magazine. This does not constitute an endorsement.

Standing still

"We stand there in the rain like cattle… what are they waiting for – someone to die from the cold?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feeding the Qat

"For millenniums, Yemen preserved traditions of careful water use. Farmers depended mostly on rainwater collection and shallow wells. In some areas they built dams, including the great Marib dam in northern Yemen, which lasted for more than 1,000 years until it collapsed in the sixth century A.D.

But traditional agriculture began to fall apart in the 1960s after Yemen was flooded with cheap foreign grain, which put many farmers out of business. Qat began replacing food crops, and in the late 1960s, motorized drills began to proliferate, allowing farmers and villagers to pump water from underground aquifers much faster than it could be replaced through natural processes. The number of drills has only grown since they were outlawed in 2002." (Thanks D.)

Needed: rain

"Rain thoughout Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern Kurdistan region, which has been absent for two years, is prompting the return of farmers who had abandoned their land, according to officials. “The drought that hit the region over the past two seasons has affected our main irrigation sources, surface and well water, and that has had a negative impact on all our crops - mainly wheat and barley,” Paldar Mohammed Amin, head of the Arbil Agriculture Directorate, said. “We are optimistic this season as the beginning is good so far," Amin told IRIN. “Farmers can cultivate their land and start planting this month, while others will do so in January and February.”" (Thanks Rania)


"Wangari is one of thousands of urban workers in Kenya – and one of hundreds of thousands, even millions, across Africa – who are increasing their incomes through absentee agriculture. With prices for basic foodstuffs at their highest levels in decades, many urbanites feel well rewarded by farming.

Absentee agriculture also bolsters national pride – and pride in traditional diets – by specialising in vegetables specific to the region. "For too long our country has been flooded with imported food and westernised foods," Wangari says. "This is our time to fight back – and grow our own."" (Thanks Laila)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Global oppressor

"Migrant workers in Israel’s agriculture sector are among the most exploited, according to a 28 October report by Kav LaOved, an Israeli NGO campaigning for the rights of disadvantaged workers in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "

Wealth creation is a violent process

"A worker's minimum monthly wage is $23, but labour rights organisations and unions say many factories do not meet that standard."

Egypt rice

"The amendments were made to regulate a market in light of the existence of large rice stocks still available from the last harvest -- around 500,000 tonnes -- in addition to this year's crop. The government hopes the new regulations will help push up prices for farmers by LE800 and LE1,200 per tonne, while the increase in the price to the consumer is expected to be minimal.

The decision comes after much debate over issues pertaining to rice exports, the securing of supply for local demand -- whether for Egyptian consumers or for the national subsidy programme -- and the cost versus selling price to farmers." (Thanks Marcy)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saudi commit to sustainable agriculture

السعودية تسعى الى زراعة مستدامة: الأراضي المتاحة كافية ولا داعي للمزيد
الأحد, 01 نوفمبر 2009
الرياض - زياد الزيادي

أكد وزير الزراعة السعودي فهد بالغنيم أمس ان الأراضي المتاحة للاستثمار الزراعي في الوقت الحالي كافية ولا داعي لأن توزع الدولة أراضي زراعية جديدة. وأوضح: «يجب ان تكون لدينا عقلانية في استخدام مصادر المياه، خصوصاً أننا نسعى إلى زراعة مستدامة، لا زراعة تنهار بعد سنوات قليلة».

وأضاف في لقاء صحافي عقب مشاركته في ورشة عمل بعنوان «الاستخدام الآمن للمبيدات» نظمتها «غرفة الرياض»: «ان الحيازات الزراعية الموجودة، سواء المملوكة بحجج أو مبنية على قرارات توزيع، تبلغ نحو أربعة ملايين هكتار، أما المستغل منها فيساوي فقط مليون هكتار، لذلك لا داعي الآن لأن توزع الدولة أراضي مجانية».

ولفت بالغنيم إلى ان العمل جار على تكوين مجلس إدارة لشركة الاستثمار الزراعي الخارجي التي تأسست أخيراً بقرار من مجلس الوزراء. وأعرب عن «فخر شديد» بالمستثمرين الزراعيين في الخارج.

وعن قمة الغذاء لـ «منظمة الأغذية والزراعة» (فاو) التي ستُعقد بين 16 و18 تشرين الثاني (نوفمبر) بمشاركة السعودية، أشار إلى ان خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز لن يتمكن من الحضور شخصياً. وقال: «ستناقش القمة موضوع الفقر والجوع في ظل تقارير عن بلوغ عدد الجياع بليون شخص عام 2015، والهدف الذي وُضع عام 1996 في مؤتمر الغذاء الأول في روما أيضاً، قرر خفض هذا الرقم إلى النصف بحلول عام 2015، وثمة توجه الآن لتمديد المدة من عام 2015 إلى عام 2025».

وشدد على حرص المملكة على الإنتاج الغذائي «لكن امكاناتنا المائية في الداخل لا تساعدنا أبداً» على زيادة الإنتاج الزراعي، لذلك أطلق خادم الحرمين «مبادرة الملك عبدالله للاستثمار الزراعي في الخارج» لزيادة الإنتاج الزراعي، «واستجاب لها عدد كبير من المستثمرين السعوديين، وبدأ الاستثمار في الدول التي تضم موارد جيدة من المياه والتربة واليد العاملة والمدخلات الرئيسة، ونتمنى ان تزداد كمية الإنتاج الزراعي في العالم، وهي النتيجة النهائية المطلوبة لإتاحة كمية أكبر من الغذاء».

وعن العقوبات التي تُفرض على شركات الدواجن قال بالغنيم: «نحن مستمرون في فرض عقوبات على شركات الدواجن المخالفة للقواعد، ما سيحسن مستوى مزارع الدواجن، ومن هذه المخالفات رمي المخلفات في الخارج، وعدم تطبيق تدابير وقائية».

وحول التنسيق بين وزارتي الزراعة والشؤون البلدية والقروية حول تجارة المبيدات، قال: «هناك تنسيق دائم بينهما حول هذا الموضوع، وهناك لجنة أنهت اجتماعتها بين الطرفين لتنسيق العمل لئلا تحصل ازدواجية بين الجانبين». وشدد على أهمية الدور الذي تقوم به الجهات المختصة في وزارة الزراعة في مراقبة الاتجار المحلي بالمبيدات، مؤكداً ان حملات منتظمة على محال بيع المبيدات أسهمت في ضبط عدد من الأصناف غير المسجلة، ما أدى إلى تطبيق العقوبات المنصوص عليها بحق أصحاب تلك المحال وتضمنت فرض غرامات مالية