Saturday, September 25, 2010

The new war

"A COMPUTER worm that targets industrial and factory systems is almost certainly the work of a national government agency, say security experts who warn it could be near-impossible to identify the culprit.

There has been speculation that the target of the virus was Iran's controversial Bushehr nuclear power plant and that it was created by Israeli hackers."

Politics and aid

"But Schutter warned that the Syrian drought appeal was not receiving enough money as aid had been politicized. Only 34 percent of the total funds requested had been received, according to the UN. One of the effects of this has been to limit WFP food parcels to 200,000 of the 300,000 people it had hoped to target during distribution in June."

Syrian wheat rust, but self sufficiency persists

"DAMASCUS, 19 August 2010 (IRIN) - Farmers in Syria already hit by a three-year drought are now experiencing a yellow wheat rust outbreak, which has caused widespread crop losses as well as shrivelled seeds.

“Farms have suffered varying degrees of yield losses; for some it has had a tremendous effect on their livelihoods,” said Wafa El Khoury, an agricultural officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and coordinator of FAO's global wheat rust programme.

In June, the US Department of Agriculture said the Syrian government had reported that due to the impact of yellow rust, 2010-2011 wheat production could fall to 3.3 million tons, an 18 percent reduction from last year and 35 percent below record levels.

“In badly affected wheat fields, yield losses of 35-50 percent can occur, while in the worst instances nearly total crop loss is possible,” the report said.

Total wheat production in 2009-2010 was 3.2 million tons, according to government figures – enough for the planned annual strategic grain reserves but less than the 4-5 million tons predicted.

Annual wheat demand in Syria averages 3.6 million tons, but the government says the current yield might suffice."

The hydra never sleeps

"Amid such profound changes, the company that would result from a merger of Louis Dreyfus and Olam would dominate in several areas, particularly cotton – where it would be by far the largest trader and could face regulatory problems because of its size – rice, coffee, sugar and orange juice. It would be big in wheat and corn, and enjoy a top five position in oilseeds.

Geographically, Louis Dreyfus is strongest in Latin America and Europe, while Olam’s strengths are in Africa and Asia. The combined group would have a significant presence in the key agricultural commodity origination regions of Latin America and Africa and in Asia, which is developing as the significant area of demand growth.

“This would be a pure play agricultural commodity group that would have an unparalleled opportunity to emerge as a leading global player in the industry,” says a person with knowledge of the talks."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Badael بدائل

In Al Akhbar to day: Badael. My editorial: a small comparison, how Syria, Lebanon and Jordan face up to the increase in international wheat prices. Kamel Jaber wrote about the apples of Jezzine.,19181

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Alibis

No Alibis 9/22/10 Voices from Lebanon

Just returned from Lebanon, Elizabeth Robinson shares interviews with agronomist Rami Zurayk, driver Samir Attrache, and mayor of Baabdat Iman Labaki. With vastly different experiences, they share perspectives rarely seen in US media and provide a sense of a vital, engaged polity. Also featuring Lebanese musicians.

Post Published: 21 September 2010
Author: Elizabeth Robinson
Found in section: Tune In!
Tags: KCSB-FM, Lebanon, migrant workers, No Alibis, Rami Zurayk

I cant find a ink to the interview!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Gazelle of Yemen---La Gazelle Yéménite

I have posted in my previous entry a poem by Abdu'l `Aziz al Maqalih, which has been put to music by Ahmad Fathi (my favorite version) and by Abu Bakr Salem Ba 'l Fakih. I used to listen a lot to this song in Yemen, especially when chewing qat on the long drive between Hodeida and San'a. My favorite part has always been:

 انساك كيف والحشى يا فاتني مرعاك

Below is my translation in French. Why French? Because I'm writing a lot in French these days, and that's how I feel like.

La Gazelle Yéménite

Abul Aziz Al Maqaleh

Quand la lune disparait
Mon esprit est embrouillé
Mes yeux sur lesquels elle est tatouée
Demandent de ses nouvelles
Les nuages répondent tristement
Hier je ne l'ai pas vue
Elle a pris les étoiles et a disparu
Et le ciel en est accablé

Je ne découvrirais pas celle qui s’est couverte
Mais je ne couvrirai pas celle qui s'est dévoilée

Oh gracieuse gazelle Yéménite, tu es l’âme de celui qui t’aime
J’ai tant essayé mais je n’ai pas pu t’oublier
Comment t’oublier quand tu as fait, ma charmeuse, de mes entrailles ton pâturage
Mon cœur t’attend sur le chemin ; le vois tu étalé ?

Je ne découvrirais pas celle qui s’est couverte
Mais je ne couvrirai pas celle qui s'est dévoilée

J’apprécie l’arrogance et l’humiliation de l’amant
Les diableries de l’innocence et les promesses non tenues
L’indécence de la beauté qui la rend plus désirable
Sans les cils les yeux perdent de leur attrait

Je ne découvrirais pas celle qui s’est couverte
Mais je ne couvrirai pas celle qui s'est dévoilée

O gazelle de Sanaa, les larmes ont demandé
Aux nuits de ne plus nous séparer
Et l’esprit ô ma charmeuse, dans ton amour s'est embrouillé

Je ne découvrirais pas celle qui s’est couverte
Mais je ne couvrirai pas celle qui s’est dévoilée

ظــــبــــي الــيـــمـــن The gazelle of Yemen

ظــــبــــي الــيـــمـــن

لما يغيب القمر والعقل به مربوش
تسأل عليه العيون اللي فوقها منقوش
قال السحب في اسى.. من امس ما شفتوش
شل النجوم واختفى.. وجه السما موحوش
لا افتش مغطى ولا اغطي على مفتوش

* * *

ظبي اليمن يا حلاه.. يا روح من يهواك
حاولت انساك لكن ما استطعت انساك
انساك كيف والحشا.. يا فاتني مرعاك
والقلب لك بالطريق هل تبصره مفروش
لا افتش مغطى ولا اغطي على مفتوش

* * *

تعجبني الكبرياء والذل بالمحبوب
والشيطنة بالبرا والوعد والمعتوب
والابتذال في الجمال ما يجعله مرغوب
والعين لولا الرموش جمالها مخدوش
لا افتش مغطى ولا اغطي على مفتوش

* * *

يا ظبي صنعاء .. دموع العين قد قالت لنا
يا ظبي صنعاء .. ليت الليالي لا تفرق شملنا
والعقل يا فاتني في حبكم مربوش

لا افتش مغطى ولا اغطي على مفتوش

من كلمات الدكتور عبدالعزيز المقالح وهو لحن قديم هذبه الفنان أحمد فتحي

Saturday, September 18, 2010

ضمن حقول البقاع لوسيل غارسون رامي زريق النموذج العالمي للعمل الموسمي

في كافّة أنحاء العالم تقريباً، تربط القطاع الزراعي بقانون العمل علاقة بعيدة جداً: فالإنتاج المتقطّع والفاني قد سهّل أوضاعاً وقواعداً إستثنائية في تشريعات العديد من الدول. فقد ابتُكر مفهوم "العمل الموسمي" خلال الستينات في فرنسا للحصول من المغرب وتونس وبولونيا، على العمّال القادرين على تشغيل "مصانع التفاح" في منطقة البروفانس [1]، أو لقطف كروم اللانغدوك

Badael بدائل

In yesterday's Badael in Al Akhbar: the seasons of lies, my editorial on the unfolding food crisis. Inherited walnut trees in Aramta and umm al'is dried figs, by Kamel Jaber,19155

Friday, September 10, 2010

Farmworkers: 1 billion reasons to challenge the consumerist food regime

"NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - On a ranch north of the Bay Area, several dozen men live in a labor camp. When there's work they pick apples and grapes or prune trees and vines. This year, however, the ranch has had much less work, as the economic recession hits California fields. State unemployment is over 12%, but unemployment in rural counties is always twice what it is in urban ones. Despite these statistics, however, unemployment among farm workers is largely hidden. 
In the case of these workers, it's hidden within the walls of the camp, far from the view of those who count the state's jobless. Because they work from day to day, or week to week, there are simply periods when there's no work at all, and they stay in the barracks. " (Thanks Rania)

Bolivia kicks US

"Pando, where the mayors have declared a USAID-free zone, is the northernmost department in Bolivia. More recently, Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, has threatened to expel USAID from the whole country. The Vice President of Bolivia has also spoken out against USAID. If USAID is kicked out of Bolivia entirely, it wouldn't be without precedent. Morales kicked out the U.S. DEA in 2008." (Thanks Daniel)

Gaza farming

Land grab goes mainstream

The World Bank report reckons that "one of the highest development priorities in the world must be to improve smallholder agricultural productivity, especially in Africa".
But the report deems that "when done right, larger scale farming systems can also have a place as one of many tools to promote sustainable agricultural and rural development". It then proceeds to detail many conditions for these deals to benefit developing countries.
"When assisted, family farmers have been able to compete in global markets. Many companies have successfully collaborated with local farmers," Lorenzo Cotula, who researches the topic for the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development, told IPS. The non-profit IIED promotes sustainable development.
"But national laws in recipient countries need to be changed and better implemented, so local people can have more secure rights to their land," he cautions.
The report states that farmland investments' adverse effects on local development are often due to the fact that host countries' governments "were ill-equipped and ill-prepared to deal with the sudden influx of interest". (Thanks Rania)

Badael بدائل

No almonds this year in Lebanon and the mouneh is incomplete. This also meant that many farmers have uprooted their orchards to heat themselves this winter. I wrote my editorial on the future of our relationship with food: a horror story.,19142

Not so rosy

Blooming Business
Kenyans bear witness to the grim realities behind the global flower industry.
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2010 14:48 GMT
Filmmaker: Ton van Zantvoort
A bouquet of flowers can bring delight to its recipient - but for many Kenyans living around Lake Naivasha's huge commercial flower farms, these sweet-smelling blooms bring human exploitation and ecological destruction.
The flower farms on the shores of Lake Naivasha produce tonnes of blooms for the flower markets of Europe, but they also cause much suffering to the communities around them.
A cast of local characters bears witness to the grim realities behind the global flower industry: Jane works day and night to feed her children, but like many other female workers she frequently faces sexual harassment, and Agnes was severely scarred from chemical exposure. Oscar, who was fired from the packing factory, now sells water from the lake to survive, even though it is contaminated by the pesticides used in the farms. And Kennedy struggles as a fisherman as the lake's level drops and weeds run rampant.
It is a bleak picture of how the international desire for fresh cut flowers is wreaking havoc amongst the growers.
Blooming Business aired from Sunday, September 5, 2010.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

In Badael this week (late posting!) I wrote critically about Fair trade, and Nadine Kanaan told us about the failing season of green walnuts in the South and about makdous and walnuts.,19115

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dans les champs de la Bekaa

Comme tous les matins, à peine le jour pointe-t-il derrière les monts de l’Anti-Liban que les klaxons donnent, dans les campements de fortune qui jalonnent la plaine de la Bekaa, le signal du départ au travail. Aussitôt, hommes, femmes et enfants quittent leurs tentes pour grimper dans les pick-up, avec dans un sac du pain, du fromage et des pommes de terre bouillies. Ils superposent plusieurs couches de vêtements sous leur longue robe usée et se coiffent d’un keffieh — la tenue traditionnelle des fellahs comme des bédouins, dans la Bekaa comme dans tout le Levant. Mais, tout en vivant eux aussi de la terre, ils appartiennent à un type nouveau de travailleurs et de nomades.

Lucile Garcon and I wrote this article in Le Monde Diplomatique