Rising organic food demand provides export potential

Do you know that if you eat an average apple, you would be taking in more than 30 pesticides and antibiotics even after washing it? The reason is quite obvious. In a hurry for producing more and more crops to satisfy growing demand, producers have had to resort to using a mix of pesticides and fertilisers to control disease and insect attacks. This might be good news for their bank balances perhaps but not so that good for human health. In this perspective, the importance of food safety has surpassed the concept of food security which is a separate issue. Rising organic food demand provides export potential
For Pakistanis, opting for organic food doesn’t mean that we are being fashionable or following Western fads; it mean that we’re going back to the basics. Organic food is not an alien concept for us. Our forefathers were all organic farmers and used natural fertilisers and natural methods of pest control. In modern times, organic farming entails the use of organically approved pesticides and fertilisers to maintain soil productivity and control pests. Organic farmers employ methods like crop rotation, green manuring, and use compost that is made by the farmers themselves.
Sales of organic food have increased more than six-fold worldwide in the last quarter of a century while organic production has just doubled during the same period. It mirrors that the demand for organically produced food continues to outpace its supply, depicting a widening demand supply gap. Although it is a challenge to cater the increasing needs of organic consumers but fulfilling the demand of these quality consumers can substantially strengthen the stakes of organic food producers in the global food market. This is a window of opportunity to agriculture economies like Pakistan who can earn billions in terms of foreign exchange through the export of organic food.
The demand supply gap
It is an objective fact that organic farming is as old as human civilization. However, the population explosion triggered in the last century has forced growers to concentrate on increased production by using synthetic nutrients such as pesticides, chemical treatments and fertilisers which leaves residual effects on the produce resulting in more health risks. Organic foods are described as organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products that come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilisers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionising radiation.
Modern farming has some immediate benefits in terms of yield enhancements, but its pollution potentials are fatal and long lasting. The late realisation of negative impacts on ecosystems, both aquatic and terrestrial, had ultimately forced stakeholders to again switch over to natural or organic farming. Global organic agriculture has increased by at least five times in terms of acreage during the last five years. This farming system is more prevalent in Oceania and Australia that makes up to 425 of global organic land and is equivalent to 10 million hectares. Almost half of the global turnover with organic products is in Europe and stands at 12 billion euros with a growth rate of 10 per cent. Similarly, organic sector in Canada is booming with one billion dollars a year in retail sales and a 25 per cent annual growth rate. An organised organic activity started in USA towards end of the previous century. The legislations and essential ingredients of the system are now very well defined and are put into practice. Health experts say that organic food is chemical-free. It isn’t grown from genetically-modified seeds (that cannot reproduce), nor is it drenched in chemical fertilisers and pesticides. They claim that consuming organic food protects us from the array of diseases and health conditions that are caused by eating contaminated food that accounts for much of what we eat today.
Organic foods are more expensive to grow than conventionally grown foods and that cost shows up as higher prices in the grocery store. The choice to add organic foods to your diet may cost a bit more, but for that price, you are buying the reassurance that you’re making healthy decisions for your own and your family’s health. Higher prices of organic food are due to the fact that organic farmers are getting a lower yield per acre due to non-use of pesticides and fertilisers.
Conventional farming vs organic farming
Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat do not use conventional methods to fertilise, control weeds or prevent livestock diseases. For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers may conduct more sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay. However, the following chart illustrates the four fundamental differences between conventional and organic farming:
USDA standards
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification programme since 2002 that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. The identification system called organic labeling has three main categories comprising “100% organic”, “Organic” and “Made with organic ingredients”. The labeling system introduces a recognised, easy and authentic identification method for consumers. Foods that are labeled as “100% Organic” must contain all organically grown ingredients except for added water and salt. Foods that are labeled as “Organic” need to contain at least 95 per cent of organic ingredients, except for added water and salt, plus they must not contain sulfites added as a preservative. Sulfites have been known to provoke allergies and asthma in some people. Up to five per cent of the ingredients may be non-organically produced. Labels that claim the product to be “Made with Organic Ingredients” need to contain at least 70 per cent organic ingredients, except for added water and salt. They must not contain added sulfites, and up to 30 per cent of the ingredients may be non-organically produced.
Food products made with less than 70 per cent organic ingredients may state which ingredients are organic, but they can not claim to be organic food products. The food item displays the USDA certified symbol which depicts that it has been produced and processed according to USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.
It is essential to clarify here that “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable terms. You may see “natural” and other terms such as “all natural,” “free-range” or “hormone-free” on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but are not to be confused with the term “organic.” Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled as organic.
Economic prospects of organic food
The market continues to brightly shine on economic prospects of organic production, despite the recent economic slowdown. Although might benefit from tighter requirements for conservation practices and ethical animal stewardship, organic certification has proven to be a market success since its introduction in 2002. Given the potential public health and environmental benefits of sound organic practices, this is good news for organic producers and human health.
Organic farming will transform gradually as it is a knowledge-intensive phenomenon and it will take a lot of time for farmers to adapt to it. Commercially speaking, we also have to take into consideration that we live in a capitalist economy where profits are always the first priority.
If premium prices are a problem, then growing your own food is a good option for health conscious individuals. Even if you only have a small patch of land, this enables you to both have a healthy relationship with nature as well as produce food. You simply have to ask good gardeners to examine the suitability of the land and get started. Compost can also be made at home by utilising garden and kitchen waste material. There are various other options that you can learn and explore. It is important to take serious interest in food that you put on your plate because, after all, you are what you eat.

Source: image

Can graviola cure cancer?

Graviola is a substance that comes from a tree in the rain forests of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Annona muricata. It is also known as custard apple, cherimoya, guanabana, soursop and brazilian paw paw. In many countries, people use the bark, leaves, root, and fruits of this tree for traditional remedies. The active ingredient is thought to be a type of plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins.Can graviola cure cancer?

People in African and South American countries have used graviola to treat infections with viruses or parasites, rheumatism, arthritis, depression, and sickness. We know from research that some graviola extracts can help to treat these conditions.

In laboratory studies, graviola extracts can kill some types of liver and breast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs. But there haven’t been any large scale studies in humans. So we don’t know yet whether it can work as a cancer treatment or not. Overall, there is no evidence to show that graviola works as a cure for cancer. Many sites on the internet advertise and promote graviola capsules as a cancer cure, but none of them are supported by any reputable scientific cancer organisations.

We know very little about how graviola affects the body. But we do know that it may cause nerve changes, causing symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. So it may have harmful side effects for some people. Always talk to your doctor before taking any kind of complementary or alternative therapy.

Graviola costs more than £5 for 100 capsules. The manufacturers advise taking 2 capsules, 3 to 4 times a day. So 100 capsules could last less than 2 weeks.

Source: CRUK Logo

Women in agriculture

Friday, 26 July 2013 By: Baqar Shah, Agriculture Information Bank contributor

From times memorable Women have played an important role, side by side with Men in agriculture. In fact the hard part in the field is done by women, plugging the produce like cotton is a back breaking job, besides attending to the family needs, cooking, attending children, collecting firewood , maintenance of their home in most  unhygienic condition.Women in agriculture

We need to pay full attention to improve their lot, what have we done in this regard ?

1. Health.  In  the Field, working dusty condition, men and women to prone to develop   Bronchitis effecting the lungs, as a precaution Dusk Mask should be a Must., why are they not given one.

2. Back Ache is also common

3. Lack of  Drinking Water, water available is injurious for Health

4. Child Health Care is hardly available.

5. Lack of Basic Education in their required field at home and in fields

6. How to engage to some additional income like breeding Silk Worms

Mulberry trees are available all round the country, why not train them ,

We can establish a Silk Industry, Growing of Flowers on borders of their fields, for local consumption and export as well including poultry farming for consumption and sale   Breeding of Fancy Poultry for Export, Poland, Japan, Thailand lead the World market. In conclusion  I request the Government, NGOs, Women Entrepreneurs to consider my suggestion to improve their lot to the benefit of our country.

Copyright: Agriculture Information Bank

1st seafood consignment to EU

Friday, 26 July 2013

Zubair Ahmed Malik, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry has expressed pleasure on the clearance of the first export consignment of Pakistani seafood to the European Union after a lapse of six years, which is a positive sign for the export of shrimp and fish products from Pakistan. 1st seafood consignment to EU: President FPCCI lauds clearanceZubair Ahmed Malik said that he expected that the removal of the ban would have a significant impact on Pakistan’s exports of seafood to the European Union, and other premium markets. He congratulated the two companies which had received clearance from EU for their consignments and hoped that other seafood suppliers would also receive clearance for their produce in the imminent future.-PR

Source: Business Recorder

Increasing rice output, exports

Friday, 26 July 2013 ZAHID BAIG

The Punjab government has decided to constitute a ‘working group’ comprising stakeholders to make efforts for increase in production and exports of rice. It is also decided that presence of all the stakeholders of rice production and export should be ensured in the control room to be set up in Rice Research Institute (RRI) Kala Shah Kaku. Increasing rice output, exports: Punjab government to set up 'working group'
The Institute is being upgraded at a cost of Rs 79.39 million under which, new research laboratories will also be set up in the institute. A control room will also be set up for discussing important issues and problems being faced by rice and for recommending immediate remedial measures. Stakeholders will be on the panel of this control room. This was disclosed in a meeting convened by the Punjab government for increasing rice production from Punjab. The meeting held in the provincial agriculture house was chaired by the Punjab Minister for Agriculture Dr Farrukh Javed.
The Minister informed the meeting that the government has also decided to set up a rice training institute in Farooqabad in which rice growers and exporters will be imparted training about latest techniques of production technology, storage and processing of rice. Director Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku Dr Muhammad Akhtar informed the participants of the meeting that total global production of rice is 483 million tons out of which Pakistan produces 6.16 million tons. Around 3.75 million tons of rice is exported from Pakistan. The meeting was informed that during 2012-13 an area of 4.29 million acres was brought under rice sowing and production of 3.478 million tons was produced.

Source: Business Recorder

53,000 tons of imported urea to arrive today

Friday, 26 July 2013

A urea consignment of 53,000 tons, imported by Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), will arrive here on Friday (today). In June this year, TCP had finalised a urea import deal with M/s Trammo for the import of 50,000 tons at $337.17 per metric ton C&F to cater the domestic demand. As per schedule provided by the M/s Trammo, a ship namely “MV Eleni D” carrying about 53,000 tons of urea will reach Pakistan on Friday (today). 53,000 tons of imported urea to arrive todayThe shipment has already sailed from China and scheduled to berth at FAP terminal on July 26, 2013. Following the directives of the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, the TCP is engaged to import urea from international market aimed at meeting the domestic demand. Recently, TCP has also finalised another deal for the import of 75,000 tons of urea at $317 per ton, while another tender for the import of 225,000 tons is scheduled to be opened on July 30, 2013.

Source: Business Recorder

Farmers protest against canal water theft

Friday, 26 July 2013

Farmers protest against canal water theftFarmers of 36 villages of Hafizabad on Thursday held a protest demonstration against unjust distribution of canal water and theft by landlords. According to details, farmers hailing from 36 villages held a strong protest against water theft by influential landlords in collision with the officials of the irrigation department. They warned that they would hold a hunger-strike outside the DCO Hafizabad office if the issue was not resolved within a few days.

Source: Business Recorder

4 Simple Steps to Grow a Hundred Pounds of Potatoes in a Barrel

by Timothy Hurst

Container gardening isn’t only for savvy urban gardeners and folks with limited space to grow, it can also be for folks who want to maximize their yields in a controlled environment. Not only does growing potatoes in a barrel reduce the amount of weeding and exposure to pests and fungi, you don’t even have to risk shovel-damage to the tender potatoes by digging them out of the ground when they’re done, just tip the container over!4 Simple Steps to Grow a Hundred Pounds of Potatoes in a Barrel

After extensive research to plan my own potatoes-in-a-barrel, I’ve boiled all of the recommendations down to 4 simple steps to a winning potato harvest.

1. Select and prepare a container

You’ll need to pick out a container such as a 50-gallon trash barrel or one of those half whiskey barrel planters. Alternatively, you can buy used food-grade barrels or commercially-available potato planters. Just about any 2 to 3-foot tall container will work, but be sure to select a container that either already has holes in it, or is okay to cut holes in. Next you’ll want to clean your container with a mild bleach solution to get out any of the nasties that have been lingering in there. If you don’t want to use bleach, you can make a bleach alternative to use instead.

Good drainage is critical for the cultivation of healthy potatoes so you’ll want to cut or drill a series of large drainage holes in the bottom and bottom sides of your container. Alternatively, you can cut out the bottom altogether and place it on a well-drained surface like your garden bed.

seed-potatoes

2. Choose a variety and plant potatoes

Seed potatoes can usually be found at nurseries early in the growing season, but you should only have to buy them once. If you can, “chit” or sprout your potatoes before planting them by setting them out in an egg carton, the side with the most buds facing up, and putting them in a cool light room out of direct sunlight to sprout. Putting the tubers in an open paper bag can have this same effect.

Fill in the bottom of your container with about 6 inches of loose planting mix and compost. You’ll want to use a planting mix with a peat moss-like soil amendment like this product made from repurposed coconut husks, doing so will keep the soil from becoming too compacted and help it to store moisture for the roots. Next, add some seed potatoes on the layer of soil, making certain to leave plenty of space between each cube. You can use the whole potato but I like to cut the potatoes into 1 to 2-inch cubes for planting. Loosely backfill the potatoes with another 6 inches of your soil and compost mix and water to dampen soil. Keep the soil damp at all times but be careful not to overwater.

3. Add more soil

When they have about 6 to 8 inches of foliage, add another layer of your soil-compost mix covering about one-half to three-quarters of the visible stems and foliage. Repeat this process of allowing the sprouts to grow and then covering the sprouts and moistening the soil as the plants grow up toward the top of the barrel.

Barrel potatoes
4. Harvest the potatoes

After about 10 weeks or until the plants flower and start to yellow, the potatoes should be ready to harvest. Carefully dig down with your hands to inspect the top-most layer. After you’ve confirmed your suspicions, dump the barrel out on a tarp and inspect your bounty.

Other tips to grow bushels of barrel potatoes
  • After the first harvest, keep a few potatoes to use as seed potatoes next year.
  • Bush beans are a great companion plant for potatoes.
  • Instead of using soil, try growing potatoes in sawdust.
  • Experiment with different containers, seed potatoes and watering regimes.
  • If the above steps aren’t sufficient, do some more research.

Have any photos or useful tips for growing potatoes in a barrel? Please share!

Source: greenUPGRADER

Top 6 Cities Leading The Green Building Revolution

July 25, 2013 by Beth Buczynski

Unless they’re from Kansas or North Carolina, most people agree that green building makes sense–environmentally and financially. Instead of nagging people to unplug their appliances after use or use air conditioning sparingly, we’re now designing buildings with materials and technologies that conserve energy automatically.

Although we may all agree that building green is smart, not everyone embraces it with the same enthusiasm. Some people even see “sustainable development” as part of a world domination plot hatched by business-hating hippies. Thankfully, there are some places where such claims are ignored, along with inefficient windows and toxic paint.

The infographic below compares  the efforts of six leading cities–New York, Vancouver, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam and Stockholm–providing a bird’s eye view of  how cities are embracing the green revolution in the race to drastically reduce global CO2 emissions.

Top 6 Cities Leading The Green Building Revolution

Source: Earth Techling