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Archive for May 2nd, 2012

Kenya’s Musalia Mudavadi jumps off Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ship to a North Eastern led little Known party.

Posted by African Press International on May 2, 2012

Mudavadi, Kenya’s Deputy prime Minister says he is tired of Raila Odinga’s ODM party because what people see outside – as democracy – is not what happens inside. There is  no democracy is ODM according to Mudavadi, a man who was actually rescued by the party when he was in political cold.

They say a thanks you get from a donkey is a kick. Now Mudavadi has decided that the time to kick ODM’s butt (bottom) has come.

Will he really survive politically? It remains to be seen. What many say, however, is that he will not become Kenya’s next president. The G7, if Uhuru and Ruto chooses not to run, will support Eugene Wamalwa, the new Justice Minister and he will stand a big chance to get the presidency leaving the roaming Wamalwa in the cold.


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The EEA and Norway Grants: Solidarity and cooperation in Europe

Posted by African Press International on May 2, 2012

“This white paper thoroughly documents that Norway is making a difference for the new democracies in Europe,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Today the Government submitted a white paper to the Storting on the EEA and Norway Grants. The purpose of the white paper is to sum up the results achieved in the period 2004-09 and set out the objectives for the period 2009-14.

The white paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to closer cooperation on strategic matters between Norway and the beneficiary states. “At the same time we will continue to contribute to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe,” said Mr Støre.

The final evaluation of the first period shows that the projects have been successful and promoted progress both in priority sectors and in sectors where there has been little available funding from the EU. This applies, for example, to the environmental and justice sectors and to civil society. Norway is currently among the largest donors to NGOs in Central Europe. Norwegian partners have also been engaged in many projects.

At the same time, experience gained in the previous period has provided a basis for making important changes to the focus and management of the EEA and Norway Grants. Steps have been taken to better facilitate partnerships between Norwegian institutions and institutions in the beneficiary states. The funding is more clearly targeted and there is a stronger focus on risk management.

“Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway has become an important partner for the beneficiary states. The Government’s aim is that the Grants should strengthen positive trends in the beneficiary states and promote contact with Norway,” said Mr Støre.

Norwegian authorities and institutions are already engaged in more than half of the 144 programmes that are being developed. The aim is also to engage Norwegian organisations, institutions, companies, the social partners, NGOs and others in different projects.

Norway has contributed to reducing the economic and social disparities in Europe since the EEA was established. Since the EU enlargement in 2004, the funding has been channelled through the EEA and Norway Grants. Approximately NOK 14 billion has been made available for the period 2009-14. Norway provides 97% of this funding, while the rest is provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The EEA and Norway Grants are made available to 12 countries in Central and Southern Europe and to the three Baltic states. The funding is allocated to projects in priority sectors, such as environmental protection and management, climate change and renewable energy, strengthening civil society, research and scholarship, green industry innovation, justice and home affairs and human and social development.

 source mfa.norway

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Comparing ‘regular’ rice plants with SRI plants

Posted by African Press International on May 2, 2012

Comparing ‘regular’ rice plants with SRI plants

BANGKOK,  – The system of rice intensification (SRI) is gaining ground across Asia as more and more governments come to rely on it for food security.

“SRI was not invented by scientists, but its results speak for themselves,” Sudeep Karki, from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and an SRI specialist in Nepal, told IRIN. “SRI is the counterpart in agricultural development of a viral idea in social media, imposing its way from the ground to the top.”

Less seed, less water, less pesticides and chemical fertilizers can bring significantly higher yields, according to the International Network and Resources Centre (SRI-Rice), based at Cornell University in the US. SRI methods are being successfully applied to other staple commodities like wheat and sugarcane, and teff in northeast Africa.

The idea of SRI was first put forward in the 1980s by a Jesuit priest in Madagascar, under the premise that “less is more” .

SRI started with farmers and NGOs, but now governments are promoting it in China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, and the spread is accelerating, said Norman Uphoff, a senior advisor at SRI-Rice.

“The point for Asian farmers is the 20 to 80 percent higher on-farm net return, compared to scientists’ best management practices, thanks to less inputs and bigger harvests,” said Abha Mishra, a scientist at the Bangkok-based Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).

The expanding rice bowl

“In China, SRI will exceed 900,000 hectares in 2012, up from 700,000 in 2011 and 200,000 in 2007,” said Weijian Zhang, from the Institute of Crop Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in the capital, Beijing.

SRI is becoming the main rice cultivation system in most of southern China, said Zhu Defeng, a principal scientist at the Hangzhou-based China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI).

SRI usually achieves 8 to 11 tons per hectare in China, higher than the national average of 6.6 tons, or the world average of 4.4 tons per hectare, CNRRI reported.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), China, India and Indonesia were the world’s leading producers of rice in 2010, and Asia produced and consumed around 90 percent of the world’s rice.

The Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture announced in 2011 that it would rely more on SRI to increase food security, with a target of 1.5 million hectares in 2015, up from 100,000 hectares in 2011.

Photo: Stephane Brelivet/IRIN

In January 2012, the Indian Ministry of Rural Development increased support to SRI by targeting 10 million hectares of rice area for SRI management over the next five years, twice the area under SRI cultivation today.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam, the world’s fifth largest producer of rice and the second largest exporter, reported in October 2011 that a million farmers were now using SRI – three times more than in 2009.

“SRI was introduced in Asia in 1999 and at first spread slowly, but with the ongoing acceleration the system could represent 10 percent of world rice production by 2015,” said Uphoff, who noted that international institutions and donors are increasingly supporting SRI.

Today, SRI is seen as vital to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the spread of SRI in Cambodia was cited in 2010 as one of 15 Asian success stories in the MDGs endeavour.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) set up a webpage about the system in March 2012. “Our new technologies can benefit from the participatory and adaptive approach of SRI,” said Bas Bouman, the head of the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division of the Philippines-based IRRI. The World Bank has produced a multimedia toolkit entitled, “Achieving More with Less”.

Recent initiatives by other international bodies include a European Union-financed project in the Mekong River basin in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam (September 2011) and an Asian Development Bank-funded project in Laos (February 2012).


Not everyone is convinced. Uphoff noted that some agricultural institutions and agribusiness firms have been slow to accept SRI because it shows that the two pillars of the Green Revolution [new varieties and external inputs] are not necessary to achieve increased yields.

FAO placed SRI high on its website about rice systems, but gave it only cursory mention in its 2011 publication about the new vision of agriculture.

It is impossible to evaluate SRI globally because many systems are labelled ‘SRI’ without conforming to all the “true principles” of SRI, said Bas Bouman, from IRRI.

Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
Seedlings should be transplanted with wider spacing than usual

SRI-Rice has reported many variations on the system: in Sri Lanka and Thailand, direct seeding replaced transplanting seedlings; in Cambodia and Nepal, home-made weeders cut weeding time by two-thirds; in Philippines and Myanmar, SRI was adapted to growing rain-fed, or non-irrigated, rice.

“Tractor, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers all belong to modern agriculture, but if a farmer uses only the tractor [like organic farmers do in developed countries], is it impossible to evaluate the impact of modern agriculture on his work?” asked Ngo Tien Dzung, the deputy director general of the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department, adding that SRI was not an “all or nothing approach”.

According to Dominic Glover, a scientist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, which specializes in food science, concern over SRI reflects not only disagreements on scientific questions, but also different perspectives on the role of agricultural researchers.

SRI-Rice also reports results from China, India and Cambodia, which show that SRI can be labour-saving once it is mastered, contradicting a common belief that SRI is necessarily labour-intensive. But for many farmers and experts, the results speak much louder.

In March 2012, an Indian farmer using SRI techniques reported the highest recorded rice yield yet, with 22.4 tons per hectare. FAO noted that the Indian average yield in 2010 was 3.3 tons per hectare.

According to IRRI, rice is the staple food of more than half the world’s population, including 640 million undernourished people living in Asia.

For every one billion people added to the global population, an additional 100 million tons of rice needs to be produced every year. Moreover, projected demand for rice will outstrip supply in the near to medium term unless something is done to reverse current trends.

AIT’s Mishra pointed out that “Rice production should increase by 15 to 25 percent by 2025 to meet the demand of a growing Asian population.”


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Statement on Mali from the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Posted by African Press International on May 2, 2012

Mali ratified the Rome Statute on 16 August 2000. Therefore, in accordance with Rome Statute provisions, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide that may be committed on the territory of Mali or by Malian nationals as of 1 July 2002.

The Office has been closely following the developments in Mali since clashes erupted around 17 January 2012. According to several sources, including senior United Nations officials, crimes such as killings, abductions, rapes and conscription of children may have been committed by various groups in the northern part of the country.

The Office will further scrutinize the possible commission of ICC crimes on Malian territory by any party and will make a decision in due course as to whether to undertake a preliminary examination of the situation under Article 15 and Article 53.1 of the Rome Statute.


Source: Office of the Prosecutor

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