Bakeries struggle to produce bread in the face of wheat shortage. Credit: Emad Mekay/IPS.

Egypt Seeks End to Foreign Wheat Dependence

Egypt is stepping up its wheat production in a bid to stem the country’s rising dependence on foreign imports that escalated during the 30-year rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in February.

Drying cassava: improved seed varieties and agricultural extension are boosting farmers

DR CONGO: Sowing the Seeds of Food Security in Bandundu

Subsistence farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo's southwestern Bandundu Province are seeing their harvests double, thanks to an ambitious programme of support by the government.

BRAZIL: Science and Sugar Cane Produce Versatile Harvest

For nearly five hundred years, sugar cane was used almost exclusively for making sugar, with a handful of by-products like rum, alcohol and molasses. Now, in Brazil, it has become a source of multiple derivatives, and the focus of much scientific and technological research.

An income grant enabled Bertha Hamases to find a job. Credit:  Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

NAMIBIA: Basic Income Grant: ‘Let Others Taste What We Have Tasted’

A universal Basic Income Grant (BIG) would create laziness and dependence among Namibia’s poor, say politicians. A daring pilot project set out to prove that this untrue. IPS spoke to one of the beneficiaries of the BIG.

Supporters say an income grant lays a strong foundation for economic empowerment, responsibility and ownership. Credit:  Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

NAMIBIA: ‘You Know I’m Hungry, Feed Me Today’

A universal income grant in Namibia would alleviate poverty in one of the most unequal societies on earth, say campaigners. Free handouts only lead to laziness, responds an unwilling government.

Police clash with protestors in Cairo. Credit: Mohammed Omer

EGYPT: Public Noose Tightens Around Mubarak

Demonstrations calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt continued for the second day in several Egyptian cities with police cracking down violently, a development that many analysts here say reflects the nervousness of the regime.

More Arabs Protest Rulers With Self-Immolations

Mohammed Bouazizi, the 26-year old Tunisian whose act of self-immolation led to an unprecedented popular revolution in Tunisia, is quickly turning into a symbol for disgruntled Arab youths angry at their autocratic rulers and poor economic conditions - a development that Arab leaders in the region are clearly taking note of.

Sanctions Forced Iran to Slash Bloated Energy Subsidies

Touring Iran's Arab rivals this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sounded almost triumphant as she asserted that economic sanctions have helped slow Tehran's nuclear progress.

African oil palm plantations in the state of Pará. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

BRAZIL: Oil Palm Plantations Expand on Degraded Land in Amazon

Brazil hopes to eventually become a major producer of palm oil, thanks to the expansion of this new exotic monoculture crop in the eastern Amazon jungle, where eucalyptus plantations are also mushrooming on broad swaths of already deforested land.

Vegetable pack from small scale farmers  Credit: Fadela Slamdien/IPS

AGRICULTURE – SOUTH AFRICA: Small Scale Farmers Face Uphill Battle

Just before sunrise 39-year -old Alan Simons, an emerging small-scale farmer, gets ready for his usual nine-hour day of harvesting, packing and deliveries. In his black Nissan van he drives ten kilometres to the seaside town of Strand outside of Cape Town to pick up his six workers, all of who are women.

Young woman working in a maize field Credit: Claire Ngozo

AGRICULTURE: Desperation Over Subsidies

As the rains start to fall in Malawi, marking the beginning of the growing season, government is continuing to implement the fertiliser and seed subsidy programme which has since made the country a bread basket in the Southern African Development Community, SADC.

Ricardo Aguilar, Oceana Scientific Director. Credit: Courtesy of Oceana

OP-ED: The EU Must Start Fishing Responsibly Now

The loss of marine biodiversity is hurtling forward at an unprecedented rate. At present, the FAO calculates that nearly 80 percent of the world's fishery resources are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. Furthermore, marine scientists have suggested that if the current pace of exploitation continues, all fish stocks will have collapsed or disappeared by 2048.

“Perfect Storm” Spurred 2007-08 Food Crisis, Study Says

Rising food prices have not yet reached crisis levels but they are expected to remain very volatile for about the next decade, researchers said Thursday.

AFRICA: Hunger Intensifying But Cash Transfers Improving Lives

Chronic hunger is intensifying in Africa, despite the world’s commitment to address this Millennium Development Goal and reduce world hunger by half by 2015.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of drought, with devastating effects on farmers who depend on rain for their crops. Credit:  Tomas de Mul/IRIN

Lesotho Could Beat Drought With Irrigation

Bonang Charles's fields are a richly green rarity in October's parched landscapes along the Phutiatsana River. It's a vivid demonstration of the limited reach of irrigation to Lesotho's small-holder farmers.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Social Protection, a Human Right?

Without contributions from well wishers and government grants of between 68 and 104 dollars per month per child, the House of Mother and Child in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, would barely be able to provide for the 18 vulnerable children who call the place home.

Sustainable development advocate Marina Silva  Credit: Courtesy of Green Party

BRAZIL: Development Trumps Environment on Election Agenda

With Brazil's elections only about a fortnight away, there is already a clear winner: "developmentalism." This position espoused by the two main presidential candidates has relegated pressing environmental issues to a lowly place on the campaign agenda, in spite of the fact that the third contender represents the Green Party (PV).

Social cash transfers could reduce dependence on food aid in Southern Africa. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Small Amounts of Cash Make a Big Difference

After being diagnosed HIV-positive Margaret Bikyele could not even manage the simplest of household chores, let alone being able to work to generate an income for her and her two sons.

MEXICO: Experts Denounce Slant in Corn Subsidies

The Mexican government's subsidies for corn (maize) production since 1994 have benefitted large- and medium-scale growers, to the detriment of small farmers, according to a new study by Mexican and U.S. researchers.

Smoke from hundreds of wildfires blankets Moscow. Credit: Citt/flickr/creative commons license

Russia’s Agony a “Wake-Up Call” to the World

A wind turbine on an acre of northern Iowa farmland could generate 300,000 dollars worth of greenhouse-gas-free electricity a year. Instead, the U.S. government pays out billions of dollars to subsidise grain for ethanol fuel that has little if any impact on global warming, according to Lester Brown.

INDIA: End to Fuel Subsidies Brings Damaging Diversions

While India's opposition parties are agitating against moves by the pro-reform government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remove subsidies on petrol and other fuels, experts say the country has laboured too long under price distortions that have not benefited poorer people -- or the environment.

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