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Food insecurity: Does South Korea hav...
Seoul, South Korea
By maltekol
12 Jul 2013

The World Health Organization warns that overpopulation and a lack of arable land contribute to global food insecurity. So scientists are developing new farming technology to offset potential food shortages. Researchers in South Korea are experimenting with vertical farms; gardens that instead of spreading out, go straight up.
Jason Strother and Malte Kollenberg report from Seoul.

Almost half of South Korea’s 50 millions citizens live here in the capital. And in a country with very limited agricultural land, feeding all of these people presents a challenge. Some observers say the nation faces increasing food insecurity.

Park Hwan-il is food security analyst at the Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul.

Int: Park Hwan-il, SERI (English)
"The food self sufficiency rate in Korea is just about 26 percent. Which means three quarters of the food we consume is from the foreign countries. That means the Korean people’s health and nutrition depends on outside factors that we cannot control”

Park says that climate conditions or other instability in the international market makes importing food unpredictable. It’s not only a problem for Korea, but for many other countries too. But some scientists say there is a solution.

Int. from online: Dickson Despommier, Columbia University (English)
“My name is Dickson Despommier: I teach at Columbia Universities Medical School and school of public health. The world would be a much better place, if we had vertical farming.”

Despommier says tower-like hydroponic farms could someday stand alongside skyscrapers as a key food source for billions of city dwellers

Int. from online: Dickson Despommier, Columbia University (English)
“Here’s my vision of what a vertical farm might look like. My gold standard for this is the Apple Store in New York City on 5th Avenue. If you took that building and made it into a five-story building. Now in the building you have multiple floors of course, and inside each floor you have multiple layers of crops.”

Despommier says vertical farms could be a key solution for countries with a growing population or limited arable land. Like South Korea.

30-kilometers south of Seoul in Suwon, the government is trying to make Despommier’s vision a reality. The Rural Development Administration has built the prototype of a vertical farm.Inside this research facility a small team of scientists is working on turning this concept a marketable product.So far, their experiment is only 3-storeys high. But they hope that one day, the technology will expand and be capable of feeding the entire nation.

Agrarian scientist Choi Kyu-hong is still sorting out more basic challenges.

Int: Choi Kyu-hong, RDA (English)
“The plant factory requires a lot of energy, the light energy and the heating and cooling energy. So we provide the heating or cooling energy using geothermal systems. We adopted the solar cell system to provide light source energies, but we are still (only) provide 15 percent of the total energy”

Choi adds his team still faces many challenges:

Int: Choi Kyu-hong, RDA (English)
“We are still (in) the research state, its take some time to make a commercial plant factories. We are firstly trying to find out the optimum wavelength of light”

Choi says the problem is that different plants grow at different speeds, depending on the light’s color and wavelength.

But even though the government hasn’t perfected vertical farming technology yet, some in the private sector are already putting it to use. Inside this Lotte Mart, a supermarket franchise in Seoul, lettuce grows under the lights of this small vertical farm.

Store mangers say produce grown in this facility has extra benefits for customers.

Int: Kim Chang-jo, Lotte Mart
(Korean) “We are the first super market to install a vertical farm. We hope that it will draw attention to environmental concerns. The plants are affordable and no pesticides were used, so its healthier for our customers”

Kim says the vertical farm lettuce costs the same as lettuce grown the old fashioned way. But some analysts say that all the lights and heating systems required to operate a vertical farm is just too expensive to make it a viable solution for food insecurity.

Int: Park Hwan-il, SERI
(English) “Vertical farming costs too much. / Even though the productivity in vertical farming is very high, very good, but it does not have the merit in price or marketing advantage at all”

Back at the Suwon experimental vertical farm, scientists admit they still have a long way to go. The Rural Development Administration’s Lee Hye jin gives a rough time frame.

Int: Lee Hye-jin, RDA
(Korean) “It might take at least five more years of research to make progress on these obstacles. Then vertical farms might be ready for commercial use”

The South Korean scientists say that once all the problems are resolved, vertical farms won't just have to stop at three-stories. The sky is the limit.

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Nepal Paddy Plantation Festival
Pokhara, Nepal
By Rajneesh Bhandari
29 Jun 2013

Tourists and locals celebrate the 10th rice plantation festival on June 29, 2013 in Begnas, Pokhara, Nepal by planting rice, playing on mud and eating curd and beaten rice in the rice field.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (9 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

A small aquaponics farm produces vegetables and fish by combining hydroponics and aquaculture. The farm, which is in the desert outskirts of Cairo, uses 90% less water than conventional farming.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (8 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

A worker on a small aquaponics farm passes through the barrier separating fish and vegetable production from the harsh desert outside. By harnessing efficiency in nature, the farm can use a closed water cycle to reduce waste.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (6 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

With aquaponics, the water is filtered from the fish tanks to the plant roots and back. By eliminating soil, efficiency of space allows for better cultivation. Ziad Abou El Nasr and his partner plan to introduce shrimp to the water below the plant roots in order to further maximize the efficiency of the system.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (5 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

While the idea of aquaponics is relatively new, a large appeal is that the cost of start up is relatively inexpensive, and materials are commonly found within the city. Given the ease of setup, proponents of the system hope there will be widespread adoption in the near future.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (4 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

The initial yield of lettuce and other vegetables has been small, given the size of the farm. However, the two young farmers are already supplying two local restaurants and a small farmer's market held each Saturday in Cairo's upscale Zamalek.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (3 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

A steady hum of generators filtering the water for the many fish tanks envelops a worker feeding the fish. The farm is producing Nile tilapia roughly 500 grams in weight, with plans to grow them larger in the near future.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (2 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

A small olive grove provides an entrance to the farming area. While certain plants can grow in the desert climate, the farm is also able to produce cucumber, basil, lettuce, kale, peppers and tomatoes in the arid climate.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (14 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

Insect catchers, in vibrant blue and yellow dangle above the growing areas. The ability to grow without the use of soil and limited water use is incredibly important in the desert climate.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (13 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

Many of the materials used by the farm are easily found and purchased, making aquaponics a desireable, lower-cost option.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (12 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

Not only is the farm sustainable in its practices, but it also offers novel types of produce for the markets.

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Aquaponics in Egypt (11 of 14)
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

According to the farmers, the more efficient the system becomes, expansion becomes cheaper and more productive per square meter. Their goal is to produce 400 heads of lettuce per day.

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Aquaponics in Egypt
Cairo, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jun 2013

Faris Farrag, the founder of the farm 'Bustan', believes that aquaponics will play an increasingly larger role in Egyptian farming as water resources become scarce.

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Aquaponics in Egypt
Cairo, Egypt
By Serene Yordi
22 Jun 2013

Water in the desert is a scarce and valuable resource. When it must sustain an ever-growing population, it becomes even more valuable. Two young enterprising farmers in Cairo, Egypt recognize this, and have built a small farm with efficiency and sustainability in mind. In the sandy outskirts of Egypt's bustling capital, an aquaponics farm has set up shop. Combining the practices of hydroponics and aquaculture, the farm employs a closed water cycle to both grow fish and plants. In doing so, they use 90% less water than traditional farming techniques used by their Egyptian counterparts. This system aims to mimic the efficiency of the natural environment, where water sources can sustain multiple species of plants and animals in a small area. They have big aspirations for this type of farming, and hope that more farmers will see the benefits of reduced water use and turn to aquaponics. The duo have caught the eye of local restaurants and business magazines alike, and also sell their produce in a budding farmer's market in Cairo's trendy Zamalek district.

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Mozambique Tea Estates
Gurue, Zambezia, Mozambique
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
14 Jun 2013

Gurué, town and history

Once called the Switzerland of Mozambique, Gurué, in Zambezia Province, centre of Mozambique is forgotten for decades after the independence of country and three decades of civil war.
In colonial times, the district, founded in the 19th century and named, later, Vila Junqueiro, was the biggest tea region in Mozambique, having a total of fifteen factories processing tea leaf and exporting worldwide. Now only three to five remains working without major problems and in tentative of a constant and uniform production.
Due to the high level of the region (having the second highest peak in Mozambique - Namuli Mountain) and the wet climate, the settlers, one century ago, found this place with the proper conditions for tea plantations. The landscape was largely transformed to grow tea and tea tasters from India and producers from Europe began building the city with its houses, factories and other infrastructures. Gurué is a model in colonial architecture with a well preserved number of houses, churches, and other vestiges of Portuguese heritage.
By the middle of 20th century, brands like Chá Moçambique, Chá Licungo and Chá Gurué as others, achieved international recognition in Europe, Great Britain and even America and Canada. It was the time of the tea aristocracy with its wealthy style of living making this place be named Switzerland of Mozambique.
Nowadays, the Lomwe people, continue to work in the tea, this time owned not by the old settlers but mainly by Indian capitals. However the production is far from the 70´s of last century. The independence from Portugal in 1975 made the old European aristocracy run back to the metropole. Everything was abandoned and three decades of civil war along with leftist collective economy politics, leaded by the single ruling party FRELIMO, made the production decreases and most of the factory’s get nationalized and later closed, destroyed and abandoned.
Meanwhile the intense green, the complete transformation of the landscape made by the vast tea plantations, the unique climate and its isolation together with the individuality of this Mozambican region make Gurué a must visit destination.

The tea culture, past and present

By the late 70´s of the past century, Gurué with its 15 tea factories was producing an average of 19.000 tons per year of processed leaf employing around 28.000 workers from the city and neighbor villages. It was the time of around 300 settlers, ruling sometimes using forced labour brought even from other provinces, own plantations that reached near 9.000 hectares of cropped land. It was the golden era of Mozambican tea and of the city itself.
By 2012, the last figure shows that the production was reduced to a number of around 2.500 tons, just thirteen per cent of the average before independence and with an area used of just 5.700 ha, near half of the past. The industry employs now around 3.000 workers in peak periods but just 250 are in an effective job situation. This figure makes the tea jobs, once a major employment industry as just a part of the solution for the daily income in one of the poorest countries in the world for these Lomwe people.
With a ratio of two workers per hectare, picking the leaf into wood baskets that they hang in their back, its necessary to work two entire days to receive about eighty metical’s (three dollars) for each fifty kilograms of leaf picked. It’s around one dollar and half a day, when there is leaf to be picked. To make the situation worst, at least in two of the five active factories, there are about 8 months of salary with late payment. This situation creates a vicious cycle where the employer don’t pay and the workers, in a silent and quiet strike, are pushed for an inactivity, tactically and inevitable, making all this industry atrophy year after year in this isolated region of Mozambique.
Together with the low wages and late payments that make the productions much lower than before, also the plant itself, named camellia sinensis is no longer strong and able for productions per hectare comparable with the figures achieved in the last century. Planted mainly in the 60´s of the last century, the plant need to be replaced with other varieties more productive and adequate to the region. This fact make the tea decrease its quality what creates difficulties in the sales at the international markets. From the neighbor producing countries like Malawi and Kenya, Mozambique is the only one that up to know didn't renovate the old plants.
All this facts make the income of the industry decrease significantly. The actual owners of the industry, mainly Indian capitals and in one case a joint venture between Indians and Mozambicans claim they need about 100 millions of dollars of investment for the renovation of the potential 10.000 hectares of the crops and with that bring the production to the old values achieved before independence. They also claim that due the actual panorama, bank credit is difficult to get to support the modernization of the business. The low productions and low quality make this business unable to deal directly with international buyers and inevitably part of the production must be sold in auction flours in Kenya and other part sold internally. The situation of sell it in auction flours makes the final price be much more vulnerable to the market price fluctuations and much difficult to deal in good terms and conditions. Resuming, the business in its actual situation don’t encourage the exportation of the goods due to the actual market sold prices. With an average of 1 dollar per kg as sold price and low productions, it is not enough to export directly to international markets worldwide. Far are the times that the tea was directly exported to Europe, America and Canada and Gurué was the Switzerland of Mozambique.

Perspectives for the future

With a recently created producer association, in 2011, ideas and hope for solutions are being discussed to change the actual wilt panorama. One is to bring more power and control to the workers instead of being mere wage earner from the capitals that owns the industry. The simple be employed conditions have shown that it is not an adjusted solution for the present times. The idea of create and provide conditions for small production associations and family’s to grown themselves the tea leaf and sold later to the industries is gaining adepts.
With this solution, the production of the leaf would be passed to the workers in form of associations or among their families. It would make easier that small financial loans, difficult to get by the owner of the factories, could create big changes. Instead of being mere employed, the workers would be responsible and be more active in the production of the crop. By the other side, the factories would spend less financial resources in some operations like fertilizing, that due the general poverty of the workers and few control see many times the products being robbed, employing and others and would concentrate and specialize just in the leaf processing, packing and exporting. That’s the new hope for Gurué industry and for Lomwe people in the interior of Zambezia Province.

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Mozambique Tea Estates
Gurue, Zambezia, Mozambique
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Jun 2013

Once called the the Switzerland of Mozambique, Gurué, in Zambezia Province, center of Mozambique stays forgotten for decades after the independence of Mozambique and three decades of civil war.

In colonial times, the disrict, founded in the 19th century and named Vila Junqueiro, was the biggest tea region in Mozambique, having a total of 5 factories processing tea leafs and exporting worldwide. Now only remains one factory working.

Due to the high level of the region (having the second highest mountain in Mozambique - Namuli Mountain with 2.419 m above sea level) and the wet climate, the settlers, one century ago, found this place with the proper conditions for tea plantations. The landscape was largely transformed to grow tea and tea tasters began building houses. Gurué is a model in colonial architecture with a well preserved number of traditional houses, churches, and other vestiges of Portuguese presence.

Now, the Lomwe people, continue to cultivate the tea, this time owned not by the old settlers but by Indian capitals. However the production is far from the 70´s values of last century. The independence made the old lords run away, back to Europe, everything was abandoned and three decades of civil war made four from the five factory close, get ruined and abandoned.

Meanwhile the intense green, the complete transformation of the landscape made by the vast tea plantations, the unique climate and it's isolation together with the individuality of the Mozambique region make Gurué a tourist destination.

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The Landless People of Noakhali
noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

Land is an increasingly rare resource in Bangladesh. Over sixty percent of the country’s population of 150 million depend on agriculture to make its living, yet the majority of Bangladesh’s cultivatable land belongs to 10 percent of the people.

Each year hundreds are displaced by climate change and make their way to Noakhali District in pursuit of government promised khasland. Yet in a system rife with corruption, very little of this land ever materializes. Left landless, the poor farmers of Noakhali are forced to band together and fend for themselves.

Full article: http://transterramedia.com/media/21242#

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The Landless People of Noakhali (14 o...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

Rapid industrialization poses a direct risk to farmers in coastal Bangladesh. The rerouting of rivers and an increases in ground water salinity, due to shrimp farming and aquaculture, have had detrimental effects on what was once one of the most fertile territories on earth.

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The Landless People of Noakhali (12 o...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

60 percent of Bangladesh's population of 150 million, depend of agriculture to make their living.

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The Landless People of Noakhali (3 of...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

Lying low amidst the Ganges-Brahmaputra river delta, the silt-soaked plains of Bangladesh are some of the most fertile earth. Yet water, the life-blood that once allowed civilization to flourish within the region, now holds it in a dangerous flux.

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The Landless People of Noakhali (1 of...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

Land deeds go to those who can afford to pay. It’s estimated that over 50% of Bangladesh’s cultivatable land belongs to 10% of the people.

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The Landless People of Noakhali - Art...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

Land is an increasingly rare resource in Bangladesh. Over sixty percent of the country’s population of 150 million depend on agriculture to make its living, yet the majority of Bangladesh’s cultivatable land belongs to 10 percent of the people.
Each year hundreds are displaced by climate change and make their way to Noakhali District in pursuit of government promised khasland. Yet in a system rife with corruption, very little of this land ever materializes. Left landless, the poor farmers of Noakhali are forced to band together and fend for themselves.

To view photos, click here: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1347

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The Landless People of Noakhali (9 of...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

While the western world rushes to brace itself against the impeding consequences of climate change, a rapidly industrializing Bangladesh suffers its effects first hand. Tidal floods devour farmland. Increases in ground-water salinity cause that which survives to become infertile.

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The Landless People of Noakhali (7 of...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Jeff Mcallister
06 Jun 2013

Lying low amidst the Ganges-Brahmaputra river delta, the silt-soaked plains of Bangladesh are some of the most fertile earth. Yet water, the life-blood that once allowed civilization to flourish within the region, now holds it in a dangerous flux.

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Displaced Fight Land-Grabbing in Bang...
Noakhali, Bangladesh
By Serene Yordi
06 Jun 2013

Land is an increasingly rare resource in Bangladesh. Over sixty percent of the country’s population of 150 million depend on agriculture to make its living, yet the majority of Bangladesh’s cultivable land belongs to 10 percent of the people.
Each year hundreds are displaced by climate change and make their way to Noakhali District in pursuit of government promised khasland. Yet in a system rife with corruption, very little of this land ever materializes. Left landless, the poor farmers of Noakhali are forced to band together and fend for themselves.

To view article, click here: http://transterramedia.com/media/21242

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View of Afghanistan
Uruzgan, Afghanistan
By U.S. Editor
19 May 2013

Children, Agriculture & Military Forces in Afghanistan

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Blood Sugar 016
By Ruom
29 Mar 2013

January 8, 2013
Omliang, Kampong Speu, Cambodia

Trucks offload the sugar cane onto a belt that takes the cane into a crusher.

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The Cyanide Mountain
Karnataka, India
By Javed Iqbal
29 Mar 2013

Animal footprints across the dry rivers of sodium cyanide, formed by mine tailings of the Hutti gold mine.

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Drought in Brazil (6 of 25)
Andaraí, Bahia, Brazil
By Flavio Forner
17 Mar 2013

A farmer wears thick layers of clothing, despite the heat, for protection from the sun.

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Drought in Brazil (5 of 25)
Andaraí, Bahia, Brazil
By Flavio Forner
17 Mar 2013

A farmer walks with his cattle to graze on the side of highway.

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Drought in Brazil (4 of 25)
Andaraí, Bahia, Brazil
By Flavio Forner
17 Mar 2013

A Former farmer. After many years of drought, this is his biggest in 50 years

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Farm to Fork (Part 1 of 3)
Kathmandu, Nepal
By PIKTO VIDEO
14 Mar 2013

It is strange to observe that despite the sacred statute of food in Nepal, it is paradoxically the origin of many diseases sometimes leading to death. We know that millions of people don’t have enough to eat, and that some of them even face severe conditions of malnutrition. Of all facts, food security remains a major problem in Nepal. But what we know less is that 50% of the diseases come from a misuse of food and water. This alarming figure is more than ever a topical issue. In order to find answers and solutions, we investigated the backstage of food, from where it is produced – the farm – to our final consumption – the fork!

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Farm to fork part 3/3
kathmandu, Nepal
By PIKTO VIDEO
14 Mar 2013

It is strange to observe that despite the sacred statute of food in Nepal, it is paradoxically the origin of many diseases sometimes leading to death. We know that millions of people don’t have enough to eat, and that some of them even face severe conditions of malnutrition. Of all facts, food security remains a major problem in Nepal. But what we know less is that 50% of the diseases come from a misuse of food and water. This alarming figure is more than ever a topical issue. In order to find answers and solutions, we investigated the backstage of food, from where it is produced – the farm – to our final consumption – the fork!