India: Are the Farm Ordinances Against Farmers’ Interests?

The new farm ordinances could be a watershed moment for Indian agriculture if they are implemented well. Yet, their implementation solely rests with the state governments making the next move through developing their own contextualized strategies

Azadpur Mandi-Wholesale Market, New Delhi, India, Credit: Vaishali Dassani, IFPRI.

By K Nirmal Ravi Kumar and Suresh Chandra Babu
ANDHRA PRADESH, India / WASHINGTON D.C., Sep 30 2020 – Farm policy in India is in its own conundrum. If you ask, “what are the major challenges for increasing farmer income?”, any farmer in India would tell us that it is the low remunerative prices for their produces and he or she will add that most of the market margins goes to the middlemen.

Finally, the Government of India is getting the policies right to address these problems through passing three Ordinances viz., Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, which may have far-reaching implications for agricultural transformation in India.

Though progress in Indian agricultural market reforms has been slow, these ordinances could be a watershed moment for Indian agriculture if they are implemented well. Yet, their implementation solely rests with the state governments making the next move through developing their own contextualized strategies

And yet, the general public are at awe to see that farmers are protesting these policies, which may indeed be a boon to them in the long run. Among the myriad of writings on this issue in the media recently, we seek to inform the reader, “why these legislations have become so contentious and why the farmers are protesting them? We look at them in turn.

 

Ordinance 1 relates to The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020: The provisions of this ordinance intends to create an ecosystem, where farmers and traders enjoy the freedom to sell and buy the farm produce outside the markets notified under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC).

No market fee will be levied on any farmer or trader in these designated non-mandi trade areas. It also permits free intra-state and inter-state trade movements of farm produces.

The supporters of this legislation argue that it facilitates farmers to transact the produce anywhere in the country. The creation of non-mandi trade areas will provide farmers the freedom of choice to conduct trade for their produce.

The absence of market fees will reduces transaction costs in selling the farm produce. So, this legislation offers a win-win situation for all farmers, consumers and entrepreneurs and will further motivate APMCs to improve their efficiency of operations substantially to serve the farmers better.

The following are seemingly the reasons for the protests. As per Section 2(m) of this Ordinance, the creation of an additional non-mandi trade area may confine APMC mandis to their physical limits and allow big corporate buyers to operate freely.

As per Section 2(n) of this Ordinance, farmers contend that a “trader” cannot be trusted, as the “Arhatiyas” in mandis have the licence approval from APMCs.

Further, due to removal of market fees, it leads to loss of revenue to APMCs and this does not provide a level playing field to compete with private traders. This may lead to gradual collapse of existing APMC mandi system and may end up the MSP based procurement system. The failure of Bihar experiment (which repealed the APMC Act in 2006) may be repeated with this new law.

 

Ordinance 2 relates to The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020.

Through its provisions, the farmer or an FPO may enter into a contract with a sponsor only by written Farming Agreement and there is no provision for verbal agreement between them. This facilitates farmers to transfer market unpredictability to the sponsor and in the process, farmers can enjoy access to cost-effective production technologies, high-quality production systems, direct marketing of farm produce, full price realization and effective dispute resolution mechanisms.

This Ordinance promotes organized agriculture with assured buy-back arrangement with the sponsor, unlike the existing APMC system (led to a cartel formation by traders). This system further ensures regular supply of pre-determined quality of a produce on a steady seasonal basis to meet both domestic demand and international requirements.

However, the farmers opine that they will be the weak players in this sort of agreement, as they must deal with big corporate companies or sponsors. Further, the provisions allow dispute settlement at the Sub-Divisional Magistrate level, which is difficult for the farmers to fight against the big corporates.
Ordinance 3 relates to: The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

Provisions of this ordinance empower the Central Government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities and to regulate the production and supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potato, onion, edible oilseeds, and oils, only under extraordinary circumstances like war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature.

Stocks limit may be imposed only if there is 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produces and 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items. Thus, there will be no storage limit or movement restriction for these commodities.

Supporters of this bill argue that it can help liberalize business operations of private investors, promote ease of doing business, enhance market competition, safeguards the interests of farmers and consumers against irrational spikes in prices of essential commodities etc. It will promote investments in processing, cold storages and thereby, modernize the existing food supply chains.

However, the farmers fear that this ordinance will give corporates the trade advantage through hoarding of commodities and quoting higher prices. The terms used such as ‘extraordinary circumstances’, ‘extraordinary price rise’ or ‘natural calamity of grave nature’ in the Ordinance are subjective in nature which may result in interpretational disputes.

There we have it. While these policy moves are broadly in the right direction to make Indian agricultural sector competitive, they can be the sources of contention in a democratic set up.

Though progress in Indian agricultural market reforms (1990s and 2000s) has been slow, these ordinances could be a watershed moment for Indian agriculture if they are implemented well. Yet, their implementation solely rests with the state governments making the next move through developing their own contextualized strategies.

 

K Nirmal Ravi Kumar, Professor & Head, Department of Agril. Economics, Agricultural College, Bapatla, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Andhra Pradesh, India

Suresh Chandra Babu, Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.

A 10-Year-Old Commitment to Biodiversity Misses Virtually All of its Targets

Coral Reefs restoration at the coast of Banaire in the Caribbean. Credit: UN Environment Programme

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over one million people worldwide and destabilized the global economy, also upended the UN’s ambitious socio-economic goals, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

While extreme poverty rates have fallen in past years, says Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, “it is projected that between 70 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic”.

And by the end of 2020, she warned, an additional 265 million people could face acute food shortages.

According to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, ocean levels are rising quicker than expected, “putting some of our biggest and most economically important cities at risk”. More than two-thirds of the world’s megacities are located by the sea. And while the oceans are rising, they are also being poisoned,” Guterres warned.

And as the planet burns, one million species in the world’s eco-system are in near-term danger of extinction.

Meanwhile, the international community has failed to live up to its commitments – and meet all of its targets — on biodiversity

Just ahead of the first-ever UN Biodiversity Summit on September 30, Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly lamented the fact that none of the 20 biodiversity targets agreed by Member States in Aichi, Japan a decade ago, “have been fully achieved”.

“Words and good intentions are clearly not enough. They will not clean the oceans, save elephants, or prevent deforestation. Only our actions can do that,” he declared.

The recently-released United Nations’ Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 reveals that biodiversity is declining at record rates, and only six of the 20 goals laid out by 2010’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets have been “partially achieved.”

The study shows some areas of progress, but it found “the natural world is suffering badly and getting worse.” And if the world continues on its current trajectory, biodiversity– and the services it provides– will continue to decline, jeopardizing the achievement of the UN’s highly-touted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it warned.

Asked for the reasons for this shortfall, Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) told IPS the Global Outlook confirms and builds on the findings of the IPBES Global Assessment Report – including the new report-card on the progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity targets.

“One of the reasons for this shortfall is that we, collectively, including Governments, but also the private sector, have failed to seriously address the direct causes of biodiversity loss, including land use change (deforestation, urban sprawl etc.), overexploitation of resources (terrestrial and marine), and climate change, as well as the underlying causes, which relate to our economy, institutions, governance, and which are all deeply anchored in our values and behaviors.”

“We need to better understand and address the causes of these losses and act upon them. Another main reason is that considerations about biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people have still not been brought to the centre of decision-making,” she noted.

Dr. Larigauderie pointed out that the “health of our natural environment very directly influences almost every aspect of development – from food and water security, to livelihoods, health and even peace and security”.

To achieve SDGs requires nature to be a key consideration in decisions, policies, investments and actions across all parts of the economy and society.

“This is how we can achieve the transformative change needed to address our increasingly frayed relationship with the rest of nature”, she declared.

Meanwhile, a study released mid-September noted that, since 1993, and the Convention on Biodiversity, up to four dozen animal species have been saved.

This was done, said the President of the General Assembly, with local, national and international action and included habitat protection, species reintroduction, and legal protections, amongst other efforts.

“This demonstrates that we can deliver”, he declared.

The goal is to build political momentum for the Convention on Biodiversity’s Conference of the Parties (COP15), in Kunming, China in 2021, where world leaders will agree to an ambitious plan of action on biodiversity.

“Kunming needs to turn biodiversity into a household concern and political issue. Everyone must realize the risks of inaction,” said Bozkir.

Asked how devastating has been the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the state of biodiversity worldwide, Dr. Larigauderie said direct impacts of the pandemic on global biodiversity are not yet well-researched – “but we are all aware of anecdotal evidence, both positive and negative, such as reports about the resurgence of nature in some areas and improved air quality, as well as increased waste related to disposal of personal protective equipment and the unfortunate and unjustified targeting of some species of wild animals”.

“But the way you phrase the question is also indicative of a challenge – the impact of COVID-19 on people and economies cannot be separated from a proper analysis of its impact on biodiversity, because the two are totally interlinked”.

She argued that lockdown has essentially halted eco-tourism in many areas, not only damaging livelihoods but also massively reducing resources available to conservation.

Stimulus packages to drive economic recovery contain within them either nature-positive measures or more regressive ones that could in fact raise the risk of future pandemics by accelerating nature loss, she declared.

IPS: What are your expectations of the UN’s first-ever Summit on Biodiversity which is aimed at providing political direction and momentum for the development of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework?

Dr.Larigauderie: To achieve the SDGs requires the implementation of an ambitious and well-resourced post-2020 biodiversity framework. The UN Nature Summit is the best opportunity for decision-makers in Government, the private sector and civil society to already raise the levels of ambition for the negotiations next year and to recommit to policies, decisions and actions informed by the best-available science and expertise.

IPS: How adequate is the proposed funding for actions related to biodiversity– estimated at between $78 – $91 billion per year– compared with the estimated $500 billion spent on fossil fuels and other subsidies that cause environmental degradation?

Dr. Larigauderie: The IPBES mandate is to provide evidence and policy options for better-informed decisions – we do not prescribe or make normative judgements. That said, the IPBES Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration found, for instance, that on average, the benefits of restoration are 10 times higher than the costs, and, for some regions the cost of inaction in the face of land degradation is at least three times higher than the cost of action.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report also identified the removal of harmful incentives and the promotion of nature-positive ones as some of the specific possible actions that would drive transformative change for people and nature. Harmful subsidies include, for instance, Government grants for pesticides, to unsustainable fishing, and to fossil fuels, which all drive the loss of biodiversity.

IPS: Any indications of the new set of targets currently under negotiation, for 2021-2030, and to go before the 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity, scheduled to be held in Kunming, China, in May 2021?

Dr. Larigauderie: These are exactly the discussions that have started and will continue under the Open-Ended Working Group on the post-2020 biodiversity framework and which have already resulted in a publicly available zero-draft of the framework to be negotiated, and subsequent comments thereon.

From Pledges to Policy and Practice: Moving Nature to the Heart of Decision-Making

By Ana María Hernández Salgar
BOGOTA, Colombia, Sep 30 2020 – This week, Heads of State and Government from 64 countries announced one of the strongest pledges yet to reverse the loss of biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people by 2030. Advancing from powerful pledges to concrete policy and action, however, means that nature must be moved to the heart of global, national and local decision-making. It’s time for nature to be reintegrated into everything we do.

Ana María Hernández Salgar

The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature is an explicit declaration of a planetary emergency, driven by human actions that are degrading nature and our climate at rates and levels unprecedented in human history.

As a firm re-commitment to urgent action ahead of the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, taking place today in New York and virtually around the world, it can be a vital and positive turning point towards the transformative change needed for people and nature – but this will require a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.

Biodiversity is the foundation of human life and well-being. When we destroy the natural world, we endanger our own lives and livelihoods. Effective action on nature must, therefore, be based on the best-available science and expertise – to properly understand our challenges and the options available for a better future.

The undertaking in the Leaders’ Pledge – that the design and implementation of policy will be science-based – is therefore extremely welcome. The science, evidence and expertise already exist in the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and other key IPBES reports.

It is evident, from the science, that we are living in an unsustainable downward spiral of land- and sea-use change, over-exploitation, pollution, climate change and invasive species – and that we are the cause. This drives the devastation of nature and directly impacts our own quality of life through food, health, the economy and even peace and security.

Placing nature at the center of decisions in key sectors – including agriculture, fisheries and forestry, energy, tourism, health, infrastructure, extractive industries, and trade – will help to end this vicious cycle. Nature makes invaluable material and non-material contributions to our lives across every sector of human development and activity. The whole of Government approach described in the Pledge is, therefore, grounded in solid science, and is absolutely necessary.

Sustainable use, wise management and effective conservation of natural resources – strengthened by the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities, are key components of a more effective and integrated approach.

The fact that the first-ever UN Summit on Biodiversity is taking place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – is framing the urgency of our frayed relationship with nature in terms that make biodiversity loss extremely personal and undeniably significant. Humanity now stands at a crossroads for meaningful change. If we fail to take this opportunity to voluntarily change course, we risk entering uncharted waters where pandemics, for instance, are more likely and more devastating.

As the UN Secretary-General said during the UNGA75 High-Level Week, “solidarity is self-interest.” Our shared challenge – as leaders and citizens – is to rally around nature as our common ground and our common home – to recognize that nature itself contains most of the solutions to address our shared threats of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Perhaps the most encouraging element of the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature is the explicit commitment to meaningful action and mutual accountability, beyond words on paper. If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to build a sustainable future, we must leave behind the outdated ‘business-as-usual’ models, informed by the current, limited paradigm of economic grow at all costs.

We begin by rediscovering that nature is inextricably linked to every decision we make – in economic, social, political and technological spaces – and seizing this unprecedented opportunity to shift our world towards a more sustainable future, with nature at the heart of our approach.

As hundreds of the world’s leading scientists found, and intergovernmental representatives from more than 130 Member States agreed last May: “By its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good.”

The author is Chair of IPBES

________________________

About IPBES:

IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body comprising 137 member Governments. Established by Governments in 2012, it provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the contributions they make to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets. To some extent IPBES does for biodiversity what the IPCC does for climate change. For more information about IPBES and its assessments visit www.ipbes.net

 


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To Achieve Gender Equality Within, the UN Must Do More to Tackle Sexual Harassment

Credit: Equality Now, Tara Carey

By Antonia Kirkland
NEW YORK, Sep 30 2020 – In September 2017, Secretary-General António Guterres launched the “System-wide strategy on gender parity”, which set the goal of reaching gender parity within the United Nations by 2028 and outlined a strategy on how to achieve this, including the introduction of special measures, senior appointments, targets and accountability, amongst other things.

Three years have passed and it is heartening to hear that the UN has made significant progress towards this goal by achieving gender parity within its senior management. We look forward to the organization hopefully achieving this at all levels by 2028, or preferably sooner.

The principle of equal rights for women and men is one of the pillars upon which the UN was founded. It is rooted in the recognition that gender equality is a fundamental human right and that empowering all women is essential for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.

The blueprint to achieving this was outlined by the UN in 2015 with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which enshrines the ambition in Sustainable Development Goal 5 to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

As an agenda-setting organisation that plays an influential role on the world stage, the UN has a responsibility to lead by example in advocating for gender equality from the inside out. This entails ensuring that women from a variety of backgrounds are equally represented at all levels of the UN system, and is necessary for both its credibility and effectiveness in applying a gender lens to its policies and programs.

An inclusive, gender-balanced and culturally diverse workforce, operating within a system that support’s women’s equal access to decision-making, will enable the UN to carry out its mandate more successfully.

Although gender parity is an important component of achieving gender equality within the UN, what is also needed is a frank examination and enhancement of the organizational culture and ways of working. The UN has spoken of the need to “create a working environment that embraces equality, eradicates bias, and is inclusive of all staff.”

Whilst it is encouraging to see the progress being made at the UN, there are still areas where commitments must be translated into effective action, and this pertains particularly to the handling of sexual abuse and harassment within the work environment, even as the workplace itself is evolving in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, UN Women appointed an Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. This office was tasked with “supporting States, government administrations and the private sector to ensure actions are taken to respond to women’s experiences of sexual harassment.”

It contributed to the adoption of the UN System Model Policy on Sexual Harassment by the Chief Executives Board, as well as promoting much-needed awareness raising and open discussion of the issue at the highest levels of the UN itself.

Unfortunately, this office has just been closed permanently, undermining the Secretary-General’s “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual harassment and putting into question the UN’s commitment to priortizing this as in important issue in need of addressing.

Greater attention and improvement are required regarding the handling of sexual harassment and abuse cases involving UN staff, including those in senior management. A staff survey investigating sexual harassment within the organization was carried out in 2018.

Only 17.1 percent of staff responded but of those who did, a third reported they had experienced harassment, with junior and temporary staff being particularly targeted. 12 percent of the perpetrators were in senior leadership positions and incidents were cited in which offenders were not punished or condemned, despite numerous charges being levied against them.

This type of failure was clearly illustrated when the UN’s own internal Dispute Tribunal called the “accountability gap deplorable” in a recent case involving compensation for sexual harassment committed by a previous chair of the International Civil Service Commission against a UN staff member who worked under him.

Although the chair was a UN official elected by the UN General Assembly, he was deemed to be outside the jurisdiction of the UN Secretary-General and as such, no action was taken by the Tribunal. This demonstrates a systemic failure in dealing with cases of this kind.

Sexual harassment and abuse thrive where there is a culture that fosters a lack of accountability that enables perpetrators to act with impunity. Tackling it requires clear and effective leadership to ensure the implementation of adequate safeguarding measures.

Senior management must enact changes to embed transparency across the board, tackle the continuing problem of under-reporting, and provide better support to victims and whistle-blowers who disclose allegations. Only then, will the UN truly be on course to achieve gender equality within its own ranks and stand as a role model for others.

For media enquiries and interview requests please contact Tara Carey at tcarey@equalitynow.org; +44 (0)20 7304 6902; +44 (0)7971 556 340.

*Equality Now is an international human rights organisation that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world by combining grassroots activism with international, regional and national legal advocacy. It’s international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters achieve legal and systemic change by holding governments responsible for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage.

For details of current campaigns, go to www.equalitynow.org, Facebook @equalitynoworg, and Twitter @equalitynow.

 


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Sabrewing Aircraft Company Announces an Exclusive Representation Deal and Over $600 Million Dollars In Orders with Arabian Development & Marketing Company In Saudi Arabia

CAMARILLO, Calif., Sept. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sabrewing Aircraft Company has announced an exclusive representation agreement with Arabian Development & Marketing Co. (ADMC) headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The five–year renewable agreement includes exclusivity for Saudi Arabia, the GCC and the Pan–African region.

The deal includes an order for 102 Sabrewing "Rhaegal–B" unmanned, heavy–lift, Vertical Take Off Landing (VTOL), cargo aircraft. ADMC will soon begin taking additional aircraft orders throughout the GCC and Africa. The aircraft was recently unveiled to the public during an U.S. Air Force Agility Prime event. The deal between ADMC and Sabrewing also includes establishing aircraft assembly, maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facilities throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Africa to service the Rhaegal–B fleet and will provide technology jobs to the region.

"We are very pleased to have ADMC as our middle–eastern business partner. It's a perfect fit for Sabrewing and ADMC management in our mutual quest to pioneer unmanned VTOL cargo aircraft development/manufacturing and dominate this market sector by being the first–to–market this extraordinary aircraft," stated Ed De Reyes, Chairman and CEO of Sabrewing. "As the first commercial purchase of an unmanned aircraft this is really groundbreaking and paving the way for a whole new industry."

Sabrewing's "Rhaegal" air vehicle has a turbo–electric drivetrain that is capable of taking off and landing vertically – in mud, snow, ice, deep sand or unimproved landing areas – at speeds of up to 200 knots (370 km/hr), and in weather that is all but impossible for manned aircraft.

The Rhaegal is:

  • Remotely piloted for commercial operations and fully autonomous for military applications.
  • Delivers 5,400–pound (2450 kg) payload flying at altitudes of up to 22,000 feet (6,700 m) and has a range of up to 1000 nautical miles (1800 km).
  • The wings fold on the ground for easy ground handling and in the air during hover for landing in tight spaces,
  • The Rhaegal's "fold–up" nose (a la Boeing 747 freighter aircraft) requires no special equipment for loading or unloading cargo in remote locations.

All Sabrewing aircraft designs feature folding wings, fold–up noses, full pallet–sized cargo access, all–weather operation, and a first–of–its–kind ten–sensor Detect and Avoid (D&A) system to autonomously navigate a path around conflicting obstacles and other air traffic.

"This Agreement brings an emerging–technology, heavy–lift, unmanned cargo capability to the Middle Eastern and the Pan–African marketplace. It also brings advanced technologies in composites manufacturing, drone development and avionic sensor integration to our region," stated Ayman Zeibak, General Manager of ADMC, "In addition to transporting critical supplies to our most remote regions, high–tech local jobs are being created. This program truly supports the vision for Saudi Arabia's future. Through our company ADMC in Saudi Arabia, the GCC region will soon lead the world in the unmanned cargo business with an aircraft that can fly from the deserts to the sea, with great economy and high profitability for the cargo operators," Zeibak added.

ADMC will soon be tendering new offers for production–line position orders for the high–capacity, heavy lift, unmanned cargo aircraft, secured by deposits, for deliveries beginning in the fall of 2021.

"After performing an in–depth analysis of several heavy–lift cargo drone companies in the United States, Europe and Asia, Sabrewing's design, without exception, offers tremendous capability and operates at a fraction of the cost of other cargo aircraft,” stated Steven Chikos, ADMC's Senior Aerospace/Defense Advisor. "Operating expenses are projected to be 50% to 60% less than similar payload capacity manned cargo aircraft. The Sabrewing "" ADMC team is poised to bring this aircraft to market years ahead of its competition," he added.

Image download URL available upon request

About Sabrewing Aircraft Company
Sabrewing Aircraft Company is a manufacturer of unmanned heavy–lift commercial cargo air vehicles. The company is the creator of a new generation of heavy–lift, unmanned commercial cargo transport air vehicles that can lift 2 metric tons of cargo, take off and land vertically in austere locations, in any weather, up to 1500 nautical miles away without putting human pilots at risk. Our technologies and products will help grow our customers businesses and transform the way the world ships air–cargo. Headquartered in Camarillo, California, USA, and with offices in Tokyo, Japan, Sabrewing designs and develops cutting–edge technology at its "Dragonworks" Lab in the Silicon Valley to develop the future of unmanned cargo aircraft. For more information on Sabrewing Aircraft Company, please visit www.sabrewingaircraft.com

Papua New Guinea: Bougainville Elects Former Revolutionary Leader as President ahead of Tough Talks on Independence

Following an almost unanimous 97.7 percent referendum vote in November of last year for Independence from PNG, the people of Bougainville returned to the polls last month to decide on a new government. Bougainville's main town of Buka. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Following an almost unanimous 97.7 percent referendum vote in November of last year for Independence from PNG, the people of Bougainville returned to the polls last month to decide on a new government. Bougainville’s main town of Buka. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia, Sep 29 2020 – Ishmael Toroama, a former revolutionary leader and fighter during the decade long civil war which engulfed the remote islands of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the 1990s, has been elected the autonomous region’s new President ahead of high-level talks about its political future.

“I, as your mandated President, am ready to take Bougainville forward, focussing on law and order, anti-corruption policies, the [referendum] ratification process and improving the fiscal self-reliance of Bougainville,” Toroama said in a public statement on the occasion of his swearing in as President in the region’s main town of Buka on the Sept. 25. He will be supported in a caretaker government for the next two weeks by his new Vice President, Patrick Nisira, MP for Halia constituency in North Bougainville, and Therese Kaetavara, Women’s Representative for South Bougainville.

Toroama, who defeated 24 other presidential candidates, is a strategic choice. Following an almost unanimous 97.7 percent referendum vote in November of last year for Independence from PNG, the people of Bougainville returned to the polls last month to decide on a new government. It is now tasked with carrying the autonomous region on a challenging political journey toward the long held local aspiration for nationhood.

“The referendum was a turning point…looking at all the 25 candidates, people were looking for who could deliver and successfully talk about Independence [with the PNG Government],” Aloysius Laukai, Manager of the local New Dawn FM radio station, told IPS. Laukai claims that “the election was conducted well” and widely accepted as free and fair. The campaigning and voting periods were reported as organised and peaceful, in spite of some alleged cases of misplaced voting papers.

The islands of Bougainville, with a population of about 300,000 people, are located more than 900 kilometres east of the PNG mainland. Bougainville hit the world headlines in 1989 when an indigenous landowner uprising against the then Rio-Tinto majority owned Panguna copper mine on Bougainville Island escalated into a civil war which raged on until a ceasefire in 1998. The peace agreement, signed in 2001, provided for establishing an autonomous government, which occurred in 2005, and a referendum on the region’s future political status.

Despite having only one recorded case of COVID-19, to date, the Bougainville government declared a state of emergency in March, which led to the delay of the general election, originally planned during the first half of this year.

Former President John Momis, who has led Bougainville for the past 10 years and been a prominent local political leader and figure of stability for more than four decades, bowed out of the race, having served the maximum two terms in office.  The field then mushroomed into an unprecedented more than 400 candidates vying for 40 parliamentary seats and 25 hopefuls for the presidency.

Alluding to the stakes ahead, Momis called for unity as voters turned out to cast their ballots from Aug. 12 to Sept. 1. “Let us all walk this journey together as one people and one voice to decide our leaders for this next government that will lead us to our ultimate political future that is within the confines of democratic values and international best practice standards,” Momis stated on Aug. 17.

While also a pro-Independence advocate, Momis, a former Roman Catholic priest with extensive experience in peacetime politics, is a contrasting figure to Toroama. His achievements include serving in the national parliament, playing a major role in the region’s peace negotiations and serving as Bougainville’s governor after the conflict from 1999 to 2005.

The new President was a commander in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, a guerrilla force which instigated an armed uprising following grievances about the environmental devastation and economic inequity associated with the foreign-owned Panguna mine. He has not been a political leader or served in government administration, although he played a vital role in the peace talks which ended the conflict. More recently, he has been a successful cocoa farmer.

Geraldine Valei, Executive Officer of the Bougainville Women’s Federation, offered another perspective on the overwhelming support Toroama received at the ballot box. “The reason why we say that he is the right person is because, in our Melanesian way of resolving conflicts, if you start the war then you are the one to resolve it,” Valei told IPS, adding that, “he [Toroama] will, of course, need support from very good advisors to lead as President.”

Toroama’s rivals for the top office included James Tanis, who held the office of President briefly from 2008 to 2010, another former rebel ex-combatant, Sam Kauona, and local businessman, Fidelis Semoso. There were also two female candidates in the running: Ruby Miringka, a healthcare professional who has also worked for the Bougainville Referendum Commission, and Magdalene Toroansi, a former Bougainville Minister for Women.

Bougainville’s fourth government will face enormous challenges in the next five-year term to build a weak economy, improve governance and the capacity of institutions, all still in need of reconstruction and development following widespread destruction on the islands during the conflict. 

Valei told IPS that she would like to see the new President “strengthen good governance, have zero tolerance of corruption, strengthen law and order and advocate for the ratification of Independence from Papua New Guinea”.

Toroama also faces huge public expectations to bring about the region’s long held dream of Independence.  Aspirations for self-determination in the region pre-date both the civil war and PNG’s Independence. The islands of Bougainville were brought under the umbrella of the new Papua New Guinean nation in 1975. But they are geographically located far from the PNG mainland and the islanders trace their ethnic and cultural kinship instead to the Solomon Islands, an archipelago to the immediate southeast of Bougainville.

However, the decisive result of last year’s referendum is non-binding. Long and complex negotiations between the PNG and Bougainville governments to agree the region’s new political status will occur over the coming months and years. Talks at the national level will be informed by input from local forums in Bougainville, comprising representatives of communities, ex-combatants, business leaders, women and youths. The final decision will then be ratified by the PNG Parliament. There is no deadline for this process, but Toroama has indicated he would like a decision reached within two to three years.

PNG’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has voiced his support and respect for the process ahead and the wishes of the Bougainville people. “I look forward to working with President-Elect Toroama in progressing consultations on the outcome of the recent referendum and securing long term economic development and a lasting peace for the people of Bougainville,” Marape said in a statement issued soon after the election results were announced.

Yet, the PNG Government is known to not favour full secession, preferring the region to remain within a ‘united’ PNG under a form of greater autonomy.

Looking ahead, economic experts claim that, with a weak economy and heavy dependence on international aid and funding from the national government, Bougainville would face a long period of transition to being an economically viable state, potentially up to 20 years.

 


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Less Food Loss and Waste, More Right to Food

Food loss and waste: One third of the food grown is lost or wasted every year. This amounts to a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food, which would be enough to feed 2 billion people in the world, and negatively affects climate change, poverty and trade

Arranging sliced tomatoes to dry in the sun in Bangar el Sokor, Nubaria, Egypt. Rahma is a. Credit: Heba Khammis/FAO

By Juan Carlos García y Cebolla
MADRID, Sep 29 2020 – Most cultures have created taboos and norms that prevent food waste. At the same time, social mores have reserved for occasions of celebrations or hospitality a code associating the abundance of food, in quantities much higher than normal, with concepts such as generosity and honour. 

In the last century, along with technical and productive advances and social transformations, taboos have gradually disappeared or lost their effectiveness, and the notion of celebration has led to increasingly common and unconscious manifestations of opulence and neglect.

On the other hand, the food chain has been transformed, multiplying the number of operations and actors, and becoming much more complex. In many cases, the resulting search for ever lower costs has led to a reduced workforce and the assuming of a higher percentage of loss and waste, as occurs with fruit that is damaged by careless handling in self-service retail.

One third of the food grown is lost or wasted every year. This amounts to a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food, which would be enough to feed 2 billion people in the world, and negatively affects climate change, poverty and trade

In the last decade, there has been growing concern about the scale this unsustainable behaviour has reached.

One third of the food grown is lost or wasted every year. This amounts to a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food, which would be enough to feed 2 billion people in the world, and negatively affects climate change, poverty and trade. In turn, this has an important impact on the right to adequate food of broad sectors of the population.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly disrupted our dynamics. In addition to the damage it has caused to daily life, it has exposed these systemic problems and the need for urgent changes in the way we manage the planet and its fruits, including food loss and waste.

Although disruptions to the food supply chain are – for now – relatively minor overall, measures imposed by States to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus have generated obstacles typical of distant times: from cultivation and harvesting, through transport and storage, up to consumption.

Mobility restrictions (closure of roads and borders, and delays due to mandatory controls) prevent or delay the transport and distribution of goods, resulting in agricultural products that spoil or are not sold due to their low quality. Changes in demand reduce the income of producers, especially small farmers or those living in remote rural areas.

On the consumer side, families with lower purchasing power find it even more costly to access fresh and more perishable foods, such as fruits or fish (leading to unhealthier diets and long-term health costs).

During the pandemic, access to food is not only a problem for the poorest, but also in many cases for people with greater resources who have traditionally been able to afford fresh products of high nutritional value and healthy diets. Among them, the at-risk population, or elderly or chronically ill people, who have to stay at home.

The pandemic has taught us that in times of crisis, it is not only essential to ensure the flow of non-perishable food, but also the linkages between consumers and producers. This facilitates access to fresh foods and healthy diets for all, as well as maintaining demand and sustaining local production, and in turn combating food loss and waste.

To date, we have witnessed the rapid implementation of initiatives to address these challenges.

In Spain, the municipality of Valladolid helped to set up safe home delivery of ‘zero kilometre’ or local foods that have not travelled far after production. The Government of Oman has transformed the fish auction markets from a physical marketplace to a digital platform, where market workers upload photos of the catch and wholesalers, retailers and restaurants can view the daily offer and place their orders online.

Even before the pandemic, the South African “Second Harvest” program, led by a non-profit organization, allowed commercial farmers to donate to vulnerable people the post-harvest surplus produced directly from the farms and distributed with refrigerated vehicles, preserving their quality and nutritional value.

The 2021 Food Systems Summit, convened by the United Nations Secretary General, will be a great opportunity to rethink how to improve access to healthy diets and income for small producers, as well as reducing loss and waste.

In the face of future crises, responses cannot be improvised. We have to be prepared and incorporate a vision of prevention and risk reduction. Political measures should quickly restore market access, so that the knots in the food chain are not broken.

They must also prioritize the well-being and livelihoods of all people, especially those who live in fragile contexts. Only in this way can we mitigate the impact of the crisis, reduce food loss and waste and contribute to the realization of the adequate right to food.

 

FXCM wins three Global Forex Awards

London, Sydney, Johannesburg

LONDON, SYDNEY, Australia and JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FXCM Group, LLC("FXCM Group' or "FXCM'), a leading international provider of online foreign exchange trading, CFD trading, cryptocurrencies and related services has today announced that it has won three awards at the 2020 Global Forex Awards.

FXCM won the awards for:

  • Best Forex Trading Platform (Global)
  • Most Trusted Forex Broker (Africa)
  • Best Value Broker (Europe)

The international nature of the awards emphasises FXCM's dedication in providing its global client base with in–demand foreign exchange (FX) trading opportunities that are both plentiful and secure.

This year, FXCM has expanded its range of trading offering with a range of new trading instruments and assets, partnered with new technology vendors, and has seen the popularity of its offering increase during this year.

Winning these awards at a time when the markets are seeing a significant influx of new traders and record–breaking trading volumes shows FXCM's continued appeal as a key broker of choice.

Brendan Callan, CEO of FXCM, said: "Receiving recognition from the wider FX community for our team's hard work is hugely rewarding, especially in a year that's been so turbulent for the markets. And for that, we are very thankful to our customers all over the world for these awards. Winning these is a clear testament of our global, market–leading team in being able to deliver clients with the best trading experience and the customer service to match."

About FXCM:

FXCM is a leading provider of online foreign exchange (FX) trading, CFD trading, and related services. Founded in 1999, the company's mission is to provide global traders with access to the world's largest and most liquid market by offering innovative trading tools, hiring excellent trading educators, meeting strict financial standards and striving for the best online trading experience in the market. Clients have the advantage of mobile trading, one–click order execution and trading from real–time charts. In addition, FXCM offers educational courses on FX trading and provides trading tools, proprietary data and premium resources. FXCM Pro provides retail brokers, small hedge funds and emerging market banks access to wholesale execution and liquidity, while providing high and medium frequency funds access to prime brokerage services via FXCM Prime. FXCM is a Leucadia Company.

Trading Forex/CFDs on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. Leverage can work against you. The products are intended for retail, professional and eligible counterparty clients. Retail clients who maintain account(s) with Forex Capital Markets Limited (“FXCM LTD”), could sustain a total loss of deposited funds but are not subject to subsequent payment obligations beyond the deposited funds but professional clients and eligible counterparty clients could sustain losses in excess of deposits. Prior to trading any products offered by Forex Capital Markets Limited, inclusive of all EU branches, FXCM Australia Pty. Limited, FXCM South Africa (PTY) Ltd, any affiliates of aforementioned firms, or other firms within the FXCM group of companies [collectively the “FXCM Group”], carefully consider your financial situation and experience level. If you decide to trade products offered by FXCM Australia Pty. Limited ("FXCM AU") (AFSL 309763), you must read and understand the Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement, and Terms of Business. Our FX and CFD prices are set by us, are not made on an Exchange and are not governed under the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act. The FXCM Group may provide general commentary, which is not intended as investment advice and must not be construed as such. Seek advice from a separate financial advisor. The FXCM Group assumes no liability for errors, inaccuracies or omissions; does not warrant the accuracy, completeness of information, text, graphics, links or other items contained within these materials. Read and understand the Terms and Conditions on the FXCM Group's websites prior to taking further action.
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Media contact:

Chatsworth Communications
+44 (0) 20 7440 9780
fxcm@chatsworthcommunications.com