Iraq UN agency appeals for 54 million to rebuild seed industry avert

Iraq’s seed industry has collapsed and the country is currently not able to meet farmers’ needs for improved crop varieties, seriously threatening its food security, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today as it launched a $5.4 million appeal to rebuild the national seed industry. “Iraq has currently no system in place that provides certified high-quality seeds of improved varieties,” FAO Project Manager for Iraq Tekeste Tekie said. “As a result, crop productivity remains very low because farmers are using their own, mostly low-quality, seeds. “If no immediate action is taken, serious seed shortages can be expected in the near future, threatening the country’s food security. Crops and vegetable seeds that have been developed by farmers over centuries should be maintained and further improved in order to meet local agricultural and nutritional needs,” he added. High-quality seed is one of the most critical inputs for sustainable agricultural production. Iraq had a relatively stable and functioning public-sector controlled seed industry before the war in 2003 when agricultural research centres were devastated and most of the equipment and machinery, including seed processing facilities and seed stocks, were looted or damaged. This has resulted in the loss of almost all generations of seeds of all crops, FAO said. Moreover, much seed expertise was lost during the conflict. As a result, Iraq can only cover four per cent of the national demand for quality seeds from its own resources. Most seeds come from farmers’ own seed reserves, which are of low quality. Building on FAO’s pre-war experience in northern Iraq, the new project seeks to rebuild a modern seed industry and to increase the quantity and quality of seeds available to farmers. “All farmers in Iraq, including vulnerable and marginalized groups, will profit from the seed rehabilitation project. Through the production of high-quality seed varieties, Iraq will be able to increase yields and reduce food imports,” Mr. Tekie said. read more

Clean technologies will attract trillions of dollars over next decade UN says

Introducing “The Working Capital Report,” scheduled to be published in March 2006 by the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), UNEP said the study explores the role of financial service companies and capital markets as they capitalize on new opportunities linked to sustainable development and more effective management of the associated risks.”There is no question that 2005 will be seen as the watershed when the mainstream banking, insurance and investment worlds realized the scale of the commercial opportunities unfolding in the new carbon, clean-tech and sustainable natural resource markets and, also, the legal risks of not being a leader in this area,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said.Financial institutions working with UNEP have predicted that greenhouse gas emissions trading markets could reach $2 trillion a year by 2012 and that the market providing finance for clean energy technologies could reach $1.9 trillion by 2020, he noted.Montreal, Canada, is hosting the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP) on climate change, which entered into force this year, in parallel with the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), also known as COP. The meeting started yesterday and ends next Friday.At the international climate negotiations, “the financial service companies in the UNEP FI partnership will ask Governments for two key things: to provide early, clear guidance on the continuation of the international climate policy regime beyond 2012 and to foster an appropriate framework to ensure a liquid and efficient global carbon market,” Mr. Toepfer said.”They will also be looking for countries to meet their emissions reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and a clear signal that nations will go beyond these, post-2012, according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” he added.”The Working Capital Report” will build on previous UNEP studies. Those include one by the world’s third largest law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, of the world’s largest capital markets on behalf of the Working Group of UNEP FI, a public-private partnership between UNEP and more than 170 banks, insurers and asset managers worldwide. read more

International corporations pledge assistance to UN refugee agency

Following a week-long trip to refugee camps in Africa, top executives of five international companies have pledged to use their business expertise to help the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in its global mission to help persons who have been forced to flee their homelands. Directors of Nike, Microsoft, Merck, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Manpower visited Somali and Burundian refugees in camps in Kenya and Tanzania.The executives promised to help UNHCR upgrade its information technology in order to better facilitate its international tasks. Nike also announced donations of new sports facilities and classrooms for girls’ education.The five corporations are part of UNHCR’s Council of Business Leaders, set up last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to build additional bridges between the corporate and the humanitarian communities. “The role of the Council is to advise UNHCR on the best strategies to capitalise on existing joint projects and to develop new and innovative public-private partnerships,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis said last week. “The Council also aims to raise awareness of refugee issues in the business world,” she added.There are more than 240,000 refugees in Kenya, the majority from Somalia and Sudan, according to UNHCR, while Tanzania is home to more than 400,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi. read more

Managers buy Village Voice from owners separate publishing from sex adlinked Backpage

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A group of managers is buying the Village Voice and all its affiliated free arts weeklies but is leaving behind the online classified site Backpage.com, whose listings have drawn fire for promoting the illegal sex trade.The buyout by managers is being led by Scott Tobias, the chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings LLC. Tobias will become the new organization’s chief executive.He said he has lined up private financing to buy almost all of the Phoenix-based company’s assets, which include LA Weekly and SF Weekly, from the current owners, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.Larkin and Lacey will keep ownership of Backpage.com. Terms were not disclosed.Tobias said in an interview that controversy around Backpage.com “has been a distraction, there’s no doubt about it.”“This is about two businesses moving forward,” he said.The purchase is being made by Voice Media Group, a new holding company based in Denver. The deal includes all 13 weeklies and their websites, the national sales arm and events such as LA Weekly’s Detour and New York’s Siren music festivals.Backpage.com has become the nation’s top forum for ads for “escorts,” ”body rubs,” and other thinly veiled references to prostitution since Craigslist.org shut down its adult services section in September 2010.In July, three Washington state teenagers who said they were sold online for sex sued Backpage’s owners for allegedly enabling their exploitation. At the time, Village Voice Media said the suit wouldn’t pass legal muster and is barred by federal law.Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on Backpage.com in an open letter in March to “stop promoting and profiting from human trafficking” by shutting down its adult services section as Craigslist had done.In a statement on the deal, Larkin and Lacey, the founders of Village Voice Media Holdings, said they were “ready to move on and hand the reins to a new generation of writers, editors and publishers.”Backpage.com will “become the centerpiece of a new online classified advertising company with business worldwide,” the statement said.The deal also includes Westword in Denver; New Times in Phoenix, Miami and Broward, Fla.; Houston Press; Observer in Dallas; Riverfront Times in St. Louis; City Pages in Minneapolis and OC Weekly in southern California. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Managers buy Village Voice from owners, separate publishing from sex ad-linked Backpage site by News Staff Posted Sep 24, 2012 9:01 am MDT read more

Canadian dollar heads lower as gold oil and copper all strengthen

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar moved lower Friday amid rising commodities prices and disappointing manufacture data.The loonie dropped 0.33 of a cent to end at 96.72 cents US.Statistics Canada reported manufacturing sales fell in June for the fourth time in six months, dropping 0.5 per cent to $48.2 billion.In commodities, December gold bullion rose $10.10 to US$1,371.00 an ounce, closing at its highest level since June 19. September copper gained 2.6 cents to US$3.36 a pound.September crude contract rose 13 cents to US$107.06 a barrel as supply concerns returned following renewed unrest in Egypt.Though not an oil exporter, Egypt controls the Suez canal that links the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea, giving it a crucial role in maintaining global energy supplies.“Commodities have found some support in the unlikely ally of a softer U.S. dollar, at least against the other majors,” said BMO chief economist Doug Porter in a note.“While Fed tapering still appears likely to commence this fall, markets have been underwhelmed by U.S. growth in 2013. This week brought another round of uninspiring results, as each of retail sales, industrial production and housing starts came in shy of consensus for July.”The U.S. Commerce Department reported that builders began work last month on houses and apartments at a faster pace. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of starts was up six per cent to 896,000. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by David Friend, The Canadian Press Posted Aug 16, 2013 11:59 am MDT Canadian dollar heads lower as gold, oil and copper all strengthen read more