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- Droughts and unpredictable weather are making getting a crop ever hard
- Uganda is now the leading producer in the region of root crops
- The organisation’s members lost 15 tonnes of cassava flour -worth ,$4,500 in 2012, due to lack of buyers
September 24, 2016: To fight hunger, Somali farmers turn to Ugandan roots- Amina Shale, a Somali farmer, says worsening droughts and ever more unpredictable weather are making getting a crop ever harder.
“It can take a whole year before the rains come,” she complained. “Growing crops like tomatoes is very tiring because I have to water them at least twice a day.”
But Shale now has some new ideas about how to cope, thanks to a trip to visit the neighbours.
She and 26 other Somali farmers travelled to eastern Uganda last month to see how sweet potatoes are turning into a climate-resilient boom crop for that East African nation.
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Uganda is now the leading producer in the region of root crops, which researchers say are much tougher in the face of worsening climate-change-related problems such as drought and flooding.
Some roots, like cassava and sweet potato, are being processed into flour and increasingly used for everything from doughnuts to wedding cakes.
That is helping boost incomes and ensure food security – something urgently needed in Somalia, where 40 percent of people are acutely food insecure, according to an estimate by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Today, few Somali farmers know of – or grow – crops like sweet potatoes or cassava, Shale said. She plants vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, kale and pawpaw.
But during the FAO-backed trip to Uganda, she saw how root crops require less irrigation – and she is now considering switching, she said.
On both sides of the border, farmers are struggling with problems brought on by more erratic weather, including new or worsening pests and diseases attacking traditional staple crops.
Extreme weather is also causing more of the crops that are harvested to rot quickly, said Akello Christine Ekinyu, a Ugandan farmer from Odowo who now grows and processes cassava and sweet potato.
Ekinyu, one of the hosts for visiting Somali farmers, said the crop switch had helped lift her family out of poverty.
“I built a new brick house with the income I got from these crops,” beamed Ekinyu, wearing a gold dress and matching headscarf.
In a day, she said, she can make about 100,000 Uganda shillings ($30) selling cassava and sweet potatoes, compared to $2 when she worked day jobs in town. That has been enough to send her two children to university, she said.
New Sources of Income
The key, she told the visiting Somalis, is to find ways to process crops to increase their value, such as turning cassava or sweet potatoes into finished products like flour.
She learned to do this after joining the Soroti Sweet Potato Producers and Processors Association in Uganda.
Echabu Silver, the group’s chairman, explained that “instead of consuming or selling the cassava when it is raw, farmers should process it, turn it into new products and then sell it at a higher price.”
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That could be anything from crisps and doughnuts to flour for wedding cakes, he said.
Tony Ijala, the manager of Cassava Adding Value for Africa, a roject led by the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, said cassava is increasingly no longer grown for home consumption only, but also sold at markets.
“Even retired Ugandans are planting – and deriving an income from – cassava instead of relying on their extended families,” he said.
Building markets for the new crops have taken time, however.
Akorir Helen Mary, former secretary general of the Arapai Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Uganda, said the organisation’s members lost 15 tonnes of cassava flour – worth $4,500 – in 2012, due to a lack of buyers.
But now, four years later, “there is high demand for cassava in the market, as [it is] most Ugandan industries’ – like breweries’ – preferred raw material,” he said. (VOA)
Basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, and also known as great basil, is a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae (mints) family. A common aromatic herb, it is usually used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may astonish one is that there are various health benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.
Basil seeds or basil essential oil are proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most essential medical herbs known today. Basil has vitamin A, C, E, K, and Omega 3 components including cooling components too. It also contains minerals like Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium. An ancient Ayurvedic herb, basil has various proven benefits including being anti-inflammatory, ant-oxidant, immune-booster, pain-reducer, and blood vessel-protector.
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This herb also contains cooling components thus making it really helpful for summers. It detoxifies the body and maintains one's body temperature pace. Adding to the benefits Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic, meaning they don't dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil's volatile essential oil is something that gives the herb its distinct smell and taste, but basil contains some great healing properties.
In the long history of Ayurveda, basil seeds were also called tukmaria seeds. These seeds may support one's gut health, may complete one's fiber quota, reduce blood sugar, help in weight loss, and also reduce cholesterol.
The herb has rounded leaves.Pixabay
There are more than 60 varieties of basil, with sweet basil being one of the most widely used. The herb has rounded leaves that are often pointed. It is a bright green plant, although some varieties have hints of purple or red in their leaves, basil makes a colorful and flavorful addition to many different dishes.
It has been observed that many of the cooks use basil to thicken their dessert instead of using any artificial/ unhealthy powder to do so. Sometimes people are not able to differentiate between Chia seeds and basil seeds, to make it clear basil seeds are different in nature they are larger and a bit duller in their color. These herbs are used in various recipes as a cooling component in desserts, drinks, and fruit juices for refreshment, also beating the summer heat.
For better digestion, weight loss, and immune system, I suggest this simple recipe which can be easily made at home:
*Take 2 tsp of Basil seeds (sabja) + Add in 1/2 liter of water +10 mint leaves crushed
*1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + A little bit of sendha salt (pink Himalayan salt)
*Or to make a sweeter version one can add organic honey.
*Mix it well and drink it.
This recipe will help to flush out toxins from our body making it feel light and healthy. (IANS/SP)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)