Thursday November 23, 2017
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Severe Drought leaves 237,000 people thirsty in Central China’s Hubei province over past 3 Weeks

The province received average precipitation of 10.5 mm since the beginning of the month, only 10 percent of the normal volume, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters

Drought. Pixabay


WUHAN – Severe drought in Central China’s Hubei province over the past three weeks has caused drinking water shortages for 237,000 people, local authorities said Saturday. The province received average precipitation of 10.5 mm since the beginning of the month, only 10 percent of the normal volume, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said….repubhubembed{display:none;}

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Amid Drought, Somali farmers turn to Ugandan roots to fight Hunger in Africa

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

FILE - A farmer works in an irrigated field near the village of Botor, Somaliland, April 16, 2016. Across the Horn of Africa, millions have been hit by the severe El Nino-related drought.-VOA
  • 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.

FILE - Children are seen enjoying orange sweet potatoes. (Courtesy - HarvestPlus)-VOA
FILE – Children are seen enjoying orange sweet potatoes. (Courtesy – HarvestPlus)-VOA

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)


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Maharashtra Drought Crisis: Shrikant Jadhav of Junnar finds an alternative to counter the problem

Shrikant Jadhav of Junnar in Pune district of Maharashtra has taken the initiative to supply water to the areas in the state badly affected by drought, without any external help.

The drought in Maharashtra. Image Courtesy :
  • Due to summer, this year, many of the rivers in India like the Krishna, Cauvery and many others have dried up
  • As the result of this extreme dry condition, a situation of severe drought has dawned upon several states of India
  • Shrikant Jadhav, took it upon himself to provide water to the drought affected areas with the help of his very limited resources

In 2016, several parts of India are facing a severe drought problem. As pointed out by the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency, Maharashtra is the most affected state. Groundwater tables in the region have fallen way below the permissible limit and hand pumps have dried. It is after a long time that India has to face such consecutive droughts. The water scarcity is affecting a huge number of people across the drought-affected states such as Maharashtra.

Government water train. Image Courtesy :
Government water train.Image Courtesy :

The government is trying its best to help out the distressed people. A water-carrying train had been arranged to carry water to Latur in Marathwada, a severely drought affected part of Maharashtra. Junnar in the city of Pune in Maharashtra is another region gravely disturbed by the water scarcity. The government sends water supplies once every month but that is not enough for so many people.

Shrikant Jadhav helping people. Image Courtesy :
Shrikant Jadhav helping people. Image Courtesy :

A resident of Junnar, Shrikant Jadhav has been seeing the plight of the people for a long time and then he decided to do something to put an end to their suffering. “I see the rich people getting drinking water cans – this solves their problem. But the poor cannot even afford water these days,” he said to The Better India.

The poor villagers of Marathawada carrying water. Image Courtesy :
The poor villagers of Marathwada carrying water. Image Courtesy :

Shrikant has a small mobile repair shop in Junnar and it was not easy for him to take this initiative. He has spent his own money in order to supply water to the people. He approached a water supplier and negotiated the rate to 35 rupees for each can. He has supplied over 20,000 litres of water till now. He continues to carry on his noble work every day.

He calls his initiative “Parivartan Helpline Seva” and runs it along with the support from his family members. His card reads, “If you are struggling for drinking water then just make one call to get free drinking water”.

India needs more people like Shrikant Jadhav who enjoy helping the distressed and working for a cause which is bigger than their own.



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Measures taken for drought affected districts in nine states: Radha Mohan Singh


New Delhi: The government on Friday said 207 districts in nine states have been affected by drought, and contingency steps had been taken to ensure there was no marked reduction in sowing area.

Replying to a marathon debate in the Lok Sabha in which 33 members spoke and 41 gave their views in writing, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said all farmers in the country would get soil health cards by 2017.

The debate was initiated by Congress member Jyotiraditya Scindia last week, but Congress members were not present in the house during the minister’s reply as they walked out earlier to demand an apology from a BJP member over his “objectionable” remarks against their party leaders.

Scindia had said 190 lakh hectare of land had been affected due to drought and the affected states had sought relief of over Rs.25,000 crore from the central government.

The minister said Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand had been impacted by drought due to less rain in the 2015 Kharif season.

According to the memoranda received, 207 districts in nine states have been declared drought-hit,

The minister refuted allegations by Scindia about differences in the government’s words and deeds and highlighted the steps taken over the past 18 months for farmers.

Responding to the concerns of members, Singh said central teams had sent its recommendations to a high-powered committee to provide assistance to the affected states.

The minister said 302 districts in the country had received 20 percent less rain, but that did not mean all were drought affected.

Radha Mohan Singh said it was wrong to assume that a state facing adverse conditions such as drought got money only after the recommendations of an expert committee sent by New Delhi.

There is SDRF (State Disaster Response Fund) in which 75 percent contribution is from the central government.

The minister said the Modi government had faced three seasons with natural adversities – a drought during the last Kharif season (rainfall deficiency of 12 percent), losses due to hailstorm and another drought in Kharif season this year.

The sown areas for the rabi season was 442 lakh hectare compared to 446 lakh hectare last year.

We did not allow drought to have too much impact. We have given contingency plans to states.

Referring to wheat, he said the sown area was 16 percent less compared to last year’s index, but there were still 15 days of sowing left.

He said pulses had been sown on 114 lakh hectare compared to 115 lakh hectare last year. This was achieved as half the money under the national mission was given to farmers who only grew pulses.

Taking a dig at the previous UPA government over the crop insurance scheme, he said he was unable to understand “if it was working for the benefit of farmers or the companies” and added that the Modi government would remove its shortcomings.

Referring to concerns over the minimum support price for crops, he said he would form a committee to review the national policy on farmers.

The minister claimed that farmers have been caught in the web due to the policies pursued over the last six decades and noted that suicides by any farmer was a matter of concern.

Referring to the impact of climate change on agriculture, he said soil health card was one of the ways to meet the challenge.

Singh said 300 agriculture markets would be linked by April. (IANS)