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Small Farmers in Asia Miss Out On Climate Change Resilient Seeds

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders

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pollution, seeds
Women farmers use sticks to make holes in the soil for seeds, on a farm near Pangalengan, West Java, Indonesia. VOA

Millions of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia are missing out on new, resilient seeds that could improve their yields in the face of climate change, according to an index published Monday.

The 24 top seed companies fail to reach four-fifths of the region’s 170 million smallholder farmers for reasons such as poor infrastructure, high prices and lack of training, the Access to Seeds Index found.

Access to seeds bred to better withstand changing weather conditions such as higher temperatures is vital as farmers battle loss of productivity due to climate change, said Ido Verhagen, head of the Access to Seeds Foundation, which published the index.

Egypt, pollution, seeds
A farmer burns rice straw at his field in Qalyub, causing a “black cloud” of smoke that spreads across the Nile valley, near the agricultural road which leads to the capital city of Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“We see increasing demands for new varieties, because [farmers] are affected by climate change,” Verhagen told Reuters.

“If we want to feed a growing population, if we want to tackle climate change, if we want to go towards a more sustainable food system, we have to start with seeds,” he said.

Smallholder farmers managing between one to 10 hectares of land provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia, said the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 pollution, seeds
FILE – Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

But traditional methods of preserving seeds from harvests are not always sufficient to cope with a changing climate.

About 340 million people were hungry in 2017 in South and Southeast Asia, a number that has barely changed since 2015, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

“The question is how to get markets to provide the varieties [of seeds] that farmers want, at prices that they’re able to pay,” said Shawn McGuire, agricultural officer at the FAO.

Some smaller companies are leading the way in helping smallholders access more resilient seeds, Verhagen said, such as Thailand-based East-West Seed which topped the index ahead of global giants Bayer and Syngenta, which ranked second and third.

 pollution, seeds
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders, he said, while Indian companies Acsen HyVeg and Namdhari, ranked sixth and seventh respectively, have also reached small-scale farmers with seeds.

Also Read: Climate Change’s Fight Harder Than Thought: Study

The index, funded by the Dutch government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ranks companies based on seven areas including strategies to help small farmers and supporting conservation. (VOA)

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Due to Global Warming Mount Everest Melting Glaciers Throw Up Climbers’ Bodies

According to studies, glaciers in the Everest region are melting and thinning

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mount everest
The association's Treasurer, Tenzeeng Sherpa, said climate change was affecting Nepal with glaciers, in parts, melting by a meter every year. Pixabay

With the melting of glaciers and snow due to high temperatures, Mount Everest expedition operators are finding more and more bodies of climbers on and around the world’s highest peak.

More than 200 mountaineers have died on the peak since 1922, when the first climbers’ deaths on the Everest were recorded. Most bodies have remained buried under glaciers or snow, CNN has reported.

“Due to climate change and global warming, snow and glaciers are melting fast, and bodies are being exposed and discovered by climbers,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, former President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

mount everest
“Since 2008, my company has brought down seven bodies, some dating back to a British expedition in the 1970s,” he said. Pixabay

“Since 2008, my company has brought down seven bodies, some dating back to a British expedition in the 1970s,” he said.

According to studies, glaciers in the Everest region are melting and thinning.

“It’s a serious issue. We are concerned about this as it’s getting worse,” said Sobit Kunwar, an official of the Nepal National Mountain Guides Association. “We are trying to spread information to have a coordinated way to deal with it,” he said.

The association’s Treasurer, Tenzeeng Sherpa, said climate change was affecting Nepal with glaciers, in parts, melting by a meter every year.

mount everest
“We bring down most bodies. But for those that could not be brought down we pay ours respects by saying prayers and covering them with rocks or snow,” Sherpa said. Pixabay

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“We bring down most bodies. But for those that could not be brought down we pay ours respects by saying prayers and covering them with rocks or snow,” Sherpa said.

He lamented poor response of authorities in dealing with bodies found on the mountain. “We have not seen the government taking any responsibility,” he said.

Recovering and removing bodies from higher camps can be both dangerous and expensive. (IANS)