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Small-scale Farmers Need Incentives as Falling Food Prices likely to affect Incomes, says UN report

Prices for the main food crops, livestock and fish products all fell in 2015, signaling the likely end to an era of high prices, according to FAO, a U.N. agency

FILE - A farmer works in an irrigated field near the village of Botor, Somaliland. VOA

Falling food prices may be good news for millions of urban poor but not for small-scale farmers who will struggle to feed their families without help and incentives, such as an end to export subsidies, said the Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday.

Prices for the main food crops, livestock and fish products all fell in 2015, signaling the likely end to an era of high prices, according to FAO, a U.N. agency.

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The lower food prices, which are expected to continue for several years, mean poor families who are not farmers can afford more nutritious meals, FAO director-general Jose Graziano da Silva told agriculture and trade ministers at FAO’s headquarters in Rome on Monday.

“You are confronted by the challenge of keeping nutritious food affordable for the poor, while ensuring good incentives for producers, including family farmers,” Graziano da Silva said at the high-level meeting on agricultural commodity prices.

“Low food prices reduce the incomes of farmers, especially poor family farmers who produce staple food in developing countries,” he said.

“This cut in the flow of cash into rural communities also reduces the incentives for new investments in production, infrastructure and services,” he added.

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One way to help small farmers cope with falling commodity prices is to end agricultural export subsidies that affect prices in global markets, Graziano da Silva said.

Last December, countries in the 164-member World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to end these subsidies – developed countries immediately and developing countries by the end of 2018.

The decision will “help level the playing field in agriculture markets, to the benefit of farmers and exporters in developing and least-developed countries,” WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo told the meeting in Rome.

Social protection programs and schemes like food vouchers, are also essential ways to boost farmers’ incomes while making food affordable for other poor families, Graziano da Silva said.

A series of price surges between 2008 and 2012 and volatility in food markets sparked food riots or unrest in parts of Africa, South America, South Asia and the Middle East.

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Prices have since become less volatile and are now steadily declining, following strong harvests, global economic slowdown and falling oil prices, but they remain higher than in the 1990s, according to a joint OECD/FAO report.

In the next decade, the growth in demand for food is likely to slow, as population growth falls and incomes rise slowly, the Agricultural Outlook report said.

People in both developed and developing countries are expected to eat more processed food, so the demand for sugar, oils and fat is likely to rise faster than staples and protein.

However, climate change is likely to cause some abrupt price surges over the next decade, it said. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?