Daily Archives: May 16, 2013

Grain Drain – 21 Million Tonnes of Wheat wastage every year in INDIA

India stands out for its glaring lack of infrastructure and food storage facilities, in a new study that says 21 million tonnes of wheat — equivalent to the entire production of Australia — goes waste in the country.

Recent advances in agricultural technology have helped increase India’s grain production through developments including high-yield seeds for the past five years, Reuters reports. With all this excess food, it would appear that a solution to the Indian hunger problem has been found.

But there’s a big problem — India’s storage facilities have not kept up with the grain’s pace of development. As a result, grain surpluses are now being stored outside, where the chances of rotting drastically increase.

This inefficient system has deadly consequences. Instead of the grain filling the bellies of hungry Indians, it is feeding rodents and insects, growing fungus, and decomposing. Just this year, officials estimate that 6 million tons of India’s grain worth $1.5 billion could become inedible, according to Reuters. This is while 43 percent of children under 5 are underweight, according to UNICEF. Reuters reports that 3,000 children die every day from illnesses related to malnutrition.

Bureaucratic inefficiencies and corruption are what hinder distribution to the hungry. Stories of corruption include distributors basically “cutting” the grain, mixing rotting grain with fresh grain and selling it on the market. Then there is what India’s press is calling the “mother of all scams,” with hundreds of government officials redirecting billions of dollars worth of grain away from the poor and into local and global markets.

Even in 2010, when the Supreme Court directed the government to give the grain to the hungry for free rather than let it rot, state governments ignored the request or only distributed grain with low, subsidized prices to people with ration cards.

While the grain is clearly not feeding hungry Indians, it is also not making the government any money either.

Due in part to “good” monsoons, the surplus’ real impetus is provided by government subsidies to farmers, creating incentive to harvest as many crops as possible, even when the supply outweighs the demand. With the inflated prices the government pays to farmers for the crops, exporting the surplus becomes a problem because of the much lower market value the crops garner in world markets.

According to the same Reuters article, the Indian government pays about $346 per ton. To be competitive in the market, a ton would have to sell for about $260. That $80 difference constitutes a huge loss for a government already running a high fiscal deficit. The crops don’t feed who they should and in the end, actually cost the government billions.

UN new weapon to fight hunger + insects to food plate.

The UN has new weapons to fight hunger, boost nutrition and reduce pollution, and they might be crawling or flying near you right now: edible insects.

The Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilized food for people, livestock and pets.

A 200-page report, released at a news conference at the UN agency’s Rome headquarters, says 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects, which are high in protein and minerals, and have environmental benefits.

Insects are ‘extremely efficient’ in converting feed into edible meat, the agency said. On average, they can convert 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of feed into 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of insect mass. In comparison, cattle require 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of feed to produce a kilo of meat.

Most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed, the agency said.

Currently, most edible insects are gathered in forests and what insect farming does take place is often family-run and serves niche markets. But the UN says mechanization can ratchet up insect farming production. The fish bait industry, for example, has long farmed insects.

Insect farming is “one of the many ways to address food and feed security,” the food agency said.

“Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly,” the agency said, adding they leave a “low environmental footprint.” They provide high-quality protein and nutrients when compared with meat and fish and are “particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children,” it said.

Insects can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and are a source of fiber.

The agency noted that its Edible Insect Program is also examining the potential of arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions, although they are not strictly speaking insects.

University biologists have analyzed the nutritional value of edible insects, and some of them, such as certain beetles, ants, crickets and grasshoppers, come close to lean red meat or broiled fish in terms of protein per gram (ounce).

add insects to food plate

But are they tasty?

The report noted that some caterpillars in southern Africa and weaver ant eggs in Southeast Asia are considered delicacies and command high prices.

And some people who might not entertain the thought of consuming insects might already be eating them. Many insects are ingested inadvertently.

Composting – What, Why & How to Compost ?

What is Compost ?

Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.

Natural composting, or biological decomposition, began with the first plants on earth and has been going on ever since. As vegetation falls to the ground, it slowly decays, providing minerals and nutrients needed for plants, animals, and microorganisms. Mature compost, however, includes the production of high temperatures to destroy pathogens and weed seeds that natural decomposition does not destroy.

 

Benefits of Composting:

  • Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
  • Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
  • Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste.
  • Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff.
  • Avoids Methane and leachate formulation in landfills.
  • Capture and destroy 99.6 percent of industrial volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in contaminated air. See Innovative Uses of Compost: Bioremediation and Pollution Prevention.
  • Provide cost savings of at least 50 percent over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable. See Analysis of Composting as an Environmental Remediation Technology
  • Reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Serves as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments.
  • Extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills.

 

Materials to be used for Composting

Food Waste – More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste (MSW). In 2010 alone, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated, with only three percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. Reducing the amount of food wasted has significant economic, social & environmental benefits.

Yard & Wood Waste – When you throw yard waste away with your trash it is sent to a landfill where it takes up space and produces methane gas, which contributes to global climate change. Burning of yard waste, such as leaves and trimmings, creates air pollution and is a fire hazard. That is why many communities ban or restrict trashing or burning yard waste. Many communities now have drop-off sites or curbside collection programs for yard waste. Or better yet, don’t let your yard trimmings go to “waste” in the first place. so goes for the wood waste doing a home renovation project? Consider donating any unused or recoverable building materials to a charity in your area. You can also purchase recovered wood and recycling wood products. Clearing your land as part of routine maintenance or cleaning up after a storm?

BioSolids – Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage sludge (the name for the solid, semisolid or liquid untreated residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility). When treated and processed, sewage sludge becomes biosolids which can be safely recycled and applied as fertilizer to sustainably improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth.

 

Delhi by Cycle – Explore Delhi (Old & New) Streets in a new way

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to DelhiByCycle! A lifetime experience in the streets of Delhi is waiting for you! With our daily tours we invite you to become part of the unique mix of colours, smells, sounds, tastes and unforgettable images. Take the tour and experience the city of Delhi with all your senses! Many, many hours we have spent cycling around, to see and feel what are the best places for you.

TOUR EXPERIENCE

We offer five fascinating routes, covering the most interesting, intense, historical and beautiful areas of Old and New Delhi! Each of the tours is beautiful and interesting in its own way, with a unique focus, taking you to the hidden wonders of the city!

FOUNDER

Jack LeenaarsDelhiByCycle is an initiative founded by Dutchman Jack Leenaars in 2009. As the former South Asia correspondent for De Telegraaf Jack started early in the morning on his cycle to discover the back lanes of Delhi. From a couple of participants on his first expeditions, the cycling tours have become a full hit in Delhi’s streets. Unique, green and most important, it’s a project with a soul. Each time Jack is on this bike he gets inspired by the streets of Delhi and can’t stop a bright smile on his face.

MEETING POINT

We choose the most famous movie house in the old city, Delite Cinema, as meeting point. Located at Asaf Ali Road, near the Turkman Gate (for Shah Jahan, Yamuna and Raj tour).

Opposite the cinema there is a car parking, walk inside and follow the lane leading inside the parking area. Once you are there, you can’t miss the orange bicycles! From there we cycle straight into the Walled City.

TIMINGS

We start early! To avoid traffic and crowds the tour meeting time is set at 06.30am and the tour lasts until around 10.00am.

TOURS

SHAHJAHAN TOUR, YAMUNA TOUR, RAJ TOUR, NIZAMUDDIN TOUR, HAVELI TOUR

 

Soap Nuts – it’s time for an eco-friendly laundry wash..!!

What are Soap Nuts ?

Soap Nuts are a berry that grows in the Himalayas that naturally produces a soap.  The soap is called saponin, a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away.

Soap Nuts also sometimes referred to as Washing Nuts or Ritha / Reetha /Aritha (in Hindi) or Anthwaal (Kannada). They are actually the fruits of the soap nut tree and contain Saponin, which is a 100% natural alternative to chemical laundry detergent and cleansers. When in contact with water, it creates mild suds, which is similar to soap.

Soap Nuts are gentle on both clothes and skin, making them ideal for those with sensitive skin, eczema, allergies and psoriasis. Because they are so mild, they are perfect for baby clothes and cloth diapers. All-Natural Soap Nuts are also great for septic and grey water systems. But don’t expect these shells to foam up like commercial soaps, which have artificial foaming agents. Foam simply does not represent cleaning power.

Soap Nuts are wild-harvested, meaning they are gathered from wild trees grown without any kind of chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. The saponin actually tastes bad to insects so no pesticides are needed, and the trees naturally love poor uncultivated soil. They are organically grown by mother earth.

Soap nuts are both Ecological and Economical when compared to other forms of detergents.