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Traditional farm methods help climate adaptation

Oct 31, 2011 at 04:10

LONDON (Reuters) - Traditional agriculture methods could help protect food supplies and make agriculture more resilient to the effects of climate change, a report by the UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said on Monday. Traditional knowledge, rather than modern methods, has helped indigenous people in countries like China, Kenya and Bolivia to cope with extreme weather and environmental change, the report said. "Policies, subsidies, research and intellectual property rights promote a few modern commercial varieties and intensive agriculture at the expense of traditional crops and practices," said Krystyna Swiderska, senior researcher at the IIED and lead author of the study. "This is perverse as it forces countries and communities to depend on an ever decreasing variety of crops and threatens with extinction the knowledge and biological diversity that form the foundations of resilience." Traditional methods include using local plants to control pests, choosing crop varieties which tolerate extreme conditions such as droughts and floods and planting a variety of crops to hedge bets against uncertain futures. Policymakers agree that agriculture needs to be adapted to cope with rising temperatures, variable rainfall and extreme weather events to ensure future food security. However, government policies have largely overlooked long-established agricultural practices in favor of intensifying production through modern methods, the report said. Next month, governments will meet at a U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, to work on securing a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and climate aid for developing countries. "They must have traditional knowledge firmly in their sights and begin discussing how to reform intellectual property rights in agriculture as a main concern," the report said.


Philippine workers banned from 41 countries

Nov 02, 2011 at 11:15

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Overseas Filipino workers arrive at Manila Airport in February 2011 after fleeing Libya. The Philippines said Wednesday it had banned Filipinos from travelling to work in 41 countries and territories that had allegedly failed to provide enough safeguards to protect them from abuse.(AFP/File/Noel Celis)

By AFP MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines said Wednesday it had banned Filipinos from travelling to work in 41 countries and territories that had allegedly failed to provide enough safeguards to protect them from abuse. The Department of Labour and Employment in a board resolution posted on its website said the blacklisted countries failed to sign international conventions protecting foreign workers. Neither have these countries signed agreements with the Philippines "on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers," the resolution said. They also do not have their own laws protecting foreign workers, it added. Included in the list were strife-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Chad and Pakistan. Carlos Cao, head of the government's overseas employment agency, said the 41 countries did not receive too many Filipino workers so a ban would not have a very large effect. "These are the smaller countries with small markets. The negative impact is not going to be very big," he told AFP. The ban will also not affect Filipino workers who are already in those countries so they will not have to come home until their contracts expire, Cao added. There are an estimated nine million Filipino overseas workers, or about 10 percent of the country's population, official statistics show. Many of them work as maids, labourers or seamen in areas where they are vulnerable to abuse although many Filipinos also work in higher positions in Western nations. Their dollar remittances have traditionally kept the Philippine economy afloat, although reports of abuse are common. While Manila has in the past banned deployment to some areas locked in conflict, many Filipinos still leave through illegal means rather than take low-paying jobs at home.