Ausfoodnews reports that despite an economically difficult year, sales of fairtrade products
have been roaring, with consumers around the world spending around
AU$5.4 billion on Fairtrade products in 2009 – a 15% increase over 2008.
"Australian and New Zealand consumers were a particularly strong market,
increasing their Fairtrade shopping by 58%, compared to 14% in the UK
and 7% in the US.
Fairtrade cocoa grew by 35% and and sugar by 57%, thanks in part to
Fairtrade committments by global chocolate and confectionary brands,
including New Zealand’s Scarborough Fair (who extended their 100%
Fairtrade Certified range), Green & Black’s, and Cadbury’s purchase
of Fairtrade ingredients equivalent to those required for their Dairy
Milk line. Nestlé also switched Kit Kat to Fairtrade ingredients, and
ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has now switched four of its flavours." Follow the link for more details.
With droughts around the world, floods are also continuing to be a significant problem. I seem to post at fairly regular intervals about flooding in Brazil. BBC News identifies that floods have engulfed two states in north-east Brazil, killing at least 42 people and forcing at least 100,000 to flee their homes.
"Another 1,000 people are missing, prompting fears that the death toll in Alagoas and Pernambuco might rise. The floods, brought on by nearly a week of rain, are thought to have destroyed entire villages". The video shows the terrifying power and the devastation that can be caused by flood water.
BBC News reports that of bees and other pollinators were to disappear completely, the cost to the UK economy could be up to £440m per year. "This amounts to about 13% of the country's income from farming. In a bid to save the declining insects, up to £10m has been invested in nine projects that will explore threats to pollinators". As we read about the drought stricken nations around the world and its impact on millions of lives - loss of natural capital should not be underestimated.
"Starving people in drought-stricken west Africa are being forced to eat leaves and collect grain from ant hills, say aid agencies, warning that 10 million people face starvation across the region.
With food prices soaring and malnourished livestock dying, villagers were turning to any sources of food to stay alive, said Charles Bambara, Oxfam officer for the west African region." I wrote a blog post about Niger a few days ago, but the situation in Chad is also worsening. Follow the link to read this concerning article.
The Independent reports that Thailand faces a severe crisis with its rice harvest due to the worst drought for two decades. This could cause a freeze on exports. "The region, which annually exports an average of 9 million metric tonnes of rice, and consumes as much domestically, is expected to produce as little as 2 million metric tonnes this year". Check out the article.
EurActiv.com reports that Europe will start importing its first solar-generated electricity from North Africa within the next five years. "The European Union is backing projects to turn the plentiful sunlight in the Sahara desert into electricity for power-hungry Europe, a scheme it hopes will help meet its target of deriving 20% of its energy from renewable sources in 2020."
The FAO marked World Day to Combat Desertificationon June 17th with the publication of a manual that shows how a project in Mauritania successfully fixed dunes and stopped sand encroachment.
"It will serve as a useful blueprint for similar projects in Africa. Sand encroachment is what happens when grains of sand are carried by winds and collect in dunes on the coast, along watercourses and on cultivated or uncultivated land. As the dunes move, they bury villages, roads, oases, crops and irrigation channels and dams, causing major economic damage and increasing poverty and food insecurity". Click here to find out more.
The FAO Media Centre reports that the FAO "is stepping up support to farmers and pastoralists in Niger as part of its response to the alarming food situation in the Sahel, with new operations benefiting an estimated 2.8 million people.
According to FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), the food situation in parts of the Sahel is of grave concern, with over 10 million people at risk of hunger.
"In Niger alone, almost half the population, or an estimated 7.1 million people, is facing hunger," said FAO emergency operations expert Fatouma Seid.
Last year's poor rains have led to a 30 percent decline in cereal production in Niger compared with 2008, while forage production is some 62 percent below requirements. Meanwhile, food prices remain stubbornly high, despite a decline from their peaks in 2008." Follow the link to read the full article.
BBC News reports that a website has gone "live" that helps people to work out how much CO2 is being emitted to heat water in their homes. It also suggests ways that users can save water and energy, as well as cutting their carbon footprint. The Energy Saving Trust says CO2 from energy used to heat water in UK homes accounts for 5% of the nation's total carbon emissions. Follow the link to find out more.
The Telegraph reports that the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has been criticised for a "missed opportunity" to take action which would have restricted the size of an E.coli outbreak at a petting farm. The E.coli outbreak at Godstone Farm, near Redhill, Surrey, infected 93 people, 28 of whom are now taking civil action against Godstone Farm. Follow the link to find out more.