World’s largest cloning facility to open in China

The £21 million centre in being built in Tianjin  Photo: Robert Wallwork / Alamy Stock Photo
The £21 million centre in being built in Tianjin Photo: Robert Wallwork / Alamy Stock Photo

The world’s biggest animal “cloning factory” is due to open in China, producing one million calves a year, sniffer dogs and even genetic copies of the family pet. Continue reading World’s largest cloning facility to open in China

Poor nations need support to cut emissions from farming – experts

TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Developing countries can boost food production while reducing planet-warming emissions from agriculture, given the right technologies and financial support to put them into practice, researchers said on Monday.

Wealthy governments and other donors need to invest more to reduce carbon emissions stemming from agriculture, said a study issued ahead of U.N. climate talks in Paris next week.

Researchers analysed 160 national climate action plans submitted ahead of the summit, which is due to agree a new deal to curb global warming, and found 80 percent included agriculture in their efforts to cut emissions.

Nearly two-thirds noted agriculture’s importance in strategies to adapt to more extreme weather and rising seas, despite being short on detail, the study added.

But agriculture is absent from the main draft text for a new U.N. climate deal, signaling a major disconnect between country planning and global-level policymaking, according to the international CGIAR research programme on climate change, agriculture and food security.

“Countries have made it clear that agriculture is a priority in their climate plans,” said programme director Bruce Campbell.

“The question is where the support to implement these plans will come from, as there has been exceptionally slow progress on these issues.”

Nearly a third of countries included targets for mitigating emissions from farming in their plans, but those are conditional on receiving international financial support, said the study.

Central African Republic, for example, will need US$2.5 million to reduce slash-and-burn farming, while Senegal is seeking US$1.8 billion to cut emissions from rice, introduce biodigesters to recycle waste and expand agroforestry systems.

“Major climate finance organisations need to include agriculture in their portfolios,” said Eva Wollenberg of the University of Vermont, who leads the CGIAR programme’s research on low-emission farming.


A 2015 study from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization found that emissions from agriculture are growing, accounting for around 11 percent of global emissions in 2010.

Reducing those emissions is seen as crucial for curbing climate change.

But some developing nations worry that including agriculture in emissions reduction targets could hurt their ability to feed hungry people, researchers said.

“At the global level, certain countries – India in particular – have lead a movement that agriculture is crucial for food security and shouldn’t be involved in (climate) mitigation (targets),” said Wollenberg.

But if donors invested more in farm technologies to reduce emissions and adapt methods to shifting climate patterns, it might help persuade reluctant developing nations.

“We know which technologies can be used – we’re using many of them already. It’s just a matter of expanding them,” Wollenberg told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Mexico, for example, a project teaching farmers to use nitrogen fertiliser more efficiently is reducing emissions by an equivalent of 700,000 barrels of oil annually, while cutting costs.

In India’s northeastern Haryana state, growers are using laser censors linked to mechanised plows to flatten farmland. This stops water forming puddles in areas of uneven land, using it more effectively.

The programme led to an increase in wheat and rice production, while cutting water use and carbon emissions.

Such efforts need to be expanded to other poor countries so that the climate-change impacts of farming do not worsen, scientists say.

(Reporting by Chris Arsenault; editing by Megan Rowling; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

Once ‘King,’ cotton farming on a long decline in US south

CLARKSDALE, Miss.: Fields along the Mississippi River Delta once gleamed white in the autumn with acre upon acre of cotton ready to be picked.

But to see the decline of a cash crop once nicknamed “King Cotton” one need look no further than the 300 acres (121 hectares) that Michael Shelton farms in Clarksdale, Mississippi, about 75 miles (120 km) down river from Memphis.

The fields were recently cleared of wheat and soybeans, and just one long row of cotton, which Shelton, 65, said he planted “for memory.”

“I wanted to say I planted cotton every year,” said Shelton, who is black and whose property includes the 40 acres (16 hectares) his ancestors acquired in the late 19th century, not long after the abolition of slavery.

With cotton prices near their lowest in six years, Shelton is far from alone in cutting back on the crop.

U.S. farmers this year planted the fewest acres of cotton since 1983, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. In the southern states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas, once the heart of cotton country, growers expect to harvest some of their smallest crops since the year after the U.S. Civil War ended, according to the oldest government data available.

It’s not just low prices driving down cotton planting. This year marks the first the U.S. cotton farmers are getting by without a subsidy program that had long been the subject of a trade dispute between Washington and Brazil.

For Shelton, the only one of eight siblings to go into farming, that is just the latest in a long line of hits his business has taken.

“One thing I’ve found lately is it’s become an expensive business,” Shelton said.


Many of the United States’ remaining 18,000 cotton farms – a number that’s fallen by half in less than 20 years – see themselves on the losing end of that long skirmish at the World Trade Organization.

Washington paid US$300 million to Brazil to settle the subsidy squabble and agreed to stop subsidy payment programs to cotton farms that totaled about US$576 million in fiscal 2013, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

The farm law that passed last year phased out payments to farmers of many crops, leaving growers more exposed to market conditions.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Nutrition described the shift as “not your father’s farm bill.”

“The political climate has changed, that’s hurt cotton’s standing,” said John Robinson, an agricultural economist with Texas A&M University. “The old world doesn’t exist. That’s gone with the wind.”

It has left some farmers feeling exposed to low prices and the potential of rising debt levels, ultimately raising the prospect of further exodus from the fiber in areas where growers can grow food crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans.

Don Shurley, a cotton economist with the University of Georgia said the problem was an economic one: “Can cotton remain profitable to keep farmers growing it and stay in business?”

With the price of cotton running at about 60 cents per pound, down 35 percent from 2014 highs, many farmers are finding it is costing them more to grow the crop than they earn.

Falling demand has also taken a toll, with global consumption down 9 percent from a peak of 122.5 million bales nine years ago.

The industry’s most pervasive worry ultimately is not cost, but consumption. Cotton has struggled to recover demand lost amid price spikes in 2008, 2010, and 2011, which drove consumers towards clothes made of other fibers, such as polyester and nylon.


Other Southern cotton farmers have coped with the long slide in prices by planting ever more acres, following the lead of their Midwestern counterparts who plant corn and wheat, and eke out slightly more profit from larger-scale operations.

Ronnie Lee, of Dawson, Georgia, has taken the large-scale route. Since starting out farming 35 acres (14 hectares) in 1987, he and now his three sons have steadily grown their operation to 30 times the size of Shelton’s.

Today they plant some 9,000 acres (3,642 hectares) of owned and leased land, as well as picking cotton for others with their three US$600,000 mechanical pickers, operating a crop-dusting service and running a gin that will pack as many as 90,000 bales of cotton this year.

Despite the size, Lee emphasizes that his business is still a family farm.

“We’re a true family farming operation,” he said during a rare lunch break on a recent rainy afternoon. “Why do I have to be small to be a family operation? A small guy today can’t survive.”

(This story has been corrected to fix miles/kilometers conversion in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama)

– Reuters

Uganda: Besigye Promises to Increase Budget Allocation for Agriculture

Ugandan opposition leader, Kiiza Besigye

Kibuku — Presidential candidate DrKizza Besigye has said he would increase the budget allocation to agriculture to 15% and abolish all taxes on agricultural inputs if he’s entrusted with power in the next election. Continue reading Uganda: Besigye Promises to Increase Budget Allocation for Agriculture

China’s GLAM has $1b warchest to beef up Australian agriculture investment

  • by Tim Binsted, Sarah Thompson

Kidman cattle bidder Genius Link Group founder Joel Chang says he wants to build a “small Cargill” and he has $1 billion to fund his Australian agribusiness ambitions.

The Chinese investment firm is in a $350 million-plus bidding war with Shanghai Pengxin for the huge S. Kidman & Co estate. Mr Chang’s desire to emulate Cargill speaks volumes about his intent.

Cargill is the world’s biggest private company and the “C” in the famous four “ABCD” global agribusiness giants: Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus.

“We have $1 billion that we want to deploy in Australia over the next three years. We want to become a small Cargill and Australia offers a fantastic platform to do this,” he said.

Continue reading China’s GLAM has $1b warchest to beef up Australian agriculture investment

Nigeria: How We Control Farm Pests Without Chemicals – Chinese Farmer

Henan, China — Xu Jianmin has run the Tainhe Farms in China since 2008 mostly cultivating vegetables. He shared simple tips he has applied to his farms across China that have made the business grow to one that is now exporting produce beyond China in less than a decade. Continue reading Nigeria: How We Control Farm Pests Without Chemicals – Chinese Farmer