China growth eases in third quarter

“China’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development,” President Xi Jinping told an audience of 2,300 party leaders when he opened the Communist Party congress on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 19 October 2017
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China growth eases in third quarter

BEIJING: China’s growth eased to 6.8 percent in the third quarter but remained higher than the government’s full-year target, providing a boon to President Xi Jinping amid a major Communist Party congress.
The official figures, released on Thursday by the National Statistics Bureau, showed economic growth has held steady as the pivotal leadership reshuffle unfolds in Beijing.
“The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development in the first three quarters, with favorable factors accumulating for the economy to maintain medium-high rate of growth,” said bureau spokesman Xing Zhihong.
The 6.8 percent figure, based on an annual comparison, followed growth of 6.9 percent in the first and second quarters of the year and was in line with forecasts from analysts surveyed by AFP.
The government has a set a target of around 6.5 percent growth in 2017.
Brisk consumer spending and strong factory output fueled economic growth for the July to September period.
The 10.3 percent rise in retail sales for September from a year earlier was welcome news for the economy, which is relying on China’s vast consumer pool to start spending as the economy transitions away from investment heavy growth.
“China’s economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development,” Xi told an audience of 2,300 party leaders when he opened the congress on Wednesday.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.