World’s biggest sovereign fund enters Asian property market

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund paid ¥92.75 billion (SR3.09 billion) for a 70 percent stake in five commercial buildings in Tokyo. Above, the Tokyo skyline. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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World’s biggest sovereign fund enters Asian property market

OSLO, Norway: Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest at more than $1 trillion (SR3.75 trillion), has made its first investment in the Asian real estate market, the Norwegian central bank said on Thursday.
The fund, which has already invested in property in Europe and North America, paid ¥92.75 billion (SR3.09 billion) for a 70 percent stake in five commercial buildings in Tokyo.
“This is the fund’s first real estate investment in Asia and is in line with our strategy to build a high-quality, global portfolio,” Karsten Kallevig, the head of the fund’s real estate management, said in a statement.
The remaining 30 percent were acquired by Tokyu Land Corporation.
Real estate accounts for 2.5 percent of the fund’s overall investments.
Intended to finance Norway’s welfare state when the country’s oil wells one day run dry, the fund mainly invests in stocks (65.9 percent of the portfolio) and bonds (31.6 percent).


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.