Qatar Airways commits to Iran flights despite sanctions

Qatar Airways says US sanctions on Iran will not impact flights to the Islamic republic. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018
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Qatar Airways commits to Iran flights despite sanctions

DOHA: US sanctions on Iran will not impact Qatar Airways’ flights to the Islamic republic, the airline’s boss Akbar Al-Baker said on Monday.
Speaking at a high-profile business conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Baker said services to Iran would continue despite a tightening economic and political squeeze on Iran by Washington.
“Aviation is not a sanctioned industry, Qatar Airways will continue to operate into the cities we are currently operating in Iran,” he said.
“Our flights to Iran will not be affected.”
Qatar Airways’ Iran destinations include Mashhad and Shiraz, while the airline operates daily flights to Tehran, according to its website.
Baker’s comments come as US President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to impose a second round of tough sanctions on Iran next month.
A first tranche of punitive measures were introduced in August by the US after it withdrew in May from the 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Washington has also warned foreign businesses to steer clear of Iran.
Already, major European airlines including Air France and British Airways have stopped flights to Iran, following the sanctions’ announcement.
Qatar is also under scrutiny over its relationship with Iran, with whom it shares the world’s largest natural gas field.
Since June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a sweeping embargo on Qatar, sparking the worst political rift to ever hit the Gulf, in part because of Iran.
The four countries accuse Doha of seeking closer ties with Tehran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, as well as supporting radical extremist groups.
Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbors of seeking regime change.


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.