Tech helps hazelnut farmers fight soil erosion

More than half of world’s agricultural land is degraded, with the equivalent of one soccer field lost, due to erosion every five seconds, experts say. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 05 August 2020

Tech helps hazelnut farmers fight soil erosion

BANKGKOK: When her husband suddenly died, Nakimo set up a small shop in Bhutan’s southern Chukha district to provide for her family of seven, then began growing hazelnut trees, which not only boosted her income, but also helped preserve the soil on her land.
Nakimo benefited from a program by social enterprise Mountain Hazelnuts that aims to find sustainable uses for fallow land and prevent soil erosion — an increasing challenge for small-scale farmers in the Himalayan nation.
“The hazelnut trees do not require too much work, so my family and I can manage them easily,” said Nakimo, 65, who goes by one name.
“With the additional income from hazelnuts, I’ve even been able to start saving for my grandchildren, which makes me happy, as I’m helping to secure their futures,” said Nakimo, who grows about 200 trees on part of her plot of 1.3 acres.
Overgrazing, deforestation, mining, infrastructure building and higher temperatures are the main causes of soil erosion and land degradation in the mountainous country, but the problem is global.

SPEEDREAD

• Erosion could reduce crop yields by up to half by 2050, and also increases the risk of landslides and floods, according to the FAO.

• More than 90 percent of the Earth’s agricultural soils are at risk of degradation within the next 30 years, FAO says.

Worldwide, more than half of agricultural land is degraded, with the equivalent of one soccer field lost, due to erosion every five seconds, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Erosion could reduce crop yields by up to half by 2050, and also increases the risk of landslides and floods, according to the FAO. More than 90 percent of the Earth’s agricultural soils are at risk of degradation within the next 30 years.
In Bhutan, Mountain Hazelnuts works primarily with women and poor farmers in the country’s underdeveloped East, providing free saplings and technical assistance, including a traceability system that assesses land quality and monitors soil health.
“We only plant on land that is fallow and degraded, and therefore not suitable for other crops,” said Teresa Law, co-founder of the company.
“Hazelnut trees can be planted on mountain slopes where other crops are unable to thrive — this stabilizes the slopes and improves watersheds,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

Updated 21 September 2020

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

  • ‘If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected’
  • Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments

PARIS: Bailouts provided to Air France-KLM by the French and Dutch governments will keep the airline flying less than a year, its CEO Benjamin Smith said Monday and evoked the possibility of injecting new capital.
In an interview with the French daily l’Opinion, Smith also warned that calls for airlines to contribute more to fight climate change could be catastrophic for their survival which is already under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When countries imposed lockdowns earlier this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus airlines faced steep drops in revenue that have claimed several carriers.
A number of countries stepped in with support, including France which provided $8.2 billion to Air France and the Netherlands which received a $2.9 billion package.
“This support will permit us to hold on less than 12 months,” said Smith.
The reason is that air traffic is picking up very slowly as many northern hemisphere countries are now fearing a second wave of infections.
“If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected,” according to Smith, who said when the bailout was put together the airline was expecting a return to 2019 levels only in 2024.
Smith said discussions were already underway with shareholders on shoring up the airline group, and steps would be taken before the next regular annual meeting in the second quarter of next year.
“One, three or five billion euros? It is too early to put a figure on a possible recapitalization,” he said.
The airline group had $12.12 billion in cash or available under credit lines.
Major shareholders include the French government with a 14.3 percent stake, the Dutch government at 14 percent, as well as Delta and China Eastern airlines which each hold an 8 percent stake.
Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments.
One proposal that has come from a citizen’s convention convoked by President Emmanuel Macron would cost airlines an estimated $3.6 billion.
Smith said the imposition of environmental charges on the industry would be “irresponsible and catastrophic” for Air France-KLM.