Women take over Kenya’s farming sector | Environment | DW.DE | 09.04.2013

According to the World Bank, women make up 80 percent of Kenya’s farmers. Despite their majority, they still have many challenges to overcome, like gaining ownership of the land they work.

Flanked by a poultry yard and several cows grazing just a few meters from her home, Linda Okal is busy in her vegetable garden in Kenya’s central Mbeere province – famous for its agricultural products.

Okal grows maize and cultivates fruit trees, rears dairy cows and numerous chickens. She also takes care of her two children. “I started farming when my husband moved to town to look for a white collar job,” Linda says. She was left behind to take care of the farm and the children – an increasingly common tale in Kenya, where more and more women take over farms.

Women traditionally used to stay at home to take care of the family and cook for the men on the farm, Okal told DW. “But there were no female farmers.”

Linda Okal

Now, more than 80 percent of Kenya’s farms are run by women. Only half of these women actually own their farms; the others work the land that belongs to their husbands. But not having ownership creates a lot of problems. Since the women don’t own the land, they cannot join farming cooperatives that would help them interact with other people who could help them improve production or sales.

via Women take over Kenya’s farming sector | Environment | DW.DE | 09.04.2013.

US: Yield lettuce which sprout in hot weather discovered

Guard your non-GMO lettuce seeds!

In the new study, researchers turned to lettuce genetics to better understand the temperature-related mechanisms governing seed germination. They identified a region of chromosome six in a wild ancestor of commercial lettuce varieties that enables seeds to germinate in warm temperatures. When that chromosome region was crossed into cultivated lettuce varieties, those varieties gained the ability to germinate in warm temperatures.

Further genetic mapping studies zeroed in on a specific gene that governs production of a plant hormone called abscisic acid — known to inhibit seed germination. The newly identified gene “turns on” in most lettuce seeds when the seed is exposed to moisture at warm temperatures, increasing production of abscisic acid. In the wild ancestor that the researchers were studying, however, this gene does not turn on at high temperatures. As a result, abscisic acid is not produced and the seeds can still germinate.

The researchers then demonstrated that they could either “silence” or mutate the germination-inhibiting gene in cultivated lettuce varieties, thus enabling those varieties to germinate and grow even in high temperatures.

via US: Yield lettuce which sprout in hot weather discovered.


Guard your non-GMO lettuce seeds!

“Plants communicate what type of light they want”

The project’s aim is to produce a system that employs the plants’ response to automatically regulate the lights in the greenhouse. Natural sunlight can then be supplemented with light from lamps to ensure the total lighting is that required by the plants, both in terms of brightness and light spectrum.

This can be achieved using advanced LED lamps, which consist of several groups of dimmable light emitting diodes with different colour spectra. This kind of lamp can also be programmed to provide lighting that is adjusted to the needs of the plants.

“The technology has enormous potential for energy savings,” says Torsten Wik. “We are counting on being able to save about 30 per cent by switching from sodium lamps to LED. Furthermore, it is possible to save 20 per cent by regulating the light’s intensity and spectrum using our method. This means that greenhouses in Europe alone would be able to save as much electricity as half of Sweden’s electricity consumption.”

via “Plants communicate what type of light they want”.

Santa Muerte Shrine To Open in Lebanon

A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares

Following the outrage of some Lebanese that other Lebanese were outraged at a possible shirtgate involving demonizing a Virgin Mary icon are not aware of well-rooted Mexican folklore, the Mexican embassy, in collaboration with the Lebanese government, will be building a Santa Muerte shrine in the village of DeirBella.

Issuing a brief statement on the matter, the Mexican embassy noted the “overwhelming support” their not-recognized saint has gotten over the past few hours in Lebanon. They were “absolutely dumbfounded” by the well-rooted knowledge of Santa Muerte among the Lebanese populace whereby everyone seems to be quite the expert. “We didn’t know Santa Muerte had so many fans in Lebanon,” they said, “this makes us quite excited about possible culture fusion between the countries.” The embassy was also quite “enthusiastic” about the culture fusion prospect in Lebanese society, à la St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving.

“It shouldn’t be exclusive to the…

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