Archive for May 2012

EGG-LAYING BY EARLY LEMURIANS PROJECTED IN MALAY FOLKLORE

May 29, 2012

EGG-LAYING BY EARLY LEMURIANS PROJECTED IN MALAY FOLKLORE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Guru Ra
A very popular legend among the Bruneians is the story of the great warrior Awang Semaun. The narrative about the great warrior reveals facets of the early kingship (sultanate) formation of Brunei and the institutions interwoven with it.
What I wish to highlight in the tale though is a more recondite facet: the tale’s revelation of the early egg-laying or oviparous way of laying children by the early Lemurians. Divine wisdom had revealed that the first phase of Lemurian races were gigantic, hermaphroditic types who reproduced largely through egg-laying.
The oviparous early Lemurians would later be recycled over and over in diverse folklore across the globe. A sample narrative of it is the story of Awang Semaun. Below is a summary of the legend.
[Philippines, 16 June 2011]

From: http://www.bt.com.bn/life/2008/05/25/awang_semaun_tale_of_a_brunei_warrior
Awang Semaun: Tale of a Brunei warrior
Foundation narrative: Awang Semaun was said to have 13 siblings from 13 different mothers, all legendary Brunei warriors who found Kampong Ayer and whose cries of ‘baru nah’ (‘now we found it’) gave Brunei its name. Picture: Rozan Yunos collection / Rozan Yunos –
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Sunday, May 25, 2008
IF ONE were to mention the name Awang Semaun to any Bruneian, he or she would conjure up a description of a strong brave warrior who has contributed to the existence of Brunei.

According to legend, Awang Semaun is said to be the younger brother of Awang Alak Betatar (who eventually became the first Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Muhammad Shah). Awang Semaun was made a Damong by his brother and he also later became the Pengiran Temenggong (one of the four wazir or viziers) who assisted the Sultan in governing the country.

Who was Awang Semaun? According to Brunei legends and one of the most famous epic poems which bore his name, Syair Awang Semaun, he was one of 14 brothers which included Awang Alak Betatar, Pateh Berbai, Pateh Mambang, Pateh Tuba, Pateh Sangkuna, Pateh Manggurun, Pateh Malakai, Pateh Pahit, Damang Sari, Pateh Sindayong, Damang Lebar Daun, Hapu Awang and Pateh Laila Langgong. The brothers all lived in different places with Awang Semaun and his brother Damang Sari living in Garang, near Kuala Labu in Temburong.

It was said that the father fathered the 14 children in his journeys . His grandfather was known as Sang Aji Brunei. His name is mentioned in another epic poem, Syair Negara Kartagama, written in 1365 where he was known as Sang Aji Baruwing (a variant of the name “Brunei”).

According to oral legends, despite being married for quite some time, he was childless. One day while walking outside his palace, he found a giant egg and brought it back to the palace. That night a young boy by the name of I-Pai Samaring was hatched. He later married the daughter of Sang Aji and gave birth to Alak Betatar.

While the princess was pregnant, she was craving for a tembadau (wild cow). I-Pai Samaring went hunting and managed to hit a tembadau with a spear but it got away. I-Pai Samaring followed the bloody trail through several villages. At each village, he married the daughter of the chieftain as it was considered a great honour. He married 13 times before he eventually found the tembadau.

Each of those wives later gave birth to the brothers of Awang Alak Betatar. When Awang Alak Betatar grew up, he went in search of his brothers and brought them together. They later went in search of a new place to build a country and when they found the location at the present Kampong Ayer, their cries of baru nah — “now we found it” — gave Brunei its name.

Awang Semaun is mentioned in a number of local folklores and legends. Whether he is the same Awang Semaun in all the other legends, one will never know.

According to Iban folklore, Awang Semaun or Sumaun is the son of Derom anak Sabatin. Derom, together with his father, alighted in Tanjong Batu (bordering Sarawak and Indonesia). Sumaun and his brother Serabungkok moved to Naga Rajang when they were grown up. Serabungkok married Lemina and gave birth to Dayang Ilam who later married Raja Semalanjat. The Ibans are said to be descendants of Serabungkok.

On the other hand, Semaun had a son name Tugau and the Melanaus are said to be the descendant of Tugau. According to Iban legend, Sumaun went to Brunei in search of his fortune.

According to the Muruts in Ulu Lawas, Semaun was said to be a seer and a very strong man. One rainy day when he was taking shelter under an overhang by a hill in Long Bawan, he stood up forgetting that he was under an overhang. An existing hole where he stood up — complete with the shape of his ears — can still be seen today. In another place his footprint can be seen when he jumped from one hill to another.

It was said that he went away to Padian (Brunei) and was never heard of again.

However, the Brunei legends stated that Awang Semaun was the brother of Pateh Berbai and is of Brunei origin.

According to local Temburong folklore, Awang Semaun left behind a giant vase used for keeping water. The local people said that the giant vase can sometimes appear and a number of locals have claimed to have seen that magic vase.

One local head village who worked in the area in the 1920s said that he saw the vase at least 10 times. He described the vase as having an opening of about two feet in diameter, its length up to 30 feet and a broad middle of about 20 feet in diametre. The vase will be found half submerged in the river. The British Resident who heard the stories tried to search for the vase in vain. The elderly folks said that a magic vase like that will not be found by those who went searching for it.

It was said that Awang Semaun converted to Islam in Johor. During the reign of Awang Alak Betatar, he instructed Awang Semaun to go to Johor in search of a Johor Princess who became Awang Alak Betatar’s consort. The Johor Princess had a bird named pinggai (burong pinggai). When the Princess was taken to Brunei, the bird came to Brunei to search for her. It came together with a ship which sank when it arrived in Brunei. The sailors were said to be assisted by the Kedayans who lived in Berakas. From the Kedayans, the sailors heard that the bird had flown to a place which eventually became Kampong Burong Pinggai.

From that village, the emissary from Johor discovered that the Princess had married the Brunei Sultan. However, the Princess, together with her searchers from Johor, managed to persuade Awang Alak Betatar to return back to Johor for the Johor marriage ceremony there.

In Johor, Awang Alak Betatar converted to Islam and took the name Sultan Muhammad, Pateh Berbai became Pengiran Bendahara Seri Maharaja Permaisuara and Awang Semaun became Pengiran Temenggong.

On their return back to Brunei, the Johor Princess’ followers stayed in Kampong Burong Pingai.

Some also said that the Johor Sultan “persuaded by her happiness and the fame and glory of Brunei” — as described by Saunders in his History of Brunei — journeyed to Brunei and formally installed Alak Betatar as Sultan and his brothers, including Awang Semaun in the offices of state which became traditional to Brunei and presented the new Sultan with the royal regalia.

We only know Awang Semaun through legends. We do not even know of his descendants. We will never know the truth about him.

But the name Awang Semaun lives on as one of Brunei’s great warriors.

The writer runs a website on Brunei at bruneiresources.com.

The Brunei Times

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA COSMIC BLOGS & LINKS:
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http://www.maharishi.org, http://www.rssb.org, http://www.fisu.org, http://www.saibaba.org, http://trishulabearer.com,
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FOLKLORE TO IMPROVE LITERACY: ORAL TRADITION IN ASEAN

May 24, 2012

FOLKLORE TO IMPROVE LITERACY: ORAL TRADITION IN ASEAN
Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Ra

Visual and oral traditions are very strong among the peoples of ASEAN region. In our current analytic models, Southeast Asians are strongly right-brained as learners.
The right-brained facet of ASEAN peoples is largely a legacy of the Lemuro-Atlantean race (part of 4th ‘root race’). As per explications from Divine wisdom or Theos Sophia, the current Southeast Asians, with Malayan and IndoMongolian ethnicies as the largest, were among the last sub-races to evolve in the Atlantean racial phenotypes. The Mahatmas termed them as Lemuro-Atlantean, as they were bred from the surviving Lemurians that appeared prior to Atlantis’ heyday.
The use of folklore as potent tools for learning is practically accepted in the entire ASEAN region. Below is an example of a human development effort in Malaysia in substantiation of the folklore as learning tool.
[Philippines, 16 June 2011]
Source: http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/media_7099.html
Folklore inspiration to improve Malaysian Orang Asli children’s literacy
By Indra Nadchatram
KUALA LUMPUR, 25 July 2007 – Malaysia’s Orang Asli children will soon get to improve their literacy skills as a result of a specially tailored education program which will incorporate Orang Asli folklores and legends into teaching and learning aids.
Organised by the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the remedial program will introduce story-telling techniques in the classroom together with story books designed to capture the imagination of close to 6,000 Orang Asli children, with the aim of encouraging reading habits and improving writing skills.
While the country has achieved impressive results in education with a net enrolment rate of 96% in primary school for Malaysian children, most children from the Orang Asli community however are found lagging behind. Orang Asli children together with children from Sabah and Sarawak’s indigenous groups make up for a sizeable proportion of Malaysia’s remaining 4% children who fair poorly in both primary school enrolment rates and achievements.
Trapped in poverty
Due to poor education performances, Malaysia’s Orang Asli remain one of the poorest in the country. A household income survey carried out less than ten years ago found as many as 51% of the population living below the poverty level.
Teacher Santey anak Dugu (24) who hails from Malaysia’s Mah Meri ethnic group in Selangor’s Carey Island blames the lackadaisical attitude of Orang Asli parents towards education for low school enrolment, absenteeism and drop out rates.
“Orang Asli parents simply don’t realise the value of an education. When girls reach 10 or 11 year old, they are often asked to stay at home to look after their younger siblings and do household chores, while boys will be taken out to sea to fish,” says Santey. “It is a huge loss to our community because without an education, we will always remain trapped in poverty”.
Collecting folk stories
Santey together with 19 Orang Asli teachers representing 5 ethnic groups – Jakun, Mah Meri, Semai, Semalai and Temuan from the states of Pahang, Johor, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka came together recently for a four day workshop to share Orang Asli folklores and legends with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
Like many other Orang Asli teachers who participated in the Workshop, Santey relied heavily on the knowledge of her village elders for Mah Meri folklore. She is particularly glad for the program as it means the culture and beliefs of her community will be kept alive for the younger generation through the story books.
“I am excited about the value the Ministry of Education and UNICEF is placing on our cultural heritage. It gives me pride to be able to share stories from my own community for others to learn from,” continues Santey.
Santey believes the folk stories, each with its own important life lesson, will be a powerful incentive to encourage both parents and children to get involved in learning. At the same time, the initiative will help the others learn about the traditions and beliefs of the different Orang Asli ethnic groups in Malaysia.
Children’s love for stories
A total of 13 stories were collected during the workshop to develop story telling materials and text books for use by Year Two and Year Three Orang Asli students in the country. In addition, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF will train Orang Asli teachers from 93 schools in techniques and practices of storytelling which will include the use of facial expressions, body gestures and exaggerated character voices.
According to the Ministry of Education’s Assistant Director, Puan Norhayati Mokhtar, the program design takes into consideration children’s love for stories.
“Stories are most meaningful and best able to promote literacy when they speak to a student’s world. Using folklores can help children develop pride in their ethnic identity, provide positive role models, develop knowledge about cultural history, and build self-esteem,” explains Puan Norhayati.
This recent initiative builds on the Ministry of Education and UNICEF’s 1997 Special Remedial Education Program for Orang Asli children.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA COSMIC BLOGS & LINKS:
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http://www.kriyayoga.com, http://www.lightascension.com,
http://www.tsl.org, http://www.gandhiserve.org,
http://www.maharishi.org, http://www.rssb.org, http://www.fisu.org, http://www.saibaba.org, http://trishulabearer.com,
http://www.salrachele.com, http://www.yogananda.srf.org,
http://www.sriaurobindosociety.org

VALUES EDUCATION VIA FOLKLORE: BRUNEI SHOWCASE

May 21, 2012

VALUES EDUCATION VIA FOLKLORE: BRUNEI SHOWCASE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Guru Ra

Values education is of fundamental import in awareness-raising and human formation anchorage. It is important too that values are made to work for those imbued with it, for the powerlessness to assert values make people less human.

There are many entry points to values education, which renders values formation an open field for the exercise of creative imagination and ingenuity. One of these entry points is folklore. Among the showcases for the region is that of Brunei, which I will echo in this note.

As argued by me in previous writings, folklore is a depository of ancient wisdom in Southeast Asia. I would hasten to add the Polynesians as manifesting also such a deep embeddedness of ancient or divine wisdom in their folklore. Values are part of the practical domains for divine wisdom, as it is in values where virtues (dharma) are made to work in demonstrative ways.

Below is a news briefer of the Brunei efforts.

[Philippines, 16 June 2011]
Source: http://bruneitimes.com.bn/news-national/2011/01/28/promoting-values-through-folktales
Promoting values through folktales
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Friday, January 28, 2011
ANTHOLOGIES of local folk tales should be published to promote Brunei stories as such books are found to be lacking in many Asian countries, with the exception of Japan, said an expert.

Dr Chu Keong Lee, a lecturer from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore made this suggestion when he presented his working paper “Promoting values using folk tales from Brunei” during the last day of the Brunei Information Resource Collection Symposium at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Local folklore are well worth promoting and libraries are the organisation most well-placed to promote them, said Dr Chu.

Additionally, governments can play a part in ensuring that local schools purchase a specific number of books for their students to encourage publishers to print local stories.

“Stories play an important role in the transmission of culture in a society, in effective organisational communication and learning, in knowledge sharing and in helping to understand a person’s illness experience,” said Dr Chu.

His paper analysed four local folk tales published in The Singing Top: Tales from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei by Margaret Read MacDonald in 2008.

The four folk tales were The Dollarbid and the Short-tailed Monkey, The King of the Mosquitoes, Dayang Bongsu and the Crocodile and Si Perawal, the Greedy Fisherman.

It also discussed the ways in which libraries can leverage on indigenous stories in promoting the values within the tales locally and internationally.

The stories were first read as a whole to obtain a gist of the story, after that, each story was read carefully to find out what it was about and what value was being referred to.

The values identified from The Dollarbid and the Short-tailed Monkey were the importance of paying heed to good advice and the consequences of ignoring it, bravery, compassion and the perseverance of nature.

The King of the Mosquitoes emphasised the consequences of greed, bravery, not judging a book by its cover and the fruits of kindness.

In the paper, Dr Chu suggested that librarians should train tertiary students to be engaging and sensitive storytellers when promoting folk tales and their values, and then the students can be sent to primary and secondary schools to tell the stories to other students.

This, he said, was a method successfully employed by the Mahasarakham University Storytelling Project in Thailand.

“Senior citizens should be mobilised as their real-life experiences contain many valuable lessons that can be used as examples that illustrates the manifestations of these values.

“Senior citizens are probably the best people to convey these values to the young because of the Asian values of respect for elders,” he said.

The two-day symposium which concluded yesterday was attended by librarians, researchers, teachers, archivists, information specialists as well as government officers.

The symposium was aimed at sharing best practices and advancements in the management and dissemination of local information collection, while highlighting efforts to enhance collections and resources for the benefit of the teaching and learning community. — Zareena Amiruddin

The Brunei Times

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA COSMIC BLOGS & LINKS:
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http://www.kriyayoga.com, http://www.lightascension.com,
http://www.tsl.org, http://www.gandhiserve.org,
http://www.maharishi.org, http://www.rssb.org, http://www.fisu.org, http://www.saibaba.org, http://trishulabearer.com,
http://www.salrachele.com, http://www.yogananda.srf.org,
http://www.sriaurobindosociety.org

POTATO BATTERY

May 17, 2012

POTATO BATTERY

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good news meets you rural folks as well as field workers, as research & development discovered the positive usable energy stored in potato that can be used for micro-instruments.

The cooking pot surely promises lots for those living in hinterlands, as boiled potato was shown to exhibit positive energy capacities. That is, just to stress, when potato is boiled.

Potato is eventually available everywhere, which explains why it was chosen among diverse agri products for the research & development project. From rural to urban markets, potatoes can be found. They comprise the 4th most abundant agri products.

Below is the exciting news about the a battery of the future.

[Philippines, 20 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/potato-battery-could-help-meet-rural-energy-needs.html
Potato battery could help meet rural energy needs
James Dacey
25 June 2010 | EN
The holy grail of renewable energy research may lie in the cooking pot, according to scientists.
The search for a cheap source of electricity for remote, off-grid communities, has led to batteries that work on freshly boiled potatoes.
One slice of potato can generate 20 hours of light, and several slices could provide enough energy to power simple medical equipment and even a low-power computer, said a research team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
“The technology is ready to go,” co-researcher Haim Rabinowitch told SciDev.Net. “It should take an interested body only a short while, and very little investment, to make this available to communities in need.”
The team, which described its work in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy earlier this month (7 June), said its work hinges on a recent discovery that the electrical flow from potatoes — long known to be natural electrolytes — can be enhanced tenfold when their cell membranes are deliberately ruptured by boiling.
To demonstrate, the researchers created a series of batteries out of slices of boiled Desiree potatoes about the size of a standard mobile phone, though they say the type and size of potato slice do not determine its power.
The device had the same basic components as conventional batteries, consisting of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte (the potato). Each battery powered a small light for 20 hours, after which a new slice could be inserted.
Potato batteries are estimated to generate energy at a cost of approximately US$9 per kilowatt hour (kW/h), which compares favourably with the best performing 1.5 volt (AA) alkaline cells — or D cells — which generate energy at US$50/kWh.
Banana and strawberry batteries could also be used, said Rabinowitch, but their softer tissues would weaken the structure of the battery and the sugars could attract insects.
“Potatoes were chosen because of their availability all over including the tropics and sub-tropics,” he said. They are the world’s fourth most abundant food crop.”
Teo Sanchez, energy technology and policy advisor at Practical Action, a charity which promotes technology for development, said: “With half the world’s population having no access to modern energy, this research is a valuable contribution to one of the biggest challenges in the world”.
But he is concerned about the limited amount of power that individual batteries can generate and the possible implications of diverting a food crop into energy production.
Link to abstract in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
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Comments (9)
Dr.A.Jagadeesh ( Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives | India )
28 June 2010
Any energy generation must be consistent,economic and available in plenty. Potatos are primarily for food. There are several ways of generating electricity. For a school project POTATO ELECTRICITY is OK but not for commercial exploitation. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Boris Rubinsky ( University of California at Berkeley | United States of America )
6 July 2010
The potato serves as a solid state salt bridge. The advantage is in the convenience of a solid component with a naturally generated composition. The quantity of potatoes needed for the salt bridge function is negligible relative to food consumption. The wearable material is the Zn. In fact with proper studies it may turn out that the migration of Zn ions into the potato may provide nutritional benefits to the potato slice used in the battery. Therefore no food is wasted. Furthermore, as mentioned in the paper, while the potato may be optimal because it is widely available, every tuber or solid plant material could be used as a solid state bridge. Nevertheless, reducing the internal impedance of the salt bridge through actions such as boiling is crucial to increasing efficiency.
Agnes Becker ( Institute for Global Health, Imperial College London, UK | United Kingdom )
6 July 2010
Definitely need something more sustainable. Take a look at e.quinox (http://www.e.quinox.org/), a non-profit, humanitarian project that hopes to bring cost-effective renewable energy to developing countries. They have already set up energy kiosks in rural Rwanda in which a local staff member uses solar energy to recharge portable battery packs that people can take home and use for electricity.
musoke christopher ( MUST | Uganda )
19 August 2010
Potato electricity is a good idea in regions where potatoes are grown in plenty. Regions like western Uganda where potatoes rot due to the inability to transport them to urban areas in time for sale, the idea can work perfectly well. If the people are sensitized, excess food crop can be converted in electricity.
Arthur Makara ( Uganda )
13 January 2011
This is a marvellous invention, it should not merely be dismissed on the pretex of encroachment on food. It is s significant scientific find and can be modified or improved upon to a commercial value level using substitute sources of appropriate materials to avail energy rural communities. It should be encouraged!

Arthur Makara, Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development, Kampala, Uganda
ironjustice ( Canada )
15 January 2011
Quote: Regions like western Uganda where potatoes rot due to the inability to transport them to urban areas in time for sale

Answer: “A solar crop dryer developed by a UNSW photovoltaic and solar energy engineering student has the potential to provide a living for thousands of people”

“It’s particularly great for women because they are the ones that sell foods through the local markets.”
http://www.unsw.edu.au/news/pad/articles/2011/jan/solar_dryer.html
SteveK ( United States of America )
3 April 2011
There is a huge amount of cattail rhizome going to waste in Lake Chad. I doubt that this is the best way to use it, but it beats wasting it.
louandel ( Jacob Eco Energy Ltd | United Kingdom )
3 May 2011
I find it extraordinary that people should find this obvious move forward in renewable resources not only innovative and creative but also potentially effective to global community if it is taken seriously. All renewable resources were considered marginal and off-beat when they first came to being. Now they are part of our everyday lives. Give this the same respect.
elecsolar ( offgrid energy alternative technologies | Kenya )
29 March 2012
This is brilliant idea, so glad that soon the rural people will have clean cheap electricity thanks to LED discovery. i have also been working on a charcoal battery which have impressed me very much since am able to make none spill-able charcoal battery for portable use it lasts for many days. Women and children can make it when they need it and there is no need to switch it off after use .Thanks to these technologies
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
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CRITICAL STATE OF PLANET

May 12, 2012

CRITICAL STATE OF PLANET

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Social scientists over the last decade came up with researches that show an alarming increase of patters pointing to a critical state of the planet. Man’s intrusive intervention in many spheres of life has scaled up, sufficient to cause a tipping point towards even greater uncertainties.

The interconnectedness of politics, economics, culture, and institutions of private sphere has entered a seemingly new phase of even greater couplings. Thus, the very wellbeing of human civilization is at risk of catastrophic results of interventions that tip off to the uncontrollable.

Today, there has been a greater need for scientists across disciplines to come together and look at the problems in multi-faceted ways, added to anticipating models of emerging realities that project the different dimensions concerned.

Below is a very interesting sum up of the views of scientists on the state of the planet.

[Philippines, 19 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/planet-under-pressure-2012-2/news/planet-is-in-critical-state-warns-science-declaration.html
Planet is in critical state, warns science declaration
Aisling Irwin
30 March 2012 | EN | ES
[LONDON] Earth has only one decade to pull itself back from various environmental ‘tipping points’ — points at which the damage becomes irreversible, scientists have said.
If it fails to do so, it is likely to witness a series of breakdowns in the systems that sustain people, such as oceans and soil, according to a major meeting on safeguarding the planet’s future, the Planet Under Pressure conference (26–29 March).
“Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk,” said some of the world’s leading documenters of global environmental change in the first ‘State of the Planet’ declaration.
They also admitted that scientists could no longer continue with ‘business as usual’.
This article is part of our Planet Under Pressure 2012 coverage — which takes place 26–29 March 2012. To read insights from our conference team please visit our blog.
“We have been far better at documenting the problem and understanding the processes than engaging with solutions,” said Mark Stafford Smith, science director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency.
Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, in Sweden, said it was “absolutely shocking” that scientists had not answered questions such as “how much biodiversity [do] we need in order to sustain landscapes for our economy?”.
He told a press conference: “I and many scientists are still profoundly frustrated that we don’t know whether we are heading for a two degree or six degree temperature rise — that’s not satisfactory for any decision makers”.
The declaration says that three changes over the last decade make scientists’ warnings qualitatively different from before.
First, a decade of research is leading to the consensus that we inhabit a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in which humans are dominating planetary-scale processes.
Second, science has revealed that many planetary processes are interconnected, as are, increasingly, society and the economy. This interconnectedness can confer stability and accelerate innovation, says the declaration, but it also leaves us vulnerable to abrupt and rapid crises.
Third, social research has demonstrated that our current ways of governing global environmental change are not dealing effectively with problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Many researchers conclude that local, national and regional partnerships are also needed as an insurance policy against failures of governance at a global level.
The declaration supports some of the ideas that are being promoted for inclusion in the Rio+20 agreement, to be finalised at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (20–22 June) in Brazil.
These include: the need to go beyond GDP (gross domestic product) by taking into account the value of natural capital when measuring progress; a framework for developing global sustainability goals; the creation of a UN Sustainable Development Council to integrate social, economic and environmental policy at the global level; and the production of regular global sustainability analyses.
One key outcome of the meeting was agreement on the need to push forward a scheme to redirect global change science, so-called ‘Future Earth’, which will pull together an wide variety of disciplines to answer questions that societies need to tackle.
Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, who attended the final day, praised the Future Earth initiative for being “unprecedented in its creativity”.
Liz Thomson, executive coordinator of the Rio+20 summit, told the meeting that many of the messages from the scientific community, which has been lobbying for some time over the Rio+20 agreement, had already made it into the ‘zero draft’ of Rio+20’s outcome document, and that the declaration would “increase the pressure on policymakers to get the message and act on it”.
The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said in a recorded address that he was “taking forward” a recommendation from his high-level science panel that he appoint a science advisor.
Co-chair of the meeting, Lidia Brito, director of science policy and capacity building in natural sciences at UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), said: “We have a positive message: strong leadership from all sectors, and harnessing [our] increased connectivity, offer hope that the risk of long-term environmental crises can be minimised”.
But some delegates said that while the conference linked natural and social scientists, it was less successful in luring policymakers and business representatives.
Nigel Cameron, president of the US-based Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, told the meeting that he did not see venture capitalists or heads of research and development from industry “around the table … and the reason for that is that the people around the table don’t want them [there]”.
And others said that scientists might be overestimating the influence they could have. Carlos Nobre, of Brazil’s ministry of science, technology and innovation, talked of “the stark reality of anti-science political power … no matter how good we become as communicators we have to recognize it is very effective at blocking action”.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

VISIONING AFRICAN FUTURE FARMS

May 12, 2012

VISIONING AFRICAN FUTURE FARMS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Africa’s agriculture research & development has come a long way since the ‘take-off’ decades of the post-colonial era. Slow and slowed further by internecine conflicts as well (political-military), conflicts that were bred by the polarity games of the Western oligarchy aimed at controlling Africans in the long term, science R&D as a whole sputtered across the decades.

The landscape has since changed, as political stability in the fractious countries have quite cemented. Funding for research from the emerging markets has salved the funds lack of enthused researchers. End-users have increased from local to global.

Just exactly what innovative ways can be launched across the decades for the whole continent that would, in the main, reverse the food production problems of Africans and ensure food security in the very long run?

An interesting interview of the African food security expert Denis Kyetere is shown below.

[Philippines, 18 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/features/q-a-denis-kyetere-on-innovative-technologies-for-africa-s-farmers–1.html
Q&A: Denis Kyetere on innovative technologies for Africa’s farmers
Busani Bafana
5 April 2012 | EN
Kyetere: ‘We must understand the specific challenges our farmers face, prioritize them, and apply science to seeking a solution’
Denis Kyetere, executive director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, outlines his vision for the continent’s farmers.
At the start of this year, Denis Kyetere, a prominent Ugandan geneticist and plant breeder, assumed his new post as executive director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), a non-profit organisation that promotes partnerships to deliver appropriate agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kyetere studied in Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. His previous roles include director of research at the Coffee Research Institute, and board chair of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. Prior to his arrival at the AATF, he had served for five years as director-general of Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation.
As a scientist, his achievements include being a member of the research team that identified and mapped the maize streak virus gene 1, and the subsequent development of the virus-resistant maize variety Longe 1, which is now grown widely in Uganda.
SciDev.Net spoke to Kyetere about his vision for the AAFT and the foundation’s efforts in research and technology development for African farmers.
What are your priorities in taking the helm of the AATF?
My key priority will be supporting AATF’s mission — to ensure smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to the same affordable and productive agriculture technologies available to farmers in most parts of the world.
To do this I will focus on innovative partnerships and effective product stewardship. In addition, I want to expand our resource and technology base.
Would you say that current investment by governments and private sector in technology use in agriculture is adequate?
In Africa, it is generally not adequate, especially when one notes that most of the continent is still battling age-old problems of pests and diseases and facing new challenges such as the changing growing conditions caused by climate change.
However, it is important to note that African governments are aware of the need to increase investments in agriculture, as evidenced in the Maputo Declaration in 2003, where governments committed to allocating at least ten per cent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development.
We have also seen encouraging efforts by some countries such as Ghana and Malawi, which have made enormous progress by investing more in agriculture. As a continent, we have still not reached the desired investment levels — levels that will see Africa attain meaningful growth. As historical evidence from places like the United States and Asia shows, investing in agriculture leads to improvements in the broader economy.
Recently Malawi showed that, even with the few challenges that cropped up, indeed, increasing investments in our farmers pays dividends. We need to continue urging our governments to invest more since there is enormous evidence showing that it makes a difference in terms of boosting agricultural productivity and overall economic growth.
Are African farmers taking advantage of the available agricultural technologies to boost food productivity?
In Africa, there are different types of farmers and farming systems that influence technology use.
Large commercial farmers in countries such as South Africa have different needs to smallholders in a country such as Uganda, which makes it difficult to generalise. However, I believe I would not be off the mark to say that technology use is generally low, especially among smallholder, resource-challenged farmers. There are many factors that contribute to this, such as financial constraints, lack of credit, and lack of awareness of available technologies. But perhaps the most crippling aspect is related to market access.
Farmers are entrepreneurs and where opportunities and markets exist, I believe that farmers are entrepreneurs and where opportunities are available and markets exist, they will do what they can to benefit. Where markets are not readily accessible, farmers will see technology investments as a risk. But we also need to expand our extension services so that farmers are at least more aware and able to take advantage of valuable technologies that are appropriate for their farming systems.
The case of maize hybrid seeds is a good example of a beneficial technology that is making a difference in increasing yields but has yet to be widely used by farmers in Africa. Zimbabwe, for instance, was an early beneficiary of hybrid maize [developed through the Zimbabwe national maize breeding programme]. It contributed to doubling maize production between 1980 and 1986.
Which technologies have worked, and which have not, for smallholder farmers in Africa?
I would say technologies that have worked are those that have made a difference to the particular issue that farmers had to address in the first place. Technologies come in different forms, aiming at addressing different constraints and farmers’ selection will be based on their need at the time. A few examples come to mind.
In Kenya, maize yields started to increase following the adoption of hybrid maize varieties and the accompanying high fertilizer use in the 1980s such that by 1986, average national yields were over two tonnes per hectare. To date about 80 per cent of farmers have adopted hybrid maize in the country.
The New Rice for Africa (NERICA) rice varieties developed by the Africa Rice Center have gained popularity among rice farmers in a relatively short period of time. The NERICA varieties have good agronomic performance and are resistant to harsh growing conditions, and have short growth duration. These are traits that are very attractive to farmers. NERICA varieties have shown great potential and are already disseminated on an estimated more than 300,000 hectares.
The other technology that has worked is the fertilizer micro-dosing technique which has reintroduced fertilizer use in countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. In West Africa, some 25,000 smallholder farmers in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have learned the technique and experienced increases in sorghum and millet yields of 44 to 120 per cent, along with an increase in their family incomes of 50 to 130 per cent.
How can we best put scientific research on agricultural technologies to practical use in Africa?
First, we must understand the specific challenges our farmers face, prioritise them, and apply science to seeking a solution. Second, we need to ensure policymakers are our partners [and] can consider how certain policies and strategic investments in scientific research can lead to meaningful progress for our farmers and our countries.
Do you think Africa has prioritised the role of research and technology in developing its agriculture?
Yes, I believe it has as different countries recognise that scientific research has a role to play in contributing to overall development and have stated this in their planning documents and even at the continental level. What we may still need to see are more instances in which this stated commitment is put into action, so that research can benefit from country budgets and policy discussions.
Where do you see AATF in five years?
AATF is already making inroads in facilitating the development and delivery of innovative technologies that will make a difference to the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Africa. In five years time some of the projects that AATF is participating in such as striga control in maize will have been widely adopted by farmers and made a difference to their lives.
The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project, which is developing drought-tolerant maize varieties, and the cowpea improvement project that is working on insect-resistant varieties of the legume, will be at the deployment stage, with some initial varieties already in the hands of local seed companies and farmers. This will be a major milestone for the Foundation.
I also see AATF able to establish new partnerships that will enable it access and add more innovative technologies to its portfolio that will address already identified constraints facing smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, we may also see AATF able to partner with more countries to increase access to appropriate technologies for resource-poor farmers.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

SOLIDARITY TO ALL WORKINGMEN & WOMEN!

May 1, 2012

SOLIDARITY TO ALL WORKINGMEN & WOMEN!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza
01 May 21st Century

This social analyst, development worker and self-development guru from Manila hereby extends a most heartfelt solidarity and synergy with the working men & women of our beloved planet Earth!

If there is a core life element that must be celebrated today, the 1st of May, it is the power of labor to build worlds and change the world. That human labor is powerful is ample proof of the great potency of craftsmanship, the same craftsmanship coming straight from the Godhead. It is a proof that we humans are co-creators with the Almighty Providence, and no force must abridge such a truth by shackling labor to exploitative and dehumanizing encumbrances.

We were created in the image of the Almighty Providence, created to serve as free will beings who will co-create worlds with the Prime Creator. Sadly, the power to co-create has been badly misused, which has seen our world, during the epoch of the Money Economy, degenerate into a prison camp controlled by an oligarchic class that shows no compunction in seeing millions die of misery and hunger for the gain-sake of advancing the insatiable greed of the same oligarchs and their technocratic-military-political subalterns.

A class of evil oligarchs that continues to abridge our powers to co-create and earn our rightful keep must be met with penalties in due time as an operation of cosmic laws. They shall reap what they cultivated, and that time draws so near. Yes, fellows, deliverance is near, and the time for fear and intimidation by the ruling elites will end soon.

Meantime, if we bear witness today to Spartacist movements rising in our midst, such as the mass strike movement in Europe, let it be so that the tools of deliverance are rightly the heritage of all free men and women. Let the gains of Spartacism roll on high, as a gigantic eagle set out to free those who were enslaved by the evil overlords.

Happy Labor Day! Mabuhay!

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