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UN agriculture agency looking at cactus as climate resilient food

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With the reality of climate change becoming more real by the day, including its impact on food sources, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is urging communities around the world not to take the prickly cactus for granted.

“Climate change and the increasing risks of droughts are strong reasons to upgrade the humble cactus to the status of an essential crop in many areas,” said Hans Dreyer, the Director of Plant Production and Protection Division at FAO, noting the plant’s potential.

According to the UN agency, cultivation of cactus pear is slowly catching on, in part, boosted by growing need for resilience in the face of drought, degraded soils and higher temperatures.

This was evident during the recent intense drought in southern Madagascar, where the plant – once viewed as a worthless invasive species – provided a crucial supply of food, forage and water for local people and their animals.

While most cacti are inedible, the Opuntia species – also referred to as prickly pear – has much to offer, especially if treated like a crop rather than a weed run wild.

“Today the agriculturally relevant Opuntia ficus-indica subspecies – whose spines have been bred out but return after stress events – is naturalized in 26 countries beyond its native range,” says FAO, adding: “Its hardy persistence makes it both a useful food of last resort and an integral part of sustainable agricultural and livestock systems.”

Historically, cactus’ culinary qualities have been a prominent feature in Mexico as well as the Italian island of Sicily, renowned for its gourmet tradition.

In Mexico alone, the yearly per capita consumption of nopalitos – the tasty young pads, known as cladodes – is 6.4 kilograms and the plant is grown on small farms (as primary or supplemental crop) and harvested in the wild on more than three million hectors.

Cactus as source of water and to lower greenhouse gas emissions

Aside from providing food, cactus also stores water in its pads, providing up to 180 tonnes of water per hectare – enough to sustain five adult cows.

This usefulness is all the more important during droughts, when livestock survival rate has been far higher on farms with cactus plantations.

And with pressure on water sources only projected to rise in the future, cactus could become one of the important crops for the 21st century.

Furthermore, there is evidence that yields in barley – a major cereal grain globally – rise when cactus is grown alongside it as a soil-improving alley crop, and there is research showing that use of cactus in cattle diets reduces the ruminants’ methanogenesis (production of methane in the guts of animals, especially cattle and other ruminants), thus contributing to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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Development

Despite COVID-19 connectivity boost, world’s poorest left far behind 

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Digital connectivity is indispensable to overcome the pandemic, and for a sustainable and inclusive recovery. Photo: United Nations/Chetan Soni

Some 2.9 billion people still have never used the internet, and 96 per cent live in developing countries, a new UN report has found. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the estimated number of people who have gone online this year actually went up, to 4.9 billion, partially because of a “COVID connectivity boost”.   

This is good news for global development, but ITU said that people’s ability to connect remains profoundly unequal – as many hundreds of millions might only go online infrequently, using shared devices or facing connection speeds that hamper their internet use. 

“While almost two-thirds of the world’s population is now online, there is a lot more to do to get everyone connected to the Internet,” Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General said. 

“ITU will work with all parties to make sure that the building blocks are in place to connect the remaining 2.9 billion. We are determined to ensure no one will be left behind.” 

‘Connectivity boost’ 

The UN agency’s report found that the unusually sharp rise in the number of people online suggests that measures taken during the pandemic contributed to the “COVID connectivity boost.” 

There were an estimated 782 million additional people who went online since 2019, an increase of 17 per cent due to measures such as lockdowns, school closures and the need to access services like remote banking.  

Uneven growth 

According to the document, users globally grew by more than 10 per cent in the first year of the COVID crisis, which was the largest annual increase in a decade. But it pointed out that growth has been uneven. 

Internet access is often unaffordable in poorer nations and almost three-quarters of people have never been online in the 46 least-developed countries.  

A ‘connectivity Grand Canyon’ 

Speaking in Geneva, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU said: “The internet divide runs deep between developed and developing countries. Only a third of the population in Africa is using the internet. 

“In Europe, the shares are almost 90 per cent, which is the gap between those two regions of almost 60 percentage points. And there is what the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, has called in his Common Agenda blueprint for the future, “a connectivity Grand Canyon”. 

‘Digitally excluded’ 

The report found that younger people, men and urban dwellers are more likely to use the Internet than older adults, women and those in rural areas, with the gender gap more pronounced in developing nations. 

Poverty, illiteracy, limited electricity access and a lack of digital skills continued to hinder “digitally excluded” communities, ITU noted. 

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Finance

How Smart Investing can be a Significant Strategy for Traders

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Despite being one of the biggest sources of passive income, the forex market is still unexplored by many. The main reason is the risk involved. Traders, especially those with little experience, fear losing money because its an unpredictable and uncertain industry. However, the truth is that with smart investing strategies, you can save yourself from losses.

Strategies have always been an essential part of forex trading. Beginners are also advised to go through reviews, strategies, and recommendations from experts. For those who are just getting started, here are some of the strategies that can help in trading and smart investing.

Understand About Trading Styles and Your Goals:

When you decide to set out on a trading journey, the very first thing is to get a clear goal in your mind about the methods you are going to use. Each trading style has a separate risk profile attached to it. Therefore, the right decision is essential to have a successful trading journey.

Maintaining a slow pace

The best key to a successful trading career is consistency. Indeed, all traders have lost money, but if you have a positive edge, you can be at the top in no time. The best way to gain success is to educate yourself and create a trading plan for the future. Sticking to the plan and working on it is what you need to focus on.

Exploring new trading plans

Yes, consistency is important but never be afraid to reevaluate your trading plan if things are not working. The more your experience grows, the better your needs might change. Your plan must reflect your goal. In case your financial situation changes, you need to work with a new plan.

Checking your emotions

Keeping your emotions under control is what you need to look forward to. Never let your emotions do the talking for you. Remember, ‘revenge trading’ rarely ends on a positive note. If you lose a trade, don’t go all in and invest everything in it. Rather, try to stick to your initial plan and maintain the loss over time.

Knowing the market

The exact importance of educating yourself on the Forex market is essential. Try to understand every trend the trade has to follow and take time to study it all. You also need to know what exactly affects the capital before you risk it. This is a future investment that you are focusing on for positive revenue in returns.

Acknowledging your limits

The exact limit that you are willing to risk needs to be acknowledged before using it. The money invested in trade can never be returned after investment. This is why you need to set boundaries for yourself before actually using the capital. Never risk more capital than you can afford.

Knowing where to stop

Try to act upon the orders by maintaining a stop and limit-based order. The last thing you need to do is actually sit back and analyze the market every time. Trailing stops are very useful as it helps to specify the movement of the market in the future. In this case, if you place contingent orders, it will not limit your risks for loss.

Choosing the right trading partner

The right selection of the trading partner is as important as choosing the base capital. The right partner can help you create an influence over proper execution, pricing, and customer satisfaction. Take time to decide the partner and select it according to your need.

Bottom line

The above-detailed steps will help you to be a successful trader and help you towards success. But, remember, trading is an art, and the only way to ace it is by discipline and practice.

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Finance

Global ICT Excellence Awards rated highly Moscow for the startups ecosystem development

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The Government of Moscow won the second place among state structures in the International contest Global ICT Excellence Awards in the Startup Ecosystem nomination. The award is given to organizations that have implemented the most successful startup support projects. The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) won the first place. The winners were announced at the 25th World Congress of Information Technologies WCIT.

The jury of the award highly appreciated the Moscow Government programs for technology entrepreneurship. In particular, the experts rated the activities of the Moscow Innovation Cluster (MIC) aimed at transforming startups into a full-scale innovative business.

The cluster has combined all the main elements of the urban ecosystem for innovators. With its help, they can find partners and investors, organize production, establish cooperation with large companies, industrial, educational and scientific organizations.

Within the MIC framework, 11 intersectoral clusters specializing in developments of artificial intelligence, medicines, motor sports and other fields have been created. More than 10 thousand specialists from different fields participate in these projects alone.

More than 30 thousand organizations from Moscow and 80 more regions of Russia have already joined the Moscow Innovation Cluster. The cluster is supervised by the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development, and the City Department of Information Technology is responsible for its digital capabilities.

The programs of the Moscow Innovation Agency were also highly appreciated by the jury. Among them is the Moscow Accelerator project for scaling innovative solutions in promising batches in partnership with leading corporations. In two years, 13 thematic tracks were organized, for participation in which more than 4.8 thousand applications were received. Another major project is a pilot innovation testing program intended for testing ready-made technological products in urban environment. More than 140 sites in 18 branches are available for piloting. At the moment, 110 tests have been completed, 41 more are in the process of testing.

The Global ICT Excellence Awards have been awarded for more than 20 years for the best innovative solutions in the private and public sector aimed at developing information and communication technologies and improving the quality of people’s lives. Its founder is the World Information Technologies and Services Alliance (WITSA). The organization includes more than 80 countries.

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