Social ills abound as rice industry challenges in Wakenaam continue

first_imgBy Shemuel FanfairEver since the cancellation of the Petro-Caribe rice-for-oil deal in 2015, rice farmers have faced steep challenges continuing in the industry.Before the deal had ended, farmers received premium rates for their paddy, with some earning as much as $9000 per bag. As previously noted, farmers are now coping with decreased rates ranging from $1800 to $2500 per bag of paddy. Apart from the depleted earnings farmers are getting, the time frame in which they could start receiving payment for their crop is being stretched out by millers. This ongoing situation has caused spinoff consequences for many persons whose livelihoods are dependent on the rice industry.Wakenaam is heavily dependent on the rice industryWakenaam, located at the mouth of the mighty Essequibo River, is an island that is heavily dependent on the rice industry. However, in light of the prevailing challenges, farmers have strived to reduce production costs in an effort to remain in the industry. Meanwhile, others who saw the financial challenges as too burdensome opted to halt rice cultivation altogether and instead focused on cattle rearing and cash crop farming.This change, however, has had far-reaching impacts as many youths were left to cope with reduced opportunities for employment, as rice farmers sought to downsize their operations. According to reports that this newspaper has received, a number of social issues have been exacerbated by the lack of employment, with a now heavy dependency on drug use among the ill effects. A resident recently disclosed that alcohol and marijuana use continue to plague the social fabric of the once serene rural community.“One of the major issues we have right now is drug abuse, mainly marijuana and alcohol use. Most of the youngsters abusing the alcohol a lot and we [also] have domestic issues; a lot of married couples are being separated,” the resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity observed.Another noted that the downscaling of the industry has added to the employment deficit.“They don’t have much job opportunities on the island. Of recent, there is a slowdown because of the rice industry; you don’t have much people planting. The persons who used to get jobs with the rice industry [was reduced] as people cut their investment, so obviously jobs would cut,” another resident said.It is thought that more social and counselling programmes are needed on the island. Guyana Times was told that religious groups have begun to craft measures to tackle the issues on the island. To this end, the Belle Plaine Sarah/Friendship Sanatan Dharam Mandir started special Hinduism classes which will include special sessions on dealing with social issues. It was explained that local representatives from the temple will conduct the lectures, while invitations will be extended to other organisations which focus on social activism.It is, however, believed that additional counselling services should be made available on the island as inhabitants may be reluctant to disclose the issues that affect them to persons with whom they are familiar.“It’s a small island; everybody knows what’s happening here and in having discussions, people may not want to reveal all their problems; they are not open-minded. We need more support. People don’t want to talk about their problems. [We need] an agency here where people can sit and tell someone their problems,” a youth leader told this publication.In late 2015 and early 2016, El Niño conditions plagued the country and many Wakenaam farmers suffered many losses as many acres of rice were lost. This was compounded by rice millers taking months to pay farmers for paddy supplied months prior. When this publication visited the island in 2016, residents noted several challenges including rising costs of equipment and spares, a lack of seed paddy and fertiliser subsidies and reduced engagement of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI).last_img read more

New way to build green homes

first_imgBricks are no longer the only material that can be used to build houses. Now a new project shows that polystyrene can be used to build environment-friendly houses. The first series of EPS-cement pilot houses have already been built on the premises of discount retailer Makro in Pretoria, Gauteng. (Images: Aim Marketing & Communications) MEDIA CONTACTS • Adri Spangenberg   Polystyrene Packaging Council   +27 12 259 0554 RELATED ARTICLES • Waste drive reaps rewards • New solutions for water conservation • Waste gives Such artistic inspiration • Pretoria pupils prove they can Wilma den HartighWhen you think of building a house, recycled polystyrene may not seem like the most suitable material for the job, but now a new project is using this unlikely product to build low cost houses and in the process divert recyclable materials away from landfill sites.Recycled expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the latest solution to two of South Africa’s biggest challenges – the backlog to build sustainable, low cost houses and the need to find ways to prevent the country’s landfill sites from reaching their fill capacity.The new project is proving that used polystyrene doesn’t have to end up in the landfill at all – every piece can be used to build environment-friendly houses.Adri Spangenberg, director of the Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC) says that the beauty of the concept is that there is there is no shortage of EPS in South Africa, and it is free.The trays used to package meat in supermarkets, beverage cups, packaging material for appliances and fast food containers are just some of the polystyrene products that can be used as building material once it has been discarded.“This is a new way of looking at building materials,” Spangenberg says.South Africa’s own solutionShe says that this is the first time the idea to use recycled EPS in construction is being commercialised.“Before, only entrepreneurs played around with the idea in their backyards,” she says.The project was jointly established by the PSPC and Tower Technologies, a local company that specialises in developing innovative materials for the South African building industry.Finding creative ways to recycle more of this particular type of polystyrene is important for South Africa.She says research shows that although polystyrene isn’t the main culprit for full landfills (it makes up less than 1% of landfill sites), the product consists of 96% air and takes up a lot of unnecessary space.Building without bricksOnce the polystyrene is collected, it is passed through a hammer mill to crush the material into small granules before being mixed with cement. This blend is what is used as a building material.The EPS-cement mixture can be used to make panels or bricks, but for this project panels were made by pouring the mixture into steel frame moulds. The panels are then attached to each other to form the shell of the house.“The beauty of what we are doing is that it is a national solution to recycling waste,” she says.And it isn’t just something that big construction companies can do – all South Africans can use the new technology.“People in every town, even in the remotest part of South Africa, can buy a hammer mill and manufacture their own building material using polystyrene, whether they want to build a house, spaza shop, or a small flat,” she says.The council and Tower Technologies are still finalising the formula of quantities of cement and EPS regrind, but once testing is complete, they will make the recipe available to the building industry.Building a pilot houseThe first series of EPS-cement demonstration homes have already been built on the premises of discount retailer Makro in Pretoria, Gauteng.The size of the standard two-bedroom house being built is 26 m2, and it weighs 1.6 tons. It contains 5% EPS regrind (which equates to 75 kilograms), which is thoroughly mixed with concrete to form walls that are almost indestructible.The polystyrene-based material offers energy saving benefits, good insulation properties and it is lightweight.“Being lightweight means that anyone can build their own house and it will be durable,” says Spangenberg.It is a much cheaper alternative to normal brick buildings as less cement is used during construction.If this material becomes more widely used, more people in South Africa can have access to decent housing.A new market for polystyreneThanks to the project, used polystyrene is becoming more valuable in South Africa.Spangenberg says that one of the biggest challenges has been to keep South Africa’s recyclable material in the country. Until recently the council has been struggling to develop markets for used polystyrene.“One of the biggest headaches we faced when talking to recycling companies and converters was the need to wash and dry the contaminated polystyrene typically used for take-away hamburger clamshells, disposable coffee cups or food trays,” she explains.The challenge in South Africa is that there is a market for white EPS for use in products such as seedling trays; cornices; picture frames; skirtings; coat hangers; and outdoor furniture.However, coloured polystyrene trays used to package meat or fruit and vegetables have to be scraped clean first to remove leftover food before they can pass through converting machines.To add to the problem, the high cost of electricity and water in South Africa did not make it financially viable for smaller recycling plants to invest in infrastructure that would mechanise this process.“This meant that much of the used polystyrene was either sent to landfills or exported to countries such as China and India for recycling,” Spangenberg explains.Members of the building industry have already indicated their intention to use the novel product.“I recently spoke to a builder working in the mining industry and he said that he wants to use the product,” she says.“There is a readily available stream of used EPS in our country and we are able to provide more than enough material for the pilot phase of this initiative.”last_img read more

After rocky road, U.S. Senate passes landmark chemical law overhaul

first_imgThese days in Congress, not even strong bipartisan support seems to guarantee a bill’s success. But the Republicans and Democrats who backed a U.S. Senate bill to overhaul the nation’s environmental safety law for industrial chemicals refused to give up. Overcoming a thicket of procedural barriers, they won a signature victory tonight as the Senate unanimously approved, on a voice vote, an overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).The vote puts Congress close to reforming one of the nation’s most maligned environmental laws for the first time in nearly 40 years. Both environmentalists and industry have assailed the TSCA, first passed in 1976, for being unwieldy and ineffective.The Senate bill now stands alongside a far narrower, but still strongly bipartisan bill already approved by the House of Representatives. Lawmakers must still resolve differences between the two measures, and send a final version to the president’s desk.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Despite the potentially challenging road ahead, backers of the Senate bill celebrated after the vote. “I think it will be looked back on as a major environmental accomplishment,” said Senator Tom Udall (D–NM), who cosponsored the bill, S. 697, along with Sen. David Vitter (R–LA).Under the current TSCA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can’t restrict a chemical’s use, or even request new toxicity data on it, without first proving that the chemical poses a certain level of risk. EPA also must factor in the potential costs of regulating a chemical in determining whether it is safe for use, and pick the “least burdensome” method of regulation.Under the new Senate bill, EPA would no longer have to satisfy these cost-related requirements, and would have more freedom to take chemicals off the market or order companies to generate new toxicity data. With tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce whose safety has never been reviewed, the bill would task EPA with first reviewing the safety of chemicals that the agency deems as a high priority, in the tens of chemicals at a time. EPA would have to give even more priority to chemicals that don’t break down easily in the environment, accumulate in the body, or are already known to be highly toxic.The House approved its TSCA bill, H.R. 2576, this past June on a nearly unanimous vote. S. 697, meanwhile, cleared a key Senate committee on a 15-5 bipartisan vote this past May, following a series of amendments designed to win over Democrats who worried that the bill favored industry interests and took too much power from state regulators. The bill has since undergone further tweaks designed to strengthen its bipartisan support.Rocky roadGetting S. 697 to a vote of the full Senate would prove difficult. One major obstacle became Sen. Richard Burr (R–NC), who put a “hold” on the bill, saying he would allow a vote only if the Senate acted on an unrelated bill to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides money for land purchases. The Senate eventually renewed the fund and Burr lifted his hold, but then Sen. Barbara Boxer (D–CA) vowed to block a vote. She has led the opposition to S. 697, which has drawn criticism from some environmental and public health groups. Boxer’s hold was based not on the bill’s substance, Jason Plautz of National Journal reported, but on her desire to see the two chambers of Congress work out the differences between their bills in public.Those concerns seem to have been addressed—though it wasn’t immediately clear what concessions were made to Boxer. In a statement after tonight’s vote, Boxer said “the bill has been vastly improved over the original bill, which in my opinion would have been harmful to our families, because it overrode our state laws and set up an ineffective and nonexistent way to regulate most toxic pollutants.”Boxer indicated that she would fight for further changes. She has long pushed for language that would explicitly ban asbestos, for instance. “I have been assured that as the House and Senate bills are merged into one, the voices of those who have been most deeply affected, including nurses, breast cancer survivors, asbestos victims, and children, will be heard,” Boxer said.With Boxer’s hold dropped, Sen. James Inhofe (R–OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, brought up the bill on the Senate floor tonight without any opposition. He and Udall called the vote a tribute to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D–NJ), who was once the Senate’s most vocal champion of overhauling the TSCA. The current Senate bill—which bears Lautenberg’s name—has its roots in legislation that Lautenberg worked on with Vitter in the previous Congress. Even though S. 697 still isn’t law, “I think Frank Lautenberg’s legacy has been fulfilled,” Inhofe said.ReactionReaction to the vote was generally positive, although many groups said they would still seek changes in the final version.“Though improved, the legislation still has major problems,” said Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of more than 450 groups, in a statement. “For example, it weakens EPA’s ability to intercept imported products, like most of the toys under your Christmas tree, when they contain a known toxic chemical. If reform is going to be credible, tricky, sneaky provisions like this will have to be removed.”The Senate bill “will help ensure that companies won’t have to negotiate an obstacle course of regulatory requirements to alert consumers to the presence of a chemical determined to be harmless,” said William Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, in a statement.“[I]t’s worth savoring the present moment, brought to all of us by a rare amalgam of political risk-taking and courage, willingness to seek common ground and compromise, dedication to one’s key principles while acknowledging the legitimacy of others’, and countless days, weeks and months of plain old hard work,” said Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, in a blog post.In a statement, Jessica Sandler, a vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group, noted her group supported the bill because it “contains important language to reduce and replace the use of animals in painful chemical toxicity tests. By modernizing the way in which chemicals are tested, S. 697 will enable better regulation of dangerous chemicals, thus protecting both people and animals.”last_img read more

Men add more colour to their wardrobes, lives

first_imgPretty Picture: An Ashish-Smita Soni shirt for Be: with pink flowersIn the age of the metrosexual, when men are willing to shed machismo and embrace sentiment, the attitude is reflecting in sartorial tastes too. The stuffed shirts with their staid solids, checks and pinstripes are bowing out to colours, frills,Pretty Picture: An Ashish-Smita Soni shirt for Be: with pink flowersIn the age of the metrosexual, when men are willing to shed machismo and embrace sentiment, the attitude is reflecting in sartorial tastes too. The stuffed shirts with their staid solids, checks and pinstripes are bowing out to colours, frills and funk. Office wear and Friday dressing are taking a beating as lounge wear and club wear take centrestage. Men’s wardrobes are beginning to resemble the women’s, with embroidered collars, patchwork pieces and retro prints.Fashion Week 2005 saw designers creating for the bolder, adventurous man. Arjun Khanna’s creations had a lot of dori work on a profusion of colours.Abhishek Gupta went psychedelic and retro with funky T-shirts. While Anamika Khanna’s belted shirts had bold prints and Narendra Kumar Ahmed’s men wore rich prints and bright yellow, Lalit and Sunita Jalan presented a playful collection for “modern intersexual wanderers”.It is not just designers with individualistic palettes who are rooting for change. Even traditional shirt brands are offering men that extra bit of flair in the basic shirt.From florid fun and polka dots to tattoo art and animal prints, all of men’s fancies are being catered to. “Today, men are willing to experiment with colours, textures, prints, silhouettes and embroidery. This was unheard of a few years ago,” says designer Umesh Jivnani, who works with matt sequins, mirrors and stones. Corporate Chic: A shirt from Provogue’s Kaleidoscope collection”Men are tiring of wearing ties and suits,” he adds, claiming that blazers and formal suits are being replaced by trendy, smart shirts for evening wear in most men’s wardrobes. “I did a pop art tattoo line for Tuscan Verve which met with huge success all over India,” says the designer who also functions as creative director for Tuscan Verve.Manish Malhotra, who is pioneering change in menswear much the way he revolutionised Bollywood fashion years ago, first introduced a line of shirts with a generous smattering of flowers, complemented by colourful, contrasting cuffs and collars. Not surprising, when one can spot the man himself sporting sequins on a pinstriped shirt or a brocade patchwork on solids.From the catwalk to store racks, bringing a touch of folkloric florals to the spring-summer collection at Be:-which has outlets across the country-is Delhi-based designer Rohit Bal, whose floral and polka-dotted appliqu shirts have been flying off the racks. Priyadarshini Rao is rejoicing at the freedom to explore. “Men are willing to experiment with cuffs, larger collars and shapes closer to the body. It gives us the freedom to work with different fabrics and cuts,” she says. Her new collection combines raw edge detailing-a relatively unfinished look for the masculine touch-with feminine style provided by floral and paisley motifs.”Our male customers enjoy wearing shirts which stand out and look different,” says Paulomi Dhawan, director, Be:. Making Waves: Tuscan Verve’s bold shirts are for the adventurous menThis season Be: designers like Bal, Rao, Manish Arora, Savio Jon, Abhishek Gupta, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Ashish and Smita Soni, Wendell Rodricks, Shantanu & Nikhil and Akbar Shahpurwala have designed unconventional shirts for men. Going by the customers’ response to the new line, Dhawan says the prints-inspired by nature, the 1980s and exotic locales- will continue to set trends.While brands like Zod! and Charagh Din cater to the party preppies, Tuscan Verve managed to keep abreast of the competition by earlier launching a lounge-wear line, Lounge Bohemia, followed by Club Aphrodisia, which with its attitude, bright colours, pop prints and assorted psychedelia was aimed at the more adventurous. Their springsummer 2005 line, I Meets Me, has linens, cottons and blends in summer colours like bubblegum pink, aqua blues and limes in candy stripes and florals with a strong emphasis on cut. Trend MeterPriyadarshini Rao: Hernew collection combinesraw edge detailingwith a touch of floraland paisley motifs.Nikhil and Shantanu:The year ahead will seepaisley prints, Africanmotifs, applique andpatches.Umesh Jivnani: He predictsa line of smartshirts in bright colourswith self-embroideryand floral prints.Lascelle Symons: Thinkpink. Baby pink tobright fuchsia is thecolour to look out for inmen’s shirts.”Our niche market is the rich-daddy kid and the yuppie, and it is growing,” says Sanjeev Wadhwani, managing director, Tuscan Verve. While Wadhwani agrees the brand is doing well mainly in metros and urban markets, the segment, he says, is growing.Another brand that has gone from functional to funky is Provogue with its earlier Metroscape and Casino collections, which comprised bold prints and slinkier silhouettes. Provogue’s latest style statement is Kaleidoscope with its bright linens, graphic prints, added glamour and a distinct retro feel. “Even in smaller cities like Lucknow, Kanpur and Pune the youth have become very fashion conscious,” says Nikhil Chaturvedi, managing director, Provogue.Another youthful but classic line of shirts was launched by model-turned designer Lascelle Symons. “The shirts are embroidered with a vintage architectural design on tapered and contemporary cuts,” he says. And though the shirts come in subtle colours, 26-56 shades of embroidery have been used. This when embroidery on men’s shirt was unheard of earlier.But is the Indian male ready for the colour onslaught and flamboyant shift? At least he is ready to appreciate the change if not accept it completely, says Symons. Wadhwani believes consumers have actually been looking forward to the change. So if style gurus are to be believed, the sparkling embroidered shirts, dual-toned cuffs and patches of brocade are here to stay. Men will be adding a lot more colour to their lives. advertisementadvertisementlast_img read more