Saturday, February 11, 2017

Egyptian invention cuts rice irrigation water by half

By Mohamed El-Sayed

[Cairo] Experts and stakeholders in Egypt warn of imminent water poverty as a result of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is about to become operational. Meanwhile, agricultural production consumes about 85 per cent of the country’s water resources, half of which goes towards rice irrigation.

Rice cultivation consumes more than 10 billion cubic meters of water annually, or more than one-sixth of Egypt's share of Nile water, Khaled Ghanem, professor of Organic Farming in Al-Azhar University, told SciDev.Net. And this does not account for the water used for cultivation in unauthorized areas, estimated to be about a third of that used in authorized ones, he explained. 

But there could be a solution, in the form of a machine that ploughs fields in a manner that saves about half the amount of water usually used for irrigation, and a quarter of fertilizers used in cultivation. A specially imported unit, which sows rice seedlings mechanically, is mounted on the machine.

The machine’s Egyptian inventor, Mohamed El-Sayyed El-Hagarey, a researcher at the Desert Research Center in Cairo, was granted the prestigious WatSave Award for Young Professionals from the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) during the Second World Irrigation Forum held in Thailand in mid-November.

In an interview with SciDev.Net, El-Hagarey explained his motivation for inventing the machine. He said that during cultivation, rice requires complete submersion in a layer of water 10-15 cm above the soil surface, which demands huge amounts of water and fertilizers.

He designed the soil and water management machine to tackle this. The machine makes ‛V’ shaped lines into the soil, at a depth and width of 20cm, and sows rice seedlings automatically. This operation maintains the water level necessary for rice to grow in the V-shaped troughs, which is less than the water used in conventional agriculture that requires the entire plot of land to be completely submerged.

The machine was tested in a field in Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, which is known for rice crop cultivation in Egypt, with good results. It reduced the amount of water used by half, and “the crop yield increased by 4.6 per cent,” Al-Hagary said.

“This machine will save a lot of irrigation water in Egypt each year, which will help the country face these challenges and direct the water saved towards cultivating other crops.”

Khaled Ghanem, Al-Azhar University

Atef Sweilem, water management and irrigation expert at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, (ICARDA), praised the machine, but added that “saving water and fertilizers would not tempt small farmers to buy it, as the increase in the yield was not huge”. He pointed out that the rice agricultural plots owned by most farmers do not exceed half an acre.

“Saving water and fertilizers does not mean much for farmers, who get water for free and fertilizers subsidized by the state,” Sweilem explained.

Therefore, he believes that Egypt’s ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources and Irrigation should play an important role in supporting farmers financially and with training in using the machine.

Al-Hagary said the machine costs about US$5000, but needs further development before it is ready for commercial production.

He intends to re-submit a proposal to the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology in Egypt, hoping it would support further development of the innovation. An earlier proposal made in 2014 went unanswered, and he had to design it at his own expense.

Ghanem believes that “Egypt needs to use this machine widely range for several reasons,” the most important of which is the implications of Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam on Egypt's share of water. He also referred to the effects of climate change including drought, desertification, and an increase in evaporation rates, as well as the water wasted along the Nile.
“This machine will save a lot of irrigation water in Egypt each year, which will help the country face these challenges and direct the water saved towards cultivating other crops,” Ghanem said.

He added: “The concerned ministries might not pay attention to this innovation. The solution is to establish major companies to market similar innovations that can be funded by low-priced stocks, making them available to a larger number of consumers.”

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Middle East and North Africa desk.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nokia geared to publish fourth quarter and year 2016 report in February, 2017

The global leader in creating telecommunications technologies is set to present double report on February 2, 2017. News reaching the press indicate that Nokia is all set to release both the fourth quarter and year 2016 reports at the scheduled date this February.

From Finland, Nokia will publish its fourth quarter and full year 2016 report on February 2, 2017 at approximately 8 a.m. Both reports will be made available on the Nokia website immediately after publication.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nuclear monitoring body urges scientists to use its data

By Tania Rabesandratana

The international body that monitors nuclear explosions is trying to encourage more scientists from developing countries to make use of data derived from its US$1 billion nuclear explosion detection system.

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), based in Vienna, Austria, relies on hundreds of seismic, hydroacoustic and radionuclide stations around the world to uncover evidence of possible nuclear tests.

At a conference in Vienna this week (22-26 June), the CTBTO will seek to show how data from this International Monitoring System (IMS) could support other areas of science, with applications ranging from meteorological modelling and tsunami warnings to studying the migration of whales.

Advertising this scientific value can help draw in governments who have limited interest in detecting nuclear tests, according to the head of the CTBTO.

“We are trying to attract more adherence among countries in the developing world,” Lassina Zerbo, the organisation’s executive secretary, told SciDev.Net ahead of the conference. “Nuclear testing monitoring is not their priority, so we have to see what the spin-offs are of the technology that we use.”

Under the treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions on Earth, each signatory state has the right to access all the data made available to the CTBTO’s International Data Centre in Vienna.

“We have to put this enormous amount of data at the service of the population, to study climate change, the Earth, the atmosphere.”

Gérard Rambolamanana, Institute and Observatory of Geophysics of Antananarivo 

Thirteen nations have not signed the treaty, including India, North Korea and Pakistan. India is reluctant to sign the treaty until neighbouring Pakistan does so, and vice versa. In February, Zerbo wrote a column in Indian newspaper The Hindu, urging Indian institutions to begin science cooperation with the CTBTO.

“Science should support diplomacy,” he wrote. “This could eventually lead to India participating in the international exchange of data from the monitoring stations and would be an important first step to establishing familiarity and trust.”

The IMS constantly monitors unusual events underground, underwater and in the air. Its data sets span two decades, allowing researchers to study long-term phenomena.

“We have to put this enormous amount of data at the service of the population, to study climate change, the Earth, the atmosphere,” says Gérard Rambolamanana, who runs the seismology and infrasound lab at the Institute and Observatory of Geophysics of Antananarivo, Madagascar.

The CTBTO hopes the Vienna conference will encourage more researchers from non-signatory countries to seek partners that would allow them to access some of its data.

At the time of writing, nine representatives from India and 12 from Pakistan had registered to attend, out of about 1,000 participants. “We hope that they will carry the word back home” about the system’s value, a CTBTO spokesperson says.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

Elephant poaching pinpointed with DNA

Elephant poaching pinpointed with DNA

By Lyndal Rowlands

Scientists have extracted elephant DNA from illegal ivory shipments to identify poaching hotspots in Central and East Africa, according to a study published last week.

In a paper published in Science on 18 June, a team of researchers led by biologist Samuel Wasser from the University of Washington, United States, matched the DNA from tusks to different populations of forest and savannah elephants to trace ivory seized from international poaching gangs back to its source.

They found that the majority of the 28 major tusk seizures made between 2006 and 2014 came from two areas: a nature reserve encompassing northeast Gabon, northwest Congo and southeast Cameroon, and a savannah region on the border of Tanzania and Mozambique.

Elephant-reserves poaching hotspots.jpg
alt="Elephant-reserves poaching hotspots.jpg"/>

“These are seizures that weigh a minimum of a half tonne and are worth upwards of a million dollars or more,” Wasser tells SciDev.Net. “We really wanted to find out where the large transnational organised crime syndicates were operating.”

Although it was known that much illegal ivory came from these countries, Wasser says he was surprised that elephant poaching is heavily concentrated in just two places: the Dja-Odzala-Mikébe protected zone in Central Africa and the Selous and Nyasa game reserves in East Africa.

“Virtually 100 per cent of the seizures came from those two areas,” Wasser says.

“We really wanted to find out where the large transnational organised crime syndicates were operating.”

Samuel Wasser, University of Washington
Elephant poaching poses a serious threat to the species, with an estimated 50,000 African elephants killed each year from a population of fewer than 500,000 animals.

To tackle elephant poaching, the study suggests that support should be targeted at park rangers in the hotspots, who are the main defence against poachers. But this is difficult as the countries where poaching is rife are among the poorest in the world, and many suffer from ongoing conflict.

“The rangers are critical. They need the support of their governments to really do the right thing,” Wasser says. “Unfortunately, lots of the time they need the support of the outside world, too.”

Raabia Hawa, the director of Ulinzi Africa Foundation’s Walk with Rangers programme, which aims to highlight the difficulties rangers face, says it has traditionally been difficult to pinpoint where poached elephants are originally from, because they roam widely.

“From my knowledge, elephants have no borders,” Hawa says. She adds that this is why it is important to tackle elephant poaching at an interregional level and not just to see it as a national issue.“It’s great to invest in a science-based approach,” Hawa says, but she adds that communities as well as park rangers should be involved in anti-poaching efforts, to ensure they support law enforcement efforts in and around local parks.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.