By Leonard Gildarie
The smog is so intense throughout India, it’s like smoking more than 44 cigarettes a day. So reports CNN.
Bloomberg is also reporting that for the third straight year, thick toxic smog has enveloped the Indian capital New Delhi, forcing schools to shut down, halting traffic and sending residents scurrying to buy air purifiers and filtration masks.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the metropolis that’s home to 20 million people, has called New Delhi a “gas chamber.” And it’s not even India’s worst city for pollution. Experts are warning of a major public health emergency.
Burning of crops, pollution, dust, and emissions from vehicles all contribute to the situation. It will take some hard decisions to solve the problem.
The reports grabbed my attention last month. It drove home the harsh reality that we just cannot keep taking from our environment and not protect it or give back.
There is very little blame I can apportion to anyone. People will do anything to survive, but it comes at a price.
The world is paying the price for its wanton misuse of the environment, with climate change a harsh reality now. We have to find ways to rebuild. We are at the 11th hour attempting to compensate.
Norway had entered an agreement with Guyana for US$250M for the country to keep its forest intact to keep deforestation in check at agreed levels. We have not met the benchmarks to allow us to claim all of the US$250M, but we have been granted an extension of time by Norway to complete our requirements.
The benefits are supposed to be global, reducing the effects of climate change and possibly even reverse it.
In Guyana, we have to be extremely mindful of our natural resources.
According to the Guyana Forestry Commission, we are conducting responsible harvesting in our forests. There is, however, worry about the long-term effects of mercury on gold mining. We have signed a pact to phase it out in a few years. Therefore, alternative mining practices have to be found and introduced soonest.
I reiterate that we just cannot keep taking and not giving back.
I believe that we are fortunate to learn from the mistakes of other nations.
Over the years, growing up, I heard of how good life is in other countries…the US, Canada, and territories in the region. People were flocking to Venezuela, Suriname and Trinidad.
Scores of Guyanese living for decades in Venezuela have now started returning. We have remained virtually intact, untouched until now. We have oil now. The time for capitalizing on it is running out fast as alternative energy sources, including solar and hydropower initiatives, are quickly gaining traction.
We may have to consider forward-selling, unless we want to be left with a stock that is worth little in 15 years.
I do believe that the big plus from the oil wells of Exxon will be the natural gas. There is huge potential here. It can power all our energy needs and jumpstart our manufacturing, thus making our goods competitive.
On Thursday last, a significant event happened at Pegasus.
A deal was inked between Nand Persaud, the producers of the popular Karibee rice, and the University of Guyana.
The $40M agreement will allow the Berbice-based company to help build a soil-testing facility at the Tain, Berbice campus of the University of Guyana. The equipment will be delivered in the first part of the new year to the university.
These are the kind of corporate responsibility initiatives that should be lauded.
I pass almost every day by Banks DIH, Thirst Park, where school tours, sports and other events are taking place at the ground there.
Banks DIH understands all too well the importance of giving back. It is of course self-serving and a good marketing ploy, but a community that is involved has benefits in the long run.
In the case of Nand Persaud, the company appears to be cognizant of its long-term survival.
Over the years, we have managed to develop our self-sufficiency potential when it comes to food. Never mind that quite a few of us have developed a taste for imported potatoes and tinned food.
Sadly, farmers have remained largely at the mercy of the weather, ownership of the land, and of course, costs of production.
In Nand Persaud’s thinking, if Berbice farmers are able to bring down costs, from inputs like fertilizers, and raise yields, then profits will rise.
For too long, our farmers have been practicing farming from mostly experience and I would hazard – some guesswork. They would clear their lands, build systems for irrigation and drainage, and buy fertilizers and medicines. However, very little knowledge of soil content is available.
Farmers were not able to access the services that so many countries have now found so indispensable.
In essence, the question raised by Nand Persaud is how do farmers know what quantity of fertilizers are needed? How should the lands be irrigated?
The soil testing lab at Tain is expected to solve this problem.
At a small recovery cost, farmers will be able to determine what kind of soil they are working with, and therefore determine what kind of fertilizers and chemicals are needed to boost production and yields.
I am no farmer. I will be the first to admit that I know very little. But it is easy to understand the thinking of Nand Persaud.
There is demand for rice overseas, with new markets in Cuba and Mexico developed.
Guyana is exporting 500,000 metric tonnes annually. Surely, we can expand this. There is a potential market of one million tonnes in these emerging markets.
Farmers are now being given an extra tool in their arsenal to raise the bar. With experiments being done, we have managed to increase our yields significantly in recent years on the same lands.
Potentially, with the soil-testing facility, the campus can raise its research level, even be accredited, and sustain the project. The benefits will be significant, once farmers buy in to the idea.
We can no longer continue to do business the old way. We have to adapt to new science to bring down our costs and increase profits. Not changing is like being blind and buying a car to drive.
In other words, we have to follow suit of Nand Persaud, and think smart.
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