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Agriculture

Expert recommends recycling of organic waste to manure for crop production

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An environmentalist, Mr Gafar Odubote, has suggested the recycling of organic wastes into manure for crop production to enhance the clean environment and boost food production.

Odubote, the Global Head of Social Media at ‘Let’s Do It World’ (LDIW), an environmental NGO, gave the recommendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Lagos.

He explained that the recycling of organic wastes to compost manure would be of dual benefits to the environment and the agriculture sector.

He said that an analysis of solid wastes by LAWMA in Lagos State revealed that 47 per cent of it was composed of biodegradable organic material and in some areas it could constitute as much as 55 per cent of the total waste stream.

“Biodegradable includes wastes from the kitchen, gardens, markets, restaurants and the agriculture sector among others.

“These wastes can be oxidised by natural microorganisms because they are derived from living organisms.

“The organic wastes can be compost as manure for farm production and refined into useful energy production such as in biomass and biofuel, which can be part of a sustainable energy mix.

“Organic waste can also be treated to make compost for soil manure and other soil conditioning products.

“Some countries have developed specialised infrastructures to recycle organic waste and recover material from a broader range of degradable organic carbon,” Odubote said.

He pointed out that challenges might be encountered in recycling organic wastes.

The environmentalist, therefore, called for all hands to be on deck to make the practice a reality.

“The key challenge to recycling organic wastes is the inability to sort them appropriately from various wastes streams right from home or point of generation.

“Also the fact that we do not have adequate infrastructure to selectively sort wastes from homes, require facilities to recycling them on a large scale without polluting the environment.

“Sending organic wastes to landfill, which we are currently experiencing, is causing harm to the environment.

“Organic wastes should be seen as an important resource that can be refined into marketable products that would generate revenue and employment opportunities.’’

The expert also called for intensive campaigns to advocate for the conversion of biodegradable domestic waste to manure for agricultural purposes and waste reduction in the country.

“Most awareness campaigns have focused on plastic wastes and recycling.

“It is equally important we sensitise people about organic waste and how we can have a rethink about it.

“There is a need for government and private organisations to increase investments towards developing facilities for recycling organic wastes.

“Recycling requires a lot of funding and we must get it right.

“While a plan should be put in place to out rightly ban organic wastes from landfills, stakeholders must collaborate in developing measures to reduce wastes,” he told NAN.

For example, he said that market people could be trained on how to properly handle and store organic products.

“We cannot keep doing the same thing the same way and expect a different result.

“It is high time we have a rethink about how we use our resources.’”

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

Foreign

Chinese medical experts in Sudan hold video conference about COVID-19

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Chinese medical experts in Sudan on Sunday held a video conference with Chinese people in the country over the prevention of COVID-19.

Workers from Chinese companies and Chinese people living in Sudan participated in the video conference, during which Chinese medical experts answered questions related to the coronavirus and introduced the personal protection measures.

The Chinese medical team arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday from Algeria after ending its two-week anti-coronavirus mission there.

“We are paying attention to the collection of questions and give more video exchanges in recent days,” Zhou Lin, the expert team leader, told Xinhua.

On May 30, the medical experts were divided into two groups for the anti-coronavirus mission in Sudan. One of them provided an on-site training for the Chinese doctors from Omdurman Friendship Hospital of Sudan.

The other group went to an office of a Chinese company in Sudan to give an on-site training to the staff.

China has offered help to Sudan in its fight against COVID-19.

In late March, the Chinese Embassy in Sudan donated over 400,000 surgical masks to the Sudanese government.

On April 23, Chinese medical experts held a video conference with Sudanese counterparts to share China‘s experiences in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Interview: Sri Lanka looks to domestic tourists for post-COVID-19 revival: expert

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Sri Lanka should aim to entice domestic tourists as it seeks to revive a cash-strapped hotel sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a leading hotelier in Sri Lanka has said.

In an interview with Xinhua, President of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and Chairman and Managing Director of Mount Lavinia Hotel, Sanath Ukwatte said that domestic travelers are eager to go out after the recent easing of the curfew.

“People want to restart their lives and are quite eager to enjoy nature again. We also expect that locals are eager to patronize restaurants and hold events such as weddings, conferences, and seminars,” Ukwatte said.

Sri Lanka‘s Ministry of Health has formulated strict guidelines for the safe operation of hotels as Sri Lanka resumed economic activity earlier this month. Checks are being conducted to ensure that registered hotels are adhering to these regulations, Ukwatte said.

Ukwatte said that Sri Lanka‘s hotel sector would also look to opening up to travelers from regional markets, as pandemic-related disruptions continue in European and North American markets.

Sri Lanka‘s hotels have been one of the worst-affected sectors by the pandemic, with the country attracting merely 71,370 arrivals in March compared to 244,328 in the same month last year, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).

Arrivals in April and May have been brought to a virtual halt due to flight restrictions.

The government has stepped in to provide the cash-strapped hotel sector with concessional loans and discussions are underway for a temporary wage subsidy scheme for hotel employees, Ukwatte said.

Sri Lanka‘s hotel sector directly employs around 150,000 people, with nearly 700,000 people indirectly dependent on it for wages, according to Ukwatte.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Experts call for inclusive slums upgrade in Lagos,other cities

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Some experts on Saturday called  for the upgrade  of slums in Nigeria through sustained efforts to build resilient cities that would enhance good health and welfare of  the residents.

 

The experts who made the calls  at a zoom meeting organised by the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP),also said that such upgrade would protect the environment.

 

The theme of the meeting was: `’Cities beyond Pandemic’’.

 

They urged leaders in Lagos State and across the country to plan for  inclusive urban settlements that would reduce migration,tackle infrastructure problems,  and avert spread of diseases from overcrowding.

 

The experts also called for sustained slums upgrade plans for local communities that would make electricity, education, transportation, security, employment and mass housing availalable to the residents.

 

In her presentation, Chiara Tomaselli, the Urban Resilience Project Manager, Resilience, Sixense Engineering, Paris, stressed the need for knowledge to face the uncertainties of COVID-19.

 

Tomaselli ,who spoke on:  “Managing Cities Development Need in Post Pandemic’’, said that ignorance and limited resources were some  of the challenges facing  African cities in preventing outbreak of  diseases.

 

She called on African  leaders to  immediately begin to address underlying issue of infrastructure deficit that had given rise to urban slums.

 

Tomaselli commended the Lagos State  Government’s response to COVID-19,adding that it was important for the state to build urban resilience that would  provide good transportation,health and other needs for her citizens.

 

“We need to increase mobility without compromising health issues. Mobility shouldn’t ignore climate change.

 

“Also public health capturing in urban metropolitan area is important to curb the transmission of the virus. Improper water and sanitation also lead to outbreaks, ” she said.

 

She, however, warned that realistic planning should capture the most vulnerable people through adequate provision of affordable food, shelter and other basic needs.

 

“We have to know  that cities are places of opportunities and they will keep growing,” she said.

 

According to her, technology can be used to tackle the problem of overpopulation citing Japan and Korea as examples of countries leveraging on technology to deal with congestion.

 

Also,  Mr Nelson De Lamare, a climate change expert, emphasised the importance of the local government in driving clean climate agenda  that would have direct impact on a healthy environment.

 

Lamare said  that carbon emissions had reduced in several countries due to the COVID-19  pandemic as  there had been less industrial activities and vehicular movement.

 

He, however, noted that the difference in carbon emissions was not so visible in Lagos because of inadequate power supply which had  increased the use of generators inspite of the COVID-19 lockdown.

 

“Fighting climate change does not only require behavioural changes but also systemic changes,” he said.

 

Lamare listed other causes of climate change linked to human action, and called for a need to  reduce both the COVID-19 curve and that of global warming  for more resilient cities.

 

He said that the global warming curve could only be flattened if local authorities take swift political decisions to safeguard both health and the environment.

 

Lamare said that town planners should be at the forefront of driving resilient cities agenda while calling for political will on the part of leaders to evolve and implement policies.

 

“Post pandemic recovery plans must tackle the climate crisis by improving how cities are built, organised and used, by adjusting policies towards greener and cleaner economies and increasing resilience to future crisis.

 

“Mainstream climate mitigation and adaptation properties in stimulus packages and investments to recover from the crisis, while setting accompanying measures for the most vulnerable groups who may be disproportionately affected,’’ he said.

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Also,  Mr Paul Okunlola, the Program Officer of UN Habitat in Abuja ,said that  COVID-19 had shut down economic and social activities in several countries including Nigeria.

 

Okunlola said that the crisis had presented opportunities for town planners to drive the agenda of tackling challenges of urbanisation and urban slums.

 

He gave statistics of COVID-19 incidences and fatalities in countries and compared the figures with Ebola crisis, and called for focus on how cities develop and  enforce planning to remove pressure on infrastructure.

 

“Urban planning will need  a new Central role in the post COVID-19 recovery era. The stimulation presents a unique opportunity to rethink the way cities are planned, built and managed,’’ he said.

 

He called for a new city plan that  would capture the informal sector and the poor to accommodate changing travel, shopping and work lifestyles of urban dwellers.

 

An architect,Mr Jorgen Andersen, who spoke  on “Pandemics and Planning in African Cities’’ also noted the  huge infrastructure deficit due to lack of sustained planning.

 

Andersen, an associate professor at the  Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Denmark, made slide presentations of poor living densities of various African communities including Mokoko in Lagos State, vunerable to  COVID-19 infection.

 

According to him, most of the inhabitants lived and worked in the informal economy in compact settlements and houses which make social distancing impossible.

 

“How can you have social distancing when we live in settings like this, how can you go into self isolation if you are living in a condition like this. This is a challenge for regional and urban planners.

 

“In order to build better cities  preparing for future pandemics, communities should be carried along to become involved, upgrade slums.

 

“Planning is governance and governance is about interest ,and it should capture the ordinary people,’’ he said.

Edited /Peter Dada

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Foreign

China’s economic recovery benefits global economy: expert

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China‘s economic recovery after containing the COVID-19 outbreak will help boost the global economy, a Greek economist told Xinhua in a recent interview.

China‘s economic growth is the most important source of growth for the global economy,” said Vasilis Trigkas, who is also a research fellow at the Belt and Road Strategy Institute at China‘s Tsinghua University.

Noting that China‘s economic recovery will be beneficial to the global economy, Trigkas said he believes China will eventually shift toward higher consumption domestically, which, however, might be a long-term process.

Trigkas added that China can attract investments from European companies by accelerating negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty with the European Union, as well as deepening the reform and opening-up process.

“Obviously, this will have a positive impact on the global economy, as nations would increase their exports to the vast Chinese market,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Experts on U.S. filing frivolous lawsuits against China over COVID-19

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It is a premeditated political conspiracy for some U.S. politicians to request so-called “compensation” from China over the loss from the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese experts said.

The law only protects the legitimate right of action and reasonable demands, said Huang Huikang, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations.

Making false accusations and frivolous lawsuits are against the principles of equity and justice, and will disrupt social order and waste judicial resources, Huang noted in an article carried by Thursday’s Guangming Daily, adding that such acts have always been banned by laws of various countries.

Huang called such accusations and lawsuits a “political farce” and voiced against politicizing the pandemic.

China, where COVID-19 was first identified, has made valuable contributions to the fight against the virus and the protection of rights to life and health, said Liu Huawen, vice-director of the Institute of International Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In an article published in Friday’s Guangming Daily, Liu said considering that source tracing of the virus has not seen notable progress, some U.S. politicians and a small number of legal figures are already eager to shift the blame to China, blatantly violating the principle of state immunity, which is also acknowledged by the U.S. laws and legal precedents.

China and the Chinese government are exempt from the jurisdiction of other country’s courts, meaning that they cannot be listed as defendants in such lawsuits, said Xu Guojian, a lawyer based in Shanghai, in an article in Friday’s Legal Daily.

The lawsuits demanding compensation from China over COVID-19 lack legitimate and reasonable excuses, Xu said.

It makes no sense for serious and scrupulous legal workers to file lawsuits against China merely based on media reports and ideas from academic papers, said Xu.

Claiming China‘s coronavirus response as a “commercial action” will be hardly supported by the court, said Wang Zhengzhi, a lawyer based in Beijing, in an article in Saturday’s Legal Daily.

Stressing that the global impact of the novel coronavirus is not caused by China‘s epidemic containment measures, Wang noted that the source of the virus remains unknown so far.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Greece-China cooperation under BRI will progress despite COVID-19 pandemic: officials, experts

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After the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, China reiterated during the just-concluded “Two Sessions” its determination to further increase trade and investment ties with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Greek officials, experts and entrepreneurs told Xinhua here in recent interviews that Greece-China cooperation under the BRI will undoubtedly progress with strong momentum to the benefit of both sides.

“I said from the first moment this crisis broke out that we will not allow COVID-19 to harm Greece-China relations,” Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Development and Investment, wrote in a written statement to Xinhua.

“We believe in the ties between the two countries. We appreciate China as a true friend of Greece and a significant investor in our country… All our investment plans continue normally, and we are waiting for our Chinese friends to continue with even greater momentum,” he noted.

The Greek minister also expressed his admiration for the way in which the Chinese government has dealt with the pandemic, stressing that this global crisis affects all of humanity regardless of race, nationality or religion, and that “all together humanity will move forward.”

China‘s COSCO Shipping Taurus docks at Piraeus port, Greece, Feb. 26, 2018. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

China‘s COSCO Shipping Taurus docks at Piraeus port, Greece, Feb. 26, 2018. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

Nicolas A. Vernicos, vice chair of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce, and Fotis Provatas, chairman of the Chamber of Greek-Chinese Economic Cooperation, highlighted the success of the flagship investment project of China‘s COSCO Shipping in Piraeus, Greece‘s largest port, over the past decade, saying they were confident that Greece and China will take further steps to boost bilateral economic cooperation.

The image of the Port of Piraeus has improved drastically in recent years through a series of upgrades that continue this year despite the novel coronavirus challenge.

In the framework of China‘s new Maritime Silk Road project under the BRI, Greece and the Port of Piraeus — which under Chinese management has become the largest container port in the Mediterranean — provide a secure hub for Chinese traders and investors in the countries of the central, southern and eastern Europe as well as in the countries of the Mediterranean, Vernicos and Provatas noted.

“Now is the appropriate moment for China and Greece to bolster their trade and investment cooperation in order to win back the time lost during the pandemic,” the two entrepreneurs agreed.

“We are working intensively to create a great ‘Mediterranean Silk Road Alliance‘ in our region that will unite the most active entrepreneurial organizations in our broader area to support, enforce and guarantee the BRI‘s development policies,” they said.

Vasilis Trigkas, research fellow at the Belt & Road Strategy Centre at China‘s Tsinghua University, was also confident that the BRI will move forward to the benefit of all its participants.

Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2019 shows the Piraeus Port in Greece. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)

Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2019 shows the Piraeus Port in Greece. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua)

Asked about the state of Sino-Greek collaboration today, he highlighted the great potential in the tourism sector, a pillar in the Greek economy.

The sector, which helped pull Greece out of the bailouts era in the past decade, has suffered a significant blow this year due to the pandemic. The summer season will start with a delay and the country will most likely not manage to break a new record for arrivals, as it did in previous years.

Considering that both China and Greece have managed to limit the scale of the pandemic within their territories, there is a great opportunity for Chinese tourists to make Greece their No.1 summer destination, especially since Greece will be the safest destination in Europe, Trigkas stressed.

Fanis Soulis, a tour operator who over the past eight years has been living and working in Beijing and continues to help enhance bilateral cooperation in tourism, has no doubt that this is a great opportunity for both sides.

China has been the world‘s largest market in outbound tourism since 2012, growing at a fast rate over the last decades. As a tourism professional working in China for many years, I can reassure you that the majority of Chinese travelers favor and think highly of Greece as a tourism destination,” he told Xinhua.

In order to make the most of this opportunity, Soulis suggested that Greece should modify its planning and operational model when it comes to attracting and welcoming Chinese travelers. He proposed, for example, more promotional campaigns targeting Chinese travelers’ special needs and introducing lesser-known destinations across Greece.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Kenyan experts say COVID-19 restrictions hurting camel herders

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The stringent measures Kenya has rolled out to contain the spread of COVID-19 is hurting camel herders in the northern parts of the country even as the herbivorous mammal becomes a key source of milk and meat, experts said ahead of World Milk Day to be marked on June 1.

According to experts, restricted movements in the arid and semi-arid regions occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic have adversely impacted the livelihoods of pastoralists who depend on camel milk as a source of nutrition and income.

“There are three million camels and five million pastoralists in Kenya who rely on camels for their livelihoods and food, but they cannot make a living with these COVID-19 restrictions,” said George Chege Gitao, a Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Nairobi.

Gitao said that camel milk in particular remained the main source of nutrition for nomadic communities in northern Kenya where climatic shocks have worsened food insecurity.

Gitao said that disruptions in camel milk supply in the wake of COVID-19 containment measures could expose refugees and other vulnerable groups to malnutrition.

A coalition of camel milk producers, consumers and experts in Kenya and across the globe will on June 1 raise a virtual glass of camel milk to illustrate its vital role in promoting food security and human health amid COVID-19 risks.

Kenya is among Horn of African nations where camels have become the second most reared herbivorous mammal after cattle thanks to their ability to withstand climatic stresses while providing livelihood to pastoralists.

James Chomba Njanja, vice-chairman of Kenya Camel Association, said the camel milk industry alone could rival other foreign exchange earners in the country subject to conducive policies.

(XINHUA)

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Education

5G network will speed up connectivity for living, learning & business — IT Experts

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Some information technology experts on Friday in Lagos said that adoption of 5G communication network would accelerate connectivity for living learning and business and dismissed myths of harmful radiation to human health.

The IT experts spoke during a virtual public lecture, entitled: “5G Communication Network and Covid-19 Pandemic, the Myths and the Realties”,  organised by Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo.

Dr Toyin Enikuomehin, Head of Computer Science at LASU, said that 5G communication network would enhance cyber security, transform the ecosystem and virtual platforms in the country.

According to Enikuomehin, the three major features of 5G network are connectivity, latency and speed which would make communication faster than others.

“New devices, software, applications will all come along with 5G and definitely aid the way we do things.

“Latest technology will define better ways of communication, calls, video and audio, including messages in real time,”Enikuomehin said.

In his presentation, Prof. Fatai Balogun, Director, Radiation Monitoring and Protection Services, LASU, said that 5G radiation transmission would not cause harm or be harmful to human system or health.

Balogun said that 5G network was just an advanced form of communication through transmission which would not cause damage to human health.

“Communication end users should expect seamless connection and fast moving level of communication with concise speed from 5G network,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Shina Badaru, Founder of Technology Times Ltd, said that 5G network would support services, virtual learning as well as wholesome learning across the country.

Badru said that with 5G, the act of communication would be precise, reliable and efficient; the end users would get the desired values that comes with it.

When 5G finally comes into Nigeria, it will bring about extra connection, better communication services and eventually demystify all the myths and conspiracy theory around human health,”he said.

Prof. Idowu Farai, Professor of Radiation and Health Physics at LASU, said that 5G network was a natural revolution in communication.

Farai said that all networks operate through oscillating electromagnetic waves, while the frequency determines energy.

“Only high energy has exposure to hazards, as no communication network operates in the high energy range.

He pointed out that Nigeria Communication Commission(NCC) and other Interrnational regulatory bodies had put the health of end users into consideration.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Economy

MPR reduction: Experts predict increased activities in capital market

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cial experts on Friday said reduction of the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 12.5 per cent from 13.5 per cent would likely drive more funds into the capital market.

The experts, who commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the MPR reduction, said it would boost activity in the capital market due to low yield in the money market.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that the reduction was a welcome development, but not enough to encourage credit expansion.

NAN reports that the Monetary Policy Committee on May 28, voted to reduce the MPR by 100 basis points to 12.50 per cent from 13.5 per cent.

This was in a bid to salvage the economy from the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee, however, retained the asymmetric corridor of +200/-500bps basis points around the MPR, held Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 per cent and kept liquidity ratio at 30 per cent.

Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, said the MPC’s decision would likely lead to redirection of funds into the capital market.

Tella, a professor of economics, described the MPR reduction as a welcome development.

He, however, said it was not low enough to encourage credit expansion which would increase investment and consequently output.

“The current rising inflation rate is not caused by excess money, but shortage of goods due to fall in production.

“So, lower MPR will signal to banks to lower interest rates generally and thereby encourage borrowers.

“Interest rates on intervention funds have been reduced to five per cent, but that fund is not available to all businesses or borrowers.

“For this period of COVID-19, lending interest rates above 10 per cent is too high.

“When interest rates are low, borrowing increases as well as outputs and inflation will fall, more so when food index is the major driver of inflation,”Tella said.

Speaking on shortage of foreign currency in the economy, he attributed the development to speculative activities.

“The current demand for foreign exchange is more from speculative angle as real production is yet to take off.

“To prevent further naira depreciation when demand for imports increases, the CBN will have to intervene more,” he said.

Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Limited, said the outcome of MPC meeting showed CBN’s readiness to reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Omordion said the interest rate cut would further push down yield in the money market, thereby making more funds available for the private sector.

According to him, appetite for loan will likely increase with the reduced interest rate.

He noted that the low yield in the money market instrument might drive some funds to the capital market.

Omordion said that investors would increase their investment in the equities market to hedge against inflation.

He said that banks’ net interest margin might reduce, thereby affecting their profits.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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