Seasonal fruit pickers left thousands in debt after being sent home early from UK farms

Nepali workers who quit jobs and borrowed cash to come to UK are out of work just weeks after arriving

Nepali workers hired to pick fruit on British farms say they have been left thousands of pounds in debt after being sent home only weeks after they arrived.

The fruit pickers were recruited under the government’s seasonal worker scheme and say they were offered work for six months. But less than two months after arriving, they were told they were no longer needed and instructed to book flights home.

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The floating gardens of Bangladesh – in pictures

Many farmers in south-western Bangladesh use floating rafts made from invasive water hyacinths to grow vegetables during the monsoon season – when dry land is scarce – to ensure food security in the low-lying country, which has recently been experiencing prolonged floods and waterlogging as a result of the changing climate

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Chinese pork prices surge to new high prompting authorities to act

Pork costs in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the meat, rose an average of 22.5% last month

The price of Chinese pork surged to a new high in August, prompting authorities to take the year’s first dip into national meat reserves to ensure supply for the holidays.

Pork costs in China rose an average of 22.5% last month, compared with last year. It followed the highest recorded month-on-month rise of 25.6% in July, as CPI also hit a two-year high of 2.7%. August’s rise occurred despite an unexpected slowdown of CPI inflation to 2.5%.

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India restricts wheat flour exports to ease record local prices

Government also cites food security after heatwave stunted domestic wheat output and drove up prices

India’s cabinet has approved restrictions on wheat flour exports to calm prices in the local market.

The government banned the export of wheat itself in mid-May as a heatwave curtailed output and domestic prices hit a record high. That ban boosted demand for Indian wheat flour, exports of which jumped 200% between April and July from a year ago, and lifted prices in the local market, the government said on Thursday.

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China issues alert as drought and heatwave put crops at risk

Local authorities told to take measures and ‘use every unit of water carefully’ in effort to save autumn harvest

A drought in China is threatening food production, prompting the government to order local authorities to take all available measures to ensure crops survive the hottest summer on record.

On Tuesday, four government departments issued an urgent joint emergency notice, warning that the autumn harvest was under “severe threat”. It urged local authorities to ensure “every unit of water … be used carefully”, and called for methods included staggered irrigation, the diversion of new water sources, and cloud seeding.

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‘White gold’: why shrimp aquaculture is a solution that caused a huge problem

In the 1980s, farmers in Bangladesh went from paddies to ponds, letting salt water flood their land. Now millions are left counting the cost

Asadul Islam peers into his pond in south-west Bangladesh and watches as hundreds of caged crabs float past beneath him. He is looking for those that have shed their hard shell. When he finds one, he has a short window to freeze it and send it off for sale to westerners with a taste for soft-shelled crabs.

He hopes this new business venture will provide the wealth that eluded his father. For generations, Islam’s family farmed rice. But from the 1980s, rising seas and storm surges began pushing saltwater over the banks of tidal rivers and ruining their crops. His father, along with millions of other coastal farmers, decided to flood the family’s paddies with brackish water and stock the briny ponds with black tiger prawn fry.

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‘It felt like wringing a dry sponge’: India’s dairy farmers face searing heat

Milk and cheese output from world’s largest producer faces catastrophic decline unless more heat stress resistant cattle are bred

Kailas Ramasamy gently guides his cows into a hangar-sized shed, tethers them to their posts, lays out their fodder and cleans the floor. Then, as he steps out, he flips a switch: ceiling fans begin to blow air on the cattle.

Ramasamy’s dairy farm is an hour outside southern India’s Bengaluru city. Usually known for its moderate weather, the region has witnessed a sharp rise in temperature compared with earlier decades. Elsewhere in India, temperatures have reached 50C (122F) this year.

That is bad news for India’s dairy industry, with heat stress leading to reduced appetite, lower weight gain and decreased fertility in cattle. Rising temperatures could reduce milk output by up to 25% in India’s hotter areas by 2085, according to recent research published in the Lancet.

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How cannabis-fed chickens may help cut Thai farmers’ antibiotic use

Scientists observed fewer cases of avian bronchitis and superior meat after chickens given cannabis

It all began when Ong-ard Panyachatiraksa, a farm owner in the north of Thailand who is licensed to grow medicinal cannabis, was wondering what to do with the many excess leaves he had amassed. He asked: could his brood of chickens benefit from the leftovers?

Academics at Chiang Mai University were also curious. Since last January they have studied 1,000 chickens at Ong-ard’s Pethlanna organic farm, in Lampang, to see how the animals responded when cannabis was mixed into their feed or water.

The results are promising and suggest that cannabis could help reduce farmers’ dependence on antibiotics, according to Chompunut Lumsangkul, an assistant professor at Chiang Mai University’s department of animal and aquatic sciences, who led the study.

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India’s wheat farmers count cost of 40C heat that evokes ‘deserts of Rajasthan’

The ban on wheat exports highlights the effect a rapidly warming planet has on food security – and livelihoods

It was his buffaloes that he was first worried about. As temperatures in the small village of Baras, deep in the Indian state of Punjab, began to soar to unseasonably hot levels in April, farmer Hardeep Singh Uppal noticed that his two buffaloes, essential for his family’s livelihood, became feverish and unwell.

A few weeks later and the buffaloes now seem fine, flicking their tails leisurely as an icy breeze blows down from an air conditioning unit, a luxury that once sat in Uppal’s parents house but now has been installed in an otherwise run-down cowshed, running all day at great expense. “The vet told me I need to keep them cool in this heatwave otherwise they will die so this is the only way,” said Uppal.

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India bans all wheat exports over food security risk

Move imposed with immediate effect in attempt to control prices after heatwave damages crops

India, the world’s second largest producer of wheat, has banned all exports with immediate effect after a heatwave affected the crop.

A notice in the government gazette by the directorate of foreign trade, dated Friday, said a rise in global prices for wheat was threatening the food security of India and neighbouring and vulnerable countries.

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New Zealand’s dairy industry should stop using Māori culture to pretend it’s sustainable | Philip McKibbin

Dairying is not simply unsustainable, it also violates Māori values – including those that call for us to respect the natural world

New Zealand’s dairy industry is under pressure. It is one of our biggest earners, accounting for roughly 3% of our GDP; and since cows were first brought here about 200 years ago, dairy farming has taken on cultural significance for Pākehā (NZ Europeans) especially.

But it is also attracting increasing scrutiny. As well as polluting our land and waterways, dairy is to blame for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government has developed legislation to mitigate environmental pollution, but critics say it is not adequately addressing the harm dairying causes.

Philip McKibbin is a writer from Aotearoa New Zealand of Pākehā (New Zealand European) and Māori (Ngāi Tahu) descent

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‘The tuber man of Kerala’ on a quest to champion India’s rare and indigenous crops

Shaji NM has devoted his life to collecting and farming tubers such as yam, cassava and taro, and promoting them across the country

Known as “the tuber man of Kerala”, Shaji NM has travelled throughout India over the past two decades, sometimes inspecting bushes in tribal villages, at other times studying the ground of forests closer to home among the green hills of Wayanad in Kerala. His one purpose, and what earned him his title, is to collect rare indigenous varieties of tuber crops.

“People call me crazy, but it’s for the love of tubers that I do what I do,” says Shaji. “I have developed an emotional relationship with the tuber. When we did not have anything to eat, we had tubers.”

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‘It will be hard to find a farmer left’: Sri Lanka reels from rash fertiliser ban

Harvests have collapsed, and the way President Rajapaksa introduced the policy angered even organic farmers

Driving through the verdant landscape of Rajanganaya, a rural district in north Sri Lanka where the hibiscus flowers pop out of rich green foliage and the mango trees are already weighed down by early fruit, it is hard to imagine this is a community in crisis. Yet for many of those who have farmed this land since the 1960s, mainly with rice and banana crops, the past year has been the toughest of their lives.

“If things go on like this, in the future it will be hard to find a farmer left in Sri Lanka,” said Niluka Dilrukshi, 34, a rice paddy farmer.

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Foraging takes hold in New Zealand’s wild places

As food prices rise, communities in Christchurch are mapping out local fruit and nut trees and learning how to tell good mushrooms from bad


The forest wraps the coast of Christchurch’s peninsula, carpets of pine needles giving way to a bright shard of green from the ocean. Nestled in the golden needles, Dylan Parker finds his prize: a cluster of dusty-brown slippery jack mushrooms, barely visible at first glance, hollow-sounding when tapped – perfect for eating. He gives them a quick slap to release the spores, trims them of their dirt, and slots them into his basket, where the ingredients of dinner are slowly accumulating.

In New Zealand, where inflation and price increases have sent food prices sky-high, increasing numbers of people are turning to foraging to supplement the contents of their pantries. Communities map out fruit and nut trees, alert one another to upcoming windfalls, develop a working knowledge of edible weeds, and teach themselves to distinguish a tasty birch bolete mushroom from a poisonous lookalike.

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Indian spiritualist Sadhguru on 100-day motorbike mission to save soil

Yoga guru will visit dozens of countries en route from London to India to raise awareness of plight of one of nature’s greatest resources

One of India’s best-known spiritual leaders is embarking on a 100-day motorbike journey from London to India to raise awareness of one of nature’s most undervalued resources.

Sadhguru, or Jaggi Vasudev, is setting off on Monday on a 30,000km (18,600-mile) trip through Europe and the Middle East in an effort to “save soil”, meeting celebrities, environmentalists and influencers in dozens of countries along the way.

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