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Daily Archives: November 3, 2018

Why you should learn about herbs in your area: Wild edibles and medicinal plants can offer food security

Why you should learn about herbs in your area: Wild edibles and medicinal plants can offer food security

Why you should learn about herbs in your area: Wild edibles and medicinal plants can offer food security

Food insecurity caused by drought, war, poverty and high rates of population growth has left around 800 million – or one in nine – people chronically hungry and unable to derive the necessary nutrition from their daily food supply.  (FAO) explains that since 80 percent of people in the most affected countries live in rural areas and depend almost entirely on subsistence agriculture, food insecurity can only be reversed if these people can grow their own food in a sustainable way.

A study published recently in the  (AJFAND), notes that part of the problem is the fact that humans currently rely on 30 species of plants to supply 90 percent of the world’s nutritional requirements. This over-reliance on a handful of plants creates supply and demand issues that exacerbate the world’s food insecurity problem. This issue could be avoided entirely if each country focused on the production of crops that are inexpensive and locally available.

The study in the AJFAND focused on the African country of Uganda, where food insecurity affects as many as one in three households in certain areas. Though this beautiful country has been blessed with a rich diversity of plants and herbs, the people of Uganda rely almost exclusively on foods that are not always readily available and which lack essential vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.

The number of non-cultivated edible plant species in Uganda has been reported to be far higher than those cultivated. The therapeutic and nutritive potentials of such plant species to manage various lifestyle-related diseases has led to an increase in their consumption. Many of these wild plant species contain a variety of secondary compounds such as flavonoids, alkaloids, coumarins among others, to which the therapeutic effects of such plants have been attributed.

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The widespread empirical use of wild plants demands accurate and reliable information on their potential benefits and prospective products. Unfortunately, due to limited research, the knowledge on wild plant species currently lags behind that of cultivated species. This is despite their widespread consumption especially in rural areas in Uganda.

Over the past five or six decades, many developing nations have shifted away from traditional farming methods and have embraced Western methods which promise to increase both yields and food stability. Unfortunately, however, with the passage of time, many countries have realized too late that monocropping is unsustainable, resulting in pollution, pest issues and plant diseases that cause serious food supply issues.

Monoculture is centralized agriculture, a corporate farming model that places an all-or-nothing bet on the success of just a few crops. If these crops fail, or if the system proves to be lacking in other ways — a lack of food diversity means a lack of nutrition options, which spells public health disaster — then the entire food supply takes a hit.

The logical solution to this problem is to focus on ensuring a safe food supply for your family by cultivating your own fruits and veggies. It is also vitally important to start learning about the plants and herbs that grow wild in your area and that are safe to eat. These plants are usually adapted to local growing conditions, making them more drought resistant and more readily available. They are often also a treasure trove of vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients.

  • Dandelions: The entire plant is safe to eat.
  • Cattails: The tips and white colored bottoms of the stalks are edible.
  • Wild asparagus: Cut the stalk as close to the ground as possible, and a new stalk will grow back in no time, providing an ongoing food supply.
  • Milk Thistle: The leaves, stalks and roots of this plant are all edible.
  • Clover: This plant is common everywhere, and is very high in protein. Raw clover can cause indigestion in some people.

Though it may be a bit time-consuming, learning about the wild herbs and plants growing in your area might make all the difference to your chances of one day.

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‘Food security at the heart 
of sustainable development’

‘Food security at the heart of sustainable development’


The second edition of Agriscape, the international exhibition dedicated to agricultural investments abroad, kicked off Monday at Rosewood Abu Dhabi under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The event, organised by Food Security Centre Abu Dhabi under the supervision of Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, convened 53 exhibitors associated with agri-land and other agri-assets in more than 50 countries.

Commenting on the exhibition, Almheiri said “the UAE leadership is committed to encouraging investment and enhancing food production systems to support sustainable development and bridging the nutritional gap given their far-reaching implications for the well-being of society.”

“As food security is a pressing resource security challenge for the UAE, we have a keen interest in increasing agricultural efficiency through the adoption of new methods and diversifying the pattern of agricultural investment abroad. Agriscape 2018 further solidifies the UAE’s position as a leading player in global food security through facilitating investment in agriculture and making the country a global agro-food hub.”

The exclusive, by-invitation-only event will convene 53 exhibitors associated with agri-land and other agri-assets in more than 50 countries. The exhibition will draw the participation of 300 prominent investors including 100 hosted buyers from all over the world, making it one of the biggest global gatherings of agri-investors.

Agriscape 2018 features 12 country pavilions, up from four pavilions in 2017, to highlight the key investment opportunities related to agricultural investment and food security across the globe.

Mariam bint Hareb Al Muhairy, the UAE’s Minister of State for Food Security, said: “The UAE leadership is committed to encouraging investment and enhancing food production systems to support sustainable development and bridging the nutritional gap given their far-reaching implications for the well-being of society. As food security is a pressing resource security challenge for the UAE, we have a keen interest in increasing agricultural efficiency through the adoption of new methods and diversifying the pattern of agricultural investment abroad. Agriscape 2018 will further solidify the UAE’s position as a leading player in global food security through facilitating investment in agriculture and making the country a global agro-food hub.”

Al Muhairy added: “With agricultural production expected to grow to meet the increasing nutritional requirements of a growing world population over the next decade, the UAE, in collaboration with its international partners, is leading the way in encouraging agricultural investment by creating and nurturing partnerships between decision makers and businesses. This will ensure sustainability of food resources in all circumstances and at all times through effective stakeholder coordination and public-private initiatives.”

Khalifa Al Ali, CEO of the Food Security Center Abu Dhabi (FSCAD), which is the strategic partner of Agriscape 2018, said: “With food security at the heart of sustainable development, Agriscape demonstrates Abu Dhabi’s priority in promoting enhanced food security through agricultural investment. Agriscape has already staked out a position as a world-class platform that will do much to drive innovation and investment to benefit our region and beyond. In line with our mission to strengthen our country’s food security resilience, we are delighted to use this occasion to identify investment priorities with international decision makers and investors.”

Al Ali added: “Investment in agriculture to boost food security is one of the key themes of this year’s Agriscape exhibition. The event provides a platform for policy makers and agricultural industry leaders to discuss the challenges facing the food industry and potential solutions for improving production.”

Khdeim Al Derhi, Deputy Chairman of Aldahra, the Headline Sponsor of Agriscape 2018, said: “We are proud to be associated with an event that offers an excellent forum for business leads to interact and identify the most promising investment opportunities going forward. At Aldahra, we are seeking to boost additional investment in agriculture as a key pillar of sustainable development across countries in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere.”

Saudi Arabia will record an unprecedented outing at Agriscape, with leading Saudi companies operating in the farmland and agri-food investment domains, including Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (Salic).

Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, CEO of Salic, said: “Our operations are focused on countries that offer a competitive advantage in producing specialized food products and ensuring their availability for export to our markets. We are delighted to participate in Agriscape as a globally recognized forum for encouraging investment in this vital sector.”

The event will host four ministers from the UAE, Uganda, Brazil, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Minister of Agriculture in Brazil and the Minister of Industry in DRC will lead the workshops of their respective countries during the exhibition.

The agenda will include the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) related to food security – between the UAE and Uganda, and between the UAE Ministry of Food Security and Al Dahra Agriculture, headline sponsor of Agriscape 2018 as part of the ministry’s efforts to implement national programs aimed at enhancing food security within the five strategic directions outlined within the MoU.

The exhibition is hosting many of leading global and regional businesses in the agricultural sector. As the third largest agri-business in the world, Olam International is one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocoa beans and products, coffee, cotton and rice, and operates from seed to shelf in 70 countries, supplying food and industrial raw materials to over 23,000 customers worldwide.

Ravi Pokhriyal, President and Regional Head for West Africa and MENA, Olam International, said: “As one of the world’s largest agri-businesses, Olam has a significant presence in the Middle East and Africa with farming, procurement, processing and distribution operations. Our success has been built on creating strong partnerships with numerous private and public organizations, as well as a commitment to re-imagine global agriculture for the better. We look forward to exploring new opportunities to support the region’s food security at Agriscape.”

Agriscape, which has already established an eminent reputation in addressing the critically important food security issue, will focus on the many opportunities available across the full range of agricultural investment while emphasizing the crucial role of effective stakeholder coordination. — SG


Career Development: Communication Professionals Share Important Traits

Career Development: Communication Professionals Share Important Traits

Communication professionals from a variety of fields mentor students at George Mason University’s (GMU) annual communication forum. The forum gives young communicators direct access to industry experts.

Amid power failures and microphone mishaps, GMU’s fall forum succeeds in bridging the gap between students and professionals. For two-and-a-half-hours, students met for six 20-minute mentoring sessions with their choice of 19 different mentors. A far cry from last year’s forum, the emphasis this year was on these mentoring sessions, eschewing the panel discussion from years previous.

The insights from these sessions range from appropriate conduct in the workplace, cultivating business connections, and building a professional mindset. Here are ten traits for professional success from professionals who’ve lived them – though there are so many more.

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“Be the person who is willing to do anything,” said Bill Lord, former general manager at WJLA and WRC. Bringing a positive attitude and willingness to work hard is instrumental to success in the workplace. Part of those ideals must come from a love of the field according to Lord. “If you don’t love [you field] then you might as well sell insurance. You got to love it and have to make to make sacrifices for it,” he said.

Sales Ability

“The number one skill everyone needs is some kind of sales-ability,” said Suann Lee, senior account manager at WTOP and Federal News Radio. According to Lee, an employer judges a candidate within three to four minutes of meeting him. An applicant should put his best- foot forward, highlighting key strengths, a drive to improve, and doing anything to stand out. “Everybody has a resume so something that you can mail to them, something with visuals, something that’s going to stand out, that’s going to take you to the next level,” she said.


When applying for jobs, in addition to sending out resumes applicants should also call potential employers and “keep calling because if you don’t someone else will,” said Lindsay Czarniak, sports reporter and digital content producer for Joe Gibbs racing. It’s easy to get discouraged after multiple job applications turn up nothing. Early in her career, Czarniak sent out over 20 tapes of her demo-reel before receiving any call-backs. Success takes persistence and Czarniak encourages young professionals to never give up.

Getting Used to Rejection

Rejection whether it be professionally, romantically, or otherwise is a part of life. After graduating, Lord drove around the country begging for jobs at local media stations. “Get used to rejection. Everybody gets rejected,” he said. The discouraging sting of rejection proves a choke-point for many people. Positively dealing with and persisting against it are part-in-parcel to professional success and success in general.


“It’s not the smartest who succeed, it’s those who adapt best to change,” said Paige Healey, an internal communication manager at Northrop Grumman. Adapting to changes in job responsibilities and the work environment are integral to professional success. In communication “you might do a little graphic design or you might do a little event-planning, be prepared for that,” she said. High adaptability, particularly in communication fields, makes good employees great and sets them apart from the rest.


A few years ago, Healey worked at a winery and noticed typos on their menu. She took it upon herself to correct them and thus, got her foot-in-the-door for communication work. Echoing this idea, Amy Derrickson, HR manager for Hill and Knowlton strategies said “Do work for the job you want. Don’t wait for permission.” Employees should showcase their talents and interests to employers by delivering above the ask. Doing so demonstrates ambition and drive to employers which can pay off in the long run.

Be Humble

Early on, Lord said “you’re never too good to be an a-hole,” imploring applicants to deflate their ego and watch their behavior. While this statement is about workplace conduct, it goes further than that. Early in her career, Angie Goff, broadcast journalist for NBC 4, took a job in D.C. doing traffic. It wasn’t what she wanted, but she found it humbling and was a building-block toward the job she wanted. Don’t be too proud to accept an undesirable job. It could sow the seeds of a wonderful career.

Going Beyond Comfort Zone

Change can be scary. Applying for jobs is one thing, but getting accepted and going to work is another. “Your goals, passions, and next steps should be exciting, but they should also scare you,” Goff said. A lot of people never realize their full potential because of a fear of change or failure. Effectively dealing with these feelings can mean the difference between self-actualization and stagnation. “If you can work when you’re uncomfortable, you’ll be unstoppable,” she said.


Belief in one’s self might be the single most important tip for career development. Czarniak constantly said “bet on yourself,” and this mantra pulls her through the toughest decisions of her life. Confidence goes a long way and trust in one’s abilities lay the foundation for career success. Second guessing and anxiety often lead to inaction and stunted growth. Goff encourages to assert themselves and fight for what they want. “You don’t have a chair at the table for me? Let me pull up my own,” Goff said.


While not a trait, building connections is key to landing a job. It’s easy to send an application via email but taking the time to foster a personal relationship with company staff elevates an applicant and increases the chance of being hired. “I can’t tell you the preferential treatment referrals get,” said Derrickson. In leu of a referral, applicants should reach out directly to company recruiters and follow-up a few days later.