This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish
Old properties and empty lots in cities and towns around the United States are finding new life as urban farms. EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland, is located near shopping centers, car repair shops and homes. The neighborhood is a working-class community. People do not have very much money, and they have limited access to fresh food in markets. Over the past two years, the farm has attracted volunteers from the community like Marcy Clark. She schools her four children at home. On a recent day she brought them to EcoCity Farms for a lesson. Her children harvested rows of spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots. "It's important that the children understand the connection between the food that they eat, the soil, the air, the pollution, how all this is connected to their well-being," she says. Her son Alston agrees: "You connect with the earth, where your food comes from. You appreciate the food a little bit more." Margaret Morgan-Hubbard started EcoCity Farms. She thinks of it as a place where people can learn to live healthier lives. "Our view is that what happens in a community, influences the culture of that community. So our idea was growing food in a community and showing that you can have farms even in urban areas, redefines what's possible in that area, in that community and brings people together." "Every piece of what we do here is a demonstration to show people everything about how to have a sustainable community," she says. That means not only farming food and raising chickens and bees, but improving the soil with compost made from food waste. Sixteen wooden bins are filled with worms. Their job is to eat the food waste and help make it into compost. EcoCity Farms is an "off the grid" experimental operation. The farm gets its power not from the local electricity grid but from the sun with solar panels. In winter, the greenhouses are heated using a geothermal system. Buried tubes pump air at underground temperature -- thirteen degrees Celsius -- into the structures. Vegetables can be grown all year. So once a week, all winter long, neighbors can come to the farm and pick up a share of the harvest. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. You can find two videos about EcoCity Farms -- including one about the composting worms -- at voaspecialenglish.com.
(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Mar2012)
Hon. Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister of Finance, Italy
Hon. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Nigeria
Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor, People's Bank of China, People's Republic of China
Dr. Makhtar Diop, Vice President, Africa Region, The World Bank
Ms. Anne Sipiläinen, Undersecretary of State (Development Cooperation and Development Policy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland
This High Level Event aims to debate key recent economic developments in Africa in the context of the ongoing global developments. Arguably, for Africa, the key scenarios to watch are the trends in the US, Eurozone, Japan, and the group of emerging markets.
Overall, the global economy experienced subdued growth for another year in 2013. Estimated global economic growth was 3.0% in 2013 against 3.1% in the previous year. This was due to the continued protracted recession in Europe during the first three quarters of the year and slower growth in emerging market and developing economies. The global economy is forecast to an increase to 3.7 percent in 2014 and 3.9% in 2015. The United States of America had been estimated to have grown by a meagre pace of 1.9% cent in 2013, significantly lower than the 2.8% growth of 2012. In spite of extremely accommodative monetary policy that has mainly boosted equity prices, a number of factors contributed to the slowdown, including fiscal tightening and a series of political gridlocks over budgetary issues during the year. GDP is projected to increase 2.8% and 3.0% for 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In contrast to the global and US trends, in the Eurozone, GDP decelerated to -0.4% in 2013 from -0.7% in the previous year. Its GDP is projected to grow by 1.0% and 1.4% in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Growth in the zone remains weak due to a number of factors, including the drag of fiscal austerity programs; exceptionally low intra-regional demand; slow extra-regional demand; and tight lending conditions for some countries.
Japan has been estimated to have grown by 1.7% in 2013 from 1.4% in 2012. The country's GDP is forecast to remain unchanged at 1.7% in 2014, reflecting the expected drag from the consumption tax, which may be moderated somewhat by temporary fiscal stimulus. Growth is projected to moderate to just 1.0% in 2015. Growth in emerging market and developing economies fell from 4.9% in 2012 to 4.7% in 2013. Their growth is forecast to increase to 5.1% in 2014 and to 5.4% in 2015. Downside risks include rising interest rates (and hence falling capital inflows) and projected weaker commodity prices.
For African economies, although economic growth dropped in 2013 to 3.7% from 6.8% in 2012, growth prospects remain relatively robust. GDP is projected to accelerate to 4.8% in 2014 and 5.8% in 2015. However, the continent remains very vulnerable to key external risks, including further weakening in emerging market economies, reversal of recovery in Europe, disorderly tapering, and sharper than projected declines in commodity prices.
In view of the above developments, what strategic policies and actions does Africa need to take right now to entrench the ongoing evolution of the continent as a global player in the foreseeable future?