Saturday, December 24, 2011


The Daily chart Advent calendar

Dec 25th 2011, 0:01 by The Economist online

A round-up of the year's most popular graphics and charts

WELCOME to our Daily chart Advent calendar, a collection of the 24 most popular maps, charts, data visualisations and interactive features published on our site this year. You'll find one behind each door, with a new door available to open every day until Christmas, plus an entirely new chart behind door number 25—a Christmas gift from the Daily chart team. Season's greetings from us all at The Economist online.

UPDATE - December 24th: And the winner is... Stateside substitutes.

Comparing US states with countries

Stateside substitutes

Jan 13th 2011, 10:05 by The Economist online
Which countries match the GDP and population of America's states?
IT HAS long been true that California on its own would rank as one of the biggest economies of the world. These days, it would rank eighth, falling between Italy and Brazil on a nominal exchange-rate basis. But how do other American states compare with other countries? Taking the nearest equivalent country from 2009 data reveals some surprises. Who would have thought that, despite years of auto-industry hardship, the economy of Michigan is still the same size as Taiwan's?

Behind door 24, the most popular infographic of 2011 is revealed as our interactive "US equivalents" map, which compares American states with entire countries on a number of measures. You'll also find links to the other "country comparisons" in our series, which also proved immensely popular this year.

Check out the charts:


A Quake-Scarred Nation Tries a Rural Road to Recovery


Published: Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.

PAPAYE, Haiti — For months after the earthquake that struck the capital, Manel Laurore pulled shattered bodies from his neighbors’ homes, hunkered in fetid refugee camps and scrounged for food and water.

Lufo Joslyn walked to church in October in rural Haiti. In places like Papaye, efforts are being made to increase farming.Andres Martinez Casares for The New York Times

Today, his main worries are when his bean, corn and plantain crops will come in.

“I will never go back to Port-au-Prince,” said Mr. Laurore, 32, a former shopkeeper who was sifting soil to plant a tomato garden, referring to the capital. “It left a strong pain inside. Here the work is hard, but you live in total peace.”

His work, on a 15-acre cooperative farm in Papaye, represents a small but promising success for an ambitious program being promoted by aid workers, government officials and international donors: saving the country by developing the countryside.

When the earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010, planners and visionaries here and abroad looked past the rubble and saw an opportunity to fix the structural problems that have kept Haiti stuck in poverty and instability. An idea that won early support was to shrink the overcrowded, underemployed, violence-ridden capital and revive the desiccated, disused farmland that had long been unable to feed the country.

“Decentralization is a critical cornerstone supporting my vision for a new Haiti,” President Michel Martelly told potential investors last month. “We want to strengthen and empower our rural communities and create new ones.”

But the vision has run up against Haitian reality: myriad economic and infrastructure deficiencies, the lack of credible opportunity in rural areas and the fading of international interest and funds.

Reviving rural Haiti would wean the country off an overreliance on imported food while creating jobs in the countryside, helping to discourage mass migration to urban sinkholes like Port-au-Prince. Before the quake, nearly a quarter of the population lived in the capital, where two-thirds of the labor force had no formal jobs and overcrowding was considered a major contributor to the quake’s estimated death toll of 300,000.

Tens of thousands of people fled Port-au-Prince for rural areas immediately after the quake, but most have since returned, American and Haitian government officials said, finding little opportunity and food to be scarce.

“We need to reverse the trend of people in rural areas moving to the city,” said Ari Toubo Ibrahim, the Haiti representative for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The organization says it believes that, with enough training and support, about a tenth of the 600,000 people still in earthquake camps could ultimately move to the countryside.

New factories are also part of the plan. A South Korean-run industrial park in the north, partly financed by the United States, is expected to open next year, providi
ng at least 20,000 jobs.

But experts say agriculture is the nation’s biggest need.

Farming has declined to 25 percent of the economy today from 40 percent a decade ago, making Haiti more dependent on imported food. Today, the government says, 52 percent of the food Haitians eat comes from abroad, compared with 20 percent a few decades ago.

The decline in farming dates primarily to the mid-1980s, when the government encouraged urbanization, and it worsened under a trade embargo during political turmoil in the 1990s. When trade restrictions loosened, the market was flooded with cheap, foreign staples like American rice, Dominican poultry and milk, in powdered form, from as far away as Europe.

A series of storms in 2008 further wiped out farms, and riots over the soaring cost of food, owing to fluctuations in the world market, led lawmakers to oust the prime minister.

Recently, though, there have been signs of a potential turnaround. This month, the World Bank approved $50 million for agriculture projects. “When agriculture grows, gross domestic product grows,” said Diego Arias, an agriculture economist who analyzes Haiti at the World Bank.

Signature Haitian products like mangoes, coffee and cocoa are getting a burst of overseas attention, and BioTek, a Florida company, is awaiting approval from the new government on a long-awaited public-private plan to revive Haiti’s last remaining sugar mill, in Léogâne, one of the areas hit hardest by the quake.

Haitian specialty coffee is in demand in restaurants in New York, Miami and other American cities, and the Inter-American Development Bank, Nestlé and Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers have announced a $3 million effort to help 10,000 coffee farmers replant trees on denuded hills and increase production for both home consumption and export.

The American grocery chain Whole Foods has been selling a variety of mango indigenous to Haiti, and Lèt Agogo, a Haitian organization whose Haitian Creole name means Milk Aplenty, has stepped up a program to give cows and training to farmers and to process the milk into a sweetened drink that Haitian schoolchildren commonly consume.

Taiwanese agronomists have expanded a program to help rice farmers increase their yields, though imported rice, much of it from the United States, is still far cheaper in markets than Haitian-grown rice.

But the challenges are staggering, and most concern money. Irrigation is lacking, and poorly constructed ports and roads disrupt the delivery of produce to domestic and international markets. Government efforts ground to a virtual halt for months last year after a political crisis swirled around a botched election.

Foreign aid has slowed to a trickle. Only 43 percent of the $4.59 billion promised has been received and disbursed, according to the United Nations.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the body created to coordinate and prioritize aid, closed in October when its mandate expired, with little sign that it will be renewed. The panel, led by former President Bill Clinton, was set up to provide some assurance to international donors, wary of channeling aid to a historically corrupt Haitian government, that their money would be well spent.

Its departure raises questions about whether the remaining pledges will ever be fulfilled.

Haiti’s five-year agriculture plan developed after the quake has received only about half of its nearly $800 million budget. Haitian officials say the government actually needs $1 billion to $2 billion to carry out the plan.

The new agriculture minister, Hébert Docteur, said he hoped to carry out the program with whatever resources he had to help struggling farmers. “Too often they are trying with hand tools to get something from the land, but it is not nearly enough,” he said.

The United States has opened several training centers that aim to instruct hundreds of farmers in rudimentary practices often taken for granted in other countries.

Wansy Jean Poix, 36, a sorghum and corn farmer in La Tramblay, near Port-au-Prince, said he was accustomed to planting by simply tossing seeds on a large patch of ground. Now he plants in rows, to maximize the use of the land.

“We increased production so there is more for ourselves and to sell on market,” he said.

The experimental farm in Papaye, three hours from the capital, at once demonstrates the promise and the pitfalls that face the effort to expand farming beyond the hardiest takers.

The village was created last summer by Mouvman Peyizan Papay, one of the country’s largest peasant organizations, working with the Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist Churches in the United States and other organizations. Together, they plan to build four more such farms in the central region.

The 10 families here grow their own food and have begun planting crops like corn and plantains to sell. Though the houses lack electricity, they are roomier than those many of them left in Port-au-Prince.

But the project has relied on substantial help to get off the ground. The total cost for the five villages will be $1.6 million, almost all of it from churches and nongovernmental organizations.

The United Nations is studying the project, but it is unclear how well it could be duplicated. Similar villages have been proposed elsewhere, but beyond the money, city dwellers have to believe that it is worth the effort to move their families to spend hours in the hot sun, hoeing and planting.

“If they have water, technical assistance and credit they can survive,” said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, executive director of Mouvman Peyizan Papay.

Emmanuel Jean Pierre, 30, already has found that subsistence farming is not enough for him and has set up a small side business charging cellphones in the village using a solar battery he acquired in Port-au-Prince.

He complains of the back-breaking work and misses the energy of the city, the parties, the friends. But with work scarce there and his small grocery business destroyed in the quake, for now, he said, he will stick it out here.

“If I saw a big change in economic opportunity in Port-au-Prince I would probably go back,” he said. “But I would rather stay here all my life.”


Thank You and Happy Holidays from


Mango tree saves 17 lives
December 24, 2011, 9:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — Ella dela Rio is not only happy at the gift of a second life but will forever be grateful not only to God but also to a mango tree which helped save 17 people.

On the night of December 16, when the rains of storm “Sendong” fell incessantly and the water began to rise to alarming levels (about 12 to 15 feet), Ella, her mother, father and husband climbed the mango tree in their backyard and watched as the debris-filled rampaging water slam into houses and turned their neighborhood in Bayug island, Iligan City into a virtual sea.

Aside from Ella and her kin, there were 13 other people who clung to the mango tree for hours drenched in the rain pleading to God for help. Some were pregnant women.

“My belief has been strengthened that there really is a God who is the only one who can help you in times like this,” Ella said in Filipino in an interview over DZRH. She appealed to loggers to stop cutting down trees. “I hope all of us learned a lesson from this experience,” she added.

As tribute to the mango tree, Ella said, “I will go back one of these days and hung a sign that will read: This tree saved our lives!” One of the pregnant women who was saved already gave birth, according to Ella but whose whereabouts she did not know as each went their own way when they went down the mango tree early Saturday morning.



Saturday, December 24th



Philanthroper Weekend Roundup

This week on Philanthroper, you...

• Gave almost 1200 people clean water for a whole year. 
• Helped pets get adopted instead of euthanized.  
• Treated 2,560 Haitians for life-threatening pneumonia and diarrhea 
• Assisted people who are homeless in sharing their stories
• Supplied 1300 chickens that will, in turn, pay for several educations

Want to give to any of these causes again? Go ahead!

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Next Newsletter 2 January

Christmas a time of celebration or reflection?


Every year there it is again Christmas time. We spend time with family and friends enjoying food, hospitality and companionship. However sometimes we have those small moments where we reflect on the past year and wonder what the coming year will bring. 

A year where E-coli had Europe in its grip. Japan was devastated by a tsunami, which had huge long lasting effects on the country. Both events lead to serious drops in consumer confidence in the fresh produce industry. 

But through all this we must be praise those companies who take responsibility in making sure they grow safe and healthy food. These people not only say they are professionals, but also show that they are professionals and most importantly take responsibility when something goes wrong. 

We can't foresee what the New Year will bring us, but what we can do is do our best to work as professionals in an industry that serves our primary needs. 

FreshPlaza will be back in 2012 with all the news from the fresh produce industry. Our office will be closed between Christmas and New year.

Our team wish you a blessed Christmas time and a prosperous New Year.

Publication date: 12/23/2011
Author: Sander Bruins Slot


China offers goodies to Pakistan, urges world powers not to abandon her

Saibal Dasgupta, TNN | Dec 24, 2011, 06.49PM IST

China has showered goodies on Pakistan as its top diplomat Dai Bingguo is visiting Islamabad.

BEIJING: China has showered goodies on Pakistan as its top diplomat Dai Bingguo is visiting Islamabad. It has offered Pakistani companies tax free status if they operate in the border province of Xinjiang while ICBC, the Chinese bank, is working on ways to finance the Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline project. 

In Islamabad, Dai appealed to world powers to support Pakistan and not desert it at this time. Pakistan has considerable influence onAfghanistan, which must be taken into consideration by those trying to resolve the crisis in Kabul, he suggested after meeting Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. 

The taxation move suggests China is serious about building a rail line connecting Pakistan and is preparing the economic infrastructure to support it. The new rule unveiled on Saturday offers a 5-year tax exemption to companies operating in Kashgar, which borders Pakistan and Horgos on the Chinese border with Kazakhstan.

Beijing had earlier announced to build a logistics centre in Kashgar, which saw bloody ethnic riots earlier this year, to revive the local economy and divert attention of the minority Muslim community from separatist leaders fighting to build an independent East Turkmenistan nation. 

Pakistan recently announced that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest of Chinese banks, has been appointed as the main financier in a consortium that will finance the $1.2 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Beijing's hand is clearly visible in the decision because the project is based on the assumption of a politically stable Pakistan, which is not the case at present. 

China, which has already invested $200 million to build the Gadwar port in Pakistan and helped the country build two nuclear power projects, is betting on the ability of the Zardari government to ensure stability by mending fences with the country's military leadership.


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Most of you are hopefully off on holidays already, but if somebody is still looking for some holiday reading the Wuppertal Institute's take on Durban may be of interest.

On the Road Again

Progressive Countries Score a Realpolitik Victory in Durban While the Real Climate Continues to Heat Up

By Wolfgang Sterk, Christof Arens, Florian Mersmann, Hanna Wang-Helmreich, Timon Wehnert

This report analyses the international climate negotiations at the UN climate conference in Durban. The conference revolved around two key sets of issues: What will be the overarching long-term framework of international climate policy and what near-term action will be taken to combat climate change? Accordingly, the first part of the report is devoted to the negotiations and outcome on the legal form of the future climate regime while the second part discusses near-term action along the “building blocks” of the Bali Action Plan.

You can find this report alongside all our other material on international climate policy at


Wolfgang Sterk

Project Co-Ordinator
Research Group Energy, Transport and Climate Policy
Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy
Döppersberg 19
42103 Wuppertal
Tel. +49-202-2492-149
Fax +49-202-2492-250