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Gold rush threatens West Africa's cocoa future

By Joe Bavier and Loucoumane Coulibaly YOHO, Ivory Coast (Reuters) - A month ago, Bouafu Kouassi dug a neat circular hole in the middle of his one-hectare cocoa plantation in western Ivory Coast, and, sifting through the gravel on his shovel, found the unmistakable traces of gold dust. With luck, it could transform his life, but it could just destroy his farm. And as the story repeats across the cocoa heartland of the world's top producer and neighboring Ghana, the second-largest, it could do lasting damage to the industry.

Sex-change flies to combat one of Australia's worst pests

Scientists have hit on a new way to combat one of Australia's worst pests -- create a male-only line. The eight millimetre-long Queensland fruit fly is so prevalent and adept at destroying crops it is threatening the nation's Aus$6.9 billion (US$6.2 billion) horticultural industry. Until recently, farmers used agri-chemicals to keep it at bay but after a long period of review the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority recently restricted the use of insecticides.

Endless torment for Philippine typhoon widow

Jennifer Pulga endured the depths of helplessness as she pumped the last air her husband would breathe into his typhoon-battered body, and her life since has felt barely any more in control. A coconut tree crashed through the thatched roof of the Pulga's tiny home in an isolated farming village of the central Philippines during Super Typhoon Haiyan in November, crushing Richard and igniting a torturous passage to death.

Typhoon hits Philippine coconut oil exports

Philippine coconut oil exports fell 35 percent at the start of this year, driving up global prices, after a super typhoon destroyed millions of trees, an industry group said Tuesday. In normal times the Philippines accounts for more than 40 percent of world exports in the oil, which is used in daily items such as detergents, bath soap and margarine, according to the United Coconut Association of the Philippines.

Typhoon-hit Philippine farmers to reap harvest

Farmers in the Philippines will soon reap a harvest after using emergency seed supplies to grow crops following a devastating typhoon that struck during planting season, the UN food agency said Monday. Super Typhoon Haiyan raked across the central Philippines last November, killing at least 6,200 people with around 2,000 others still missing, while also displacing four million and leaving tens of thousands of farmers without their livelihoods.

C. Africa PM meets 'anti-balaka' chiefs, some ready to cooperate

The interim prime minister of the Central African Republic met Sunday with leaders of the mainly Christian "anti-balaka" militias, some of whom say they are "ready to cooperate". "I met the military chiefs of the 'anti-balaka' to discuss with them and see, through the means of the State, how to reintegrate them," Andre Nzapayeke told AFP after the talks in a Bangui hotel. Some claimed to be ready to cooperate in ending the sectarian violence between the Christian vigilantes and mainly Muslim ex-rebels that has torn the country apart following a coup last year.

New York mourns end of hot dog classic

No more "Recession Specials," neon lights and cheap bites washed down with papaya juice: New York has lost one of its most iconic hot-dog joints after three decades. "Gray's Papaya" in Greenwich Village, a reputed favorite of late rocker Lou Reed, has fallen victim to the near daily roll call of New York institutions crushed by exorbitant rent increases. Shops, bars, cafes and restaurants that for generations are considered integral to the world's most exciting city suddenly disappear overnight, no longer able to pay the rent.

Haiyan to hit Philippine coconut oil exports: industry official

Global coconut oil supplies will likely fall next year, an industry official said Friday, after the killer typhoon that struck leading exporter the Philippines last month destroyed millions of trees used to produce the commodity The Philippines provides more than 40 percent of the world's coconut oil and the areas hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan account for 10-15 percent of the country's output, said Yvonne Agustin, executive director of the industry group United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP).

Coconut farmers face ruin after Philippine typhoon

The super typhoon that slammed through the central Philippines laid waste to a vast region of coconut farmland, eradicating in one fell swoop the livelihoods of tens of thousands of smallholders. "It's all gone," Glen Mendoza said, gesturing towards the collection of snapped and toppled trees that used to be the small but reliable grove that fed and supported his family. "My daughter might have to stop going to college," he said. "These coconut trees are our only hope and now they're gone."

Move over, Haas: USDA clears way for Hawaii to ship avocados to 32 mainland US states

HONOLULU, Hawaii - Guacamole connoisseurs around the U.S. will soon have a new domestic avocado to try — not from California or Florida, but Hawaii. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is changing its rules for Hawaii growers to allow them to ship Sharwil avocados to 32 mainland U.S. states and the District of Columbia between November and March.
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