Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Is Indoor Farming The Solution To Our Farming Woes?

The world’s population continues to rise through the years but our resources are dwindling and other environmental factors make traditional farming more challenging. Water is always a constant threat whether in excess or the lack of it. Floods ravage farming communities while droughts make it impossible for crops to grow.

Climate change is another threat that for sure will only get worse as the years go by. Add to that the fact that a big chunk of agricultural lands is being converted into suburban communities, industries, or commercial complexes. Indeed, the agricultural sector is suffering. What many of us fail to realize now is that it is us who will eventually suffer once food becomes scarce and not enough to meet our growing needs.

There are times that Mother Nature is just too darn unpredictable.

When everything goes without a hitch, the U.S. typically has an abundant supply of vegetables. But throw in rainy weather, delays that move back planting and harvesting, and all of a sudden you have a case of panicky buyers who are keen to look for more predictable and nearby sources of supply.

Retailers and consumers in the United Kingdom in February suffered a shock when rains in Spain caused some stores to ration their supply of greens. Some California companies saw an opportunity and shipped lettuce to the U.K.

Now it’s California facing rain-related production problems. The Packer has covered the gaps in vegetable supply in California, and various marketers predict it will get worse before it gets better. The rains that brought relief to the Golden State could give buyers a roller coaster ride later this spring.


There is nothing much we can do once calamity strikes. It will not only take lives, destroy properties and displace people but also affect the food supply and demand. What can we do to cope then?

A new farming company is growing its produce at a quicker and more cost-effective rate than traditional farms.

The secret to the success? The produce is grown indoors.

Bowery, based in the southern section of Kearny, was founded two years ago by Irving Fain and officially launched last week. The company dubs itself as the first to grow "post organic produce."

"We have completely pure and clean crops," Fain said.  

By growing produce - like kale and arugula - indoors, Fain said the company eliminates dealing with harsh weather conditions and is able to bring its products to local retailers quicker then other distributors. 

Now, you are probably wondering how do they do it?

Using hydroponic techniques and software that controls the atmosphere inside the farm, produce crews significantly quicker without using any pesticides. 


And the experts can’t help but agree.

If agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more like manufacturing, says Geoffrey Carr. Fortunately, that is already beginning to happen.

Technology, however, has come to Mr. Rogers’s aid. His farm is wired up like a lab rat. Or, to be more accurate, it is wirelessed up. Moisture sensors planted throughout the nut groves keep track of what is going on in the soil. They send their results to a computer in the cloud (the network of servers that does an increasing amount of the world’s heavy-duty computing) to be crunched. The results are passed back to the farm’s irrigation system—a grid of drip tapes (hoses with holes punched in them) that are filled by pumps.

The system resembles the hydroponics used to grow vegetables in greenhouses. Every half-hour a carefully calibrated pulse of water based on the cloud’s calculations, and mixed with an appropriate dose of fertiliser if scheduled, is pushed through the tapes, delivering a precise sprinkling to each tree. The pulses alternate between one side of the tree trunk and the other, which experience has shown encourages water uptake. Before this system was in place, Mr Rogers would have irrigated his farm about once a week. With the new little-but-often technique, he uses 20% less water than he used to. That both saves money and brings kudos, for California has suffered a four-year-long drought and there is social and political, as well as financial, pressure to conserve water.

Mr. Rogers’s farm, and similar ones that grow other high-value but thirsty crops like pistachios, walnuts and grapes, are at the leading edge of this type of precision agriculture, known as “smart farming”. But it is not only fruit and nut farmers who benefit from being precise. So-called row crops—the maize and soyabeans that cover much of America’s Midwest—are being teched up, too. Sowing, watering, fertilising and harvesting are all computer-controlled. Even the soil they grow in is monitored to within an inch of its life.


Smart farming is now possible and farmers should look into this option in growing their crops. It may sound daunting for many but it actually proved to be a success in different farms all over America. With a little help from government agencies and private organizations that provide funding, indoor farming may be the solution we are all looking for to solve our intermittent food crisis.

Crops are no longer vulnerable to the elements and there is a promise of its steady food supply all year round regardless of environmental changes or seasonal weather variations.

Is Indoor Farming The Solution To Our Farming Woes? See more on:


Friday, 21 April 2017

The Relevance Of Today’s Religions

Religion always played a major role in people’s lives. It reinforces the faith of believers and gives them hope despite the many problems plaguing mankind. The church that we now know of is separate from the state but it was not always that way. Ancient religions - especially the early  Christians - actually governed the land and enforce laws that the people must obey at all cost.

The people of today believe in different religions just like in the past. They take their faith seriously. Some will even give up their lives to prove how devoted they are to their faith. Muslims are known for that practice.Unfortunately, others have taken advantage of it and used religious extremism to cause chaos in the world through terroristic activities. And America has witnessed and became a victim to this extremist cause and lives were lost along the way.

Unfortunately, others have taken advantaged of it and used religious extremism to cause chaos in the world through terroristic activities. And America has witnessed and became a victim to this extremist cause and many lives were lost over the years.

Liberal churches and synagogues — and all other religious institutions that share our ideals — must step up at this time of crisis for our country. America is in peril, and we must take the lead in saving it, preaching a message of justice and compassion. But we must do more than preach. We must offer an action agenda that is also a moral agenda, rooted in Biblical teachings and religious precepts — an agenda that will lift our nation’s sights and challenge our nation’s conscience.

There is no one else to play this role. If we fail to rise to the challenge, the result will be catastrophic. American values will be undermined in a profound way. And not only that; the religious congregations that we serve will be seen by our members and by all Americans as irrelevant at precisely the time when they are needed most.

Religious congregations are essential right now because the problems that America faces are without precedent in our country’s history. Following the election, Americans looked around and what they saw everywhere was incivility, division, and bigotry. The campaign of President-elect Trump incited people to hate, and hate they did. Hatred is infectious, and the result is that the fires of intolerance are roaring unconstrained.


Wars have been fought and people displaced as their hometowns get ravaged by shootings and explosions. Many of them are seeking refuge in various countries including the United States in the hope of finding a new home and being able to start their lives anew. But the idea of accepting refugees is also a cause of many heated arguments among ordinary American citizens and even leaders of the state.

Hundreds of houses of worship are offering sanctuary to people who could face deportation if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on his campaign pledge to remove millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

To some churches, sanctuary means spiritual support or legal assistance to fight deportation. Others promise or already are extending physical sanctuary by housing immigrants.

In Brockton, a poor city of about 95,000 people south of Boston, four churches have pledged to take in immigrants fearful of being deported.

“If you need a safe place, once you enter the doors of this building, you are safe,” said the Rev. Abraham Waya, pastor of Central United Methodist Church, who said his church can shelter as many as 100 people. “We will host you and take care of you for as long as it takes.”


Both sides have valid arguments. One fears the safety and security of the people and the thought of having an additional burden to feed, shelter and care for are not appealing when the country’s homeless population are actually increasing without a promising solution from the government. But then, there are those who believe in the innate goodness of humans. Charity begins at home and they believe offering their homes to those in need are the moral obligation of everybody especially that it was the U.S. who initiated war in their countries in the first place.

As more countries still suffer from endless wars that seem to have no end, the issue of refugees will likely stay for a while. But it is unlikely that the government will have their hand on it or will even approve it considering how vocal President Trump is against non-Americans. It is evident in the first few policies he has signed since assuming office. Now, it will be a tough battle for the various churches to extend their help to the homeless when the administration is clearly opposing their efforts right from the start.

The following blog post The Relevance Of Today’s Religions is available on Keating Economics Blog


Sunday, 16 April 2017

What To Do With The Homeless

No matter where you go, you are sure to come across homeless people littering the streets. Men or women, the young or the old, homelessness does not discriminate. The last recession and the difficulties of most industries to bounce back after the crisis led to massive layoffs and a rise in the country’s unemployment rate. People were asked to leave their homes because they can no longer pay their mortgage.

So, in a way, these people actually had no choice but to live on the streets since shelters can’t always accommodate them. Even now that the economy is gradually improving and business is starting to pick up, other industries are still closing down. Employees will lose their jobs and can no longer afford to pay their rent or their mortgage.

For instance, malls are closing down as people prefer to shop online. So, it is not surprising to see more homeless people in the community than before. The U.S. should follow Canada’s lead in their efforts to take care of the homeless, so they become productive members of society once more.

A task force of Metro Vancouver mayors and business leaders released 12 recommendations to combat homelessness in the region on Monday, again calling on the provincial and federal governments to create and fund a provincial poverty reduction plan.

The report focused on three goals: preventing people from becoming homeless, serving them if they become homeless, and helping them into housing.

“The research unequivocally demonstrates a complete system-wide failure in the social services network designed to assist the most vulnerable in the region,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, who helped lead the effort with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The report recommended expanding home care for people with chronic health issues and addictions, and adding social housing units – key factors of homelessness, it said, that are outside local government jurisdiction.

Just how will they do that?

Coleman pointed to 1,900 units of affordable rental housing, including about 300 units for homeless people, that are in the works in the region.

Two shelter proposals were once on the table for Maple Ridge, Read noted, and both were later rescinded by the province, leading to some people staying in the local shelter for 18 months as they waited to move into transitional housing.


The Canadians clearly know what they are doing.

The Minister also participated in the official opening of a three-story building at 220 Terminal Avenue, hosted by the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. The new building is the first project in Canada to be approved by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation under the Affordable Rental Innovation Fund, and features 40 single occupancy suites for people at risk of homelessness, students and seniors. The project also includes moveable modular units, which are set up on undeveloped, city-owned land to provide temporary housing when needed.


Albuquerque, New Mexico is among the first states in the country to initiate programs for the homeless population and has now been adopted by other U.S. states. It is not just a simple housing program but a more lasting solution by providing employment to the homeless so they can finally get themselves off the streets.

In 2015, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry made national headlines when he debuted a no-frills effort to reduce panhandling and homelessness in the city. With one driver and one 10-seater van, the program, called There’s a Better Way, would transport the city’s jobless to six-hour gigs pulling weeds in parks, picking up trash or tidying up the grounds at the local dump.

What started off as a $50,000, six-month pilot is now an $181,000 annual program that has inspired spin-offs in Denver, Dallas and the state of Wisconsin. Anaheim, California, became the most recent municipality to get on the trend, with Mayor Tom Tait telling an audience of 800 at the State of the City address on Feb. 7 that jobs were the solution to homelessness.


These stories deserve to make the news. They not only uplift the lives of homeless people and boost their morale but also encourages other communities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to take the lead and help solve the problem of homelessness in their area.

Helping one another is not just a moral obligation among the faithful but a responsibility each and every citizen must take to heart. Progress is achieved once we all learn to look after one another with the help of a government that takes an active approach to solving many of the issues plaguing the community.

What To Do With The Homeless is republished from


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Impact Of Technology To Small Businesses

Employment is but a means to provide for your needs and hopefully help you secure your retirement fund. After all, having a job is better than being unemployed. At least, you have the spending power to pay for your needs and that of your family. However, it can’t let you fully enjoy the bigger things in life.

Becoming an entrepreneur means you have a chance to make it in the world and increase your wealth ten-fold. Not only do you have control over how much your business grows but you are no longer limited to the usual limitations of traditional employment.

One may indeed become rich and successful by engaging in business but let us not forget that the risks involved are bigger too. Aside from putting in your own capital (or borrowing it), there is no assurance your business would make it or that it will be safe from the issues affecting the country’s economy (regardless of where you are in the world).

The vast majority of small business owners in Australia are navigating tough conditions with little or no support. While they know their business better than anyone, often they fail to tend to certain nagging issues because, well, they’re too busy; instead, they choose to reassure themselves their business model is strong and push on. If you are one of these people stop and think – if you let those issues persist and grow, cracks will become fissures and your business stands to fail.

Australian small businesses are made up of a huge amount of people that bravely take on their chosen market as well as huge personal risk and employ the majority of the adult population. But they are not helping themselves. Most of these brave individuals are missing the basic governance controls, systems and processes that help push their business into hyperdrive, and protect it from failure.


Most business owners micromanage, thinking they can do things all by themselves. And that is usually their first mistake. They get too engrossed in the actual business itself that they forget that they are also there to manage their business, so they can be free to do the manual labor someday and reap the fruits of their hard work.

Also, one thing all business owners can’t avoid or put off for long is automating their operation. Even small family-owned businesses need to establish an online presence or make use of various computing tools to improve their services and the conduct of their business.

Finding the perfect balance between this emerging technology and traditional human elements of customer service is a growing challenge for small businesses. The magic behind this balance stems from digital messaging platforms that merge the abilities of chatbots and humans to create a “hybrid bot”. Whilst the chatbot can process figures and administrative tasks, the human can respond to more complex issues and problems. In effect, the chatbot alleviates the stress on the human and allows them to place their focus on the more important issues at hand. For a small business, this super-agent streamlines both time constraints and problem solving, as the chatbot’s ability to save time and provide assistance to the customer service agent becomes a lifesaver. While it alleviates business pressures, it also creates goodwill amongst customers as it opens more opportunities to communicate on their terms.

While some argue bots are the cost-cutting future of customer engagement, others contend that a human is the most effective way to solve problems. As with so many things, the solution lies somewhere in the middle. The one thing both sides agree on? A business can’t force customers to call it. Those that do send their customers a message loud and clear: They don’t respect consumers’ time, and the consumer will be put on hold.

Consumers have become accustomed to chat and messaging — via apps on their phones and tablets or on their computers. For a small business, it provides an efficient alternative to voice-based communication that limits consumer frustration and opens the door to cost-effective features like AI and bots. Shaping the customer experience is about finding that balance between traditional interaction models and emerging technology to create a seamless experience benefiting both consumer and business.


Indeed, everything has gone digital. And like any other piece of technology, it has its pros and cons. As a business owner, you must always see these things in relation to your business – how it will affect your business and how you can benefit from it.

Small businesses may find it challenging to automate everything that needs to be computerized at first because of limited funds, manpower, and time constraints but only businesses that learned to innovate and keep up with the many technological advancements remained to be at the forefront of the business world.

The article The Impact Of Technology To Small Businesses was first seen on


Friday, 7 April 2017

A Trip Down America’s Parks

Our days may be consumed by work or school but we still make it a point to unwind once the weekend comes. Rest day is for the family and spending quality time with them is a must. Malls and theme parks may be a staple when it comes to a family getaway but let us not forget that the country is full of beautiful public and state parks where your family can have a good time at a fraction of the price.

Take the time to get in touch with the entire family minus any techy gadgets and enjoy the beauty of nature. Nothing compares to the relief of breathing the fresh air and the joy of sleeping under the stars.And now is the best time to commune with nature when

And now is the best time to commune with nature when these important parks are still around. They may be gone in the years to come with constant threats of modernization and human abuse. Furthermore, not receiving the funding and attention it needs from the national government contributes to their degradation.

Over the past few years there have been budget cutbacks for state parks across the US, which have resulted in a reduction in management staff, lack of new equipment, and shorter visitor center hours. In 2016, general funding for Wyoming’s Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources was cut by 7.18 percent. As a result, park employees have struggled with loss of staff. Last year, funding to Connecticut’s state parks was reduced by 10 percent, and in West Virginia, cuts led to the closure of several state park pools along with employees layoffs. Both Utah and Alabama have struggled to buy equipment under budget constraints, and Alabama closed five state parks in 2016, though several have since reopened. Over the past several years, California, too, has struggled with the idea of closing dozens of state parks due to budget cuts and maintenance backlogs, among other factors.

However, the future of these parks does not look promising with budget cuts from the new administration.

Proper funding is essential to maintaining our state parks and the ecosystems they preserve, but with the cut in funding in Wisconsin, it is uncertain where money will come from. In late 2016, the state Department of Natural Resources, which operates the parks, outlined options for generating additional funds for the park system. Proposals included further raising the price of admission, higher camping fees, and the authority to solicit donations and sponsorships, but Ben Bergey, state parks director, says major funding changes must come from the legislature. “It’s not really fair,” says Stacey Balsley, president of the Waukesha County Green Team, a local environmental organization in Wisconsin. “We need to look at this plan again and ask ourselves if it’s sustainable for the future of our parks. There is a real threat of decline in our parks, and we need to step up and do something about it.”


And many can’t hide their disappointment about the new administration's policies that aim to cut the funding on health, safety, education, the environment, the workplace and the overall economy in favor of things like homeland and border security.

“It’s fitting for President Trump to release his budget in March, because this is simply madness. This budget would decimate the very foundation of what makes America great: our parks, public lands and historic leadership on conservation. Instead of investing in conservation programs that provide clean drinking water, protect public health and support a booming outdoor recreation economy, Trump is rigging the system to solely benefit oil executives and private developers at the expense of essential conservation programs that benefit all Americans.”
Cameron Witten, government relations and budget specialist, The Wilderness Society

“Trump’s budget will accomplish nothing besides making it easier for corporate polluters to boost their profits at the expense of our families and the places we love. Plans to gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior clearly show that Trump’s billionaire budget is only helping Wall Street and corporate polluters, not our wildlife and natural legacy, our nearly $650 billion outdoor economy or the air our children breathe and the water they drink.”
Melinda Pierce, legislative director, Sierra Club

“Polluters won’t police themselves and water pollution doesn’t stop itself. President Trump’s billionaires’ budget makes huge cuts to the EPA that would strain its ability to enforce landmark laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act. This reckless budget would make it harder to stop polluters from destroying sources of drinking water and threaten EPA’s ability to identify water pollution threats, to set strong protections for our rivers, lakes, bays, streams and wetlands, and to enforce laws that protect public health.”
Bob Wendelgass, president and CEO, Clean Water Action


The wildlife population in these parks are also in danger. These parks are perhaps the last frontier in the country for most of these animals and they have nowhere else to go once these parks disappear. Our hands are already tainted with the extinction of many animals in the planet because of poaching, loss of their homes, etc., among the most recent, is the Western Black Rhino.

The entire country will suffer once we lose our natural parks and wildlife. The new administration does not realize the gravity of their policies right now. We may end up losing many of our national parks to most land developers with a simple budget cut in say, land protection. And environmental issues like this can worsen climate change, a problem that has disastrous consequences for our planet if not addressed right away.

The article A Trip Down America’s Parks was originally published to The Keating Economics Website