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India combats locust attack amid Covid-19 pandemic

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An invasion by desert locusts has hit large swathes of India and Pakistan in the middle of pandemic.

Locust swarms destroy crops across India

An invasion by desert locusts has hit large swathes of India and Pakistan in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Large and aggressive swarms of these crop-devouring short-horned insects have invaded more than two dozen districts covering more than 50,000 hectares of desert areas of western India. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are the worst affected states.

In neighbouring Pakistan, authorities declared a nationwide emergency in February, saying locust numbers were the worst in more than two decades. Local reports say that farmers are fighting the “worst locust plague in nearly three decades” and the swarms were decimating crops and sending prices of food soaring.

Some 38% of Pakistan’s area spread over the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab are “breeding grounds” for locusts, according to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

“The situation is much more serious this year not only in Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan but in all the frontline countries in Africa, and the Arabian peninsula,” Muhammad Tariq Khan, director of Pakistan’s Department of Plant Protection, told me. 

Relations between the two hostile nuclear-armed neighbours have been frozen for years. But this hasn’t come in the way of India and Pakistan working closely to fight these migratory insects, say officials.

There have been some nine Skype meetings between the two sides since April, which plant-protection officials from Afghanistan and Iran have also joined, a senior Indian official told me.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the two sides would meet physically on the border. They held 10 border meetings on locust control between 2017 and 2019. This year, the border meetings will begin in June, Mr Khan said.

“We are battling a major locust attack from across the border. This is the biggest invasion in nearly three decades. The swarms are very big and they have migrated from across the border after breeding a month earlier than we were expecting,” KL Gurjar, deputy director of India’s Locust Warning Organisation, said.

The swarms flew across the border around 30 April, and they are still active in five districts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Each of these one-square-kilometre swarms contains up to 40 million insects and they travel fast, sometimes up to 400km (248 miles) in a day, officials say.

“We are lucky that there is no crop in the fields now. But the locusts eat up all the green vegetation, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and plants,” Mr Gurjar said. An average small locust swarm can eat as much food in a day as about 35,000 people.

The Covid-19 pandemic is posing fresh challenges for some 100 odd workers who are battling the insects, using vehicle-mounted sprayers, pesticides and drones in the searing desert heat.

They are staying in the villages, where they are being given foods by locals, and going out at night to hunt down the insects in face masks and wearing some basic protective clothing. “They have migrated here after breeding across the border. It is a severe attack,” says Om Prakash, a plant-protection officer, who works in Rajasthan state .

India has suffered from waves of locust invasions over the years: 25 locust plagues and upsurges were recorded between 1964 and 1997. The colonial government set up a locust warning organisation in 1939 in Karachi, now in Pakistan, after a series of locust attacks. India set up a a separate surveillance organisation in 1946.

If not controlled, desert locusts can damage food supplies and cause famine. Some 45 million sq km of land in 90 countries are potentially prone or under the threat of invasion by the desert locust, according to the FAO.

A second wave of a locust attack has also hit East Africa. Africa’s second most populous state, Ethiopia – along with regional economic powerhouse Kenya and politically unstable Somalia – are among countries worst hit.

The UN estimates the swarms could be up to 20 times bigger than during the first invasion -and they could become 400 times bigger by June. The World Bank has approved $500m (£409m) in grants and low-interest loans to help countries in East Africa and the Middle East cope with the crop loss after the attacks.

According to the UN, the current infestations can be traced back to the cyclone season of 2018-19 that brought heavy rains to the Arabian Peninsula and allowed at least three generations of “unprecedented breeding” that went undetected. Swarms have since spread out into South Asia and East Africa.

India, clearly, needs to be watchful in the months ahead. “We need to be alert and anticipate where this is going next. The situation is all the more alarming as it comes at a time when the affected states are already reeling under Covid-19 and the ongoing heatwave,” says Anshu Sharma of Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society, a non-profit disaster management organisation. BBC

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/sci-tech-environment/india-combats-locust-attack-amid-covid-19-pandemic-644332.html

Sci-tech-environment

Vietnamese spends $1.1 billion on food delivery apps

In Vietnam, overall spending on food delivery services reached $1.1 billion in 2022. As of now, the most popular services are Grab and ShopeeFood.

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According to Momentum Works, Southeast Asian nations’ total expenditure (GMV) on food delivery services in 2022 reached $16.3 billion, up 5% following two years of a delivery boom due to Covid-19.

For the first time in three years, growth in the area was mostly driven by small-scale markets such as the Philippines (up $0.8 billion), Malaysia (up $0.6 billion), and Vietnam (up $0.3 billion).

As Covid-19 became an endemic illness and economies reopened, GMV in bigger markets such as Singapore (down $0.4 billion), Thailand (down $0.4 billion), and Indonesia (down $0.1 billion) dropped.

Grab and ShopeeFood are the two most popular applications in Vietnam, with 45% and 41% of the GMV market share, respectively. The remainder is split between Baemin (12%) and Gojek (2%).

As of the end of 2022 in Southeast Asia, Grab’s GMV is estimated to reach $8.8 billion, accounting for 54% of overall GMV in the area and rising by 16% year on year.

Foodpanda is estimated to contribute $3.1 billion, accounting for 19% of the region’s GMV and reflecting a 9% decrease; Gojek and ShopeeFood still maintain the same GMV level in 2021, reaching $2 billion and $0.9 billion respectively.

Source: ZingNews

Source: https://e.nhipcaudautu.vn/tech/vietnamese-spends-11-billion-on-food-delivery-apps-3350239/

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Sci-tech-environment

Apple to begin producing MacBooks in Vietnam by the mid-2023: Nikkei Asia

The American tech giant Apple plans to shift some MacBook manufacturers to Vietnam for the first time in 2023 as tensions between Washington and Beijing over technology continue to rise.

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According to Nikkei Asia, Apple has contracted with Taiwan’s Foxconn to begin producing MacBooks in the country of Southeast Asia in May 2022.

For all of its key product lines, Apple has been seeking to build production facilities outside of China. Still, the final one, the MacBook, it has taken longer due to the intricate supply chain required for producing laptop computers.

Almost two years ago, the company has planned to move some MacBook manufacturers to Vietnam, where a trial production line has already been set up. 

Apple produces between 20 and 24 million MacBooks annually, with factories situated in the Chinese cities of Chengdu, the Sichuan area, and Shanghai.

For China, the loss of control over MacBook manufacturing represents a general deterioration in its role as the world’s factory. 

Since former U.S. President Donald Trump began a trade war against China, major electronics manufacturers like Apple, HP, Dell, Google, and Meta have all announced at least some preparations to relocate production and sourcing away from the nation.

The majority of data center servers manufactured for companies with U.S. customers, including Google, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft, are now produced in Taiwan, Mexico, or Thailand.

Apple has regarded China as its most significant assembly base for many years, but in 2022, that successful formula ended. 

Due to a lengthy COVID lockout in the spring, important MacBook and iPhone production facilities in Shanghai experienced significant interruptions. 

Apple issued a warning in November on delays in the premium iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max’s Christmas deliveries, citing labor shortages caused by the epidemic at its most significant production facility in Zhengzhou, Henan province.

AirPods, which began commercial manufacturing in Vietnam in 2020, served as the catalyst for Apple’s expansion into that country. Nikkei Asia was the first to reveal that the business moved some of the production of Apple Watches and iPads there this year. 

Source: Nikkei Asia

Source: https://e.nhipcaudautu.vn/tech/apple-to-begin-producing-macbooks-in-vietnam-by-the-mid-2023-nikkei-asia-3350198/

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Saigon hi-tech park earns $23 billion from exports

The Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP), home to 162 projects worth over $12 billion, obtained $23 billion from exports in 2022.

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The export turnover was more than $10 billion and $20.9 billion in 2017 and 2021, respectively.

According to Le Thi Bich Loan, deputy head of the SHTP management board, the park has become a trustworthy destination for global high-tech powerhouses with the presence of over 10 international conglomerates in the field, including Intel, Jabil, Rockwell Automation, Nidec, Nipro, Samsung, and Sonion.

Established in 2002, the park has seen its accumulated production value reaching $120 billion so far. It now houses 51 foreign-invested projects worth $10.1 billion.

By 2025, the SHTP aims to become a smart technology park and the core of the interactive and innovative urban area in Ho Chi Minh’s eastern part, contributing to the city’s socio-economic development. In addition, it plans to attract investment of around $3 billion in 50 hi-tech projects and establish at least one global hi-tech enterprise.

To achieve these goals, the park is going to accelerate investment projects for its scientific space with a total surface area of 93ha.

It will increase the link between its enterprises and universities and research institutes in the region, especially the Vietnam National University-HCM City (VNU-HCM), in order to increase the proportion of hi-tech products by domestic companies.

Source: VietnamPlus

Source: https://e.nhipcaudautu.vn/tech/saigon-hi-tech-park-earns-23-billion-from-exports-3349916/

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