Hoosiers’ embrace of ‘victory gardens’ grows during pandemic

Hoosiers’ embrace of ‘victory gardens’ grows during pandemic

In the midst of World War II, Americans came together to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyards, forming a network of victory gardens that at one point provided as much as 40% of the country’s vegetables. Today, thousands of Americans are turning to victory gardens again, but for a very different fight – the fight against climate change. CBE – Banking sector’s financial position reaches EGP 6.165trn, capital adequacy ratio increases to 18.6% in March 2020 Turkmenistan authorities are jeopardizing public health by denying an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus, Human Rights Watch said today. Officials claim there are no Covid-19 cases, silence health workers, and do not promote social distancing and other preventative measures.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – In the midst of World War II, Americans came together to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyards, forming a network of victory gardens that at one point provided as much as 40% of the country’s vegetables. Today, thousands of Americans are turning to victory gardens again, but for a very different fight – the fight against climate change.

In Indiana and across the country, climate victory gardens are popping up as part of a movement from Green America, an environmentally-focused nonprofit.

Much like the gardens last century were meant to rally communities around a common cause, these victory gardens center on environmentally friendly food production and require gardeners to use regenerative techniques.

“It was an incredible household-level movement that just showed that people’s individual actions could really come together,” said Jes Walton, food campaigns manager for Green America. “We’re trying to make that happen again, but we’re doing it for the climate this time.”

Since Green America’s campaign for victory gardens began in 2018, at least 75 gardens have been registered in Indiana, including many in the Indianapolis area.

And as the COVID-19 pandemic has kept Hoosiers at home this spring, the number of registrations for new gardens has blossomed. Since February 1, Walton said nationwide more than 1,000 new gardens have registered – an increase of roughly 50%.

In Indiana, 55 new victory gardens were registered this spring, more than tripling the number that existed before February. Many joined as part of a collaboration with school garden organization Big Green, but others were simply individuals moved to participate.

Walton thinks more people might be gardening during the pandemic because it’s a good way to get outside while staying safe and maintaining social distancing.

“In this time when people are just kind of stuck at home … gardening is really good for your mental health and physical health and provides actually for education opportunities,” Walton said.

Although not part of a war-time effort to reduce food insecurity, the purpose of Climate victory gardens centers on growing food sustainably and capturing carbon in the soil – a more environmentally friendly practice than purchasing store-bought produce that has often traveled hundreds or thousands of miles.

Green America encourages gardeners to use regenerative methods that sequester carbon in the soil, such as using natural fertilizers, composting and not using pesticides or herbicides. Covering the soil with mulch, cover crops and strategically allowing weeds also promotes soil health.

And that’s an important aspect of gardening, as healthy soil pulls more carbon out of the air, Walton said.

“The idea is, if folks are taking care of their soils, then they’re also pulling carbon out of the air,” Walton said. “It’s kind of a win-win situation.”

Bill Ryerson has promoted soil health for years by composting his waste in his garden, which he says makes the soil nice and rich. And after about 48 years of gardening experience, Ryerson grows squash, beets, carrots, potatoes and more in his northwest Indianapolis victory garden.

Gardening can be a step toward more sustainable food production, he said, especially keeping in mind the future that climate change could bring.

“If we change the environment enough, the inhabitants of the planet will change and that may not include us … It’s getting awfully, awfully late,” Ryerson said. “We’ve ignored it for way too long, and some of these people need to wake up and smell the ozone, I guess.”

In East Indianapolis, Julia Spangler and Mark Clayton are also motivated by the idea of producing more sustainable food. In their garden, which they just expanded this year into 500 square feet. They now grow 62 different species.

“It’s not a product of industrial agriculture,” Clayton said. “It’s not traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to get to you.”

This year, they hope to grow enough produce to have a surplus and create a community food box in their yard for neighbors to come and take what they need.

“You know where (your food) has been,” Spangler said. “You have the satisfaction of having raised it from a seed or a very small plant … I just think it’s kind of magical.”

Victory gardens offer more than just environmentally friendly produce, Walton said. They also build community.

Much like community gardens that stock food pantries or church services, excess food grown in backyard gardens is often donated, Walton said. Green America has an online database of victory gardens, so that people can look up and reach out to other gardeners in their area.

Many community gardens might not be in full operation as people have stayed home social distancing, but Walton said she’s noticed people sharing their backyard crops and supporting each other.

“You’ll see a box with a little sign on it that says, ‘Take what you need,’” Walton said. “It can be exciting to show that there’s community momentum, and that you’re part of a bigger thing.”

David Ranalli, a victory gardener in North Indianapolis, describes his garden as more of a magical “food forest.”

Complete with fruit trees, a mushroom growing system and vegetable beds, Ranalli’s layered garden has taken on a life of its own and even has become the focus of an Instagram account and website.

Also a magician, Ranalli said he has benefited from his food forest in a myriad of ways, from seeing wildlife return to his property to coming back into touch with his relationship to plants.

“It was sort of a personal satisfaction in being able to take part in restoring these kinds of natural elements in my life,” he said. “But also, as a magician, I’m always looking for a magical thing, a magical experience.”

Victory gardens began in World War I as a way for communities to supplement produce as food was being diverted overseas to the front lines. Now, there’s an opportunity for people to think about modern food supply and how gardening could help in the fight against climate change, Walton said.

Altogether, she said, using calculations based on regenerative agriculture techniques that are being practiced in the registered gardens around the country, these gardens could absorb 92,100 tons of carbon in the next 10 years – the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off of the road for one year.

But Walton said she believes they can do more: Green America is pushing to double the acreage of gardens currently registered by the end of the year. It’s a lot to ask, she acknowledges.

“A lot of other campaigns and programs are like, ’sign this petition,” Walton said. “And we’re literally asking someone to go outside and have a garden, which is just such different commitment and level of commitment.”

Spangler and Clayton agreed maintaining their victory garden is a time commitment, but it can bring people together to rally around a cause that’s desperate for solutions.

“The climate crisis isn’t going to be solved only through gardening or through regenerative agriculture, so I like the allusion to victory gardens because of the kind of coming together and the community aspect that is suggests,” Spangler said. “But I think it’s important to keep in mind that climate change needs a lot of different solutions.”

Ranalli said he gardens because he believes small decisions should be considered for how they can impact the next generation.

“If we want to create a better world, we have to do it through the lens of, would our kids be proud of the work we did and would they be reaping benefits that we didn’t get to have?” he said. “We can do all of that through the power of plants.”

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Source: The Indianapolis Star

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com

Author: The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com


CBE confirms financial soundness of banks operating in Egypt

CBE confirms financial soundness of banks operating in Egypt

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said that the nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio declined to 4.1% in the Egyptian banking sector in March 2020, compared to 4.2% in December 2019.

In its quarterly report on the financial soundness indicators of the Egyptian banking sector, the CBE said the NPL ratio amounted to 3.1% at the top 10 banks operating in Egypt, and 2.5% at the top 5 banks.

The CBE added that the ratio of loan provisions to NPLs in the banking sector stood at 97.2% in March 2020. The percentage reached 100% at both the top 10 and top 5 banks.

“The volume of loan provisions the banks provided to cover NPLs amounted to EGP 135.437bn in March 2020, with the share of the top 10 banks reaching EGP 90.321bn, while the volume in the top 5 banks reached EGP 73.329bn,” CBE said.

It stated that the banking sector’s reserves reached EGP 263.122bn in March 2020. The share at the top 10 banks amounted to EGP 199.07bn, while the volume of reserves at the top 5 banks amounted to EGP 161.944bn.

According to the CBE, the loans to deposits ratio in banks operating in Egypt increased to 45.9% in March 2020, compared to 44.8% in December 2019. The percentage reached 44.1% at the top 10 banks, and recorded 44.6% at the top 5 banks.

The CBE indicated that the loans to deposits ratio in local currency was 40.2% in March 2020, compared to 39.2% in December 2019. This ratio reached 38.4% with the top 10 banks, and recorded 38.1% at the top 5 banks.

The ratio of loans to deposits in foreign currencies declined to 69.6% in March, compared to 71.4% in December. This ratio came in at 73.6% in the top 10 banks, and 82.9% at the top 5 banks.

“The private sector acquired 62.7% of the total loans granted by banks to their customers until the end of March 2020, compared to 63.3% at the end of December 2019,” according to the CBE.

It added that the private sector acquired 55.5% of the total loans at the top 10 banks in Egypt, while it acquired 51.8% of the loans at the top 5 banks.

The CBE explained that the total deposits in banks reached about EGP 4.412trn in March 2020, with the 10 largest banks accounting for EGP 3.348trn. The volume of deposits at the five largest banks operating in Egypt reached about EGP 2.883trn.

It added that the deposits to assets ratio in banks amounted to 71.7% in March 2020, compared to 72.7% in December 2019. A total of 70.7% of this ratio was reported at the top 10 banks, and 70% at the top 5 in March.

The CBE noted that the liquidity ratio in the local currency at banks increased to 49.7% in March 2020, compared to 45.8% in December 2019. This ratio recorded 52.1% at the top 10 banks, and reached 52.5% at the top 5.

This comes at a time when the liquidity ratio in foreign currencies with banks declined to 71.2% in March, compared to 74% in December 2019. The ratio reached 71.5% with the top 10 banks, and 71.4% recorded in the top 5.

The CBE said the securities to assets ratio in banks, excluding treasury bills (T-Bills), reached about 23.2% in March 2020. This compared to the 20.5% reported at the end of December 2019. The percentage reached 25.8% at the top 10 banks, and 27.6% at the top 5 in March.

According to the CBE, the volume of bank investments in securities and T-Bills amounted to EGP 2.374trn in March 2020. These investments reached EGP 1.919trn with the top 10 banks, and recorded about EGP 1.686trn for the top 5 banks.

The CBE said that the total financial position of banks operating in the local market recorded EGP 6.156trn at the end of March 2020.

It said that the financial position of the 10 largest banks recorded about EGP 4.744trn, equivalent to about 76.95% of the total.

The five largest banks recorded a total financial position of EGP 4.126trn, amounting to about 66.92% of the total.

According to the CBE, the total capital of banks operating in the Egyptian market reached EGP 156.652bn in March 2020. Of this amount, about EGP 103.706bn belonged to the top 10 banks and about EGP 82.362bn to the largest 5 banks.

The CBE added that the ratio of the capital base to risk-weighted assets in banks increased to 18.6% in March 2020, compared to 18.4% in December 2019. The percentage of this reached 18.9% at the top 10 banks, and 19% in the largest 5 banks.

The ratio of the tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets ratio in banks increased to 16.1% in March 2020, compared to 15.9% in December 2019. This ratio reached 16.3% at the top 10 banks and 16.2% at the top 5.

The CBE said that the going concern capital including conservation buffer should not be less than 6.625% in 2016, 7.25%, 7.875%, and 8.5% in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively.

It explained that the common equity to risk-weighted assets ratio reached 13% in March 2020, compared to 11.7% in December 2019. The ratio reached 12.8% at the top 10 banks and 12.2% at the top 5.

It added that the common equity including conservation buffer should not be less than 5.125% in 2016, 5.75%, 6.375, and 7% in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively.

The leverage ratio in banks declined to 7.3% in March 2020, compared to 7.4% in December, with the ratio reaching 6.9% in the top 10 banks and 6.6% at the top 5.

According to CBE, the lower margin for this percentage is 3%.

The report revealed that the net open position in foreign currencies to capital base reached -2.2% in banks operating in Egypt in March 2020, compared to 2.9% in December 2019.

The CBE indicated that this percentage reached -3.3% at the top 10 banks, and -4% in the largest 5 banks.

It also said that the net profits of banks in Egypt recorded about EGP 36.902bn in March 2020.

The rise in bank profits came against the background of increasing its net return to about EGP 90.474bn, while bank activity revenues increased to EGP 110.687bn. Bank expenses recorded about EGP 73.784bn.

According to the CBE, the top 10 banks in the Egyptian banking sector achieved net profits of about EGP 31.787bn by the end of March 2020. This is equivalent to about 86.138% of the total profits of banks as a whole.

The CBE pointed out that the largest five banks acquired more than 75.43% of the net profits of the total banks, recording recorded EGP 27.837bn in March.

Return on average assets in banks increased to 1.8% in March 2020, compared to 1.4% in December 2019. At the same time, the return on average equity reached 23.4% in March, compared to 19.2% in December. The net interest margin reached 4.1% in March, compared to 3% in December.

The return on average assets in the top 10 banks recorded 1.7% at the end of March 2020, compared to 1.3% at the end of December 2019. The return on average equity reached 23.5%, with the net interest margin reaching 4% at the end of March 2020. This compares to the 18.4% and 2.7%, respectively, reported at the end of December 2019.

The return on the average assets of the top five banks recorded 1.5% at the end of March 2020, compared to 1.1% at the end of December 2019. The return on average equity reached 21.6% at the end of March, compared to 16.3% at the end of December, while the net interest margin reached 3.8% at the end of March, compared to 2.3% at the end of December.

While the CBE has not revealed the names of the top banks in Egypt, it is known that they include: National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Commercial International Bank – Egypt, Banque du Caire, QNB Alahli, Credit Agricole – Egypt, Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt, and the Housing and Development Bank, Arab African International Bank, HSBC, and ALEXBANK.

Source: wwww.dailynewssegypt.com

Author: Hossam Mounir


Turkmenistan Denies Apparent Covid-19 Outbreak

Turkmenistan Denies Apparent Covid-19 Outbreak

Source: www.hrw.org


Hoosiers’ embrace of ‘victory gardens’ grows during pandemic


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