Keep our youth drug-free

first_imgThe theme for Youth Month 2013 is “Working Together for Youth Development and a Drug Free South Africa”.(Image: For more free photos, visit the image library) MEDIA CONTACTS • Cornelius Monama  Chief director: communications,  Department of Women, Children and  People With Disabilities  +27 12 359 0224 RELATED ARTICLES • Youth Month focus on empowerment • Protect and support each other • Youth Day: lessons from 1976 • Learn and honour the Children’s reporterJune is celebrated as Youth Month in South Africa, paying tribute to the school pupils and ordinary citizens who lost their lives during the Soweto uprisings of 16 June 1976 – 37 years ago.The main focus of the annual Youth Month is to inspire and empower South Africa’s young people to identify the role they can play in addressing the economic and social challenges facing not only themselves, but the population in general, such as employment, HIV and Aids, and economic freedom.In 1976 young people fought for their rights, for freedom and for democracy – today’s challenges are different, but no less important.The theme for Youth Month 2013 is Working Together for Youth Development and a Drug Free South Africa. Communities around the country will work with the government and police to raise awareness of the problems caused by substance abuse, and organisations targeting young people will mobilise them to lead by example in their homes, schools and societies.Alcohol and substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking is a global phenomenon, and South Africa is no exception.This has serious implications for millions of South Africans because alcohol and substance abuse contributes to crime, gangsterism, domestic violence, family dysfunction and other social problems.The community of Eldorado Park, in the south of Johannesburg, is in the national spotlight at the moment as it’s facing a situation of rampant substance abuse and all of the social ills mentioned above. According to the minister of public service and administration, Lindiwe Sisulu, the suburb is “symptomatic of issues facing many communities in the rest of the country”. She called on communities all over to lead the fight for a substance-free South Africa within their respective areas.“During Youth Month, let us recommit ourselves to fighting the war against substance abuse and alcoholism in all areas of the country”, said Sisulu in a statement.President Jacob Zuma recently visited Eldorado Park and heard harrowing stories from mothers who told of drug dealers preying on their children. At a media briefing in Pretoria, Sisulu announced that “significant progress in fighting the scourge of substance abuse” has been made by police, community leaders and other organisations in the beleaguered suburb.Over 100 arrests have been made, while 20 drug dens were closed down. A number of addicted children were found at the drug dens, and all have been taken to a place of safety. The provincial government and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which serves the area, is in setting up a short-term intensive detoxification programme for children addicted to drugs. The programme will run for seven days.VulnerableResults of the 2011 national census reveal that South Africa’s population is young – the average age is 25, while a third of the population, around 17-million, are younger than 15 years of age. Unemployment in this vulnerable age group is estimated at around 50%.During Youth Month, the first national imbizo focus week will take place from 10 to 17 June, and will focus on youth development, specifically on the fight against substance abuse.last_img read more

Study highlights nitrogen efficiency gains in corn hybrids over 70 years

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest During the past 70 years, hybrid corn varieties have increased both yield and nitrogen use efficiency at nearly the same pace, largely by preserving leaf function during grain filling. The Purdue University study’s findings offer strategies for corn breeders who want to continue to improve yields and nutrient efficiencies.Decades of genetic improvements in corn have led to a fourfold increase in grain yield since the 1930s, before hybrids were widely used. But those yields also required increases in nitrogen application, and loss of excess nitrogen can damage water and air quality as well as wildlife.Tony Vyn, the Corteva Agriscience Henry A. Wallace Chair in Crop Sciences and a professor in Purdue’s Department of Agronomy, wanted to know how corn plants have historically utilized nitrogen — especially in reproductive growth — so that breeders can make informed decisions with future hybrids. He and his former doctoral student, Sarah Mueller, obtained seed and grew seven commercially important Pioneer hybrids, approximately one from each decade between 1946 and 2015. They were grown side by side under a range of nitrogen managements and analyzed at several stages of growth through maturity to understand nitrogen uptake and distribution throughout plant tissues.“There’s been a progressive improvement in nitrogen use efficiency in corn hybrids. That’s coming about as yields have increased while modern hybrids were able to capture more and more of the fertilizer nitrogen applied,” said Vyn, whose findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.Over the last 70 years, genetic improvements have led to an 89% increase in grain yields and a 73% increase in nitrogen use efficiency from early hybrids to today, the study finds.“There’s been a plateau in nitrogen fertilizer rates applied to corn in the U.S. since the 1980s,” Vyn said. “But we’re capturing more of the fertilizer we apply so that less is lost while more of the nitrogen captured by the plant is creating grain. In our case, we’ve documented progression from creating 42 pounds of grain per pound of nitrogen taken up in the plant to 65 pounds of grain.“That essentially means that we’ve not necessarily sacrificed the environment in realizing much higher yields now than we did 50 or 70 years ago.”Vyn’s team found that more modern hybrid corn kernels get much of their nitrogen from corn stems. That’s key, he said, because it’s important to keep as much nitrogen as possible in leaves so that plants can meet the assimilate requirements inherent in the increased corn kernel numbers and kernel size that are foundational in achieving higher grain yields.“Kernels are going to pull nitrogen from somewhere in the plant. Stems contribute almost nothing to photosynthesis, but keeping nitrogen concentrations in the leaves higher for more of the growing season allows for more photosynthesis and improved yields,” Vyn said.He added that the findings offer breeders suggestions for how to continue to make improvements in yield and nitrogen use efficiency, focusing on the timing and movement of nitrogen through stems and into kernels.Corteva Agriscience, of which Pioneer Hybrid International is a part, donated seeds for the research, blindly analyzed tissue samples and provided funding to hire undergraduate student workers and for field and laboratory supply and equipment rental expenses. Sarah Mueller’s doctoral studies at Purdue were supported by a scholarship from the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. Vyn was funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch grant.last_img read more

34 years on, compensation for Blue Star detainees

first_imgThe detainees who were arrested and kept in a Jodhpur prison following the Army operation to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in 1984 will finally get some relief with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh scheduled to hand over compensation money to them today, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.The Chief Minister will distribute cheques totalling ₹4.5 crore to 40 of the detainees here at a programme in the presence of all members of his Cabinet, the spokesperson said.Capt. Singh had recently written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and also spoken to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on the matter. He had said if the Centre failed to pay its share of the compensation, then the State government will take over that liability too.300 people arrested Around 300 people were arrested and detained in the Jodhpur jail in June 1984 in the wake of Operation Blue Star, and were later released in three batches, between March 1989 and July 1991.Of these, 224 had appealed for compensation in the lower court, alleging wrongful detention and torture but they failed to get any relief from the court in 2011.However, 40 of the them went in appeal to the District and Sessions Court, Amritsar, and were awarded ₹4 lakh each as compensation with 6% interest (from the date of filing of the appeal to payment of compensation) in April last year.Appeal by CentreThe court had held the Union and the State governments jointly liable for payment of the compensation, and although the Punjab government had given an undertaking to the court to pay half the amount, the Centre had moved an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the order, the spokesperson said.Earlier, the Chief Minister had also met the Jodhpur detainees and assured them of his government’s full support.Strong reaction The detainees had been suffering for the past several years for no fault of theirs, the Capt. Singh had said, while pointing out that the Centre’s decision to go in appeal against the compensation award had evoked a strong reaction among the Sikh community and was further likely to lead to a sense of alienation and perceived injustice among the community.last_img read more