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Inequality is detrimental to Africa’s growth – Oxfam

The World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) taking place in Durban till Friday shows that South Africa continues to be a gateway to the rest of Africa, says Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

During a roundtable discussion on “blue economies” South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa shared lessons on how African nations can utilize water resources, such as rivers and oceans, as pathways to reach markets and also use them to create more economic opportunities.

Several films have been confirmed including International Emmy Award Winning Director Rehad Desai’s The Giant is Falling, which will premiere in Durban at the People’s Economic Forum.

Unlocking industrial activity and intra-Africa trade, as well as growing Africa’s share of global trade is crucial for continental development, in his view.

The South African President noted many African youths lack rare skills which makes them unemployable.

Dozens of activists are demanding that delegates who are now attending the World Economic Forum on Africa be sent home in the same manner that President Jacob Zuma was during Monday’s May Day rally. These thoughts lead into this year’s theme of responsive and responsible leadership.

President Edgar Lungu will be accompanied Minister of Commerce and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe, Minister of Energy, David Mabumba and Presidential Affairs Minister, Freedom Sikazwe.

The Africa Competitiveness Report combines data from the Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) with studies on employment policies and city competitiveness.

Mr Mwamba said the President is among regional leaders that include President Jacob Zuma as host; SADC chairperson, King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland; President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi; President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni; and President of Namibia Hage Geingbo, among others. The forum met in Pretoria on 3 May 2017 where the circular economy was also discussed amongst other issues of mutual interest.

Past year the focus was on how Africa can benefit from the massive technological changes happening in the world – termed The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The meeting has on its agenda initiatives for economic growth and social inclusion, digital economy and society, education gender and work, food security and agriculture, environment and natural resource security, health and healthcare and long-term investing and infrastructure.

Source: clicklancashire

East Africa: Irrigation Farming ‘Only Way to Food Security’

As Tanzania grapples with delayed rains that are certain to adversely affect agriculture, new analyses tout increased investment in irrigation as a solution to food insecurity.

Tanzania generates its food mostly through rain-fed agriculture which is currently being threatened by drought facing East African countries.

Agriculture accounts for about 25 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and the sector employs nearly 70 per cent of the working population.

Most parts of the country received rains below average between October and December last year and there are signs there will be insufficient harvests this agricultural season.

As experts advise the government to evaluate the drought in order to have a clear picture of what the food situation will be in the next few months and take the necessary precautionary measures, irrigation farming is being suggested as the long-term intervention needed to save agriculture. Tanzania is one of the countries which have a huge potential for irrigation farming–a potential that hasn’t been well exploited.

The National Irrigation Master Plan (NIMP) 2002 prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Security and Co-operatives in collaboration with the government of Japan through its International Cooperation Agency (Jica) indicated that the total irrigation development potential in Tanzania Mainland stands at 29.4 million hectares.

Out of those, 2.3 million hectares are classified as high potential, 4.8 million hectares medium potential and 22.3 million hectares as low potential.

However, presently only 460,000 hectares are under irrigation. However, the government says it targets to expand irrigation farming to cover at least one million hectares come 2020.

The director general of the National Irrigation Commission, Mr Seth Luswema, says there is political will to develop irrigation in the country but more investment focus is needed from both the public and the private sector.

“We are now reviewing the irrigation masterplan as part of our effort to reach the targets,” he said over the phone, adding:

“Funding is still a challenge and as you know, it depends on the revenue collection. Some projects are integrated to have water resources and generate power. This kind of investment is not a joke. It needs collective efforts from public and private sectors,” he added.

He said Tanzania needs between Sh2 trillion and Sh5 trillion to complete irrigation projects that will increase the coverage to one million hectares as planned.

According to him, Tanzania has 2,800 irrigation schemes countrywide.

The minister for Water and Irrigation, Mr Gerson Lwenge, was quoted by the media last year as saying that more than Sh39 billion was allocated to the Irrigation Commission for the current budget year.

Tanzania enacted the National Irrigation Act 2013 in a bid to protect farmers from the growing stresses of extreme weather and climate change, by promoting better use of irrigation.

The National Irrigation Act strengthens the National Irrigation Policy of 2010.

Among other things, the law establishes the Irrigation Commission, a national body with the mandate to coordinate, promote and regulate irrigation activities across the country.

Researchers and experts are rooting for more investment in the irrigation farming as solution for the farmers to manage drought caused by climate change and reduce hunger.

“The development of irrigated agriculture has boosted agricultural yields and increased the number of cropping seasons to two or more in many parts of the world, thereby conserving important forest resources, contributing to price stability under climate variability, and helping to feed the world’s growing population,” says the deputy director of the Environment and Production Technology Division of the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Claudia Ringler in a summary of new analyses.

For instance, rice production in irrigation schemes with developed infrastructure is estimated to be over 5.0 tonnes per hectare while under rain-fed agriculture the yield is less than 2 tonnes per hectare.

Last October, the 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) of the IFPRI ranked Tanzania 96 out of 118 countries, with a “serious” level of hunger. The country has made significant progress in reducing hunger, according to the report though, down from a high of 42.4 score in the “alarming” category in 2000 to 28.4 in 2016.

The GHI is a tool designed for the IFPRI to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally, regionally, and by country.

Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda were in the same group of “serious” level of hunger but with different scores.

The analyses indicate that a combination of accelerated irrigation development with increased investments in water use efficiency at the basin scale would reduce prices of rice, wheat, and maize by 7.4 per cent, 3.6 per cent, and 1.5 per cent, respectively by 2030.

“Although some of these investments might seem expensive, they would provide huge benefits to communities in the developing world and have the potential to help millions leave poverty and hunger behind,” adds Ms Ringler.

Source: allafrica

Coal mining threatens food security

Lead researcher at the Bench-Marks Foundation, David van Wyk, says while coal mining is said to boost the South Africa’s economy, it affects badly the food security of the country.

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Speaking on SAfm’s PM Live, Van Wyk says South Africa’s coal mining has led to the loss of lots of

and is therefore a threat to the country’s food production.

Van Wyk was speaking in the wake of the launch of the Break Free Campaign that aims to create awareness to climate change and hold businesses and governments accountable.

Van Wyk says while South Africa has an abundance of coal, it is a water- scarce country and water scarcity increases with coal mining because the little water that is available is polluted.

This means water from rivers such as the Olifants River cannot be drunk and fish from the river cannot be eaten.

“So we have to choose between air security, oxygen security, water security, food security and coal,” says Van Wyk.

 

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Policy on farming in Africa ignores research

WORKING as an economist in the agricultural sector can be very frustrating. I often function between two worlds: the policy environment and the realm of information and analytics.

I am often astounded by how little attention is paid by agricultural policy-makers to information and analytics, a crucial element in conducting agricultural economics in an orderly manner.

This frustration is not unique to SA. Not long ago, in conversation with an Ethiopian friend on food security in Africa, his frustration seeped through. Working for an Addis Ababa-based nongovernmental organisation focusing on agriculture, he vented his frustration about the challenges of working on regional food security issues with policy makers. They, and other relevant groups, seem to turn a deaf ear whenever new strategies are recommended.

I could relate to his frustration, particularly when considered in the context of the future of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the years, a number of research studies have set out blueprints for achieving agriculture-led growth in the region. However, there seems to be little, if any, interest in following the policy suggestions flowing from the research.

A recent study by Michigan State University and Stellenbosch University agricultural economists Thom Jayne and Lulama Ndibongo-Traub, identified seven challenges to which African policy-makers need to respond if they are to achieve agriculture-led growth, focusing strongly on developing rural agricultural markets. These challenges cover areas from job creation and land policy to youth involvement, the telecommunications revolution, macroeconomic management, soil management and climate variability.

Agriculture can contribute significantly to job creation, from farming to the delivery of services.

To achieve this, government intervention is essential, specifically investment in infrastructure to unlock the sector’s potential in rural areas and increase profitability.

The lack of youth involvement in the sector is a serious concern that agricultural policy makers and role players need to focus on. About 45% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is below the age of 15, while farmers in the region are ageing (the average age of a farmer in SA is 62). There is a dire need for education on the role agriculture plays in the economy, to remind young people about the value of the sector, but more importantly, to change the notion that agriculture is just a form of livelihood. It should be viewed as a business, where being a farmer is being a businessman.

Land policy has for some time been viewed as a challenging factor in unlocking the sector’s productivity. Most rural areas in Africa operate under communal or state-owned land systems, making it difficult to use land as collateral to obtain finance from the banks.

One of the most important areas influencing the profitability of Africa’s agricultural sector is macroeconomic management. This management influences currency rates, which in turn influence the prices paid for imports of agricultural inputs. For example, in SA, the agricultural sector imports roughly 80% of its fertiliser requirement, which on average accounts for 35% of grain-production costs. A stable currency assists farmers in planning for the upcoming production season and keeps input costs reasonable.

Agriculture remains a key sector for achieving economic growth and transformation in sub-Saharan Africa. Governments across the region are starting to show an active interest in agricultural development, with much emphasis in most countries being placed on increasing production, farmer-training programmes and seed development.

However, by attending to the aforementioned challenges, rural people’s livelihoods could be improved across the region.

Source: bdlive


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Record duty for wheat imports gets green light

Johannesburg – The Finance Ministry has approved an increase of wheat import duties by 34 percent to the highest on record to protect local farmers, but asked the trade commission to review the formula because it is concerned about the higher tariff’s effect on food prices.

The tariff on wheat imports was now R1 224.31 a ton, in line with the International Trade Administration Commission’s current formula, the ministry said on Friday.

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The department has proposed to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies that he considers “an urgent and accelerated review” of the formula, and that this will also be followed by probes into the calculations for sugar and maize.

“The Ministry of Finance is particularly concerned about the impact of the higher import duty on wheat on the price of bread and other staple food, but also mindful of the need to ensure policy certainty, food security and the financial health of the farming industry,” it said.

While South Africa is the sub-Saharan region’s biggest producer of wheat after Ethiopia, it is still a net importer of the grain. The driest conditions since 1992 have damaged crops and livestock and sent local wheat prices to the highest on record, driving up food prices.

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DA calls for drought to be categorised a national disaster

Five provinces have so far been declared disaster areas since the country experienced its worst drought in 23 years.

Scientists have determined that 2015 was the warmest year since 1880‚ when records began to be kept.

The five provinces include KwaZulu-Natal‚ Free State‚ North West‚ Limpopo and Mpumalanga. And if the Eastern Cape‚ Northern Cape and Western Cape‚ have been luckier‚ certain districts in these provinces have nevertheless been declared disaster zones.

The DA wants the minister to declare a national disaster “to address the effects of South Africa’s worst drought in 23 years that has seen ordinary South Africans without water for protracted periods of time”.

Minister of Agriculture Senzeni Gokwana has said that a national disaster cannot be declared‚ because not all provinces are affected by the drought. But the DA is arguing that the Disaster Management Act defines a national disaster as one affecting more than one province and‚ minimally‚ affecting a single province which is unable to deal with it effectively.

The DA said in a statement on Monday: “The current drought has seen thousands of head of livestock die across all provinces which has potential to compromise food security as well as having an enormous impact on South Africa’s already struggling economy‚ and is now resulting in towns and communities running dry.

This is compounded by the continuing energy crisis‚ increasing consumer goods prices and joblessness; with the poor bearing the brunt.”

Source: timeslive


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Climate experts want more money allocated to water projects in Africa

Under the theme “Seizing Opportunity for Africa: Prioritising Water in the new Climate Financing Mechanism”, Han Seung-soo, special envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water called for more balanced thinking with a view to changing the current trend in climate change negotiations where mitigation always receives more attention than adaptation.

Stressing the need for a holistic approach to sustainable development where disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are both part of the agenda, Mr Seung-soo lauded the African Union Commission’s (AUC) 2063 agenda and described it as “a groundbreaking blueprint for Africa”.

“Africa is blessed with a blue economy, and water will be the key to the continent’s transformation as we continue to work towards achieving a prosperous continent,” he said.

African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Director Sheila Khama urged African governments to do more in improving water management by reconciling adaptation and mitigation, and using water to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. She called for integrated water resources management across borders.

For the African Ministers’ Council on Water (Amcow), Africa is not starting from scratch regarding water even though the challenges appear widespread on the continent.

Amcow Executive Secretary Bai Mass Taal underscored the progress the council has made on the water front. Principal Investigator of the African Adaptation and Loss and Damage Initiative, African Group of Negotiators (AGN) Chukwumerije Okereke noted the existence of a major data gap in terms of knowing the number of adaptation projects in Africa.

Common approach

He recommended mandating a single body to keep track of funding for adaptation flowing into Africa.

He also recommended that each African country forms a national council for climate investment that includes donors, diplomats, NGOs and public servants from various ministries to act as an oversight mechanism.

Underscoring the need to shift towards adaptation in climate finance, David Craig of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) revealed that his organisation plans to provide 50 per cent of its funding for adaptation.

Niger Basin Authority Executive Secretary Collins Ihekire noted that 46 per cent of the Niger Basin is located in the driest region of the world.

Africa presently reels under serious water challenges such as shortages, pollution, environmental degradation, floods and poor water management in cities and rural centers.

Prof Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s Minister for Environment said the Government is committed to harvesting water and putting it to good use. “We are building dams to harvest rain water and use it for farming to improve food security,” she said

Source: standardmedia


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The Price of Climate-Change Related Disasters on Agriculture is Astronomical

While the world’s leaders meet near Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to hash out strategies to limit global warming, they have an added incentive: A new study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) finds that the average number of global natural disasters, including those related to climate change, have doubled since the 1980s. Additionally, the report determined that in a single decade (2003 to 2013), the economic damage from these events came at an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion—with $80 billion in losses due to decreased crop and livestock production in the developing world.

The 53-page report, titled “The impact of disasters on agriculture and food security,” focuses on climate-related disasters in developing countries and finds that the agriculture sector—and thus food security—suffers the most. In general, crop, livestock, fisheries, and forestry bear 25 percent of the negative impacts from such disasters as droughts, floods, and tropical storms. In the case of droughts, more than 80 percent of damage and losses are borne by crop and livestock producers.

According to Stephan Baas, the FAO’s natural resources officer, it’s likely the global figures are higher than what was presented in this study since it solely focused on medium to large-scale disasters in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Central America, and the Caribbean.

“The overall impacts are likely to be much higher, especially when including impacts of small-scale events as well,” Baas tells Modern Farmer in an email.

The FAO report is based on a review of 78 post-disaster needs-assessments conducted in developing countries as well as a statistical analysis of production losses, changes in trade flow, and agricultural sector growth connected with 140 medium- to large-scale disasters (those affecting at least 250,000 people). Among those included are the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, which caused $860 million in agricultural losses; a series of droughts in Kenya from 2008 to 2011, with a loss of $10.5 billion; and flooding in Pakistan in 2010, with associated losses of $5.3 billion.

This study assesses the impact of medium to large scale natural hazards and disasters on the agriculture sector and sebsectors.
This study assesses the impact of medium to large scale natural hazards and disasters on the agriculture sector and sebsectors.

Baas says the report finds that the economic damage from climate-related disasters goes beyond losses of crops and farming equipment; it also includes the loss of facilities used for storage and processing, transportation, and even the government agencies that oversee agriculture. He cites the 2010 floods in Pakistan, which caused about $5 billion in damage, as an example. In that case, besides the 2.4 million hectares of unharvested crops (mostly cotton, rice, sugarcane, and vegetables) that were lost due to flooding, there were also negative impacts on cotton ginning, rice processing, and flour and sugar milling, among others.

“The floods caused a decline in both agriculture growth and overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Livelihoods, food security, and nutrition were also strongly impacted: More than two-third of Pakistani farmers lost 50 percent of their expected income, and almost one-third of the population had poor consumption intake,” says Baas.

A link is very likely between these disasters and climate change, according to Baas. The data indicates a correlation between climate change and the increase in climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts, and storms. But, at this point, the researchers still can’t say that climate is the only driver of enhanced risk; nor what additional percentage of an impact climate change plays in the severity and frequency of natural hazards. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body for the assessment of climate change formed by the UN in 1988, is still working on that answer.

What we do know for certain is that these disasters have a direct impact on agricultural livelihoods, food security, and nutrition. Disasters can cause either unemployment or a decline in wages and income for farm laborers and lower the availability of food in local markets leading to inflation of food prices.

“Such pressures reduce the purchasing capacity of households, restrict access to food, deplete savings, force the sale of vital productive assets, increase indebtedness, and erode livelihoods,” Baas says. “Such negative cascading effects often lead to an increase in food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly among the most vulnerable households.”

There are also negative cascading effects along the value chain that can lead to additional costs for governments, including increased imports of food and agricultural commodities; reduced exports and revenues; and a reduction in manufacturing and industrial output in sectors that depend on agriculture and raw materials, such as food processing and textile industries.

This study assesses the impact of medium to large scale natural hazards and disasters on the agriculture sector and sebsectors.
This study assesses the impact of medium to large scale natural hazards and disasters on the agriculture sector and sebsectors.

The report was strategically released to coincide with the climate-change conference in Paris, which runs until December 11. The FAO believes that agriculture, food security, and nutrition are still not yet prominent enough in the climate-change talks, according to Baas.

Worldwide, the agriculture sector, while being hit the hardest by natural disasters, receives only a small portion of the total post-disaster humanitarian aid that finds its way to developing countries. Between 2003 and 2013, about $121 billion was spent on humanitarian assistance for all types of disasters and crises, with just 3.4 percent going to the agriculture sector, averaging about $374 million annually. Additionally, in certain parts of the world, notably Africa, governments aren’t investing enough in agriculture in general, according to the report.

“The situation simply reflects the priority setting in funding over the past two decades during which funding to agriculture went down significantly. This has to be reversed,” Baas says. “Currently 2.5 billion people worldwide depend on agriculture as the main source of their livelihoods. The main intention of the study was exactly to raise awareness is of what is at stake if we do not proactively put approaches and mechanisms in place to mitigate the impact of disasters on agriculture.”

While the FAO report gives us a good look at the issue of climate-related natural disasters 0n agriculture, there still needs to be more reporting in order to fully understand the problem. One big issue: There’s currently no standardized international system in place to monitor and report on how farming is affected by natural disasters, making it harder to assess associated needs.

“Systematic reporting is crucial to support the monitoring of progress towards the achievement of global and national goals and targets on disaster risk reduction and resilience,” Baas says. “In order to meet these challenges and as part of the Organization’s commitment to resilience, FAO is ready to support efforts to further improve monitoring and reporting of disaster impact on the agriculture sector.”

Here’s Dominique Burgeon, director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, giving some of the report’s highlights:
Source: modernfarmer


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Coal mining destroying arable land

BELFAST, Mpumalanga – Experts say mining across Mpumalanga is damaging land that’s vital to food security. Grain SA has warned that this year may be the first time in seven years that South Africa will be a net importer of maize.

An expert has warned that mining in Mpumalanga is damaging land that is vital to food security.Mpumalanga is at the heart of South Africa’s coal production.

Mining coal acidifies the surrounding water and soil, meaning plants can’t grow, even long after the mines have closed down.

Louis Snyman, an environmental and mining attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, has warned that if this continues, the landscape will be left scarred and barren.

“What will happen at the end of the day this water that will be given to mines will be taken directly from farmers which is a huge issue when it comes to food security and when it comes to very fertile arable land becoming wastelands,” said Snyman.

Source: enca


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Africa in need of sustainable agricultural production

The lack of interest in farming among young rural people is also a risk to consider when it comes to Africa’s agricultural landscape.
Africa is in dire need of transforming its agricultural sector. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, agricultural production needs to increase 60% by 2050 to keep up with the expected demand for food*. These pressing issues will be discussed at the thought-provoking and highly anticipated Food Security Seminar taking place on 24 June 2015 during Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.
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Political instability, limited access to resources and funding, poverty, skills shortages and a changing climate are just some of the challenging factors impacting food security in Africa. The lack of interest in farming among young rural people is also a risk to consider when it comes to Africa’s agricultural landscape. Thought leaders and experts in the field of food security, agriculture and fisheries will share the latest thinking and best practice in the changing face of this industry during Sustainability Week, which will take place on 24 June 2015 at the CSIR.

Four interactive sessions will contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for African countries in the food security, agriculture and fisheries sectors. The first session will focus on climate change mitigation and adaption where Inge Kotze, Senior Manager for Sustainable Agriculture at the World Wide Fund for Nature – South Africa’s (WWF-SA) will define the issues of climate change and agriculture. The session will close with a panel discussion addressing key actions to mitigate primary causes of emissions and how to adapt to inevitable changes in the sector.

“There is an urgent need for the world’s farmers to be empowered to produce more food per unit of land, water and agrochemicals, while confronting widespread physical resource scarcity, a changing climate, and rapidly increasing input costs,” says Kotze.

Biodiversity and productivity in land use will be the theme for the second session where Jan Coetzee, Project Extension Officer at The South African Breweries (SAB) will enlighten attendees with a case study on better barley, better beer. This session will ultimately address the big question of whether intensive farming work can co-exist sustainably with the local biodiversity to ensure conservation and the ongoing supply of ecological services.

During the household food security session, freelance science writer Leonie Joubert will shed light on what food security really means. Paul Barker from Here We Grow Again will speak about the direct impact food gardens have on food security. The panel discussion will round off this session by framing the required policy and infrastructure foundations to enable broad-based urban farming.

The final compelling session will address rural poverty by stimulating the rural economy. Speakers will explore how to convert subsistence farmers into successful commercial farmers to extract the economic potential of land. The session will also delve into Afrocentric labour intensive approaches to improve productivity and uplift rural communities.

“A company such as BASF can play a defining role in addressing the challenges facing our planet, including those of energy and food resources, as well as urban living,” says Joan-Maria Garcia-Girona, Vice-President and Managing Director of BASF South Africa and Sub-Sahara.  “In 2050, the world’s population will reach nine billion with 70% of the people living in cities. Resources are already scarce and we have only reached almost seven billion people. To feed nine billion people in 2050, we will need twice as much food as today. Innovation in agriculture is vital to address the gap between food demand and supply. We at BASF have a 150 year legacy of providing farmers with innovative solutions to protect crops and improve sustainable agricultural production.”

The Food Security Seminar, sponsored by Nedbank and BASF forms part of the larger Sustainability Week, organised by alive2green, which runs from 23 to 28 June 2015. Associate sponsors of the Food Security Seminar include: Participate Technologies, Massmart and Backsberg Estate Cellars.

Source: wecanchange


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