Best of our wild blogs: 6 Jan 15

Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats (Jan-Apr 2015) – Registration OPEN!
from Love our MacRitchie Forest

The Wild Side of Singapore (2014)
from Bugs & Insects of Singapore

Lesser Adjutant Stork in Singapore!
from Go Wild Now!

A beetle at sea
from The annotated budak

Free-living wild birds breeding in your home
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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SMU aims to GROW the green movement

Haikal Latiff Channel NewsAsia 6 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Management University (SMU) on Monday (Jan 6) launched its GROW initiative to encourage more sustainable living in Singapore. The programme aims to cultivate a harvest of food by encouraging more to pick up gardening.

People across all walks of life - students, staff, faculty members, residents, and business partners - can take part by planting crops at two plots of land outside SMU's School of Accountancy, which have been set aside for the university-wide urban farm programme.

Workshops for staff and faculty members to learn more about growing food in environmentally-friendly ways will be conducted, while healthier meals are expected to be served within the campus.

The GROW programme will also dovetail into the 80-hour community service required of SMU students, and will also be built into the annual community service project of delivering food and household needs to Queenstown residents.

Mayor for Central Singapore District Denise Phua and SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer were at SMU on Monday to kickstart the initiative. They planted two saplings of nutmeg - a spice said to bear a long cultural and historical significance in Central Singapore.

Nutmeg was once an important commercial crop in Bras Basah and Orchard Road and can be used for culinary, medicinal and other purposes.

- CNA/av

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Some Malaysian greens cost 60% more at wet markets

Malaysian vegetables that cost more include cai xin, Chinese spinach, brinjal, cucumber and chilli.
JESSICA LIM Straits Times 6 Jan 15;

The prices of some vegetables at wet markets here have gone up by as much as 60 per cent, as floods devastate crops on Peninsular Malaysia's east coast, affecting their supply to Singapore.

Malaysian vegetables that cost more include cai xin, Chinese spinach, brinjal, cucumber and chilli.

At a wet market stall in Yew Tee, Malaysian brinjals now sell at $5 per kg, up from $3.50 per kg in the middle of last month, when the massive floods began. At another stall in Serangoon, Malaysian cucumbers now cost $1.60 per kg, up from $1.

Singapore imported 226,500 tonnes, or 44 per cent, of its vegetables from Malaysia in 2013, according to the latest figures from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority. China (26 per cent) and India (6 per cent) are also major suppliers.

The prolonged rainy season in Malaysia has caused a supply drop in the country of between 30 per cent and 40 per cent, The Star newspaper reported, quoting Mr Chong Tek Keong, treasurer of the Federation of Malaysian Vegetables Wholesalers Association.

This means reduced supply for Singapore, as suppliers in Malaysia need to serve their local market first, said Mr John Chia, 52, a wholesaler in Singapore."They then increased prices by at least 20 per cent," said Mr Chia, who owns JnJ Vegetable Suppliers.

For vegetables that make it to Singapore, some have to be thrown away as water-logged greens tend to rot faster, said Mr Law Song Nam, vice-chairman of the Singapore Fruits and Vegetables Importers and Exporters Association.

Despite the supply fall, prices at supermarket chains here, such as NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant and Sheng Siong, have so far remained the same.

Said a spokesman for Sheng Siong: "Through procuring from multiple sources, we try as much as possible not to adjust the retail prices of fresh vegetables."

Large retailers also usually have contracts with vegetable wholesalers on a fixed-price basis.

The bad weather has also put a dampener on fish supplies, as fishermen keep their boats moored. Prices of Malaysian fish have inched up about 10 per cent, said the Singapore Fish Merchants General Association.

The good news is that prices of Malaysian produce are expected to return to normal levels by Chinese New Year next month, as weather conditions in Malaysia improve and importers here switch to alternative sources, said Mr Law.

Malaysia's Meteorological Department has said that the weather is gradually improving in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

Some consumers such as Mr V. Balakrishnan, who was spotted shopping for vegetables yesterday, are not put off by the price hike. "Yes, prices have gone up, but not by that much," he said. "It's only a few cents, we won't be cutting down."

- See more at:

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Monsoon Surge in Malaysia Bringing Fresh Flood Risk for Palm

Ranjeetha Pakiam Bloomberg News 5 Jan 15;

A monsoon surge that brought the worst floods in decades to Malaysia, hurting palm oil output in the second-largest grower, is forecast to move south this week, risking further inundations in Johor and Sarawak. Prices fell.

Heavy rains will probably start on Jan. 7 or Jan. 8 in the two states and could last two or three days, potentially causing floods, according to Ambun Dindang, an officer at the Malaysian Meteorological Department. Johor, at the southern end of Peninsula Malaysia, together with Sarawak in Borneo Island account for about one third of the country’s total production.

Palm oil rallied last week to the highest in almost two months after the severe flooding in the north hurt harvesting, and Ambun’s forecast raises the possibility of a second wave of disruptions further south. The wetter-than-usual weather that stretched from southern Thailand, through Malaysia and into Indonesia also triggered rubber-supply concerns, sending futures into a bull market. The floods will probably cut palm oil output and push prices higher, according to BNP Paribas SA.

“At the moment, the cloudy areas are more towards the sea, just at the northeast of Johor and northwest of Sarawak,” Ambun said in a telephone interview from Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur today. “These patches of clouds are still hovering over this place. So once it moves in, you can see some increase in rainfall amount, especially in Johor and Sarawak.”

Prices Rally

Palm oil for March delivery rose as much as 0.6 percent to 2,297 ringgit ($650) a metric ton on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives today before ending 0.9 percent lower at 2,262 ringgit. Last month, most-active futures advanced 4.3 percent as the floods spread in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, three states that lie north of Johor along the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. The price rallied to 2,308 ringgit on Dec. 29, the highest since Nov. 4.

“This could drive prices up,” Michael Greenall, a Kuala Lumpur-based analyst at BNP Paribas, said by phone today, referring to the risk of floods in Johor and Sarawak. “It depends on how severe the long-term impact is, because we don’t know whether there’s any damage to the trees as well if there’s flooding, and how fast these trees will recover.”

Models still show a surge of showers this week, keeping a risk of damage over palm oil areas in Malaysia, Commodity Weather Group LLC, a Bethesda, Maryland-based forecaster, said in a report on Jan. 2.

Floods Possible

“At the beginning of the monsoon season in November and December, normally the northeastern part of Peninsula Malaysia will get this impact of the monsoon surge, and then it propagates to the south,” said Ambun. “Floods are possible,” he said, referring to areas in Johor and Sarawak.

Malaysian output may have dropped 22 percent to 1.36 million tons last month, Ivy Ng, an analyst at CIMB Investment Bank Bhd., wrote in a report dated yesterday, citing a survey by the bank’s futures team. Inventories probably declined to 2 million tons, providing short-term support to prices, Ng said.

Prime Minister Najib Razak is down with E. coli after visiting the flood-hit areas, his media office said in a Twitter posting. Flood victims are concerned about diseases caused by contaminated water, rubbish and carcasses, the Star newspaper reported on its website today.

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