Monday, May 21, 2012

More green hotels to be encouraged to go organic

The Commerce Ministry plans to promote Thailand as a regional wellness and retreat hub in the medium term, starting with upgrading green hotels and resorts to organic hospitality centres. Piramol Charoenpao, the commerce deputy permanent secretary, said some Thai hotel and resort operators have branded themselves as green hotels and resorts by investing in green energy, waste management and waste-water treatment. But these establishments can be dubbed organic hotels and resorts only when they use organic products from local networks.

"A few resorts in Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Phuket have already gone organic. They cater mainly to foreigners and have met with some success, so the ministry will try to encourage more operators to become organic," said Ms Piramol. The ministry will work with other government agencies to help upgrade the production standard of organic products, training and product development. The target is both upscale hotels and resorts catering to foreigners and mid-level resorts serving locals.

The ministry hopes to reach the organic standard within three years.

Such systematic development will help create opportunities for a franchise system that will generate more revenue for the country, said Ms Piramol. She said wellness resorts in foreign countries charge very high service fees, offering the possibility for Thailand to develop its knowledge about holistic health care and expand in this market segment. The main obstacle to organic development in Thailand is inconsistent supply and logistics costs keeping prices high. Ms Piramol said her ministry has worked with farm networks to increase supplies, organising about 4,000 communities that produce organic vegetables to supply people with health problems. It also tries to promote organic farming in schools to increase the number of households that go organic. The government wants to increase the organic produce supply from neighbouring countries for processing in Thailand, making the country an organic hub. There has been a national strategy to promote organic farming the past three years, but little progress has been made. It is expected the new secretariat from the Agriculture Ministry will drive efforts to increase supply.

Some 90% of organic produce in Thailand is supplied to local markets, while the rest is for export such as organic rice. A report called "The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends" indicated 218.7 million rai of organic farmland globally produced commodities worth US$50.9 billion in 2008. The market is projected to grow by 50% a year. Areas with a high proportion of organic agriculture _ 20-30% of the total _ are the EU, the US, Australia and Japan.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

TUI launches new green office

TUI Nederland office in Enschede has been specially designed to minimise its impact on the environment and is leading the way as one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the Netherlands. Designed and constructed with energy saving and energy efficiency in mind, the new building uses green electricity which produces no CO2. It also has cold and heat storage, solar panels, intelligent lighting and rainwater collection for water conservation. The building is expected to be rated ‘Excellent’ by BREEAM

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yes, you can become a millionaire farmer

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
May 3, 2012

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “‘If you want to become rich,” Jim Rogers, investment whiz, best-selling author and one of Wall Street’s towering personalities, has this advice: Become a farmer.”
That was in Time magazine last summer. So did you make the leap? Listen to Rogers? Leave Wall Street?
Leave that stuffy ol’ bank? Get on the road to becoming a millionaire farmer?
Still thinking? OK, let’s examine four possible ways you could get into farming this year:
You could buy some natural resources and commodities mutual funds
You can get into a hedge fund, trust, partnership or private equity firm investing in farmland
You might actually bite the proverbial bullet, buy a working farm and live off the land or
You can have your cake and eat it too, like Michael Murphy who publishes the highly-successful
New World Investor biotech newsletter and also operates a unique permaculture farm.
There’s an even bigger reason for abandoning the financial world for farming. “We don’t need more
bankers. What we need are more farmers,” says Rogers. “The invisible hand will do its magic.”
In short, farming’s not just another great way to get rich. There’s a higher calling in it, a mix of money,
enjoying life, fulfilling your destiny, and a dose of altruism: “The world has a serious food problem,” says
Rogers in Steve Gandel’s exciting Time article. And “the only real way to solve it is to draw more people
back to agriculture.”

Hopefully this will inspire more bankers to say bye-bye Wall Street, hello “best job of the 21st century.”
Opportunity knocks: world need more farmers, can’t feed 10 billion in 2050
Just how badly does the world need more farmers? Jeremy Grantham’s firm manages $100 billion,
warns of an “inevitable mismatch between finite resources and exponential population growth,” plus a
“bubble-like explosion of prices for raw materials,” plus commodity shortages that will become a huge
“threat to the long-term viability of our species when we reach a population level of 10 billion,” making
“it impossible to feed the 10 billion people.” See 5 money moves on commodities bear is making now.
Impossible? Yes, the planet’s “carrying capacity” cannot feed the 10 billion people UN demographers
predict on the planet as we add three billion more by 2050. So that’s a constraint on the world’s future

Grantham concluded, “as the population continues to grow, we will be stressed by recurrent shortages
of hydrocarbons, metals, water, and, especially, fertilizer. Our global agriculture, though, will clearly
bear the greatest stresses.”

In short, agriculture is the world’s biggest commodity problem, biggest challenge and the biggest
opportunity, bigger than Wall Street banking on the path to a successful and satisfying life. Below are
some ideas and leads on the four paths to success.

Invest in farmland, local, national and worldwide 

Here’s another way to leveraging your talents and passion for agriculture, investing in farmland. Bigger
players include Canada’s Agcapita, Brazil’s Agrifirma plus American investors like Ceres and Chess
Partners. Earlier we wrote about 416 agricultural real estate deals across the world .
Why are these operators crucial to farming? Water and wind erosion are wiping away crop soils 10 to 40
times the rate of soil formation. Forestlands are disappearing at rates over 500 times the replacement
rate, a trend accelerated by today’s new age of 100,000-acre mega-fires.
So farmland operations like CeresPartners and ChessCapitalPartners are making valuable contributions
by financing and owning smaller farms.

And also on the plus side, remember, throughout history successful farmers often created local banks.
They become farmers first, then got rich, then become bankers too.
Invest in a farm, get your hands dirty, operate your own farm
Can you combine farming and Wall Street? You bet. Back when I was on Wall Street at Morgan Stanley
one of the top three men commuted from his large working farm in Princeton. Another key man was
Barton Biggs, chief global strategist for 30 years. Smart Money said he was “without question the
premier prognosticator on the international scene.” Institutional Investor magazine put him on its “AllAmerica Research Team” 10 times.

Biggs now runs the Traxis Partners hedge fund. In his best-seller, “Wealth, War and Wisdom,” Biggs
advises investors to prepare for “the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure.” How? Be
a farmer. Seriously: “Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food ...
It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes. … Think Swiss
Family Robinson.”

Michael Murphy is another great example: For decades Murphy has been advising investors on “megashifts” in technology, in his New World Investor newsletter and his recent “Survive the Great Inflation.”
We detailed his unique operating farm in “12 Tips for Profiting on Commodity Demand.”

Murphy “walks the way he talks,” combining his world of finance with the unique process on his
operating farm, a commitment that led to “permaculture” farming certification.
Finance insiders can get ‘rich’ farmers on a ‘permaculture’ path
“Though the problems of the world are increasingly more complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly
simple,” says Bill Mollison, co-founder of the global “permaculture” movement. What’s really impressive
is the peaceful Zen sense about this spiritually rich permaculture way of life.
That’s right, it’s really not just living in two separate worlds for guys like Murphy. This is a commitment,
a way of living. Here’s how the permaculture course describes this way of life:
“Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of our lives. Permaculture
teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and
ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities, take care of waste and much more.”
“The philosophy within permaculture is one of working with rather than against nature, and of
protracted and thoughtful observation rather than premature and thoughtless action. Permaculture
design techniques encourage land use which integrates principles of ecology and applies lessons from
nature. It teaches us to create settings and construct ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and
the resilience of natural ecosystems. In the spirit of sustainability, it also teaches us to allow natural and
designed ecosystems to demonstrate their own evolutions.”
In short, permaculture farming is a way of living, in a different world from agribusiness giants Monsanto
and Cargill. Farming is a lifestyle that fits biotech expert Michael Murphy who merges both, much like
the great Zen masters and the guys I knew from Morgan Stanley. But most of all, this way of farming is a
worldwide movement. And if you want to explore it further, check out all the courses offered by the
Permaculture Institute .

15 agricultural innovations to help you be a millionaire farmer 

A couple weeks ago, just before the annual Earth Day celebration, the Worldwatch Institute published
an impressive list of “15 sustainable agricultural practices that are protecting the environment while also
improving people’s livelihoods.” That’s important because these innovations protect the future of our
The world of “agriculture provides food for all of us and income for more than one billion people around
the world,” says Worldwatch’s Danielle Nierenberg: “Relatively simple innovations to reduce the
amount of food we waste, or to help the urban poor become more self-sufficient, can help agriculture
feed the world without destroying the planet.”

What an opportunity: Global population is rapidly accelerating, from just six billion 12 years ago to seven
billion last year, adding three billion more in the next generation. Rogers got it right: “We don’t need
more bankers. What we need are more farmers.”

Alternatively, natural-resources funds or commodity trading
The simplest way to get your feet wet (while you’re thinking about a bigger move into farming and
agriculture) would be to get a feel of the market. Invest in some natural-resources funds. We asked
analyst Michelle Swartzentruber to compile a top-10 list from the Morningstar database:

Prudential Jennison Natural Resources (MFD:PRGNX)
T. Rowe Price New Era (MFD:PRNEX)
Van Eck Global Hard Assets (MFD:GHAAX)
Ivy Global Natural Resources (MFD:IGNAX)
RS Global Natural Resources (MFD:RSNRX)
Fidelity Select Materials (MFD:FSDPX)
Fidelity Select Natural Resources (MFD:FNARX)
Franklin Natural Resources (MFD:FRNRX)
John Hancock II Natural Resources (MFD:JINRX)
ING Global Resources (MFD:IGRSX)

You might also take Jim Rogers other suggestion from his 2007 best-seller “Hot Commodities,” where he
called commodities the “world’s best market.”

More on this later, but if you look closely at our list of the top-10 best natural resources funds you can
see how volatile the underlying commodities have been in recent years: Positive on the short-term yearto-date basis and the longer 3-year annual average basis, but in negative territory on a medium term
one-year basis.

Bottom line, if you really want to become a millionaire farmer, my guess is that neither passive funds
nor active commodity trading will satisfy a passion for farming. So if you really want to invest in
agriculture … if you believe farming is your calling … if you see an opportunity to get rich … and if you
have a strong desire to make a contribution to the world’s need to feed billions in the next generation …
then at some point you might just walk out the door, into the world of agriculture and become a farmer


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ανέφικτοι φαίνονται οι στόχοι του ελληνικού τουρισμού εκτιμά ο ΣΕΤΕ

Ανέφικτοι φαίνονται οι στόχοι του ελληνικού τουρισμού για 16 εκατ. διεθνείς αφίξεις και 10 δισ. ευρώ άμεσα έσοδα για το 2012, μετά και τα αποτελέσματα του πρώτου διμήνου για τον τουρισμό, εκτιμά ο Σύνδεσμος Ελληνικών Τουριστικών Επιχειρήσεων.

Η πτώση αυτή αναμένεται δυστυχώς να συνεχισθεί στο ίδιο περίπου επίπεδο για το πρώτο τετράμηνο του έτους, με δεδομένο, σύμφωνα με τον ΣΕΤΕ, ότι τα αναγκαία μέτρα και οι διαρθρωτικές αλλαγές, που επισήμανε, σε μεγάλο βαθμό δεν εφαρμόσθηκαν, ενώ η οικονομική κρίση στην Ευρώπη επιδεινώθηκε.

Στο πλαίσιο αυτό, ο ΣΕΤΕ αναφέρει ότι θεωρεί θετικό ότι οι πρόεδροι της ΝΔ και του ΠΑΣΟΚ ανακοίνωσαν, ως μέρος του προγράμματος των κομμάτων τους, χαμηλό συντελεστή ΦΠΑ στο τουριστικό πακέτο και επαναφορά του ΦΠΑ της εστίασης στο 13%, μέτρα που βρίσκονται, μεταξύ άλλων, στον πυρήνα της βελτίωσης της ανταγωνιστικότητας του τουριστικού προϊόντος.

«Μία χώρα, όπως η Ελλάδα, που ζει από τον τουρισμό, δεν μπορεί παρά να διατηρεί τον ΦΠΑ στο τουριστικό της προϊόν σε επίπεδα παρόμοια με αυτά των ανταγωνιστών της, δηλαδή της τάξης του 5%-8%» δήλωσε ο πρόεδρος του ΣΕΤΕ Ανδρέας Ανδρεάδης.

Η απόφαση του οικονομικού επιτελείου της κυβέρνησης πέρυσι τον Μάιο, με τη σύμφωνη γνώμη και της τρόικα, για αύξηση του ΦΠΑ της εστίασης στο 23%, δηλαδή σε επίπεδα παγκόσμιου υψηλού, υπήρξε απόλυτα ακατανόητη και πέραν κάθε οικονομικής λογικής. Κατέστρεψε σε λίγους μήνες χιλιάδες επιχειρήσεις και κατήργησε δεκάδες χιλιάδες θέσεις εργασίας, ιδιαίτερα νέων, ενώ τελικά μείωσε και τα φορολογικά έσοδα του κράτους» προσέθεσε

Για να ξεκινήσει η ανάπτυξη, πρέπει να εφαρμοσθούν άμεσα μετά τις εκλογές τα γνωστά, τεκμηριωμένα και εν πολλοίς αυτονόητα μέτρα θωράκισης του τουρισμού μας και βελτίωσης της ανταγωνιστικότητάς του, τονίζει ο ΣΕΤΕ και σημειώνει ότι οι 750.000 οικογένειες του τουριστικού κόσμου της χώρας περιμένουν με ιδιαίτερο ενδιαφέρον τις προεκλογικές τοποθετήσεις και των υπολοίπων κομμάτων στο ιδιαίτερα σημαντικό αυτό ζήτημα.