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BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) Thursday urged the organizers of the 8th Asian Winter Games to solve the "APA hotel problem" swiftly and properly.


The designated official hotel of the Asian Winter Games under APA group, was discovered to be placing books in its rooms denying the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, which sparked public outrage in China.


The COC pointed out that the APA Group's behavior violates the rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which stressed that the athletes should compete "without being drawn into political controversies," and the competition should "provide a Games environment that lets athletes compete without distractions from divisive and emotional issues outside the world of sport."


"We have urged the Japanese side to stick to the Olympic Charter and solve the problems properly and as soon as possible," the COC said.


"We have also written to the Olympic Council of Asia at the same time, asking them to urge the Japanese organizers to get back on the right track," the COC added.


The COC also confirmed a reply from the secretary-general of the organizers, which said the APA hotel has made a decision to remove the books from the rooms, hotel lobby, and the reception desk.


According to an accommodation arrangement, athletes from Chinese and South Korean delegations will be accommodated in the hotel during the Feb.19-26 event to be held in Sapporo and Obihiro.


Last week, two APA hotel guests from New York uploaded a video message on the internet, showing the books placed in the hotel guest rooms and sold at the front desk as well. The online video soon went viral on social media sites and attracted tens of millions of views.




NAIROBI, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The UN food agency has called on sub-Saharan Africa to embrace sustainable mechanization which it said is key for agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods.


In a report released on Thursday, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said mechanization and appropriate mechanization strategies have a large role to play in feeding the burgeoning population which requires significant improvements in agricultural productivity.


The application of appropriate tools machines is an essential agricultural input in sub-Saharan Africa with the potential to transform the lives and economies of millions of rural families, said FAO Assistant Director-General Ren Wang, head of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department.


Mechanization covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorized equipment.


According to the report, the opportunity must be guided in a way that meets smallholder farmers' needs and requires a green revolution type of approach against high levels of agrochemical inputs and destructive ploughing operations that threaten soil health and fertility.


The report also underlines that agricultural mechanization should be environmentally compatible, economically viable, affordable, adapted to local conditions and, in view of current developments in weather patterns.


It extends far beyond ploughing and can contribute to productivity gains and new jobs in the post-harvest, processing and marketing stages of local and global food systems.


"Agricultural mechanization in its broadest sense can contribute significantly to the sustainable development of food systems globally, as it has the potential to render post-harvest, processing and marketing activities and functions more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly," Wang said.


According to Josef Kienzle, FAO expert and key author of the report, mechanization allows smallholders both to intensify and expand agricultural production as well as enabling some family members to seek off-farm jobs and incomes.


"It allows for new and often better jobs in the servicing sector, such as for skilled machinery managers, repair service providers, mechanics, dealers and spare part supply centres," said Kienzle.


As rural African youths increasingly migrate to urban centres, the region may face labour shortages along with increasing demand for food to be sent to the cities.


"Mechanization can help the often elderly or female farmers who remain in rural areas to keep up with higher output needs, thus contributing to increased food security and climate change mitigation," he said.


FAO said mechanization can be achieved when well-managed private sector mechanization service centres are installed and services are within reach.


Interventions from the public sector to help this process include providing specific incentives depending on the mechanization power source and user type. Enditem


By Abu Hanifah


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