Uzbekistan Vegetable Seed Market – Dominance of Imported Varieties

The vegetable seeds market in Uzbekistan has seen a dramatic surge in the demand for imported hybrids over the last eight years and is likely to continue to increase. Since 2011, the volume of imported vegetable seeds has increased from approximately 25 metric tonnes to just under 55 metric tonnes in 2017 . This has been a result of a number of factors including the gradual relaxation of restrictions to accessing imported goods (not just seed but agriculture items including irrigation equipment, fruit rootstocks etc; note: may not include fertiliser on which there is a ban of sorts), the move away from a cotton based agriculture system, opening of export markets particularly to Russia, changes at the local government level on options for farmers (choices) on what crops they are allowed to cultivate, and the move to greenhouse cultivation. The latter is evident with the increasing prevalence of greenhouses throughout the country and by the fact that, officially, the area of land under cultivation has not increased over the last 10 years . 2018 also saw the removal of import duties on imported seed (40% to 60%), replaced by a general sales tax (20%), although the impact (benefits) of this are not likely to be seen in official figures for a year or more. Of these, perhaps the combination of farmers access to export markets (mainly Russia), or ability to do so, has driven farmers to grow vegetable varieties acceptable to the export markets, of which little or no locally available varieties are, and the need for higher quality fruit, again to fulfil the export markets, which has driven the push to greenhouses and imported hybrids which enable to farmer to consistently produce good yields of high quality fruit. But again, there are other factors which contribute to the dominance of imported vegetable seeds.

  1. Imported seeds are sold in pouches or cans are hybrids but are also coated (primed) and in most cases with fungicides and growth enhances. The seed coating, and that they are hybrids, are seen by farmers as signifying superior quality. While this is generally true with higher germination rates than local seed and reduced loses at the seedling stage, this is somewhat of a marketing advantage (ploy). Local seed produces are also now selling open pollinated (OP) seed but coated (by hand) and packaged in pouches and labelled as hybrids, even though they are not. In many cases these are the same seed sold by other produces as OP varieties in open bags and uncoated, but at premiums of between 100% and 300% (generally OP varieties are sold at three som per seed but the same seed coated and packaged as hybrids are being sold for up to 10 som per seed). Consumer protection hasn’t reached the farmer level as yet and while Uzbekistan is a member of UPOV (since November, 2004), there appears little action at the government level to encourage PVP.
  2. Locally derived varieties, being OP, are generally lower yielding producing lower quality fruit types than imported varieties, but also are not adapted to greenhouse cultivation. This is evident with the semi-determinate and determinate tomato varieties, versus the indeterminate imported varieties, in addition to the poor trellising ability of many of the cucurbits.
  3. Disease resistances in locally derived varieties are generally unknown and, due to their OP status, segregate. But in saying that, many imported varieties also do not have resistances to common virus diseases such as TYLCV and soil borne pathogens such as nematodes. Where imported varieties are bred for truly greenhouse, closed environments, the majority of greenhouses in Uzbekistan are not closed and crops are sown directly in the soil with little or no crop rotation. Even some large-scale greenhouses operations over 10 or more hectares, costing $250,000 per hectare have been farms for TYLCV transmitting whiteflies.
  4. As the main (perhaps hoped for) market is export, fruit quality is paramount. The main criteria is shelf-life and transportability. To this end, firm fruit types dominate as too consistency in fruit type (size, colour, weight).

But there are other factors to consider. In general, for cucumber crops, open field farmers can have two crops starting in May and finishing in October. Under greenhouse conditions this can extend to three utilising the warmer greenhouse conditions in early spring and late autumn. Under these conditions the farmer sows the first crop in March with heating in a somewhat complicated manner. For cucurbits this is less of an issue as the sowing period is generally between 5 and 10 days, but for solanaceous crops the period is longer, over 30 days and generally closer to 40 provided they are cultivated at temperatures above 20 degrees. For these reasons, many farmers have turned to a fast-growing seedling raising sector where farmers, on small backyard plots of ¼ to ½ hectares (generally Dehkan farms) sow seeds in beds above mulching from cotton or in large racks of beds all of which are covered with plastic for insulation. The decomposing cotton mulch generates sufficient heat to maintain the seedlings between 15C and 25C while outside temperatures seldom approach 10C. After about 20 days, approximately two-leaf stage, the seedlings are transferred to 5 cm diameter plastic bags with media (generally soil with burnt and unburnt rice husks 60:10:30). The seedlings are then transferred to plastic greenhouses and grown on the ground. A farmer with about a quarter of a hectare of greenhouse can generally grow about 100,000 seedlings per season. Cucurbit seeds are sown directly into the plastic bags. Seedling raisers point out that they get their soil from fields which haven’t grown tomato, so they have an understanding of nematodes and bacterial wilt and general issues with soil borne diseases and pests. The driver for sowing solanaceous seeds in heated beds and then transferring them to plastic bags is lack of access to gas for heating. Access to gas is controlled by the local governments which generally don’t allow it to be bought by farmers. This is also a determining factor in the cultivation of crops in greenhouses during the winter period of November to February when temperatures, depending on the location, are generally below -5C at night and rarely get above 5C during the day (this excludes the southern regions of Denau to Termez where generally temperatures range from night-time of 4C to highs of 15C to 20C). Farmers with access to gas, wood or coal fired heaters can grow vegetable crops during the period and are able to sell their produce for export at prices four or five times that during the following spring period. Again, the prized market is Russia but supplying the local market is also a profitable option for the lower quality produce.

Based on local data from seed distributors, the largest greenhouse market is tomato followed by cucumber and other crops, 60%, 30% and 10%, respectively. While most imported solanaceous and cucurbit varieties are designed for the greenhouse, much of the seed is also sown in the open field with varieties like NongWoo Bio’s Fontina being popular, but also half to one-third the price (300 som per seed) of one of the market leading varieties such as Zena from Sakata and Orzu from Nunhems (Bayer) (500 – 600 som per seed). While the Fontina fruit type doesn’t quite match that of Orzu and Zena (10 cm, shoulder and 3 – 4 cm diameter, medium green versus dark green of Zena), it makes up for in yield and adaptation in the field where it is grown on the ground.



Seed shops in Uzbekistan are commonly located in fresh-markets both in town centres and major growing areas. They tend to be “one-stop shops” for farmers not just for supplies, seed, fertilizer, chemicals, equipment etc, but also for advice on cultivation, diseases, and, life in general (some seed shops are centres for generally men to meet and talk, often over tea). Some shops also sell veterinary medicines as well. In general, seed is sold in the opened containers or seed pouches they were imported in as the cost of a single pouch, let alone a can, would often exceed the needs of the farmer both in terms of seed number but, importantly, finances. While the alarm bells would ring in some over maintaining the relative humidity of the seed, considering the dry climate and the average 20% humidity through most of the year, this doesn’t appear to be a major issue. Also, the turn-over in seed often means that the shop is often selling the most popular varieties within a few days. However, temperature is an issue, particularly the variations from below zero in winter (this would normally be at night as during the day the shops tend to be heated) to mid to high 40’s in summer. Seed substitution could also be an issue as often the cheaper coated local OP varieties are indistinguishable from imported ones, and there are no colourimeters to identify trademarked seed coating colours!!

But as in other markets, copying the packing colours and labelling is rife. This is seen not with seed packaging but with many products on the market from vodka and wine to seed and food.

Vegetable Market
The vegetable market is similar to that in other countries and include potato (most seed potatoes are imported from Germany and France), carrots (mostly OP), turnips (mostly OP), onions (OP), shallots (OP), parsley (OP), basil (OP), cabbages (mostly OP), cauliflower (mostly OP), broccoli (mostly OP), eggplant (mostly OP but more F1 for greenhouses), pepper (hot and sweet) (mostly OP but for greenhouses moving to F1), tomato (mostly F1), and cucumber (mostly F1).

Based on observations there are two main cucumber segments that sell into the market that are differentiated on size and market: beit-alpha type (three sub-segments), Orzu type (two sub-segments). The sub-segments are differentiated based on market and season. More details can be seen in table 1. Cucumber (and tomato) are the drivers for greenhouse development based on their export and local markets. They are the main constituents in local salads. With perhaps the exception of two local distributors, there doesn’t appear to be any apparent drive to produce locally adapted varieties, however, with the rider that these local distributors are only undertaking local selections and there are no active local breeding programs. There are significant diseases including PRSV, Begomoviruses, angular leafspot (Pseudomonas Syringae) and downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis), and nematodes, however none of the major varieties appear to be resistant. Whiteflies are a major issue both in the field and greenhouses.

There are two broad tomato segments, open field and greenhouse. The open field are determinate or semi-determinate while the greenhouse types are all indeterminate. The greenhouse segment is subdivided into three sub-segments based on fruit colour, size and market. The open field segment are solely for local consumption and are based on fruit type. More details can be seen in table 2. As with cucumber, there are significant diseases in tomato with the major one (based on symptoms) being TYLCV. Despite the claims of many of the seed companies, no varieties were TYLCV resistant, however, there were apparent variations in susceptibility which, based on observations, were mute considering the severity of the disease with no saleable fruit for export, only local consumption (and in some cases no fruit) produced. There was also evidence of other diseases based on symptoms including tomato spotted wilt and nematodes. As many of the greenhouse farmers sow in the soil and do so continuously with no soil treatment nor rotation, this is a major issue for the future.

Bell peppers dominate the market and are popular in greenhouses. Long hot peppers (15 – 20 cm) are also popular. Imported seed dominate.

Okra is not a popular crop and I’ve only included it here as it was in the field and infected with symptoms of Begomovirus infection (leaf yellowing, stunting) identical to that seen in Asia and SE Asia (Pakistan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines).

The types seen in the market are very limited being long purple types (20 to 30 cm). The typical “tear drop” aubergine type is also found cultivate under greenhouse conditions. The majority of the crop is open field, but more and more are greenhouse cultivated using imported varieties. As would be expected the eggplants are susceptible to severe whitefly infestation. In the field and greenhouses observed, no symptoms of Begomoviruses were evident, which was surprising considering the presence of other whitefly transmitted Begomoviruses in the area. This suggests that the eggplant-infecting version of the Begomovirus is not currently found in the regions I visited.

Watermelon is popular and cheap and is commonly found in the markets from April to December. There are numerous types from sugar baby (oblong and round), very dark green, jubilee, all sweet to crimson sweet (round and some oblong) which appears to be growing more and more dominant in market. All vary in size, however, the 5 to 10 kg sizes in all types dominate. The market is divided between hybrids (all imported seed) and OP, the later which is the most common type found in the market. All are red fleshed with the occasional exception of yellow. All are seeded with the OP types generally being very large seeds while the imported types are generally smaller seeded. Rind thickness tend to vary amongst the local varieties with the median being 1 cm. The dry climate of Uzbekistan suits the cultivation of watermelon, all of which are grown on the ground.

While the greenhouses cultivate imported seed of mainly European types (1 kg fruit) which are largely exported, the most popular melons are open pollinated open field, 5 – 10 kg types. These are separated into two fruit types, yellow and light green, both of which are very sweet (estimate only but approximately 15 brix) and juicy with soft to medium textured fruit. The melons are popular from April through to December and are supplied to local markets as well as exported to neighbouring countries as well as Russia. Under cool conditions they have a shelf-life of upwards of one month. The rind thickness is approximately 1 cm, but as the fruit texture is medium to soft and very juicy, shipping even in the local markets can be problematic. This type of melon has been popular for many years and was part of a local selection/breeding program during the 50’s and 60’s. It grows well in the very dry climate. It has huge potential and should be a prime candidate for a local breeding program. Based on observations under various conditions it has no resistances to most common melon diseases (Potyviruses, based on symptoms) and is very susceptible to gummy stem blight, downy mildew and other leaf diseases. While in the field it is cultivated on the ground, many of the leaf disease issues could in part be overcome by growing them on trellising provided the heavy, oversized fruit can be well secured.

Table 1. Descriptors of major cucumber segments in Uzbekistan, segments 1 and 2.

  1. Market value estimate from RIVMCP staff and seed sellers. Export value 50% plus higher than local market. Exports mainly to Russia.
  2. Lower export opportunity as Russia market produce locally.
  3. TBC – to be confirmed
  4. Early requires greenhouse heating. Single season for tomato, two for cucumber.
  5. Disease/insect resistance/tolerance based on observation reports of symptoms.
  6. Seedlings sown late January (1), June (2), August (3)
  7. Two seasons possible for cucumber.

Main seed stakeholders: Rijk Zwaan, Nunhems, Enza Zaden, Clause, Sakata, NongWoo Bio


  1. Market value estimate from RIVMCP staff and seed sellers. Export value 50% plus higher than local market. Exports mainly to Russia.
  2. Lower export opportunity as Russia market produce locally.
  3. TBC – to be confirmed
  4. Early requires greenhouse heating. Single season for tomato, two for cucumber.
  5. Disease/insect resistance/tolerance based on observation reports of symptoms.
  6. Seedlings sown late February (1), May – June (2)
  7. Two seasons possible for cucumber.

Main seed stakeholders: Rijk Zwaan, Clause, Enza Zaden, Sakata, NongWoo Bio, Nunhems, Seminis, local producers

Table 2. Descriptors of major tomato segments in Uzbekistan, segments 1 and 2.

  1. Market value estimate from RIVMCP staff and seed sellers. Export value 50% plus higher than local market. Exports mainly to Russia.
  2. Lower export opportunity as Russia market produce locally.
  3. TBC – to be confirmed
  4. Early requires greenhouse heating. Single season for tomato, two for cucumber.
  5. Disease/insect resistance/tolerance based on observation reports of symptoms.
  6. Seedlings sown late December – January, February, May – June
  7. Two seasons possible if heating.

Main seed stakeholders: Rijk Zwaan, Clause, Enza Zaden, Sakata, NongWoo Bio, Nunhems, Seminis, Hazera, Eden Seeds, local producers.

  1. Market value estimate from RIVMCP staff and seed sellers. 
  2. TBC – to be confirmed
  3. Disease/insect resistance/tolerance based on observation reports of symptoms.
  4. Seedlings sown February, May

Main Seed Stakeholders: Enza Zaden, Seminis, Sakata.

Table 3. Descriptors of major watermelon segments in Uzbekistan.

  1. Market value estimate from RIVMCP staff and seed sellers. 
  2. TBC – to be confirmed
  3. Disease/insect resistance/tolerance based on observation reports of symptoms.
  4. Seedlings sown February, May, August

Main Seed Stakeholders: Numhems, Syngenta, Clause, Seminis.

Figure 1. Seed shop community.

Figure 2. Seed shops offer disease diagnosis services for free.

Figure 3. Seedling raiser.

Figure 4. What’s in a name?

Figure 5. Severe TYLCV infection in >20 tomato varieties in a 1 ha greenhouse outside Tashkent.

Figure 6. Melon and watermelon types (and pumpkin) in the market.

Figure 7. Eggplant (“tear drop” aubergine type, 20 – 30 cm in length) and whitefly infestation.


Startup Security on Mac’s with T2 Chips (iMac’s, Mac Pro, MacBooks 2018 and on)

If you are installing an OS on a laptop with a T2 (or similar) chip and you want to do a clean install or if you want to boot from an external disk, first you need to turn off the security (below).

About Startup Security Utility

Use Startup Security Utility to make sure that your Mac always starts up from your designated startup disk, and always from a legitimate, trusted operating system.

Available only on Mac computers that have the Apple T2 Security Chip, Startup Security Utility offers three features to help secure your Mac against unauthorized access: Firmware password protection, Secure Boot, and External Boot.


To open Startup Security Utility:

  1. Turn on your Mac, then press and hold Command (⌘)-R immediately after you see the Apple logo. Your Mac starts up from macOS Recovery.
  2. When you see the macOS Utilities window, choose Utilities > Startup Security Utility from the menu bar.
  3. When you’re asked to authenticate, click Enter macOS Password, then choose an administrator account and enter its password.

Firmware password protection

Use a firmware password to prevent anyone who doesn’t have the password from starting up from a disk other than your designated startup disk. To set a firmware password, click Turn On Firmware Password, then follow the onscreen instructions. Learn more about firmware passwords.

You can also use External Boot to prevent even those who know the firmware password from starting up from external media.


Secure Boot

Use this feature to make sure that your Mac starts up only from a legitimate, trusted operating system. Learn more about Secure Boot.


External Boot

Use this feature to control whether your Mac can start up from an external hard drive, thumb drive, or other external media. The default and most secure setting is ”Disallow booting from external media.” When this setting is selected, your Mac can’t be made to start up from any external media:

  • Startup Disk preferences displays a message that your security settings do not allow this Mac to use an external startup disk.
  • Startup Manager allows you to select an external startup disk, but doing so causes your Mac to restart to a message that your security settings do not allow this Mac to use an external startup disk. You’ll then have the option to restart from your current startup disk or select another startup disk. 

To allow your Mac to use an external startup disk:

  1. Open Startup Security Utility.
  2. Select ”Allow booting from external media.”
  3. Your Mac doesn’t support booting from network volumes, whether or not you allow booting from external media.
  4. If you want to select an external startup disk before restarting your Mac, quit Startup Security Utility, then choose Apple menu  > Startup Disk.

Reproduced from that published in Apple Support: April 11, 2019


VPN Keeps Disconnecting when the Monitor Sleeps

This problem is also resolved with the Sleep-Wake issues discussed elsewhere. This will prevent laptops from rebooting during the night (when they appear to wake and can’t find a network) and when the laptop is in use but the screen sleeps which causes the laptop to lose it’s internet connection and as such any VPN connection and sometimes connections to downloading files.

Resolve Sleep-Wake issues with MacOS

  • Open Terminal in your Applications folder or Spotlight, and copy & paste the command line below into the box, and press enter afterwards. You’ll likely be prompted to enter your mac login, and you may do so. You may also receive a warning that you are making changes. This is normal and you may proceed. 

sudo pmset -a standby 0

  • (You’ll enter Terminal in Spotlight to open terminal, then enter the sudo command into terminal)
  • Then this problem should be corrected. If you need to confirm that the above setting was properly set, open your System Report, select the ‘Power’ option, and then check the ‘Standby Enabled’ value. It should say 0.  

A New Geological Age?

While this is a reference from last month it is, nonetheless, an interesting read (and listen to if you download the podcast). Quote from Science Magazine’s website:

“We now live in the Meghalayan age—the last age of the Holocene epoch. Did you get the memo? A July decision by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which is responsible for naming geological time periods, divided the Holocene into three ages: the Greenlandian, the Northgrippian, and the Meghalayan. The one we live in—the Meghalayan age (pronounced “megalion”)- is pegged to a global drought thought to have happened some 4200 years ago. But many critics question the timing of this latest age and the global expanse of the drought.”


Taking Photos in the Field

I know that many colleagues use their mobile phone camera when taking photos of crops and diseases in the field. And that makes sense considering that you always have your phone with you!! Many colleagues are, like myself, pretty amateurish at taking photos and so all the help you can get makes a big difference. Most companies (and individuals) change their mobile phones on an infrequent but regular basis – perhaps every two of three years. I am, and have been for over thirty years, an avid Apple follower/user despite being forced to use Windows PCs and Blackberrys during those years. Dual lens phone cameras have been available on the iPhone, and non-Apple products, for a few years now but their advantage, in terms of maximising on the focal length, depth of field etc has never really been discussed very much. Indeed, unless you have used the iPhone Plus versions, considered by many as being too big (except those getting on in years needing the larger screen), dual lenses have not been an option. Last year, 2017, was the first exception as the iPhone X, not being a Plus size, was the first non-Plus with dual lenses.

This year the new iPhone XS and XS Max both have dual lenses, while the iPhone XR will (when released in October) will only sport a single wide angle lens. Reports, marketing speak of the new “neural engine” in the “Bionic A12 chip”, translating to separate chips on the A12 processor with designated tasks, may in reality offer real improvements for us amateurs in taking usable field photos. While I don’t have first-hand experience with this, there are a slew of on-line reviews of the XS and XR Max including this one from John Grubber.

All-in-all it might be a good reason to upgrade your phone!! But I also would like a new iPad (reportedly to be introduced at an event in October), a new MacBook Pro (but I can hold off as the keyboards are still problematic) and a new Mac mini (to replace my Mac mini 2012 server which has been running 24/7 since 2012).


Plant Pathology Protocols

Apologies that these protocols have been on the site for sometime but were inadvertently not publicly accessible.

I’ve reposted some of them and as I repair the links the others will be available. 

These include:

  2. Screening for downy mildew resistance in cucurbits
  3. Screening for Fol resistance in tomato
  4. Screening for Ty-1 resistance in tomato
  5. Screening for Ty-2 resistance in tomato
  6. Mi-gene detection (nematode resistance allele) in tomatoes
  7. Mechanical inoculation protocol
  8. Standard Protocol for Anthracnose screening of pepper
  9. ELISA protocol for Begomovirus detection
  10. ELISA protocol for PRSV detection
  11. ELISA protocol for WSMoV
  12. ELISA protocol for TMV
  13. Extraction of dsRNA for detecting RNA viruses

    Bacterial wilt screening program

    Screening for BW resistance in eggplant

Screening for PRSV resistance in cucumber.





Remembering Randy Hautea (1956 – 2018)

It was somewhat of a shock to hear of the passing of Randy Hautea a few weeks ago. Randy was with ISAAA for over 20 years, the latter half as the Global Coordinator and SEAsiaCenter. For many, Randy was an important figure, source of information, contact and someone to talk with. Importantly he, through ISAAA, contributed to and facilitated many projects, both financially and in-kind, in the Asia-Pacific region.

I know many, like myself, will have their own stories of having worked with Randy. He will be missed.


Frustration and time wasting: Upgrading to macOS High Sierra; why/why not and issues!

Answer? DON’T.

Why not? It is very buggy. The list of things broken from Sierra to High Sierra suggests that High Sierra was not ready for release and still isn’t.

Normally I update MacOS after the first major release update (in this case on the release of 13.1), but I held back after looking at all the issues. So when 13.2 came out I thought that it should be safe to update. How wrong can you get!!

It is surprising that in many of Apple’s OS releases, iOS for Phones, iPads, Apple TV and MacOS, bugs in two versions back eg iOS 9 are fixed in iOS 10, but the same bug in iOS 9 reappears with iOS 11. There are many examples of this: slow connectivity and playing when streaming movies and TV shows from iTunes on a computer to iPhones and iPads (but no problems with Apple TV). Admittedly iOS 11 on the Apple TV gave the visual interface when reviewing movies and TV shows steaming from iTunes on a local network but this has taken a few years (previously nearly a Dos listing interface!!). On the Mac, Preview in MacOS 10.11 was a real mess including saving annotations. This was fixed in 10.12 but the bug came back in 10:13 (Update: appears fixed in 10:13.3 Beta). An infamous one was Calculator on iOS that when pressing the buttons quickly gave an incorrect calculation. This was fixed in an update, but all points to real problems in Apple’s QC procedures.

Other bugs in 10:13?

  1. Download versions of MacOS High Sierra in early January would fail on their installation (Four separate computers: two MacBook Airs, two Mac Minis) and re-downloaded install file (yes, it could just be the slow download that corrupted the file but it is supposed to do a checksum before installing!!). This was just catastrophic as the SSDs were converted to APFS and reverting back to Sierra took two days as the SSDs needed to be reformatted, the recovery replaced to the non-APFS version etc. What a mess as I lost a week over this. The latest version to download seems to have this fixed.
  2. Preview is broken: can’t save annotations NOR even print them!! (Update: appears to be fixed in 10.13.3 Beta version 4);
  3. Messages (touted as a NEW FEATURE in High Sierra) won’t sync messages from the iPhone to the Mac (the Sync button seen in early versions located with the “Account” is now removed (Jan 2018). (Update 1: Doesn’t appear to affect everyone. Update 2: appears fixed in 10.13.3 Beta version 4 but still can’t sync old messages from the iPhone.)
  4. All notifications are very slow to appear and you hear the sound but the message appears a few seconds later (Update: appears fixed in 10.13.3 Beta version 4);
  5. Syncing with iCloud is very inconsistent. When looking to open the files on iCloud in the Finder some directories and files just don’t appear. Some will appear the next day but still some are missing, yet they are still on iCloud and you can access them on other non-High Sierra computers and iOS devices. (Update: appears partly fixed in 10.13.3 Beta version 4 but not fully – some files still not downloading from iCloud);
  6. Syncing Photos from iCloud to the Mac is very slow and after a few days the latest photos (from the iPhone to iCloud) have still not downloaded.
  7. Thunderbolt Display speakers not connecting when docking MacBook air. Restart (PRAM reset) required while MacBook Air is connected to the Thunderbolt Display.
  8. MS Word 2017 appears to be a little odd on opening where the initial screen to select a format to open normally disappears if you select a file to open from the pulldown menu, this now doesn’t disappear.
  9. SuperDuper takes at least 50 seconds to be functional – spinning ball. Not clear why and no mention on Shirt-Pocket’s website. No apparent problems with CCC.
  10. Copying files to external media. This was supposed to be quicker, and is on the boot SSD) but now it takes a long time to check to confirm the copy before copying.

Things improved?

  1. Most apps appear to open more quickly.
  2. MS Word 2014 appears to still be working despite earlier reports that it was broken.
  3. APFS supports snapshots of you hard drive.


Check out all the issues with High Sierra on Apple’s Discussions.


Myanmar Vegetable Seeds Market – Open for Opportunities

The vegetable seeds market in Myanmar has been active for many years however, since the transition to an elected government there has been a rush to access better quality varieties. Currently the market is dominated by seed traders who distribute seeds from larger seed companies. As such varieties from other countries, mainly Thailand, India and China, dominate the markets. However, the market segments are largely undefined and currently many traders are selling whatever varieties they can access outside Myanmar into the local markets. This is seen with watermelon where the majority of fruit grown in the country is exported to China. In some cases, all fruit is exported especially those varieties grown in the northern areas. This is also the case with many of the melon varieties grown in the country as well. As such the local market sells what can only be referred to as the “spill over” from the export market. This is not necessarily reflected in other market segments, however all segments, with the exception of some local selections of tomato (eg. 40 – 60 gram green types and some pepper types for the fresh and dried markets), are now more and more being dominated by imported varieties. Local traders are “hungry” for quality seeds of new varieties that they can sell into the market. With the exception of a few players, seed companies from outside the country have not had a local presence, instead supplying local traders, some on an exclusive basis. This has, in part, continued on from the era of embargoes on companies trading with the then military regime. Now with the “apparent legitimate” government, or perhaps it is the armed forces’ generals who realise that there is more money to be made from corrupting the “democratic” system, more and more international and regional companies are starting to install their own local entities, rather than rely on local traders.

Regardless, the vegetable seeds market is open for new and innovative varieties that could define new and lucrative segments. Currently many of the segments are either loosely defined or are just so wide open that different varieties or segment types are being sold into the same market. This is seen with tomatoes grown on Inlay Lake where a range of fruit sizes, from 40 g to 100 g on determinate, semi-determinate and indeterminate varieties, are selling into the same market. What differentiates them is largely disease resistance and farmers are risking growing a mixed crop, including the higher value 100 g plus indeterminate types, in the hope that they will not die, for which they can get a higher price for the fruit in the market. What is somewhat of a concern though is that most seed traders are not aware of market segments and what differentiates them. However, this perhaps is not unusual for immature markets and plays into the hands of regional and international seed companies who have the R&D experience and extensive portfolio to assume dominance. Outside Inlay Lake the role diseases play in defining the market segments is less obvious as many diseases common in other countries in the region either are not evident, the pressure is low or the isolates present have low pathogenicity. This will no doubt change over time as more and more vegetables are cultivated in the country.

Based on observations there are three main cucumber types that sell into the same segment: 30 cm bicolour with up to five fruit per plant, 20 cm bi-colour with 5 to 10 fruit per plant and 10 cm bi-colour 15 to 20 fruit per plant. The farmers will apparently grow all three types but prefer the 30 cm type as they can sell the fruit in the market at a higher price (up to five times that of the 20 cm fruit. Chia Tai varieties, sold through a number of distributors, are the most popular. As I didn’t really get to see many farmers’ fields it was difficult to assess diseases but angular leafspot (Pseudomonas Syringae) and downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis) were evident.

Upright, 5 – 10 cm green, hot peppers dominate the market however there are also 3 – 5 cm Capsicum chinense OP varieties as well as bell peppers and 15 – 20 cm more traditional types for fresh and drying/processing. Interestingly for the upright varieties the market trend is for very dark green fruit with some sold as both fresh as well as dried. Some upright varieties are also sold as red.

While the market in Thailand has been for light green, 30 cm long, shoulder varieties with continuous warts, 20 cm Palee types dominate the market.

Indian types dominate the market which appears to be very small. There are multiple reports of Geminivirus-type symptoms which, at least from some reports, has pushed some farmers to grow other crops.

Yard Long Bean
The YLB market appears to be more defined with their being a clear demarcation between the northern and central/southern markets. Both markets prefer 60 cm long fruit with either brown, black or white seeds. There are reports of major rust issues in some areas.

Whereas in neighbouring countries there is a huge variation of types (size, shape, colour) many with very specific markets, the Myanmar market is dominated by purple types with a purple/green bicolour teardrop.

30 cm, bi-colourcucumberChia Tai varieties dominate.
20 cm, bi-colour
10 cm bi-colour
5 - 10 cm, fresh, green, uprightThree types selling into the same segment. Also drying some of the varieties. Mainly green (immature) but some red.Market leader is Demon (East-West)
5 - 10 cm, dried, green, upright
5 - 10 cm, dried, dark green, upright
10 cm, bell, fresh
15 - 20 cm, fresh
3 - 5 cm, light green-red, upright, Capsicum chinense, OP
Bittergourd20 cm Palee type
Tomato60 g, red, fresh
40 - 60 g, green, freshSells in market as green, but some matured to red
100 g, red, freshHigher price in the market but varieties commonly grown are not EB and LB resistant.
40 g, fresh/processing, red-pink
Okra20 - 25 cm, light green, India typeReports of virus issues (leaf vein yellowing and leaf yellowing Ð assume Geminiviruses) but not confirmed
Chinese Cabbage
30 - 40 cm, light greenMainly imported from China
Carrot20 - 30 cm, orangeImported from China
20 - 30 cm, dark purple
20 - 30 cm, purple
10 - 15 cm, tear-drop, purple/green bi-colour
Yard Long Bean
60 cm, light green fruit with brown, black and white seedsSold into the north Myanmar market
60 cm, green fruit with brown, black and white seedsSold into the central and southern markets
Crimson type, 5 - 10 kg, red flesh, seededMajority sold into China
Sugar baby type, 5 - 10 kg, red flesh, seededMajority sold into China
Moschata, smooth skin, 5 - 10 kg

Figure 1. (a) Examples of hot pepper types: 3 – 5 cm Chinense OP, 5 – 10 cm dark green/fresh/drying and 5 – 10 cm green/red/fresh. (b) 5 – 10 cm red/fresh.


Figure 2. Green 10 cm bell peppers and 15 – 20 cm green peppers.


Figure 3. Eggplant types tear-drop bi-colour type and 30 cm dark purple.


Figure 4. Okra, 20 – 25 cm, light green, India type (right) and cucumber 20 cm, bi-colour – centre and 10 cm, bi-colour – right front.


Figure 5. Yard long bean 60 cm, green.


Figure 6. Watermelon types: sugar baby and crimson sweet types (all seeded). The majority are sold into China.


Figure 7. Some pumpkin types sold into the market. Wax gourd in front.


Figure 8. Bittergourd (foreground), Palee type, sold into the market.


Figure 9. Cucumber, bicolour, 30 cm (centre) and 20 cm (right) sold into the market. Okra on the left.


Accessing Published Scientific Papers

I’ve avoided referring to Sci-Hub before as I, like hundred of thousands of other researchers, have time and time again run up against publishing pay walls in reviewing literature for research on projects. Sure you can pay amounts from a few dollars to $40 or more to download the PDF or access the article for a limited period of time, contact the author for a PDF copy or ask a colleague at a university or research institution which can afford to have on-line access (JSTOR, Springer etc) to download it for you, the legalities of the latter two being questionable. But this is a time consuming frustration when all you are wanting to do is to check part of the paper that was referenced elsewhere, which often turns out to be irrelevant.

Enter, circa 2011, Alexandra Elbakyan, a Kazakhstan researcher based in Russia, instigated quite a simple and ingenious, crowd sourced workaround to access publications and then make it available for free on LibGen. Access to scientific publications has always been an issue and there has been huge debate over the years, particularly over access to articles from publicly funded research. This has been, in part, resolved and a quick review of the background and free access publications by doing a quick search will give some relevance. However, the central issue of access and how much access remains and court action, it seems, will continue. Many publications, including Nature, liken Sci-Hub to popular media pirates which is, at least I feel, a little too far. But the principles are similar, except the publishers didn’t produce the product, and popular media owners/copyright holders tend not to think outside of the litigation box when it comes to dealing with the issues. I support scientific publishers and the service they provide in both peer reviewing publications (filtering out “fake facts” – sounds better than fake news) and offering a forum for scientific debate and often support for the community as a whole, particularly in terms of funding and righting the wrongs of creationists and the “Cruising scientologists”. But what has always been a bit of a sore point to me, and many colleagues, is that when you submit an article for publication, and in some cases pay to do so, you sign over all copyright to the publisher who then sells access to your article, is still not fully resolved. (Not as bad as signing over all patent rights of your invention to your institute or company though!!).

Where there is an apparent injustice there will always be an under-swell of solutions!!