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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 8–21 January 2009.

New collaboration to boost Indian rice production
The International Rice Research Institute and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research have signed an agreement to support and facilitate India's rice research for the next three years, aiding the nation's rice production. More>>

Climate change woes for Pakistan
Climate change will affect Pakistan's water and food supplies, experts warned at a regional conference. Precipitation has decreased by 10–15 per cent in the coastal belt and hyper-arid plains over the last 40 years while summer and winter rains have increased in northern Pakistan. Pakistan president Asif Zardarai urged private entrepreneurs to adopt clean technologies. More>>

Nepal improves quake monitoring
Nepal has installed 24 global positioning system (GPS) stations to study and monitor earthquakes. The country lies in the quake-prone Himalayas and experiences around ten earthquakes measuring up to four on the Richter scale per day. More>>

Biodiesel from rubber seed oil
Rubber seed oil is a potential biodiesel, according Indian scientists. They report that a mixture of rubber seed oil and the chemical diethyl ether cuts down emissions and improves the efficiency of a diesel engine. More>>

Heart disease gene 'more common in South Asians'
Scientists have found a gene mutation that "almost guarantees" the development of heart disease. The mutation is especially common among South Asians — it is present in four percent of people from the Indian subcontinent, compared with one percent worldwide. More>>

World Bank loan for Bangladeshi renewables
Bangladesh will receive a World Bank loan of US$100 million to increase the country's use of renewable energies. Bangladesh's current main source of energy is natural gas, stocks of which are rapidly dwindling and expected to last only till 2012. More>>

Sri Lanka's maternal health success story
'The State of the World's Children Report 2009', released last week by UNICEF, identifies Sri Lanka as a success story for improving health services and reducing maternal and newborn deaths among its population. Sri Lanka can be taken as a model for other developing countries, says UNICEF. More>>

Protecting shrimps from lethal virus
Shrimps could be protected against the highly lethal and contagious white spot syndrome virus thanks to a new DNA vaccine encased in chitosan nanoparticles. The virus has been known to wipe out entire shrimp farms within days. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Khagendra Dahal, Biplab Das, A. A. Khan, Chesmal Siriwardhana and Sohail Yusuf.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the South Asia Regional Coordinator T. V. Padma ([email protected]).

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