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The yucca plant, native to Central and North America, has bcome popular in gardens around the world for its architectural beauty, but Australian gardeners have discovered a downside. Over a five-year period, Melbourne's Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital has treated 28 Australians for injuries from the fashionable plant.

The culprit is the long spikey leaf of the yucca, with its sharp end resembling an arrowhead. In a report published by the UK Journal Clinical Otolaryngology, an alarming one in seven of the injuries caused permanent deafness.

All the injuries occurred while gardeners were attending the plants. The yucca has surged in popularity outside America, becoming a fixture in public gardens as well as on private land. It certainly looks striking, but little is known about it outside of its native terrain. Those who suffered injury were working around the plants, unaware that the spikey leaves could enter the ear quite easily if they got too close.

Usually, the spikey leaves just perforate the eardrum, the report said, which can be remedied. But the shape and angle of the leaf mean it can also go much deeper into the inner ear, which is the cause of significant and permanent injury to hearing.

Most people who come into contact with the yucca plant are well aware of the potential for injury to the eyes and avoid getting stabbed, but few associate the plant with loss of hearing. Anyone who suspects they been injured in the ear or who experience dizziness after working with a yucca plant should consult an ENT surgeon as soon as possible.

But prevention is better than cure, and that is the wisest course in this case. While working with a yucca plant be aware of the danger and cover your ears with headphones, so you avoid injury and enjoy music at the same time. It is also wise to wear thick gardening gloves and a hard hat or thick scarf. Those arrowheads can cause nasty wounds to the head and hands as well.

Yucca belongs to the asparagaceae family and is often confused with yuca, which is better known as cassava. Cassava is used as a food and a medicine by Native Americans, while yucca is regarded outside the Americas as a more ornamental plant. Its stately beauty is a pleasure to grow, so there is no need to rip up your yucca plants. Just be aware of its spiky nature and protect yourself when getting up close.

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Small-Scale Agribusiness Opportunities

Agribusiness is a business that involves agricultural production. People all over the world make their living by raising livestock and large-scale crop production, but there are also ways you can make money with a small-scale agricultural operation. Here are some ideas for agribusiness opportunities that don’t need acres of space.

Raising Rabbits

You can raise rabbits for their meat, hides and urine (which is used as manure). Rabbit farming has great potential as a small agribusiness because it requires a relatively small capital investment. Rabbits reproduce quickly — many can start breeding from four months old — and they produce a healthy meat that is popular as a delicacy in many parts of the world.

Raising Poultry

There are many breeds of poultry to raise for eggs, meat and feathers. You can choose layers for eggs, broilers for meat, or certain breeds of rooster for the hackle feathers, which are in demand for fly-fishing lures. Broilers kept for meat mature very quickly compared to laying breeds. With proper feeding, vaccination and maintenance, you can make a decent income from the sale of poultry products.

Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a relatively new technology that grows plants without soil, using only water and nutrients. It is increasingly popular everywhere from developing countries to major urban centers, where space is at a premium and outdoor gardens are impractical. Popular crops include lettuce, chard, tomatoes, root vegetables and fruits, though out-of-season flowers are also profitable. The advantages of hydroponic production are that it requires little space and crops mature quickly.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture is the rearing of aquatic products such as fish, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Fish farming is the most common option, with tilapia and catfish the most popular. Another market is ornamental fish for aquariums in homes and offices. Aquatic animals are a good source of lean protein and will therefore always be in demand. And there is also the trend of combining aquaculture with hydroponics (aquaponics) as a way to expand your business opportunities.

These are just a few of the many agribusiness opportunities available for small-scale production. In addition to raising agricultural products, you can consider expanding into processing — making sausages from rabbit meat, for example, provides another earning opportunity. Picture yourself just doing it!


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