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✈️ India Leads US Student Visas. Soybean Harvesting Ramps Up. E-Cigarettes.

Chart of the Day #101 looks at Student Visas, Crop Harvesting, and Tobacco Usage.

Kamusta 👋

The UK Prime Minister has made an announcement to abandon its plans to restrict the Graduate visa route, allowing international students to work in the UK for up to two years post-graduation. The program will be reviewed as the government tightens student visa regulations. Farmers are warning of food shortages as record rainfall and unprecedented flooding threaten the first season without harvest since World War II. Vast areas of farmland remain underwater after 11 storms since September and the wettest 18 months on record. 

Today's Topics

✈️ Study Visas. India leads as the top recipient of US study visas
🧑‍🌾 Food Crops. Soybeans cover the largest area of land harvested for food production
🚬 Tobacco Usage. E-cigarette and vape usage surpasses traditional cigarettes

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✈️ India Leads As the Top Recipient of US Study Visas

The number of international students in the United States increased year-over-year in 2023, as the travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic eased. The number of Indian students studying in the United States has consistently grown over the years, with a total of 1.3 million studying in foreign countries half of whom are enrolled in North America. Academic excellence, research opportunities, diverse programs, and post-graduate employment motivate students to pursue their studies in the United States. Similarly, poor economic conditions and rising youth unemployment in countries like Vietnam drive students to seek educational opportunities abroad.

As the US tightens monetary policy, it will cause the dollar to appreciate against other currencies, which can contribute to the slow-down of international student migrations to the country. With the upcoming US elections, there is some uncertainty surrounding migration policies, which can further hinder the migration patterns of international students.

🧑‍🌾 Soybeans Cover the Largest Area of Land Harvested for Food Production

Soybean cultivation has experienced substantial growth, with millions of hectares being added to its harvesting area. This increase is due to soybeans' role as a protein source for both human consumption and animal feed, which is driven by the rising global population and increasing incomes, particularly in developing countries. Soybeans are used in industrial applications such as biodiesel production and lubricants. The increase in demand for renewable energy sources and sustainable products further boosts the demand for soybeans.

Globally, the area harvested for food crops has undergone significant changes. As agriculture intensifies to keep up with escalating food demands, the total area harvested has expanded. Innovations in crop varieties, irrigation techniques, and farming practices have enabled more efficient land use, thus enhancing yields per hectare. Hydroponics, a soilless cultivation method, is increasingly adopted as it minimizes reliance on traditional agricultural land and pesticides, and can be implemented in regions with poor soil quality. For instance, FeedMore, a hunger relief organization, has utilized vertical hydroponic container farms to increase food security in Western New York. This method addresses challenges such as land degradation and climate change by operating in controlled environments.

🚬 E-Cigarette and Vape Usage Surpasses Traditional Cigarettes

E-cigarettes have increased in popularity among U.S. college students with 78% reporting usage over in Fall 2022. Many users believe e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes because they do not produce tar and many harmful chemicals associated with smoking. Additionally, e-cigarettes are often seen as more cost-effective and offer a wide range of flavors, making them particularly appealing to young adults and college students. Their compact and discreet design allows for easier use in various settings. Social influences, such as peer pressure and targeted marketing, have further boosted their popularity among young people. 

This shift is largely due to the perception that e-cigarettes are safer and more affordable. However, nicotine from any source poses significant risks, including harm to developing brains and increased addiction susceptibility, and can also worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to the American College Health Association's Spring 2023 survey of over 55,000 undergraduates, approximately 76% experienced moderate to serious psychological distress, highlighting the mental health challenges students face alongside their use of nicotine products.

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