In the news...

September 16th, 2019 / B4FA

WE HAVE CHANGED …Due to severely restricted funds, we have changed what we do regularly. Our newsletter is now published MONTHLY – this is August’s edition. 

Our current funding will be exhausted in December 2019 – just 4 month’s time


We hope you value what we do. We have raised just enough fund to continue until the end of 2019. Now, we still need to raise funds for the future and we also want to forge partnerships with African organisations and individuals so that, through active cooperation, we can together both continue and widen our activities. 

Can you help, or do you know of someone who might? Or have you any comments and criticisms about what we are doing, and how we could improve? Please contact Professor Christopher Leaver, CBE, FRS, FRSE or Bart Ullstein as soon as possible
We really want to hear from you.
AUGUST HEADLINES

Here in the north, August is traditionally a news-lite month as news makers and news hounds head for the beach or the hills. But 2019 is breaking traditions around the world, not just politically, but also in the fields of food supplies, science, bioscience and African farming. The stories we have included in this August Month in Review are just a sample of the more than 400 stories that we tweeted in August, but we hope, as ever, that you’ll find this newsletter of interest and useful.
 
Firstly, we welcome the incoming board chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Following his confirmation, he called for concerted efforts among stakeholders in the public and private sectors to give more attention to research and knowledge sharing on how to incorporate technology into farming, saying “around the world, food security ranks high up on the governments’ development agenda … the Maputo Declaration requires African countries to spend 10 percent of their national budgets in agriculture, part of this should go to investing in technology in order to realize this vision”.
 
Only a few days earlier, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame challenged more than 250 decision makers attending the first Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue (AFSLD), including 28 ministers, Nobel laureates, leading technical specialists and senior representatives from international organizations such as the African Union. “We cannot afford to go on like this,” he said, “Improving the enabling environment for agriculture is something we can fully control. Increased agricultural productivity is essential for eradicating hunger and undernourishment”. The event focused on strengthening and accelerating support to Africa’s food security programmes and helping African agriculture adapt to climate change through increased partnerships and coordination.
 
Last month, we lead with the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate change and land, led by 103 experts from 54 countries. The report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change and that the world is best placed to tackle climate change when there is an overall focus on sustainability.
 
That report was actually published in first days of August, and this month we continue to headline reaction to it. For CNN, Mark Lynas, a writer on climate change, bioscience and GM, and visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University, points out that humanity is on a collision course with nature. Already 72 per cent of the global ice-free land surface is dedicated to supporting our species, and between a quarter and a third of the entire net primary production of the planet is consumed by humans. And because we grab so much for ourselves, smaller and smaller amounts are left in the food chain for the rest of life on Earth.

Wired Magazine adds that the big takeaway from the IPCC report is that cutting out fossil fuels, which the United Nations panel has called for repeatedly, isn’t enough. We as a species need to fundamentally transform our relationship with the land to stand any hope of fighting climate change. SciDev.net, on the other hand, highlights how deforestation and land degradation, in part driven by Western diets, are intensifying the climate crisis and causing widespread damage to the livelihoods of poor people around the world, a landmark report has found. And lastly, The Conversation highlights how soil is being lost up to 100 times faster than it is formed, and desertification is growing year on year. Temperature increases and heavy rains associated with climate breakdown are further degrading already damaged soils. All this, the article suggests, is already causing food insecurity, and unless action is taken the impacts will only get worse.

We welcome questions, comments and story links to [email protected]. Please also visit B4FA.org for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation.

HEADLINES
Ex-Ethiopian PM urges Africa to embrace tech to improve food security
Mediamax, Kenya

Africa’s key development partners unite to tackle hunger as millions face food insecurity in times of climate change
AllAfrica

The planet is being consumed by humans says Mark Lynas
CNN

Humanity’s exploitation of land hastens climate change, says United Nations’ IPCC 
Wired, US

IPCC: Deforestation fuelling global climate crisis
SciDev.net

IPCC’s land report shows the problem with farming based around oil, not soil
The Conversation, UK

AFRICAN SWINE FEVER
Asia has now lost nearly 5 million pigs to African swine fever
National Hog Farmer, US

EU fights ‘urgent challenge’ of African swine fever spread
The Independent, Ireland

Bulgaria has failed to halt spread of African swine fever in threat to pig industry
Physicians Weekly

Small-scale operations most susceptible to African swine fever
Farmers Weekly, South Africa

GM, CRISPR and REGULATION
What is biotechnology – a revolution in food and medicine
Medium.com

A moral case for genetic modification
AgPresent

John Innes discovery could pave the way for disease-resistant rice crops
Food Ingredients 1st, Netherlands

Adoption of biotech crops rapidly increases globally: global status of commercialized biotech
ISAAA, US

The global need for plant breeding innovation
Transgenic Research

Plant breeding innovation can help solve global challenges
ISAAA, US

Genome editing database helps researchers pull together to advance agriculture
Technology Networks

Accelerating growth: IAEA launches plant mutation breeding network for Asia and the Pacific
IAEA

Gene-silencing biopesticide targets harmful insects without threatening pollinators
Genetic Literacy Project

Are you scared of GMO foods?
Scientific American

EU experts vouch for safety of GM crops
The Guardian, Nigeria

Designing India’s new GM regulatory system from first principles
Times of India

Guidance documents and the regulation of genetically modified foods
The Regulatory Review, US

Plant breeding technology developed at the University of Queensland is producing crops that can resist viruses and introduce other economically valuable traits
Good Men Project, Australia

Off-patent GMO Bt corn could slash seed costs for farmers, boost crop yields
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Bacteria inoculate crops against salty soil, potentially bringing unworkable farmland back to life
Genetic Literacy Project, US

CRISPR and other new breeding techniques could be key to unlocking potential of global wheat productionsays B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru
Genetic Literacy Project, US

New biosensor technology may help breed plants more resilient to harsh environments
Genetic Literacy Project, US

GM, CRISPR and REGULATION in AFRICA
GM crop adoption continues to move forward in Africa
ISAAA, US

Africa still wary of GMOs
New Times, Rwanda

Video: CRISPRcon 2019 – panel discussion “Growing for good? gene editing and agriculture
Global Farmers; Network

Ghana: a bumper crop of opinions on genetically modified cowpeas
UN Dark

Ghana plans to release genetically modified cowpea seeds, which would make it the third sub-Saharan African country to approve the local production and sale of GM food. But will they benefit small farmers?
The Fast Company

Kenya: GM cotton yield renews hope in threatened crop
Business Daily, Kenya

Kenya’s farmers support their President’s call to fast track Bt cotton
AgWeb, Mexico

Following approval of GMO crops, Nigeria sets sights on other biotech advances, including gene editing and synthetic biology
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Nigeria readies GMO cowpea field trials ahead of 2020 commercialisation
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Rwanda to test GM potato varieties
New Times, Rwanda

Uganda cassava farmers ask President to approve GMO bill
Business Week, Uganda

President Museveni rejects signing GMO Bill into law: “Bill full of foreign interests”
The Spy, Uganda

Progress and future prospects in groundnut improvement to feed Africa in the face of technological advancements
African Journal of Rural Development

BIOSCIENCE/AGRICULTURE
Making food without photosynthesis
Biofortified, US

Microorganisms could help rid soil of lingering pesticides
Genetic Literacy Project, US

‘Synthetic signalling networks’ between GMO plants, bacteria could boost crop yields
Genetic Literacy Project, US

‘Teaching plants new tricks’: How synthetic biology is reshaping agriculture
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Can underutilized crops save the world?
Seed World, US

Subsidies are key to better fertiliser access, study shows
SciDev.net

New technologies and policies are needed to meet the skyrocketing demand for wheat, which is expected to increase 50 to 60 percent by 2050
Alliance for Science, US

Nanoparticles are increasingly being explored for boosting crops and nutrition, but doubts remain over their long-term safety
SciDev.net

Biotech crops continue to help meet the challenges of increased population and climate change
ISAAA, US

Politicizing the precautionary principle: why disregarding facts should not pass for farsightedness says Philipp Aerni
Frontiers in Plant Science

AGRICULTURE in AFRICA
When radio talks their language, farmers listen
Impakter

Mechanisation for agricultural transformation
NEPAD

Groundwater reserves in Africa may be more resilient to climate change than first thought
The Conversation, UK

Ghana grapples with illegal fishing as stocks dive
The East African

Ghana wants to grow more cashews. But what about unintended consequences?
The Conversation, UK

Rice production in Ghana is estimated to increase to 750,000 metric tonnes from 450,000 metric tonnes by 2020
Business Ghana

Kenya to promote use of technology in agriculture to boost food security
Xinhua, China

Meeting Kenya’s great potential in agriculture
Business Daily, Kenya

Nigeria: towards food security
Leadership, Nigeria

Kaduna to establish agric e-library to boost food production
Daily Trust, Nigeria

Rwanda: farmers optimistic over project recycling agricultural waste
AllAfrica

Uganda: researchers ‘test drive’ new soy-bean varieties
AllAfrica

Uganda: Secrets of getting higher yields taught at farm clinic
Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali explains why Uganda needs a coffee law
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Sino-Africa partnership on water issues vital
China Daily

Japan pledges to help double rice output in Africa by 2030
Nippon.com

Is hybrid rice solution to Africa’s food shortage?
The Standard, Kenya

Smallholder farming
A handbook for working with smallholders
AgriLinks, US

Expanding opportunities for smallholder farmers in Kenya
AgriLinks, US

Women and youth
Will the AfCFTA open the gateway for women in agribusiness?
International Policy Digest

Women in agri can create jobs, ensure food security
Farmers Weekly, South Africa

Support African women working in agriculture
Mail & Guardian, South Africa

Vodacom’s Women Farmers Programme goes nationwide to transform small scale agri sector through digital tools
Farmers Review, Kenya

Empowering small-scale women farmers in SA
Farmers Weekly, South Africa

Nigeria: Agric biotech club debuts in school
The New Telegraph, Nigeria

We need more young Africans to farm. Let’s give them the tools to do so, says Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA)
African Business, UK

Are African rural youth innovative? Claims, evidence and implications
Journal of Rural Studies

When young Africans hack the farming sector
CTA, Netherlands

UN, AU launch initiative to accelerate youth employment in African agriculture
DevDiscourse, India

Lagos to train 15,000 youths in agriculture value chains
African Farming, UK

AFRICAN SCIENCE
Kenya seeks to increase research funding to improve food security
China.org

Nigeria: researchers seek permission to set up permanent GM cassava demos
New Vision, Nigeria

Uganda: Makerere, US scientists researchers team up to develop swine fever vaccine
AllAfrica

WACCI partners Swedish University to transform Ghana’s agric sector
Ghana Web

With agricultural SDGs off track, African scientists advocate for biotechnology
Alliance for Science, US

CLIMATE CHANGE
VIDEO: Take a bite out of climate change introduced by Prof. Brian Cox
You Tube

‘Supercharged’ GMO crops could store 20 times more CO2 than average plant
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Afrobarometer: Climate change literacy still low in Africa
Mail and Guardian, South Africa

Can our food systems survive the onslaught of climate change? Yes, they can ….
Modern Ghana

Climate change in Africa: survey finds worsening agriculture conditions
My Joy Online, Nigeria

Greater resilience needed for African food security in the face of climate change
Relief Web

Africa: adapting African agriculture to climate change
AllAfrica

Adapting African agriculture to climate change
Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe

Transforming cassava wastes to wealth as a climate-change mitigation strategy in Nigeria
CTA, Netherlands

Climate change – one of greatest challenges to eliminating hunger
Relief Web

A new framework for thinking about technological change
Future Agriculture

Ethiopia’s future is tied to water – a vital yet threatened resource in a changing climate
The Conversation, UK

PESTS and DISEASE
Alarm as devastating banana fungus reaches the Americas
Nature, UK

Do we need to worry about banana blight?
BBC, UK

Our favorite Cavendish banana may be heading towards extinction – scientists say only a biotech solution, blocked by anti-GMO activists, can save it
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Mobile app shows promise as banana disease spreads
SciDev.net

FOOD SECURITY and NUTRITION
Linking the dots: a food system approach to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition – by José Graziano da Silva is the former Director-General of the FAO
Reuters

A systems look at hunger
IIASA, US

We must transform food production to save the world, says leaked report 
The Guardian, UK

Feeding the future – fixing the world’s faulty food system
The Telegraph, UK

Biofortification featured by BBC as a solution to hidden hunger
Harvest Plus

WACCI director advocates drastic measures to address Africa’s food insecurity
Ghana News Agency

Insights into new nutrition and food approaches in Africa
ReliefWeb

Africa’s key development partners formalize their commitment to work jointly to help address food and nutrition security in times of climate change
Business Ghana

Kenya: lack of quality data slowing down efforts to boost food security
The Nation, Kenya

Uganda working group to promote scale up of biofortification
Harvest Plus

DEVELOPMENT and FINANCE
Africa doesn’t need more development aid, it needs more capitalism
Forbes Magazine, US

TECHNOLOGY
Africa must jump on the digital bandwagon or risk being run over by it
Business World, South Africa

Artificial intelligence helps banana growers protect the world’s most favorite fruit
Science Daily, US

TECHNOLOGY
Africa must jump on the digital bandwagon or risk being run over by it
Business World, South AfricaArtificial intelligence helps banana growers protect the world’s most favorite fruit
Science Daily, US

Modern farming practices to reduce chemical discharge into atmosphere
African Farming, UK

EVENTS and OPPORTUNITIES
EVENTS: The International Grassland and Rangeland 2020 Congress – Nairobi, Kenya, October 25 – 30, 2020. Registration open
IGC-IRC

OPPORTUNITY: 2019 RUFORUM young african entrepreneurs competition West Africa. Closing date: Monday 30th September 2019
RUFORUM

OPPORTUNITY: The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) is launching the Africa Science Desk Journalism Awards – learn more
African Academy of Sciences

OPPORTUNITY: BLE – Research Cooperation for Global Food Security – BMEL-Call for proposals: Food environments for improved nutrition
BLE, Germany

OPPORTUNITY: The Africa India Mobility Fund (AIMF) is now accepting applications from African and Indian scientists who wish to conduct visits of up to three months in either direction
African Academy of Sciences

OPPORTUNITY: My food our future – video contest. Find out more …
IFPRI

OPPORTUNITY: Call for proposals: Grant to support family farming, regional markets and cross border trade corridors
IFAD

OPPORTUNITY: Apply now for funds from the Connected Network’s ‘T19’ training scheme, all year-round funding for network members’ training
Connected Network, UK

OPPORTUNITY: The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) special call for proposals for fragile and conflict affected countries
GAFSP

OPPORTUNITY: Online course – effective livestock production with low use of antibiotics
Future Learn

OPPORTUNITY Soil Science Society of Nigeria 44th Annual Conference, March 2020, Call for papers
Soil Science Society of Nigeria

OPPORTUNITY: 4th International Conference on Global Food Security: Achieving local and global food security: at what costs? 16-19 June 2020 | Le Corum, Montpellier, France
International Conference on Global Food Security