In the news...

August 9th, 2019

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

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 contactProfessor Christopher Leaver, CBE, FRS, FRSE or;Bart Ullstein as soon as possibleWe really want to hear from you.

JULY HEADLINES

It may be northern hemisphere summer, but news stories on the state of the world’s climate and food supplies, science, bioscience and African farming show no sign of slowing down. What we have included in theMonth in Review is just a sample of the more than 400 stories that we tweeted in July, but we hope that nonetheless you will find this newsletter of interest and useful.
 
We have to 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 changeand that the world is best placed to tackle climate change when there is an overall focus on sustainability. “Land plays an important role in the climate system,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. “Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry”. The report shows how managing land resources sustainably can help address climate change, “Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required,” explained said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II. 
 
Also this month, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published its latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World which shows that an estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row. This underscores the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030. “Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration,” the heads of the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development the UN Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization urge in their joint foreword to the report.
 
In bioscience, we include a report from the Genetic Literacy Project on the first time a cultivated plant has been breed and commercialized by gene editing when high oleic soybean oil took its place on the market shelves. The gene-edited crop’s most striking feature is that the oil made from it forms less trans fatty acids in frying conditions. The report also shows that other gene-edited agricultural products, including tilapiaherbicide-resistant rice and seedless tomatoes are in the pipeline.
 
We also carry a report from The Conversation on scientists’ work to solve a potential shortage of phosphate – a resource that is required to grow food. There is, the article explains, a severe conflict between sustainable food production and the use of non-renewable resources in agricultural systems, particularly phosphate – the only form of phosphorus that plants can absorb. But scientists report that global phosphate production could peak around 2030, at the same time as the global population will reach 8.5 billion. Further, several scientists warn that the global phosphate reserve could be totally depleted within the next 50–100 years.
 
Lastly, we have a report from China that outbreaks of the deadly African swine fever are finally slowing. Agriculture Vice-Minister Yu Kangzhen said China had seen only 44 new cases in the first six months of 2019, bringing the total number of reported cases so far to 143, with 1.16 million pigs having been culled. But, according to the article in the South China Morning Post, farmers may not have reported many outbreaks, while local officials in many provinces have been unwilling to verify the disease. As many as half of China’s breeding pigs are estimated to have died from African swine fever or been slaughtered because of the spreading disease, twice as many as officially acknowledged.

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
Climate change and land
International Panel on Climate Change

UN: World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing
FAO/WHO

The first gene-edited soybean opens door to a slew of new CRISPR foods
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Scientists work to solve phosphate shortage — the dwindling resource required to grow food
The Conversation, UK

Chinese officials report slowdown in African swine fever
South China Morning Post

GM, CRISPR and REGULATION
Feeding 10 billion people will require genetically modified food
Bloomberg

New genome editing technology for plant breeding
Phys.org

China’s multi-billion-dollar investment in CRISPR could help feed its ‘massive’ population
Genetic Literacy Project, US

ISAAA presents an easy-to-use database of biotech/GM crop approvals for public use
ISAAA, US

Gene identified that will help develop plants to fight climate change
Salk New, US

EU regulators can’t detect the gene-edited crops they banned
Reason, US

India’s GM regulatory model needs a complete overhaul
Times of India

CRISPR conundrum: strict European court ruling leaves food-testing labs without a plan
Nature, UK

Genetic control for major agricultural weeds?
Science Daily, US

GMO plants that produce industrial proteins could cut cost of medicines, consumer goods
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Manipulating plant mitochondrial DNA could boost crop diversity, promote food security
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Cowpea genome sequenced
Sci News, US

Chinese scientists develop gene-edited soybean that can grow in warmer climates
SEARCA, Philippines

The emerging and uncultivated potential of CRISPR technology in plant science
Nature, UK

Nature plants review explores the current state and future of CRISPR technology in crops
Phys.org

Should GMOs be allowed in organic food? USDA sparks debate
Food Dive, US

GM, CRISPR and REGULATION in AFRICA
African agricultural scientists root for GMOs
Chimp Reports, Uganda

African Union mulls harmonized biosafety system framework
Alliance for Science, US

Ethiopia is embracing GMOs slowly, quietly
Ethiopian Observer

Kenya announces plan to start commercial growing of GM cotton
Xinhua, China

Kenyan clergy supports Bt cotton cultivation
ISAAA

Ghana: GMO case goes to Supreme Court
Ghana Web

Scientists urge speedy introduction of GMOs to help Ghana cut food imports
Alliance for Science, US

Outreach needed to educate Nigerian farmers about GMO cotton
Alliance for Science, US

GMO research ‘not banned’ in Tanzania, official confirms
Alliance for Science, US

Farmers in Uganda eager for the commercialization of ag-biotech products
ISAAA

Zambia increases GMO imports after assessment shows ‘products safe for consumption’
Xinhua, China

Zimbabwe: biofortified crops key in fight against hidden hunger
AllAfrica.com

BIOSCIENCE/AGRICULTURE
Faeces to fertiliser: innovations to solve the world’s toilets crisis
SciDev.net, UK

Protect our food. fund the seed
Devex

Do plant cells hold the roadmap for surviving climate change?
Phys.org

Plant researchers brace for population explosion
Der Spiegel, Germany

Smarter fertilizers can reduce environmental contamination
Scientific American

Wheat to beat the heat
Paepard

Simultaneous gains in grain yield and nitrogen efficiency over 70 years of maize genetic improvement
Nature, UK

Bioeconomy: just a way to set up a smarter agriculture?
European Biotechnology

Combating cassava brown streak virus
The Guardian, Nigeria

The future of food is biofortified, says plant breeding pioneer – Q&A
Devex

Farming smart with clever bugs
John Innes Centre

AGRICULTURE in AFRICA
Can sweet potatoes reduce widespread vitamin A deficiency in Africa?
Devex

Why farmers need drip irrigation for higher profits
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Africa leads conversation on sustainable agriculture
IT online, South Africa

It’s time to take a fresh look at how fertilisers are utilised
The Nation, Kenya

Making fish farming in eastern Africa’s Lake Victoria sustainable
Phys.org

Let Africans decide what is best for Africa
AgWeb, Mexico

Scaling up Kenya’s online services for one million more farmers
ITweb Africa, South Africa

African cassava mosaic virus poses serious threat to food security. Is CRISPR gene editing the answer?Genetic Literacy Project, US

Reducing crop loss through improved post-harvest management
AgriLinks, US

Food security In Africa: is genetically modified technology a pathway
Leadership, Nigeria

Best practice
B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali discusses the challenges of food storage
Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru explains how farmers grow vegetables using hydroponics
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Make your own liquid fertiliser at home
Daily Monitor, Uganda

The deadly disease every pig farmer should watch out forn
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Women and youth
Why helping women in agribusiness is key to Africa’s food security
CNBC Africa

FAO launches a campaign to make women primary stake holders in the field of agriculture investments in Africa
Anadolu Agency, Turkey

Young African agripreneurs are trying to reverse the stigma by professionalising farming
Borgen Magazine, US

Why greenhouse farming is the future of young farmers
New Times, Rwanda

Tech-driven agriculture holds promise for African youth
African Times

Closing the gender digital divide, opening opportunities for women in agriculture
CTA

Smallholder farming
Rethinking technological change in smallholder agriculture
Outlook on Agriculture, UK

NEPAD has devised a new agricultural project to help small-holder farmers to better manage food security
The Namibian

How digital technologies can help Africa’s smallholder farmers
Relief Web, Italy

Making drones work for small farmers
Food Tank, US

Food gardens and small-scale farmers hold key to food system transformation
Daily Maverick, South AfricaCLIMATE CHANGE
Crippling drought in Africa shows the importance of climate-change adaptation
World Politics Review

Protracted conflicts and adverse weather conditions exacerbate food needs
Business Ghana

Sharing lessons on sustainable climate-smart agriculture in Africa
CCAFS

INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Innovation rush aims to help farmers, rich and poor, beat climate change
Reuters

Future of African agriculture: how tech-driven transformation is changing the landscape?
Devdiscourse.com

New, portable tech sniffs out plant disease in the field
Science Daily, US

Smart system detects diseases
Daily Monitor

Non-invasive plant disease diagnostics enabled by smartphone-based fingerprinting of leaf volatiles
Nature, UK

AFRICAN SCIENCE
How Africa’s science academies can help drive sustainable development
The Conversation

NARI trains scientists on plant breeding
Foroyaa, Gambia

Hundreds of African crop disease researchers to improve skills following ground-breaking training event
CONNECTED, UK

Curriculum reforms in Uganda integrate modern biosciences
ISAAA

Girls urged to prioritise science subjects
Sunrise, Uganda

Japan reaffirms support for research and innovation in Kenya
The Standard, Kenya

FINANCE, INVESTMENT and DEVELOPMENT
De-risking investment in the agriculture sector
The Independent, Uganda

Investor confidence in Africa is returning – FDI inflows have risen due to advances in regional integration, the digital economy, infrastructure development and agribusiness
Business Live, South Africa

China: ramping up investment in African agriculture
CTA, Netherlands

Investing in Africa: a continent brimming with opportunities
Farmers Weekly, South Africa

SME funding remains elusive
Fin24, South Africa

African Development Fund impacts lives of millions in the continent
African Farming, UK

How to secure agribusiness funding without banks
The Guardian, Nigeria

WACCI and MIT jointly launch global startup labs entrepreneurship programme
Ghana Web

PODCASTS and VIDEOS
Podcast: Land use for animal agriculture has declined 140 million hectares since 2000. Can we keep this ‘livestock revolution’ alive?
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Podcast: Bt eggplant in Bangladesh – the GMO crop that boosted farmer profits 6-fold
Genetic Literacy Project, US

EVENTS and OPPORTUNITIES
EVENT: FAO and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of Ghana REGIONAL WORKSHOP in ACCRA on climate smart, innovative food preservation and processing technologies applied by women in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa – September 3 & 4, 2019, call for papers
FAO and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

EVENT: AGRF 2019 – The African Green Revolution Forum: Accra 3-6 September 2019
The African Green Revolution Forum

OPPORTUNITY: OFAB Kenya media awards 2019: call for participation
ISAAA

OPPORTUNITY: Food sector. If you are a young agripreneur with a pioneering business venture, you could win one of two US$50,000 cash prizes that will help you change your world and transform the agri-food business
GoGettaz

OPPORTUNITY: 2019 Call for funding – The Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund supports pairs of researchers (post-doc and above) from the University of Cambridge (or an affiliated institution such as the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Babraham Institute and NIAB) and sub-Saharan African institutions, across all disciplines
Cambridge-Africa

OPPORTUNITY: Joint BBSRC-NERC GCRF Research Translation Call –  sustainable enhancement of agriculture and aquaculture production
BBSRC

OPPORTUNITY: Nutrition Committee Travel Awards 2019 – Awards of up to GBP 10,000 are available to assist early- and mid-career scientists to learn new techniques and/or to make and establish contacts with international counterparts by spending time in an institution outside the UK
Rank Prize Fund

OPPORTUNITYApplication for Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative (SIANI) expert groups 2019–2020
Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative

OPPORTUNITY: The World Hunger Fighters Foundation, in partnership with the World Food Prize Foundation is establishing the BORLAUG-ADESINA FELLOWSHIP, a year-long Fellowship Program for outstanding Africans between 21 and 30 years old
World Hunger Fighters Foundation

TRAINING OPPORTUNITYthe application of molecular diagnostics for plant virus surveillance
Connected