In the news...

April 26th, 2018 /

This week, agricultural experts are meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, to improve the productivity of bananas, a food staple and source of income for millions of Tanzanian and Ugandan smallholder farmers. The “Breeding Better Bananas” project – which convenes researchers from Tanzania, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Kenya, Malaysia, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda and USA – aims to provide famers with hybrid varieties that are resistant against the diseases black sigatoka and fusarium as well as weevils and nematode pests. The project focuses on the region’s two most popular cooking bananas: East Africa Highland Banana (also called Matooke), and Mchare.

The week also saw news of new research emerging from the University of California, Berkeley, on how the soil microbiome around sorghum plants help the grain crop to withstand drought. Researchers from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology found that exposing sorghum plants to drought conditions changed the makeup of the microorganisms found at their roots. Understanding this mechanism may help scientists develop climate change–resistant crops. Read the original study here. Also read this feature story published by The Conversation to learn more about soil health and innovations being developed to better map and understand the world’s soils, which are vital to crop health.

From the B4FA Fellows we hear from Uganda’s Michael Ssali, who writes about best practices for preparing gardens for crop production and how free range poultry can be integrated as part of an overall farming system. We also hear from Lominda Afedraru on how to grow high-yielding sunflowers.

As ever, we welcome questions, comments and story links to [email protected]. Please also visit for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!


Tanzania: Banana experts meet to discuss hybrid varieties

Microbes in soil help sorghum stay strong against droughts
Inside Science

Drought treatment restructures plants’ microbiomes

Open soil science: technology is helping us discover the mysteries under our feet
The Conversation

AgBio news

Banana experts converge in Tanzania for meeting

How manipulating the plant microbiome could improve agriculture
The Scientist

Drought delays development of the sorghum root microbiome and enriches for monoderm bacteria

Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century and IITA call for support of cassava transformation in Africa
Sun News Online

Rallying support for cassava production In Africa

Scientist works to increase crops’ water saving potential

Researchers develop first gene drive targeting worldwide crop pest

Practicing coffee tissue culture to boost Ethiopian coffee production

Kenyan government banks on Bt cotton to revive textile industry

Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center of South Korea officially launched

Lack of modern farming techniques threaten food security in Africa – FAO
PM News

Scientists want to replace pesticides with bacteria

Public health breakthrough: US and Indian scientists work together on genetic solutions to food toxins
Genetic Literacy Project

Best practices

How to grow sunflower for high yields
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Preparing the garden for crop production, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Free range poultry keeping system, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Proper maize post-harvest practices
Farmers Review Africa

Treadle pump is big deal
Daily Monitor

Types of farming systems in Africa

Farming success with potatoes in Kenya: the impressive ripple effect of building a strong seed system
International Potato Center


Maruti, the pigeonpea saviour: a direct release from the ICRISAT genebank helped revitalize the pigeonpea industry in Karnataka, India

The doam – important crop, neglected fruit

New evidence shows sweet potato came before humans; says no early contact between America and Polynesia

Talking Biotech: How rice became one of the world’s most important food crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Scientists from Wageningen University discover wild relative of tomato resistant to many insects

The many dimensions of honeybee health

Climate change

Plant-killing pests and diseases have an ally in climate change – experts

Understanding rainfall variability, drought and farmers’ coping strategies in Nigeria

Namibia: Late rains good, bad news for crop farmers


The Commonwealth – still relevant for Africa today?

Homegrown help: The rise of Africa’s new philanthropists
Inside Philanthropy

Rapid population growth greatest threat to Africa’s peace and security – Mahama

Agricultural biodiversity and women’s empowerment: a successful story from Kolli Hills, India

Energy and innovation

Leveraging innovation to transform agriculture and energy in Africa at the State of the Africa Region online summit

Food security

Championing vitamin A-rich orange-fleshed sweet potato in Nigeria
International Potato Center

Boost seed sector for food security
The Star

A vital way to restore stability among the people
Daily Mirror

African cities tackle food security, nutrition challenges

Q&A on the interconnections between land tenure and food security

Pests and diseases

Op-ed: Fall armyworm invasion, a wake-up call for Africa
Farmers Review Africa


EU to subject Ugandan agro-products to rigorous checks over fall armyworms


Do you know what the selection criteria for Africa Food Prize winner(s) is? Find out and nominate your ideal candidate today!
Africa Food Prize

We’re excited to announce Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa, a one-year program to train and support 200 emerging leaders from across the continent to drive positive change throughout Africa
Obama Foundation

The 14th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP) Partnership, April 25-27 2018, Libreville, Gabon
African Union Commission


Do you have surplus lab equipment? Donate via Seeding Labs and help scientists in developing countries to innovate!
Seeding Labs

10 best bet innovations for adaptation in agriculture: A supplement to the UNFCCC NAP Technical Guidelines

Derived demand for African indigenous vegetable seed: implications for farmer-seed entrepreneurship development
Wageningen Academic Publishers