In the news...

July 12th, 2018 / B4FA.org

This week saw the launch in Paris of the International Science Council – a new non-governmental association of science formed by a merger of the International Council for Science and the International Social Science Council. The council, led by its newly elected president Daya Reddy – who is a South African research chair in computational mechanics at the University of Cape Town – convenes 40 international scientific unions and associations plus more than 140 national and regional organisations to act as the “global voice of science,” according to an article in SciDevNet.

Among its activities will be linking science and policy, encouraging scientific research in less developed nations, defending free and independent research – particularly in countries with authoritarian regimes – and addressing the problem of brain drain. “The council has a unique power and ability to mobilise communities of scientists to solve major problems,” said Reddy. “It will stimulate research, communicate scientific knowledge in the public domain, and defend free practice of science.”

Meanwhile, the Madagascan banana (Ensete perrieri) was listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endangered species. The species, which is an inedible seeded fruit smaller than the widely consumed Cavendish banana, only has five trees surviving in the wild, according to scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Yet it may hold the key to saving the Cavendish from Panama disease, which threatens to wipe out the world’s crops. “[P]erhaps it has genetic traits against the disease,” said Richard Allen, senior conservation assessor at Kew. “We don’t know until we actually do research on the banana itself, but we can’t do the research until it’s saved.” It is hoped that cross-breeding could lead to a fruit that is resilient as well as delicious.

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes a piece for the Genetic Literacy Project asking whether Africa will embrace CRISPR and the next phase of the biotech revolution. She also writes about the cultivation of chili peppers and beans amongst Ugandan farmers. And B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali asks Ugandan farmers, “Does your farm produce sufficient returns?

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. We look forward to hearing from you!

Headlines

Global science body promises to reach poor regions
SciDevNet

A wild banana that may hold the key to protecting the world’s edible banana crop has been put on the extinction list
BBC

The critically endangered Madagascar Banana
Kew

Will Africa embrace CRISPR gene editing and the next phase of the biotech revolution?
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Talking Biotech: Mark Lynas’ evolution from anti-GMO activist to GMO advocate
Genetic Literacy Project

AgBio News

Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture Dr. Charles Tizeba recently unveiled two new high iron and zinc varieties through Cipotato-led initiative
International Potato Center

Fighting back: new study reveals unprecedented details of plant-pathogen co-evolution
John Innes Centre

New sunflower seeds expected to up yields
AllAfrica

A “wicked” challenge: understanding root, tuber and banana seed systems and coordination
CGIAR

Uganda: Beans bring wealth to farmer’s group
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Unity in diversity: structural and functional insights into the ancient partnerships between plants and fungi
New Phytologist Trust

Scientists discover genetic resistance to wheat fungal disease
ISAAA

Agricultural biotechnology can enhance food security, says Ghanaian researcher
Business Ghana

Delay in approving GMOs in Ghana is the highest form of injustice to the ordinary Ghanaian farmer
Modern Ghana

Helping plants remove natural toxins could boost crop yields by 47%
Biz Community

Swapping crops could save water and improve nutrition
Technology Networks

Managing resistance of African stem borer to BT maize
Farmer’s Weekly

‘Power of genetics’: Seed industry sees plant breeding innovation as key to sustainable agriculture
Genetic Literacy Project

New discoveries on the origins of agriculture
Medium

Best practices

Uganda: How hot pepper brings cheer to farmers
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

African trainees receive agricultural training in Guizhou
XinHuaNet

Uganda: Does your farm produce sufficient returns?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

10 elements of agroecology that can guide us toward sustainable food systems
FAO

Storing sweet potato in sand can improve diets and incomes in West Africa
International Potato Center

Their time-tested traditions lie in ancient landscapes and practices vital for zero hunger and the future of food
FAO

Biodiversity

Where do all our vegetables come from?
BBC

Want to know more about the potato varieties available in Kenya? Over 55 potato varieties have been registered in Kenya. Please download the Potato Variety Catalogue 2017 here for more about the varieties, usage, yield
National Potato Council of Kenya

Development

Mechanisation of agriculture can drive rural employment in Africa: Chilima says new Malabo report launched in Malawi provide ‘evidence to shape the strategies’
Nyasa Times

Mechanized: Transforming Africa’s agriculture value chains
Malabo Montpellier Panel

Kenya, Uganda economies ride on agriculture to boost growth
The East African

Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) takes 15 women agri-entrepreneurs to Kenya
Africa

Ignite: Raising game-changing women agripreneurs
Guzakuza

We should reward scientists for communicating to the public
Scientific American

South Africa: Young people make it in farming
African Briains

Africa: Act now or risk losing an entire generation
AllAfrica

Over the next decade, demand for cereals to grow only in low-income regions
Down to Earth

Top 10 wealthiest African countries according to GDP
IT News Africa

US Millennium Challenge Corporation collaborates with AfDB to focus on infrastructure, agriculture and development
Devdiscourse

Right to food – Kenya post-budget analysis
CNBC Africa

Youth in agriculture as a solid solution to ending hunger and poverty in Africa
FAO

Closing the potential-performance divide in Ugandan agriculture
The World Bank

A night at the movies: with soybean and Fall armyworm as stars of the show
CABI

Africa and Asia to increase food output
Business Day

Ghana: Bole District Chief Executive lays grounds for cashew industry boom
Savannah News

Beninese & Nigerian startups have been selected for the Food Connection Challenge, which takes place throughout 2018
Biz Community

Ghana: Four million coffee seedlings distributed to farmers
Biz Community

Energy and innovation

Uganda: Scientists to digitise agriculture chain with new apps
The East African

Zimbabwe’s YouFarm helps farmers raise funding
Biz Community

Semi-autotrophic hydroponic technology works with yam, too
IITA

Embracing technology for reshaping agriculture across Africa
Devdiscourse

IFAD launches online tool for agricultural and rural development
African Farming

Kenya mulls establishment of data hub to transform agriculture sector
XinHuaNet

Food security

Food security: Agricultural biotechnology critical
Modern Ghana

What Trump and African leaders need to know about food security
CNN

Hunger rise examined, sustainable food and agriculture potential explored in SDGs global review
FAO

Kenya: Agriculture funding low for food security
Daily Nation

Experts decry exclusion of Africa’s local farmers in food security efforts
IPS News

Multi-media campaign helps improve food security in Tanzania
CABI

World Food Prize winners helped reduce childhood stunting
Alliance for Science

Pests and diseases

African Union to support research to combat pests threat in agriculture
Plenglish

Diversifying agro-ecosystems to suppress crop pests
Agrilinks

How adapting to different climates has helped a pest spread across the globe
The Conversation

Policy

Tanzania: Law on agriculture crucial for growth
AllAfrica

Contributions to understanding nutrition policy
Agrilinks

Regulatory aspects of gene-edited crops: A Q&A with Jim Dunwell
Global Engage

The GM debate

GMOs are not dangerous, says former national president of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana
Modern Ghana

“GMOs are vital against hunger,” says Nobel laureate Sir Richard J. Roberts
ISAAA

Plant breeding innovations can help to future proof our farming system
Euractiv

How a Nobel laureate’s quest to make GM crops acceptable took him to God
The Economic Times

Opportunities

Funding call: Collaborative proposals to address research challenges relating to sustainable intensification of agricultural systems in developing countries
BBSRC

Opportunities: Upcoming events in agriculture research for development, via Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD)
PAEPARD

Event: The FAO Agricultural Innovation Symposium for Family Farmers: Unlocking the Potential of Agricultural Innovation to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, FAO Headquarters, Rome, 21-23 November 2018
FAO

Have an idea that could help provide nutritious, safe food for a growing world population? Or an innovative solution to improve seed qualities or weed protection? Applications for the 2018/19 Jeff Schell Scholarship are open. Deadline: 18 July
Bayer Foundation

Webinar: Scaling up proven technologies and practices of postharvest management in Africa, 4th September 2018
AFAAS

EVENT: APIMONDIA SYMPOSIUM, The Role of Bees in Food Production 30 Nov-4 Dec, 2018 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
EAB

Resources

Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa 2018 – Democratic Republic of the Congo
ReliefWbb

Analysis of Effects of Ban on Importation of GM Foods on Food Security, Research and Training in Kenya
AATF

NextGen Cassava 2018 Newsletter
NextGen

Teaching tools in plant biology available to all
ASPB

Q & A about genetically modified crops
ISAAA