In the news...

February 14th, 2019 / B4FA


This week we feature two stories emerging from Ethiopia. First the country recently won patent rights at The Court of The Hague for products made from teff, an ancient grain native to Ethiopia and which is its staple food. The patent will allow Ethiopia to supply teff to Europe, supporting farmers. The victory comes after a dispute with Dutch company Health and Performance Food International (HPFI), which registered patent rights for teff products in the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Germany and Austria. Winning the patent rights back will allow Ethiopia to sell its teff products to Europe unhindered. Ethiopian diplomat Fitsum Arega, currently the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, commented, “I hope we can learn from this that our national assets must be protected by Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia has also increased its adoption of improved chickpea varieties more than twofold in seven years, reports a post from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). A study published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability states that the percentage of smallholder farmers growing improved chickpea varieties grew from 30 to 80 percent. The study argues that smallholder farmers will only adopt innovations if they offer significant benefit. “In the end, only innovations that clearly outperform locally available technologies and manifest limited downside risks are likely to be adopted on a large scale,” it says.

In the United States an international team of researchers has successfully genetically modified cassava to contain high levels of iron and zinc – “up to 50% of the dietary requirement for iron and up to 70% for zinc in children aged 1 to 6 years” according to a report in the American Council on Science and Health. The hope is that this development will help provide substantial nutrition boost for people who rely on the root as their staple food.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Daily Monitor regular contributors Lominda Afedraru, who writes about controlling banana viruses on farm, and Michael Ssali, who considers the need for good post-harvest practices.

We welcome questions, comments and story links to 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.


Two-fold increase in varietal adoption in seven years – a chickpea tale from Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government is celebrating a major victory in a long-running dispute over who owns the patent for products made from teff

GMO cassava can provide iron, zinc to malnourished African children

Growth of Uganda’s seed sector exposes major anti-GMO claims
Alliance for Science

AgBio news

Nigerian agriculture embraces the future
Global Farmer Network

New GMO cotton variety could boost yields while thriving under drought conditions
Genetic Literacy Project

How Bt cotton can revive collapsed textile industry
Daily Nation

Speed breeding isn’t a new concept but it could be crucial to ramping up food production in Europe in the light of recent rulings on gene editing…
Lab News

CRISPR gene editing: Using ‘nature’s own tools’ to combat food waste and climate change
Genetic Literacy Project

The new potato – breeders seek a breakthrough to help farmers facing an uncertain future
Science Magazine

New gene analysis technique identifies natural disease resistance in wheat to protect against fast-spreading stem rust
Genetic Literacy Project

Brazilian case study highlights dramatic sustainability and economic benefits of GMO Bt insect-resistant cotton, corn and soybeans
Genetic Literacy Project

New plant genome cloning method promises to bust rust, other diseases in wheat
University of Minnesota

Thanks to the world’s love of avocados, Africa’s coffee producers are pivoting

Rebellion against Europe’s ‘innovation-killing’ crop gene editing regulations grows among scientists, frustrated member states
Genetic Literacy Project 

Best practices

Uganda: Controlling banana viruses on farm
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Need for good post-harvest practices
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Interdisciplinary approach the only way to address devastating effects of soil erosion

AGCO launches Farm in a Box for rural African communities 
African Farming

Feedback: Melon farming do’s and don’ts
Daily Nation


Opinion: We don’t have to choose between food and biodiversity

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’
The Guardian

Climate change and environment

Why climate resilient crops must be the future
Innovation Forum

FAO new Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa interacts with media, calls for climate-smart ag
Ghana News Agency

Science combating desertification in the Sahel

Energy and innovation Analysing livestock social media data for farmer chatbot, which combines Facebook & ILRI data


South Africa: State of the Nation Address 2019: What Ramaphosa said on agriculture, land reform
Food For Mzansi

Planting for Food and Jobs revolutionises agriculture In Ghana
Peace FM Online

Ghana: Make Planting for Food and Jobs cross-sectoral programme; FAO urges government
Business Ghana

Kenyan youth ventures in farming to further his education
News Ghana

Pan-African institutions jointly solve climate-induced migration, displacement in Africa
News Ghana

African rice smallholders are increasingly using low-quality, unregistered herbicides because of inadequate capacity of governments to enforce strict monitoring of national pesticides regulations

Energy and innovation

Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020 open for submissions from African Innovators
Africa News

Food security

Africa: for a healthier planet and people, we must fix our broken food system

Rwanda: why beekeepers are grappling with drop in honey production

Reduce food wastage to enhance food security
New Times

Conflict expected to deepen Africa’s hunger crisis in 2019

Fried, steamed or toasted: here are the best ways to cook insects
The Conversation

There is no food security without food safety – FAO boss

Nigeria: unresolved issues of national livestock plan, rice production and food security
The Guardian

More information and investment in food safety needed to tackle high human cost of foodborne illness, new report finds

Tens of thousands dying each year as ‘unsafe produce’ impacts food system in sub-Saharan Africa
The Telegraph

Pests and diseases

Since the fall armyworm was confirmed for the first time in India this past summer, it has spread quickly – now confirmed in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Yemen, and suspected in Nepal
Earth Island Journal

Pesticides and food: It’s not a black or white issue, Part 6: Pesticide residues – something to worry about?
Genetic Literacy Project

The GM debate

I fight anti-GMO fears in Africa to combat hunger
The Conversation

Opportunities and resources

MaMo WEBINAR/ SEMINAR February 14 (Thursday), 2019, 10 – 12 AM GMT. How can Africa achieve an agricultural transformation through smart irrigation strategies?
Malabo Montpellier Panel

CRAWFORD FUND: Are you at university studying agriculture, animal production, fisheries, forestry, natural resource management or any area related to food and nutrition security? Would you like to explore your subject area in an international agricultural project context?

UC Davis is partnering with European institutions and associations to offer Class V of the European Plant Breeding Academy. This programme, starting in Oct 2019, is for working professionals who want to become fully trained plant breeders
University of California

Food Climate Research Network call for abstracts: Cambridge Global Food Security Symposium 8 and 9 April 2019 – Generating practical solutions for India and Africa

Are you a good communicator? Do you want to help improve the lives of smallholder farmers? Work toward food security? Join a global network of dedicated science champions? Apply to be a Global Leadership Fellow!
Cornell Alliance for Science