In the news...

November 15th, 2018 /

Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) was set up to help African farmers unlock the continent’s huge agricultural potential. Initially we provided training to African journalists so they could communicate balanced, scientifically based information on best practice, innovation and entrepreneurship to decision makers, scientists, educators and farmers alike.

From this grew the B4FA Newswire, providing regular, accurate, unbiased and up-to-date information for those working to improve African agriculture and food security. You, our loyal and growing audience, suggests there’s an appetite for what we do, but we cannot continue long into 2019 without additional funding.

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Uganda’s legislators on the Parliamentary Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation have considered the amendments to the Biosafety bill suggested by President Museveni in December 2017. At that time the president declined to sign the bill into law and asked for more clarity in the wording.

Among the president’s concerns was the protection of ancient crop and livestock genetic knowledge, labelling for GM products, environmental and consumer protection and more. According to a piece in the Daily Monitor, the legislators confirmed plans for community-based gene banks and safety measures including containment of confined field trials. According to the Daily Monitor, the president will be given one more chance to sign the bill into the amended law but parliament will still pass it into law if he declines.

For more context on the situation, view Uganda’s NTV’s panel discussion with scientists Dr Nina Fedoroff of Penn State University and Dr Theresa Sengooba of Uganda Council for Science and Technology (UNCST). Under discussion are biotechnology and biosafety, Uganda’s biosafety bill and scientific and regulatory processes around GMOs.

B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana pens a piece profiling biotech students from various African countries working at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, covering their areas of interest, the state of biotech policy in their countries and their hopes for the future.

Meanwhile, Michael Ssali also writes from Uganda, asking “Can we separate science from agriculture?” and covering a farmer who has made it his mission to teach fellow farmers how to best look after their banana crops by protecting them from disease. The farmer’s crop hygiene practices include ensuring making unmulched space around the banana stem to keep it disease free and strong, mulching with organic materials such as dry maize stalks and limiting the number of shoots on each banana plant.

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!


Uganda: MPs accept Museveni’s proposals on GMO Bill
Daily Monitor

Video: Scientists take on Uganda’s tough questions about GMO crops
Genetic Literacy Project

AgBio news

Mali farmers fight drought with hybrid crops

Tanzania: VP calls for joint efforts to boost coffee production in Kilimanjaro, including planting improved seedlings

GM crops good for Tanzania – experts

Q&A: “Science is still biased towards staple crops”

Scientists discover gene regulator that allows plant to rehydrate after drought

Edible GMO cotton could supply protein to 600 million people daily
Genetic Literacy Project

Small genetic differences turn plants into better teams
Science Daily

Researchers discover how to engineer plants with enhanced drought resistance without affecting growth

Britain is ripe for agriculture innovation after Brexit
The Spectator

Green agriculture initiative to boost food security for 70,000 households
New Times

Researchers shine a light into the mechanisms of potato late blight infection | The James Hutton Institute
The James Hutton Institute

Farmers’ access to seeds is the focus of a new project

Best practices

Uganda: Farmer teaches crop hygiene for a living
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Yara Tanzania’s crop nutrition solutions to increase production

Tanzania: Use of fertilisers to revitalise cassava production


DNA project to decode “all complex life” on Earth

Crop wild relatives are very different from cultivated species, so using them for crop improvement requires a laborious pre-breeding process
International Potato Center

Plant cryo biotechnology at Kew: past, present and future

Climate change and environment

Can measuring evaporation help farmers save water?
Food Tank

“Farmers and researchers will work together” for climate resilient crops, says Luis Salazar of Crop Trust
Food Tank


African biotech students remain hopeful, despite obstacles
Cornell Alliance for Science, by B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana

How does your garden grow?: Africa needs a green revolution
The Economist

Agricultural biotech advocates to reach out to policymakers

Making agriculture cool for African youth with Agribusiness TV

Uganda: What you can do with sweet potatoes to earn more income
Daily Monitor

Uganda: Microfinance support centre boosts farm clinic
Daily Monitor

South Africa: AGH and AFGRI announce structure to support mentorship and training of farmers
Farmers Review Africa

Ghana: Farmers deserve chance to use improved technology on farms
Modern Ghana

Making agriculture “sexy” will end African youth unemployment crisis
The Exchange EA

Sudan: Faisal affirms boosting agricultural cooperation with Vietnam

11 year old Dimiana’s dream began in a school garden after receiving training from a FAO Junior Farmer Field and Life School

Greener pastures: China’s fraught relationship with organic food
Sixth Tone

Energy and innovation

Debate: what role will technology play in the future of food security and farming?

20,000 Ethiopian smallholder farmers targeted with climate smart technology

Cassava can be processed into many products. Now a cassava-based, degradable plastic has been developed in an effort to help reduce the world’s pollution

Food security

Climate & Agriculture 1: African food imports increase, while agricultural dependence stays high
Bits of Science

Can wasting less food between the farm and consumer improve nutrition?
Food Tank

Food security project in Northern Ghana yields results
Ghana News Agency

How pulses can support food security and environmental conservation in African smallholder farms

Pests and diseases

Safeguarding food security with phytosanitation
International Potato Center


Uganda: Can we separate science from agriculture?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Dutch farm minister opens door to gene-editing crops
Dutch News

Genome editing: Advances in technology spur calls for EU law amendments around GMOs
Food Ingredients First

The GM debate

The obsession with natural: How we can tackle chemophobia

Are GMO critics more open to gene editing that targets plant and human diseases?
Genetic Literacy Project

GMOs are safe, says US biotech expert
New Vision

Opportunities and resources

We are looking for a Junior Research Assistant based in Huancayo, Junin. If you are interested to apply go to our website
International Potato Center

Report: Innovation Opportunities in Mango Value Chains in Mali

Seven early career scientists awarded AESA-RISE Postdoctoral fellowships

CONNECTED opens a new training opportunity to network members, a fully funded 12-week bioinformatics course in Sweden. 21 January 2019. Deadline 2 Dec

Funding opportunities November 2018 via Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Upcoming events via Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development