In the news...

May 17th, 2018 / B4FA.org

This week, at the meeting of the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) released a report on how African agriculture may be harnessed for the continent’s economic growth. The report assesses the states of African agriculture and suggests increased productivity on farms, reducing post-harvest losses and strengthening value chains to leverage the potential of agriculture for raising income and creating jobs.

Meanwhile, director-general of Nigeria’s National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr Rufus Ebegba has said the agency will not back down to recent anti-GMO activist attacks. This comes as Nigeria prepares for its first commercial GM crops, pest-resistant Bt cotton and cowpea. Meanwhile, Ebegba is reassuring the public that the NBMA will ensure the safe regulation of biotech in the country.

“NBMA is a highly rated biotechnology regulatory agency in the world and among the best in Africa,” he is quoted as saying. “We have one of the most advanced labs for GM detection and analysis. And we also have some of the best trained staff all over the world. In biosafety, the agency is fully prepared to ensure that Nigerians and the environment are protected.” A piece that ran in Nigeria’s Guardian covered the potential benefits of applying biotech to Nigerian agriculture.

The week also saw a flurry of articles on CRISPR, including its potential impact on agricultural produce, recently developed non-browning potatoes from Argentina and CRISPR’s potential to improve cacao trees, which are vulnerable to fungal diseases that can devastate crops. Researchers at Penn State University recently demonstrated that CRISPR can be used to develop disease-resistant varieties more quickly and effectively than traditional methods.

From the B4FA Fellows we hear from Michael Ssali who writes about Uganda’s agricultural challenges, including climate change, incurable crop diseases, a fast growing population, land fragmentation and depleted soils, while Lominda Afedraru reports on Ugandan farmers’ struggle with cassava viruses as they await the passing of biotech laws that would allow release of improved varieties.

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

Agriculture’s potential to power economic growth highlighted in African transformation report
AllAfrica

Report stresses agriculture’s significance in transforming African economy
New Business Ethiopia

Nigerian regulator says anti-GMO sentiments won’t stop GM crops
Alliance for Science

Growing applications of GMOs in Nigeria
The Guardian

Ugandan farmers struggling with cassava viruses await GMO solution
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

AgBio news

Uganda’s biggest agricultural problems
DailyMonitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

CRISPR’s swiftest and most promising application might be food
Genetic Literacy Project

Cocoa CRISPR: Gene editing shows promise for improving the ‘chocolate tree’
Penn State

Argentine scientists develop non-browning potatoes using CRISPR gene editing
Genetic Literacy Project

Chinese scientists move toward genetic editing of crops, sparking US concerns
Newsmax

Video: Farmers anxiously wait for Uganda’s GMO potato
Alliance for Science

Cassava breeding hasn’t improved photosynthesis or yield potential, says RIPE project. Watch their video to learn more
University of Illinois

US company Ginkgo Bioworks considers the agricultural sector with solutions for mycotoxin mitigation, antibiotic reduction and improved feed crop production
Feed Navigator

Video: Is gene editing the future of farming?
Wall Street Journal

Solidaridad West Africa, EU launch program to boom Liberia’s cocoa sector
Front Page Africa

A new age is dawning, where people and Europe benefit: Recognizing the biotechnology
POLITICO

Best practices

Case studies show financial, food security benefits of forest landscape restoration
Landscape News

No water? Parched Kenyans take up an unlikely new crop – fish
AllAfrica

Biodiversity

Accra hosts top-level global forest conference, first-ever in Africa
GhanaWeb

Can these seedballs solve Kenya’s deforestation crisis?
BBC

Climate change

African countries need to push climate smart agriculture
AllAfrica

In Nairobi summit, CIAT to officially launch Africa climate-smart agriculture profiles
CGIAR

Taming climate change calls for collective efforts
SciDevNet

Development

African Green Fund: Kigali Forum turns focus on small farmers
KTPress

How collaboration can help grow and transform agriculture in Africa
The Conversation, Africa

Agriculture is quintessential for Africa and must be leveraged for transformation, says ECA’s Songwe
EIN News

African countries fail in implementation of Malabo Commitments
KBC

Rural community development central to Africa’s industrialisation
Inside Education Inspiring Minds

Situating Nigeria’s agricultural potential
The Cable

Zimbabwe: ‘Political will alone not enough to end hunger’: interview with FAO’s Dr David Chimimba Phiri
Zimbabwe Daily

Lagos is building ‘the largest rice miill In sub-Saharan Africa’ — and it will create 200,000 jobs
Sahara Reporters

African smallholder farmers get insurance payouts of U.S. $ 1.5 million after low rainfall
AllAfrica

How to feed agriculture under Big 4 plan
Business Daily Africa

AfDB to raise $170 million to address infrastructure deficit in Africa
Bloomberg

Energy and innovation

Kenya among 5 African countries to benefit from satellite data to boost food security
The Star

Food security

East Africa Key Message Update, May 2018: Seasonal rainfall well above normal in East Africa; recent evidence suggests food security further deteriorates in South Sudan
ReliefWeb

Kenya says flooding likely to compromise food security
XinHuaNet

Food security – Why we’re contributing $1.55bn to agric value chain –Abdulhammed, NIRSAL boss
The Sun

Innovation and energy

Farmcrowdy: Agritech firm changing lives of Nigerian farmers for the better
African Farming

Policy

MEP De Castro: New plant breeding techniques will ensure food quality and quantity
EURACTIV

New plant breeding techniques concern law interpretation, EU Commission says
EURACTIV

The GM debate

The debate persists over GMO foods
New York Times

How do corporations perceive their role in the GMO debate?
DevEx

Viewpoint: ‘Precision plant breeding’ better describes crop biotechnology than misused ‘GMO’ term
Genetic Literacy Project

USDA labeling proposal diffuses GMO stigma
Alliance for Science

China seeks to dislodge US dominance in CRISPR gene-edited crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Mark Lynas on the complexity of disagreeing on GMOs
Massive

Millennials ‘have no qualms about GM crops’ unlike older generation
The Telegraph

Here are the answers to your most-frequently-asked GMO questions
Massive

Opportunities

Webinar: AGRIS for Agricultural Information Data providers
AIMS

Event: WACCI International Conference on Food and Nutrition Security in Africa, Oct 3-4, University of Ghana
WACCI

Course: Future Climate for Africa invites you to attend a micro e-learning course on Expert and Government Review of the IPCC Assessment Reports
Future Climate for Africa

Resources

Recovering the Original Intentions of Risk Assessment and Management of Genetically Modified Organisms in the European Union
Frontiers

Recovering the Original Intentions of Risk Assessment and Management of Genetically Modified Organisms in the European Union
Frontiers

Banana21: From Gene Discovery to Deregulated Golden Bananas
Frontiers