In the news...

October 18th, 2018 /

The 16th of October marked this year’s World Food Day, the 73rd anniversary of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s founding, and its annual celebration focusing global attention on the issue of food security, calling on all nations to take action to end hunger. Its theme in 2018: “Our actions are our future. A #ZeroHunger world by 2030 is possible”.

According to an article on World Food Day by the Brookings Institute, reports show that as of 2017 more than 150 million children remain stunted, about 820 million people are undernourished and more than 2.5 billion people say that they lack the resources to buy food. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit with the lowest crop yields in the world, and the lack of irrigation and technology to make farming more efficient. Some pieces marking the day that specifically deal with Africa include “Hunger rising in Africa after prolonged decline: WHO on World Food Day” in Africa News and “African countries’ policies must shift to achieve zero hunger” in The Conversation, Africa.

Meanwhile, good news for rice: an agreement signed during the 5th International Rice Congress in Singapore on World Food Day between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Crop Trust has guaranteed funding of US$1.4 million a year in perpetuity to conserve the 136,000 varieties of rice in the IRRI’s genebank in Los Baños, Philipppines. Scientists use the genetic information made available by the gene bank to develop rice varieties that can withstand climate change and pests and diseases, and that can keep up with the need to feed a growing world population and demand for rice, including in Africa.

“Half of the world’s population – around 3.5 billion people – eats rice every day,” said Matthew Morell, director general of IRRI. “The IRRI genebank is fundamental to global efforts to make the rice sector more resilient, sustainable and equitable”.

We also hear from three B4FA Fellows this week. Lominda Afedraru writes about why Ugandan banana breeders say it’s critical to add genetic engineering to their toolbox, Michael Ssali writes about the value of introducing students to biotechnology early and Henry Lutaaya sends in two stories, “Uganda takes major strides in biotech capacity development” and “Farmers’ leaders push for strategic ties with researchers”.

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!


World Food Day 2018: The elusive quest to end hunger
Brookings Institute

Hunger rising in Africa after prolonged decline: WHO on World Food Day
Africa News

African countries’ policies must shift to achieve zero hunger
The Conversation, Africa

The world’s rice bowl: Protected in perpetuity

Rice ‘safely conserved’ in Philippines gene bank

AgBio news

Why Ugandan banana breeders say it’s critical to add genetic engineering to their toolbox
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Uganda takes major strides in biotech capacity development
The Sunrise, by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya

Uganda: Farmers leaders push for strategic ties with researchers
The Sunrise, by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya

How the science of biofortification grew from an idea to a food revolution

Ghana to begin consumption of GMO foods from 2020
Ghanaian Times

Vitamin A-rich bananas offer new hope to address vitamin A deficiency

Ensuring safe application of biotech in Nigeria
Leadership NGA

Cameroon: Adoption of genetically modified crops imminent

Genetic markers identify the sex of yams and accelerate breeding

First ever gene-edited wheat that produces high fiber flour could hit the market by 2020
Genetic Literacy Project

A better bean or Frankenfood: First gene-edited crop harvested
Delta Farm Press

Scientists develop transgenic potato with enhanced tuber quality and stress tolerance

Biotech maize to boost maize supply in Pakistan

Access to seed is access to food
Daily Maverick

The banana is dying. The race is on to reinvent it before it’s too late

Kenya: Bayer contributes to government’s Big Four Agenda through agricultural innovation
Capital FM Kenya

India: To end UPA freeze on Bt brinjal, regulator looks at Bangladesh
Indian Express

Addressing Nigeria’s insignificant contribution to global seed trade

OPINION: Why Kenya should shift to genetically modified maize

Opinion: Expert lists how Nigeria’s economy can be developed through biosafety

OFAB call on Nigerian farmers to cultivate approved GM cotton varieties
Nigeria News

USAID, USDA award funds for international food safety projects
Food Safety News

Detoxifying the plant with the poisonous past
John Innes Centre

Profile: Science advocate Alison Van Eenennaam
Alliance for Science

Biofortified wheat variety could help stem nutrient deficiency in Africa, Asia
Genetic Literacy Project

Readiness for environmental release of genetically engineered (GE) plants in Uganda 

Insights from a gene genius
Asian Scientist

Ismahan Elouafi, agriculture pioneer by chance

Best practices

Irrigating vegetables with wastewater in African cities may spread disease

Rethinking crop residue for the environment, livelihoods and peace

Plans to mechanize agriculture in Africa
Africa News


Wild cousins of finger millet show promise of parasite resistance

The women finger millet advocates of Western Kenya
Crop Wild Relatives

Gene banks are supposed to be forever
Crop Trust

Christopher Columbus and the potato that changed the world
The Washington Post

The beekeepers of Liberia

Climate change and environment

The private sector, agriculture and climate change. Connecting the dots

West Africa Key Message Update, October 2018

UN General Assembly 2nd Committee discusses devastating impacts of climate change threatening farm outputs, increasing global hunger
Relief Web

Report: Rising temperatures will push millions into poverty
The Nation

Climate change is expected to exacerbate the impact of crop pests. CIP Pest Risk Atlas for Africa has up-to-date information on major insect threats to potato, sweet potato, and more

Why organic apple farmers spray their trees with insecticides 32 times on average during each growing season
Genetic Literacy Project

Our food system is at risk of crossing ‘environmental limits’ – here’s how to ease the pressure
The Conversation

High-yield farming costs the environment less than previously thought – and could help spare habitats
University of Cambridge


Uganda: Introduce students to biotechnology early
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Agriculture key contributor to rural poverty reduction – FAO

Moving to implementation: Africa’s approach to the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture roadmap

Nigeria: Agriculture will ensure food security, provide employment – Ajimobi

Kenya: Women, youth must be at the heart of food security agenda for a hunger-free nation
Daily Nation

Energy and innovation

OpenMTA, a new easy-to-use legal tool that enables open exchange of biological materials, is launched today
John Innes Centre

Portable DNA extraction helped sequence & diagnose cassava mosaic virus in farmer’s field. Resistant varieties were then successfully deployed.
Cassava Action Network

Senegal makes gains towards fighting malnutrition with mobile apps

Technology hope for African farmers
Financial Times

Food security

World Food Day: Insects could play a vital role in fighting hunger globally
IOL News

No time to lose in eradicating hunger and malnutrition

How to feed 10 billion people without destabilising the planet
European Scientist

Is hunger-free Uganda possible?
New Vision

Feeding our appetite for food security
The Star Kenya

Africa in the middle of a true protein revolution
All About Feed

Grain storage a key to African food security
World Grain

Countries where people don’t get enough to eat
24/7 Wall St

East Africa Key Message Update, October 2018

Food wasted by rich nations could end world hunger – UN

Pests and diseases

Fall armyworm is here to stay unless a miracle happens
Standard Digital

AfDB pledges funds to help manage Fall armyorms in Africa

Kenya: Maize farmers lost Sh3bn to Fall armyworm
Business Daily

The GM debate

Federation of Seed Industry of India bats for GM variety
News Today

Video: Filipino farmer shares insider tips for spreading GMO acceptance in developing world
Genetic Literacy Project

Opportunities and resources

Webinar: Driving Financial Inclusion for Smallholder Farmers by Leveraging Satellite Data and Machine Learning, 25th of October 2018 at 16:00 (CEST) Rome time

EVENT: Africa Resource Mobilization & Fund Raising Symposium, 28th -30th November 2018, Asset Africa Institute, Nairobi, Kenya
Asset Africa Institute

CIMMYT has just launched a new podcast, Cobs & Spikes! Listen and bookmark here
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center