In the news...

April 19th, 2018 / B4FA.org

This week, coordinator of the USAID Fall Armyworm Task Force Regina Eddy said in a press briefing that Kenya and other African countries provided the ideal climate for the spread of the Fall armyworm because of the absence of frost. She also indicated that the US is committed to aiding Africa farmers to fight the pest, saying that the US has a decade of experience with the problem and is finding ways to transfer its knowledge to African counterparts.

To combat armyworm in Ethiopia, the US government has been working with the government and the private sector on making recommendations on measures to be taken based on experience, Eddy said. Eddy pointed to a report by the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) finding that in 12 African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda, total potential losses could range from $2.5 billion to $6.3 billion. USAID estimates that Kenya could lose half its maize crop.

Meanwhile, an article by Victor Amadala in The Star, Kenya, suggests that Bt maize could help combat Fall armyworm, quoting technical operations director of African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Emmanuel Okogbenin as saying that Bt maize has proven effective in Brazil and South Africa. “The adoption of Bt maize together with excellent soil management practices can see Kenya increase its productivity by four folds and cut on importation. The variety only [affects] targeted pests and has no impact on beneficial insects and has no health implication on consumers,’’ says Okogbenin in the article.

In Uganda, the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology presented its response to President Museveni’s concerns regarding the GMO Bill that passed in October 2018. According to an op-ed by agriculturalist and journalist Isaac Ongu in New Vision, the response attempted to address every issue raised by the president, but Ongu says various proposals – such as making farmers responsible for monitoring pollen and imposing a 200-metre isolation distance for maize crops – may ultimately work to hinder the cause.

We also hear from two Ugandan B4FA Fellows: Lominda Afedraru on easy ways of planting groundnuts, and Michael Ssali on spacing for better coffee yields as well as whether science teachers in Uganda should focus their lessons on agriculture.

As ever, 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

Africa: U.S. says committed to stop spread of fall armyworm in Africa
AllAfrica

Kenya faces huge losses from Armyworm, US warns
AllAfrica

Kenya: Experts warn of food crisis as armyworm attacks maize farms
AllAfrica

Genetically modified maize, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) could be Kenya’s silver bullet in the fight against Fall armyworm
The Star

Uganda: Parliamentary committee report dares smallholder farmers to try GMO
New Vision

AgBio news

The future of research in Africa is in jeopardy unless adequate management of national scientific research systems is done
SciDevNet

Ghana must spend more on biotechnology related research
News Ghana

Tanzania: new maize seeds impress farmers as yields improve
AllAfrica

Scientists have found a way to stop the spread of rice blast, a fungus that destroys up to 30% of the world’s rice crop each year
University of Exeter

The biotech innovator behind tissue culture in banana farming – Erostus Nsubug
The Observer

IITA reiterates commitment to nourish African agriculture
Today

Wheat gene discovery could give breeders new tool to boost crop yields
John Innes Centre

Vaccines for plants? RNA spray could help protect crops from pests and disease
Genetic Literacy Project

Technology helping East Africa unlock agriculture potential
Business Week

ICRISAT, DowDuPont sign agreement to share technology
The Hindu

Best practices

Uganda: Easy ways of planting groundnuts
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Uganda: Less spacing for more coffee yields
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Uganda: Farm clinics are back
Daily Monitor

Regenerative agriculture: solid principles, extraordinary claims – its primary focus is building or rebuilding soil
Washington State University

Sesame reaps opportunity for West African farmers
ReliefWeb

Why Nigeria needs agriculture census
The Nation

Site-specific nutrient management can double grain yields contributing to food security
Africa Rising

Biodiversity

The small seed changing West Africa
Food Tank

Climate change

Understanding rainfall variability, drought and farmers’ coping strategies in Nigeria
ReliefWeb

Development

Nigeria: AfDB sets $200m to aid 600,000 African farmers
AllAfrica

Uganda: Teaching science for farming
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Single African market, the Africa we want?
Zambia Daily Mail

Africa: can Africa be the big Brexit winner?
AllAfrica

Angola to get agro-food centre within three years
AllAfrica

Uganda: Agriculture will start receiving 10% of the budget farmers told
Business Week

Agency expresses worry over decreasing farming population
Vanguard

Sub-Saharan Africa, the last frontier for crop production
Huffington Post

Giving African women a voice and a future
Eternity News

The potentials of agribusiness are endless – youth and agribusiness
The Nation

European milk is pouring into Africa, with disastrous effects for local herders and farmers
Politico

26 African states attend Agrochemicals food testing training
Business Week

Quality and safety must be controlled to protect food sector and consumers
Daily Maverick

Crop protection companies making strides in Africa
IEG Policy

Video: John Franz invented the herbicide glyphosate—is he a farming hero or villain?
Genetic Literacy Project

Energy and innovation

Water from the sun: solar-powered water pumps offer African farmers a way out of poverty
Greentech Media

Kenya uses cutting-edge technology to export agriculture products to the EU
Herald Tribune

CTA releases a new guide for young entrepreneurs working to modernise agriculture through ICTS
CTA

CTA has launched ‘Pitch AgriHack 2018’ a competition to support young agricultural entrepreneurs (agripreneurs) build viable businesses and boost innovation
CTA

Africa: scaling up game-changing agricultural innovations and technologies in Africa
AllAfrica

South African farmers have embraced technological developments
Farmers Review Africa

Food security

Seed companies must show commitment to end food insecurity in Africa
New Vision

West Africa: Ecowas to make self-sufficiency in rice a reality by 2025 – official
AllAfrica

East Africa: staring at next food crisis in the region
AllAfrica

Future food security is about exploring non-traditional crops and breakthrough technologies
Devdiscourse

Agro-processing can feed E. Africa, cut climate woes
Business Daily

Food security: NIRSAL, Syngenta collaborate to boost yield by 80%
The Sun

The missing ingredient in fighting Africa’s malnutrition problems
Independent

Can Planet Earth feed 10 billion people? Humanity has 30 years to find out
The Atlantic

Pests and diseases

Kenya: Farmers stare at huge losses as armyworm marches on
AllAfrica

Resistance to the usual pesticides makes armyworm more dangerous
The Star

Ethiopia: more than 50,000 smallholders benefit from inoculation technology
AllAfrica

Hybridisation and the new frontier against spread of global pests
ECOS

Tanzania: food shortage looms as pests invade 50% of farms
AllAfrica

Policy

Potential of GMOs to combat crop diseases converting skeptical Ugandan politicians
Genetic Literacy Project

US tentatively approves Bayer’s $62.5 billion takeover of Monsanto
Genetic Literacy Project

Innovation, agripreneurship and entrepreneurship have become major buzzwords and are constantly proposed as policies
Huffington Post

The GM debate

Ghana: National Biosafety Authority hosts seminar on GMOs
AllAfrica

Bill Gates: Gene editing can help humanity
Alliance for Science

Gene editing in agriculture: Disclosure, communication and transparency critical to public acceptance
Genetic Literacy Project

Viewpoint: Anti-biotech activists don’t understand the difference between GMOs and CRISPR crops
Genetic Literacy Project

Viewpoint: GMO critic Vandana Shiva’s anti-modernity crusade threatens world’s poor
Genetic Literacy Project

Consumers ‘need to know’ when it comes to food technologies
Meat+Poultry

GMOs existed long before science
Daily Monitor

Trust in food risk assessment essential for innovation
EuropaBio

Make a sustainable choice: Buy GMO food
San Francisco Chronicle

Resources

The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) is a platform that brings together stakeholders in biotechnology and enables interactions between scientists, journalists, the civil society, industrialists, lawmakers and policy makers.
OFAB

The ILSI Research Foundation offers a suite of e-learning courses related to biosafety, biotechnology and food safety
ILSI