In the news...

June 21st, 2018 / B4FA.org

In Cotonou, Benin, last week, more than 300 cassava scientists, farmers, government representatives and private-sector stakeholders met to attend the fourth International Cassava Conference, an event convened triennially by the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21). Among the topics covered were biological, molecular and genomic advances including DNA fingerprinting of cassava varieties; technological advances in value-chain innovations like cassava processing, including energy-efficient cassava flash-dryers; and improvements in environmentally friendly production practices as well as speeding up the cultivation – and therefore distribution – of improved cassava varieties.

During the five-day conference, executive director of GCP21 Dr Claude Fauquet was presented with a surprise award honouring his dedication to cassava research and development and facilitating a global community dedicated to the crop. “Through his role at GCP21, Claude is an effective convener and a driving force behind united efforts to further cassava research and transform the crop into a future-proof staple food and income source for millions of smallholder farmers worldwide,” says a report by CGIAR on the award. A 2018 Golden Cassava Prize was also presented to Dr Alfred Dixon, a principal scientist and cassava breeder with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Dr Hernan Ceballos of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The award recognizes excellent contributions to cassava transformation.

Coverage on the conference included a Guardian, UK, story on the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) investment of $120 million to help bolster Africa’s cassava sector to reduce reliance on food imports and improve livelihoods and food security. The investment will also help improve rice, maize, sorghum/millet, wheat, livestock, aquaculture, high iron beans and orange fleshed sweet potatoes.

The FAO and the Global Soil Partnership this week launched a programme to reduce soil degradation by 25 percent in the next ten years in 47 African countries. “Only with sustainable soil management can we achieve agricultural growth, ensure food security and adapt to a changing climate,” said Rene Castro, FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department. “Healthy soil is the foundation of our food system – supporting healthy crops that nourish people.” Proposed methods for soil-quality improvement include: implementing soil conservation and erosion control measures such as hedgerows, contour lines and terracing; rehabilitating degraded soils (including remediation of polluted soils); curbing deforestation; establishing and/or equipping soil-testing laboratories; building farmers’ capacity to use and adopt sustainable soil management practices; and supporting the creation of legislation and policy guidelines for sustainable soil management.

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Headlines

Global cassava conference highlights major progress in crop research and development
CGIAR

Award presented to Dr Claude Fauquet at International Cassava Conference
CGIAR

Repositioning cassava sector will save Africa $1.2b
The Guardian

AfDB okays $120m to boost cassava, others
The Nation

Veteran cassava researchers win the 2018 Golden Cassava Prize
Africa Science News

FAO and Global Soil Partnership launch new program to increase productivity in Africa
XinHuaNet

New programme to boost soil productivity and reduce soil degradation in Africa
ReliefWeb

AgBio news

A study by researchers from Africa identifies four varieties of high-protein maize resistant to or tolerant of semi-parasitic weed Striga
ISAAA

Kenya starts planting biotech cotton under national performance trials
ISAAA

Tropic Biosciences gets $10m to test genetically edited bananas and coffee
UKTN

Researchers use CRISPR to improve nutrient-use efficiency of rice
ISAAA

This startup wants to save the banana by editing its genes
Fast Company

Engineered cotton grows on alternative fertilizer
Chemical & Engineering News

Groundnut researchers in Asia move towards modernization of breeding program
ICRISAT

Dogs can detect agricultural diseases early
EurekAlert

An overview of agriculture, nutrition and fortification, supplementation and biofortification: Golden Rice as an example for enhancing micronutrient intake
Agriculture & Food Security

Promoting food security: African Development Bank approves US$ 15m equity investment in Africa Food Security Fund to boost agri-business in Africa
ReliefWeb

Making food crops that feed themselves
BBC

Looking ahead to the next six months of the Connected project
Connected Network

Agbiotech Africa Breakthrough as national performance trials for Bt cotton launched in Kisumu County, Kenya
ISAAA

Agriculture minister proposes law to regulate seeds and seed varieties in Namibia
NBC Nigeria

Philippines: Vitamin A deficiency continues to be a major public health concern, with children becoming blind and dying while the country waits for Golden Rice
Manila Bulletin

Best practice

South Africa: Why it’s beneficial to organise smallholder farmers into groups
The Conversation, Africa

Uganda: Food safety – why we must pay attention
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Uganda: Growing lemon grass for money
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Biodiversity

India: Can Baiga millet be part of mainstream?
Down to Earth

Baobab trees have more than 300 uses, but they’re dying in Africa
The Conversation

Development

Akinwunmi Adesina: The agricultural transformer
The Guardian

Africa’s journey to self-reliance through improved food security policy
ReliefWeb

Panel: Leading the change: Empowering African women and girls for a thriving rural economy
CTA

In rural West Africa, gardening offers women a way out of poverty
Christian Science Monitor

At what point can we say youths are actively involved in farming?
Farmers Review Africa

Liberia: FAO committed to achieving sustainable agriculture
Daily Observer

Kenyan officials laud China for supporting scientific research in Africa
XinHuaNet

The African middle class: Could its rise assist agricultural development?
Future Directions

Partnerships create global solutions and opportunity
MSU Toda

What are the challenges facing modern farming around the world?
Genetic Literacy Project

Energy and innovation

Global Open Data for Agriculture & Nutrition: Success stories (GODAN)
AIMS

Kenya: Experts call for use of technology in agriculture
Standard Digital

Digital agriculture platform set to help farmers in Africa
KBC

Techno Brain, Microsoft partner to launch a Digital Agriculture Platform for farmers across Africa
Farmers Review Africa

African smallholder farmers embrace GPS-based digital solution
CPAfrica

The Indian agriculture sector can easily become a $1 trillion economy with a little help from new technology
Fortune India

Food security

Food security under threat in Kenya
ISS

Empowering Kenyan women with nutrition education
Foodtank

“No gains outside agriculture” – Liberia’s agriculture minister cautions
Front Page Africa

Is food self-sufficiency making a comeback?
African Arguments

Policy

Anti-GMO groups draw FDA rebuke over misrepresentation of Golden Rice nutrition
Genetic Literacy Project

The GM debate

Study shows farm income and production impacts of GM crop technology from 1996 to 2016
ISAAA

Why glyphosate and herbicide-tolerant GMO seeds aren’t threats to bees
Genetic Literacy Project

Are GMOs the answer to food insecurity In Nigeria?
The Independent

Will gene editing and other new breeding techniques provide a ‘second chance’ for worldwide embrace of genetically engineered crops?
Genetic Literacy Project

Opportunities

Consultancy opportunities at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Accra, Ghana. Deadline 21 June

Applications open for Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Young African Entrepreneurs Competition, to catalyse innovative business ideas by young Africans. Deadline for submissions: 3 August
RUFORUM

Event: International Conference on Plant Science, November 15-17, Paris, France
Allied Academies

EVENT: The 8th Africa Nutrition Conference (ANEC 8). Call for abstracts: deadline for submissions: 30 June. Conference in Addis, Ethiopia 1-5 October
ANEC