In the news...

October 25th, 2018 /

In mid-October, the African Development Bank (AfDB) convened a gathering of agricultural experts and stakeholders in Nairobi, Kenya, to address the spread of the Fall armyworm in East Africa. In addition to representatives from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and Syngenta Foundation were present.

Participants presented information on the efficacy of various control methods and technologies, shared financial and regulatory approaches in fighting against the spread of the pest and discussed options for providing smallholder farmers with technologies for combating the worm. Among the solutions presented, it was observed that Fortenza Duo, a seed treatment pesticide from Syngenta Foundation, had been effective against worm outbreak in Southern Africa.

According to an AfDB press release, the AfDB’s Regional Manager for Eastern Africa Joseph Coompson stated: “[I]f no appropriate action is taken, fall armyworm could cause maize yield losses of 21-53 percent – valued at US$2.48 to 6.187 billion, in 12 African countries within five years.”

Meanwhile a new study funded by the UK and German governments and published in the Journal of Applied Entomology this week investigated the effectiveness of naturally derived biopesticides against Fall armyworm, including garlic, oranges, chillies and sex pheromones. According to SciDevNet, “In 2017 … researchers reviewed literature and product labels, profiling active ingredients particularly those in Africa to assess effectiveness of biopesticides against fall armyworm and other armyworms in general.” Meanwhile, a piece on the study in the Guardian UK states that the researchers identified a total of eight biopesticides “that should be fast-tracked for registration and prioritised for trials” – and suggested that governments could help subsidize these alternative controls for smallholder farmers.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who writes about the need to understand crop propagation, and Lominda Afedraru, who reports that Uganda politicians are being engaged for farmer outreach around GM crops – while Jimoh Babatunde reports on tackling the challenges of aflatoxin.

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‪AfDB leads pan-African campaign against Fall armyworm

Garlic, chillies among natural fall armyworm measures

Plague of caterpillars threatening food crisis may be halted with safe pesticides
Guardian, UK

Researchers take genomic sequencing to the farm to help transform lives

AgBio news

Uganda politicians engaged to do farmer outreach around GMO crops
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Ghana: CSIR-CRI launches new  pro-Vitamin A maize variety

Kenya cotton farmers get a presidential nod to grow genetically modified cotton
The Exchange

Scientists design a more productive maize to cope with harsh climates
FarmBiz Africa

New ‘scuba rice’ could protect 49 million acres of rice fields from flooding
Genetic Literacy Project

Argentina approves first drought-resistant, herbicide-tolerant GMO soybean
Genetic Literacy Project

Edible cotton? USDA approves biotech seeds that can be spread like peanut butter
Genetic Literacy Project

Precision plant breeding could boost sustainable rice production 25 percent
Genetic Literacy Project

Quality seed, key in achieving agricultural productivity
Standard Digital

Precision plant breeding could boost sustainable rice production 25 percent
Genetic Literacy Project

Excessive regulation, trade wars may give rise to black market for biotech crops, experts say
Genetic Literacy Project

Give Bt Brinjal the go-ahead
Daily Pioneer

Genetic engineering solutions for medical and agricultural challenges
Blue and Green Tomorrow

Best practices

Uganda: Understanding crop propagation better
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali


What a Gold Rush-era orchard could mean for the future of food
National Geographic

Extreme botany: The precarious science of endangered rare plants
Yale Environment 360

Climate change and environment

Bill Gates leads global call to accept realities of a warming planet
New Scientist

World Bank official calls for more investment in climate resilience in Africa

Sowing hope in The Gambia 
UN Environment


‘Agric produce central to Nigeria’s export industry’
Daily Trust

Paths to success for African scientists

With new tech and opportunity, African agriculture gets a makeover
The Christian Science Monitor

Young entrepreneurs lend glamour to African agriculture

US, Kebbi sign $10m agreement on agric development projects

Exclusive interview: Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria’s minister for agriculture
African Business Magazine

Nigeria: Govt, AfDB launch tech programme for wheat production

Namibia: Horticulture plays significant role in agricultural sector

African Development Bank to showcase key agriculture initiatives at 2018 World Food Prize events
Ecofin Agency

Inclusive value chain development employs a gender focus in Uganda to give men & women opportunity to start banana seed business, train farmers, & share planting material of consumer-preferred varieties

Africa’s big philanthropy: agriculture and food security

Let Africa develop! The David and Goliath of modern trade
Brown Political Review

How can small-scale mechanization help farmers and rural communities escape the poverty trap? Watch this short video and learn more here

Energy and innovation

Renewable energy and food security trends in Africa
BizNis Africa

Food security

Ghana: Of food security, nutritional meals
Daily Guide Africa

With increased hunger and malnutrition in the world, Governments and all stakeholders should strengthen commitments to working for a zero hunger generation, it’s possible by 2030. Watch more here
Press TV

Improved indicators for agriculture and food security

To end food waste, “We have to do something about the food system”

FUNAAB VC advises FG on food security

Africa’s unresolved conflicts a key driver of food insecurity
Africa Center

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) enter a partnership to tackle food insecurity and rising levels of malnutrition in Kampala
Africa News

2018 World Food Prize recognizes action to improve child nutrition

Food security: Evaluating roles of research institutes
New Telegraph

Pests and diseases

Tackling the challenges of aflatoxin
Vanguard, by B4FA Fellow Jimoh Babatunde

‘Mycotoxin contamination of crops will only get worse with climate change’ 
Feed Navigator

Ernest Aubee wins award for mitigating aflatoxin In Africa

Recombinetics Launches TARGET-TB with researchers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to develop genome editing solutions for bovine tuberculosis
Hoard’s Dairyman

Critique of Gates Foundation’s organizational culture should be warning to all philanthropy
Capital Research


Opinion: The EU gene-editing decision: Parliament should not let it stand
Agri Pulse

African Union and United Nations discuss their common agendas
The African Exponent

The GM debate

Nigeria: Agency asks activists to stop campaigns against GMOs
The Guardian

‘Anti-GMO group vilifying us, creating fear’
The Nation Online

Viewpoint: Success of first ever gene-edited soybean exposes folly of EU’s hostility to crop biotech
Genetic Literacy Project

Viewpoint: It’s time to replace our fear-based genetic engineering regulations
Genetic Literacy Project

Opportunities and resources

Conference: Boosting Growth to End Hunger by 2025: The Role of Social Protection.  African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 24-26 October 2018

Webinar: Join discussion on commercialization opportunities for orange-fleshed sweet potato: Kenya, Malawi and South Africa
USAID, Agrilinks

Africa agri-food development programme applications now open
Biz Community

Free course: Media skills for scientists

Free course: Science communication for journalists.

Opportunity: Second CONNECTED pump-prime funding (PPF) call now open. PPF grants available for projects of up to £30,000. Expression of Interest stage closes 18 November 2018

Opportunity:  Voucher scheme enabling early career researchers to make funded plant health plant pathology and plant science training visit up to £3,000. Apply by 28 October