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September 27th, 2018 / B4FA.org

The Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) Screening Facility in Naivasha, Kenya, recently released 15 disease-resistant hybrid maize varieties to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Researchers found and – through molecular marker assisted breeding – transferred resistant genes into 30 maize varieties adapted for Africa, a process that took three years, in contrast to seven years with conventional breeding. According to an article published in the Daily Nation, “MLND resistant varieties will cushion farmers against massive losses attributed to the disease not just in Kenya, but all over Africa with the exception of Southern Africa. According to the 2014 Survey on MLND by Kalro about 78,000 hectares of maize crop were affected by MLND leading to a loss of more than 11 million bags.” It’s hoped that the hybrid varieties will ultimately eradicate the disease in these areas.

Writing for Cornell’s Alliance for Science blog, B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports that the prime minister of Uganda’s traditional Buganda Kingdom has visited a government research facility in Namulonge recently and subsequently gave approval and support for agricultural biotechnology innovations. “Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga was fascinated to see products bred using modern biotechnology in the biosciences laboratory at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI) as a team of prominent scientists explained to him the processes of conventional and modern plant breeding,” she writes.

After witnessing demonstrations of such innovations as diagnosing plant diseases using DNA, breeding cassava directly from plant cells and using genetic engineering to producing disease-free planting materials, the prime minister is reported to have said, “I am so amazed by the level of advanced application of science in the laboratories used to breed plants free from pests and diseases. This can increase yields in farmer fields, which we may export to cause change in the country’s economy.”

Meanwhile, a coalition called 50 x 2030 initiative – comprising the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, various national governments and other organizations – has pledged to alleviate hunger by helping 50 developing countries gather crucial data with the goal of increasing agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers. Using surveys, the program will collect accurate and up-to-date information until 2030 on such factors as livestock holdings, crop yields, seed varieties, income and technological capacity of farms. This will provide governments with information on how to shape policies and help determine the value of agricultural investments. Participating countries will likely include 30 from sub-Saharan Africa, 10 from Asia, and 10 from Latin America and the Caribbean. The data, which will be shared widely, will also help monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Headlines

Kenya: Hybrid maize resists lethal necrosis
Daily Nation

Uganda’s traditional leader praises ag biotechnology
Cornell Alliance for Science, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Can big data help small farmers and reduce hunger in the world’s poorest countries?
European Scientist

Why gene editing is the next food revolution
National Geographic

Ghana: UCC develops high yielding drought and disease resilient cowpea varieties
Ghana News Agency

AgBio news

Gene-editing used to determine gene functions for wheat grain traits
ISAAA

Researchers find “hotspot” regions in the wheat genome for high zinc content, new study shows
CIMMYT

Worldview: The obstacles facing a green revolution in Africa
The Daily Free Press

GMO advancement isn’t dependent on ‘big ag’ to succeed
AG Daily

Gene-edited cassava could help millions of farmers
Alliance for Science

Gene-edited plants cross European event horizon
Nature

GMO cotton prompts dramatic drop in China’s pesticide use
Alliance for Science

Best practices

Uganda: Best practices of post-harvest handling
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Uganda: How livestock farmers can curb anthrax
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Biodiversity

Ethiopia: Ministry to seed new forestry roadmap
AllAfrica

‘Plant blindness’ is a real thing: why it’s a real problem too
The Conversation

Viewpoint: No, wild bees haven’t been decimated by neonicotinoids, glyphosate
Genetic Literacy Project

The Crop Trust’s Crops in Color photography campaign celebrates crop diversity around the world
Crop Trust

Climate change

New financing mechanism protects against climate change
Biz Community

Conflicts, climate worsen food insecurity in many countries
Business Standard

Development

We are still committed to growing Nigeria – Osinbajo
The Eagle

TAAT sweet potato compact launched in Accra
Ghana Web

African Risk Capacity becomes a member of the World Economic Forum
ReliefWeb

Putting agriculture at the heart of Africa’s rising
Euractiv

AfDB & NES to convene international conference on Agricultural Value Chains
Devdiscourse

Farmers to petition EAC heads of state over poor agriculture funding
EABW

Kenya: Agriculture should rank above manufacturing in ‘Big Four’
Daily Nation

Making African agriculture more attractive for investors
African Business

Implementing the 2014 Malabo Declaration On Agriculture Through Mutual Accountability AUC hosts the 3rd Caadp PS Leadership Retreat
AllAfrica

Africa: Continent of challenge and opportunity
The Star Kenya

Africa needs strong political will to transform agriculture and spur economic growth
IPS News

How African youth are leveraging ICTs to tap into Africa’s agribusiness market
New Times

Remarks by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, president of the African Development Bank at meeting with the African Diplomatic Community in Tokyo – September 6, 2018
AllAfrica

Energy and innovation

Donors launch data-driven initiative to end hunger
XinHua

As the battle against climate change intensifies, farmers find relief in agricultural innovations
Medium

Quartz Africa Innovators 2018: A list of 30 pioneers
Quartz Africa

Food security

Google, Microsoft and Amazon predict and fight famine in Africa
Dey There

Achieving sustainable food security in South Africa
Biz Community

Sub-Saharan Africa’s future food-security challenges
World Grain

Nigeria: Escalating humanitarian crisis and apprehension over food insecurity
Leadership

Pests and diseases

Study: Gene drive wipes out lab mosquitoes
The Scientist

The GM debate

GMO controversy is a political debate, not a food safety issue, farmers say
Genetic Literacy Project

Policy

Kenyan policy makers vouch for commercialization of Bt cotton
ISAAA

Opportunities and resources

Africa agriculture trade monitor 2018
IFPRI

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

Opportunity: Agri-tech Catalyst round 7: agriculture and food systems innovation, deadline 21 November
Innovate UK

Request for proposals: Innovation for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Urban Settings (Round 22)
Grand Challenges

Call for proposals: Blockchain use cases in agriculture in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Deadline: 12 November 2018