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May 3rd, 2018 / B4FA.org

This week in Libreville, Gabon, more than 100 African agriculturalists met to discuss lessons learned from inaugural Biennial Review (BR) Report on the implementation of the 2014 Malabo Declaration – an agreement to track progress on agricultural goals for the continent every two years starting in 2018, endorsed by African Union heads of state. According to an article posted on ReliefWeb, the inaugural BR report was groundbreaking in that it successfully gathered data from 47 of the 55 member states – a crucial first step. “The biennial review report is an important tool for monitoring the progress we are making…  That we collected 78 per cent of the data needed is very encouraging and we will build on this in the next reporting cycle,” said Dr. Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of Rural Economy and Agriculture at the AUC, in the article.

However, according to the BR report, only 20 of the 47 reporting states are on track towards achieving the commitments set out in the Malabo Declaration – which include ending hunger and reducing poverty by 2025. According to ReliefWeb: “Rwanda led the top 10 best performers with a score of 6.1, followed by Mali (5.6), Morocco (5.5), Ethiopia (5.3), Togo (4.9), Malawi (4.9), Kenya (4.8), Mauritania (4.8), Burundi (4.7), and Uganda (4.5). The Africa Agriculture Transformation Scorecard (AATS) of the report sets the benchmark at 3.9 out of 10 as the minimum score for a country to be considered on track towards achieving the Malabo commitments by 2025. Regionally, East Africa performed best with a score of 4.2, followed by Southern Africa with a score of 4.02.”

Meanwhile, in Uganda, agricultural scientists are asking for a review of the most recent recommendations the Parliamentary Committee made on the Biosafey Bill, saying that imposing too-tight restrictions – including strict isolation policies with life-imprisonment penalties – will hamper the efforts of Ugandan scientists, and lead to delays in rolling out agricultural innovations that would offer relief from crop pests and diseases and help alleviate hunger and poverty in the country.

An opinion piece published by Mark Lynas in New Vision comments on the situation, saying that “anti-science” forces are responsible for politically detaining such home-grown improvements as WEMA maize and disease-resistant cassava, banana and potato crops. “In the meantime,” he writes, “climate change accelerates and fall armyworm continues its lethal spread through Uganda’s farmland. The deteriorating political situation is already having predictable knock-on effects with food insecurity, environmental destruction and higher use of chemicals. Uganda is a country with much promise, but banning science and innovation is surely not the way to make the most of it.”

Finally, B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru interviews chair of the Sectoral Committee on Science and Technology in Uganda’s Parliament Robert Kafeero Sekitoleko on “Why Uganda needs to “wake up” to GMOs” for Genetic Literacy Project – offering a view of the GMO conflict from within the country.

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Headlines

Africa making major policy strides in agriculture
ReliefWeb

Uganda: Agriculture scientists want review on GMO law
New Vision

Anti-GMO activism is hindering Uganda’s scientific progress
New Vision, by Mark Lynas

Ugandan legislator on why his nation needs to ‘wake up’ on GMOs
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

AgBio news

A community-managed seed bank to be created in Albreda, The Gambia, to create food security in a region beset by years of soil salinization, food shortages, and drought
COA

Earth BioGenome Project holds solutions for agriculture’s future
ISAAA

Better Life Farming to unlock potential of smallholder farmers in developing countries
African Farming

Experts say Tanzania can do better in banana production
Xinhua Net

CIMMYT scientist uses native maize varieties to find novel traits for breeding
ISAAA

A scientist works to increase water saving potential of crops
ISAAA

Farm technology is getting CRISPR
The Hill

Scientists hail European ban on bee-harming pesticides
Nature

Best practices

Agroecological farming is key to a sustainable future
Agrilinks

Biodiversity

Africa should promote the wealth of its local foods, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Ever heard of millets & sorghum? These super nutritious, low-impact, & drought-friendly grains were once staple crops
Food Tank

Gum arabic: growing demand means new opportunities for African producers
UNTCAD

Climate change

Mozambique looks to improved seeds as it struggles with the impacts of a changing climate
Alliance for Science

Developing the African narrative for the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture: setting the stage for climate-resilient agriculture in Africa
CGIAR

Can genomics deliver climate-change ready crops?
Science Direct

Climate change: Nigeria’s productivity could decrease by 30% in 2050, says report
AllAfrica

Mitigating climate change key for continent’s prosperity – Kagame
AllAfrica

Zimbabwe: Irrigation as defence against climate extremes for farmers
AllAfrica

Development

Understanding China’s foreign agriculture investments in the developing world
Devex

“Growing more, growing better for Africa’s food security” – Gordon Conway
CTA

Africa has plenty of land. Why is it so hard to make a living from it?
The Economist

EAC trailing in exportation of bananas
AllAfrica

Supporting resilience in Burundi’s farmers with access to seeds, fertilisers and tools
EURACTIV

We must stand up for quality seeds
Daily Nation

Kenya among countries to get agricultural investment fund
The Star

Small-scale farmers should be at the centre of land reform in South Africa
The Conversation

Obstacles facing a young black farmer in South Africa: a personal story
The Conversation

Why innovation is the answer to guaranteeing food security in Africa
New Europe

Revolutionise African farming methods to overcome climate change, says UN
Climate Action

Fostering innovation key for a healthy, wealthy and food-secure Commonwealth
ISAAA

FAO calls for global coordination for a bioeconomy that leaves no one behind
ISAAA

Improving the economic benefits of landholders in Ethiopia
Agrilinks

Nigeria to face unprecedented pressure in livestock production – FAO
The Eagle Online

Energy and innovation

Scaling up interactive ICT to increase agricultural innovation in Tanzania
CABI

Food security: Kenya moves to empower farmers with sci-tech
The News Nigeria

Food security

Diversify crop Production, World Food Programme advises Tanzanian farmers
AllAfrica

Postharvest losses: Curse to African farming
SciDevNet

Food biotech answer to Zimbabwe’s food, nutrition woes
Daily News

Pests and diseases

CABI joins international team of experts to develop a Global Surveillance System for crop diseases
CABI

Training aims at improving food and nutritional security in Mozambique
Devdiscourse

Nigeria cites weeds as major productivity drawback in cassava farming
IITA

Scientists have observed unexpected benefits in Mozambique’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa field trials that could well be a game changer in efforts to ensure Africa’s food security
Joy Online

Farmers crippled by Fall armyworm outbreak are selling off farms
Farmers Review Africa

Armyworm tech prize is financed by Nesta
News Ghana

USAID offers prize money to combat Fall armyworm in Africa
VOA

A remarkable new technology that will diminish the global cancer threat from aflatoxin
Forbes

What’s the place of technology in the Fall armyworm crisis?
Agrilinks

India in a race against wilt in Cavendish banana
The Hindu Business Line

The GM debate

Let’s recognize Roundup Ready and Bt crops as major contributions to sustainable farming
Genetic Literacy Project

FDA And USDA clash over definition of genetically modified food
ACSH

Opportunities

Vacancy – Executive Secretary appointment, Association for Strengthening of Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). Deadline: 18 May
ASARECA

Online discussion: Partnerships, innovations and financing for youth in climate-smart agriculture, 23 April-21 May. Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa
Climate & Agriculture Network for Africa

Resources

Agricultural diversification as an important strategy for achieving food security in Africa
Wiley Online Library