In the news...

August 30th, 2018 /

At a two-day regional forum in Nairobi earlier this month, the East African Secretariat launched a set of policy briefs outlining recommendations to control aflatoxin contamination along East Africa’s food and feed value chains. The briefs contain key findings and recommendations of 11 multisectoral technical papers developed under the EAC Aflatoxin Prevention and Control Project (APPEAR), funded by USAID East Africa Regional Economic Integration Office and led by IITA, and cover aflatoxin’s harmful impacts on human health, on trade, standards and regulations, biocontrol for aflatoxin prevention and control, safe disposal and communication strategy.

According to a post on IITA’s website, the EAC’s Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Christophe Bazivamo said at the launch: “The overall goal of the programme is to contribute to food and nutrition security as well as to protect human, animal and plant health in EAC from the adverse impacts of aflatoxin along the food and feed value chains.” The policy briefs can be accessed at this link.

In other biotech news, the ISAAA reports that a team at the University of California, Berkeley, has used CRISPR gene editing to reduce the symptoms of Cassava Brown Streak Disease in cassava plants. According to ISAAA’s post, “[The researchers] observed delayed and attenuated CBSD aerial symptoms and reduced severity and incidence of root necrosis, which is one of CBSV infection symptoms, in the CRISPR mutants… The researchers aim to study the effect of other remaining elF4E isoforms on CBSD to further design a cassava disease tolerance strategy.”

Meanwhile, Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) is conserving banana diversity by freezing tissues in liquid nitrogen for storage. According to a piece in Cornell University’s Alliance for Science blog – written by B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana – this method has been used to conserve other crop genetic resources, including matooke, the East Africa cooking banana. Banana is an important staple crop in Uganda, where it is under siege by bacteria wilt. Cryopreservation’s advantages include its independence from such external factors as the need for electricity and a changing climate, as well as the long-term viability of cells stored this way.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who writes about Uganda’s declining cotton production, and from Lominda Afedraru, who reports on seeking medicines from the plants of Uganda.

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IITA will continue working with the jumuiya (EAC) to develop a conducive policy environment in addressing aflatoxin challenge w/ financial support from Kenya. Check out the 9 policy briefs

CRISPR-Cas9 used to reduce symptoms of Cassava Brown Streak Disease

Uganda’s first cryopreservation unit is conserving banana diversity
Alliance for Science, by B4FA Fellow Christopher Bendana

AgBio news

Scientists isolate first major resistance genes against wheat stripe rust disease

Nigeria: Driving food sufficiency through innovations in agriculture

Why Uganda’s cotton production is declining
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Rice genes could be key to stemming nitrogen pollution
Scientific American

International science champions to join Cornell Alliance for science training dedicated to helping smallholder farmers, reducing poverty and eliminating hunger
Alliance for Science

Uganda: Farmers blame rise in fake seeds on government’s poor policy

Nigeria’s Federal High Court ruling permits Bt cotton commercialization

Scientists update on CRISPR utility for crop improvement

A fifth of brinjal farmers adopt Bangladesh’s first GM food crop

Know Your Soils #4: How to capture carbon in your soil
Sector Mentor for Soils

AGRA’s Agnes Kalibata talks on transforming Africa’s agriculture
CNBC Africa

Farmers in South America reap significant benefits from planting biotech soybeans

Best practices

Intensified farming ‘rarely’ aids wellbeing, environment

Mechanise Africa’s agriculture to transform economies

Nigeria: ‘Mechanised farming vital to food security’
The Nation Online

How Africa can up its game on water management for agriculture
The Conversation


Seeking medicine from the plants of Uganda
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Designer Sean Cassidy proposes first seed vault in Sub-Saharan Africa for site on Mount Kilimanjaro

Seeking medicine from the plants of Uganda
Genetic Literacy Project, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Climate change and environment

Uganda: Soils losing fertility in eastern region – study

Poverty-stricken communities in Ghana are restoring once-barren land
IPS News

We should look to nature for solutions to the global water crisis. Here’s why
World Economic Forum


AfDB and FAO agree to boost agriculture sector investments in Africa to end hunger

Small-scale horticulture project transforming lives in Kenya

Teff love – Ethiopia’s staple crop requires a big push

Ghana: How rapid population growth could become an emergency and outpace both food production and economic growth

In Africa, agricultural businesses can stem the tide of migration

Uganda: Farm clinics changing the lives of farmers
Daily Monitor

African youth decry poor access to agri-business loans

Is Africa’s quest to attract 30% of the youth to agriculture achievable?
New Times

Agriculture holds key to solve youth unemployment in Africa: experts
Ghana News Agency

Monitoring food security in countries with conflict situations: A joint FAO/WFP update for the United Nations Security Council (August 2018)

FOCAC summit to focus on agriculture, industry, infrastructure, science and technology: Ethiopian official

China assistance accelerates Africa’s steps towards agricultural modernization
News Ghana

Energy and innovation

With sensors and apps, young African coders compete to curb hunger

Ghanaian agritech startup Cowtribe planning nationwide coverage
Biz Community

Daystar Power, Nigerian Bank of Agriculture enter solar partnership
Renewables Now

Food security

A roadmap to millet-based nutrition: National Millets Mission campaign for promoting ‘nutri-cereals’ to kick off in September!

Kenya: Achieving food security is not rocket science
Fifth Estate

Drivers of Improvements in Global Food Security

Global food waste could rise by a third by 2030

Pests and diseases

USAID’s Bureau for Food Security is working in partnership with experts from around the world to develop a set of tools to assist countries in addressing the Fall armyworm

Project to combat mycotoxins in Africa set to start next month
Food Safety News

Aflatoxin costs E.Africa $670 million in lost export earnings
The Citizen

Fall armyworm’s arrival in India sparks fear of its spread through Asia
Earth Island Journal


CRISPR food: Europe, U.S. should rethink regulations

Japanese authorities recommend not regulating gene editing
The Scientist

High-level smart food pitch at Crawford Fund Conference in Australia’s Parliament House

The GM debate

Scientists hope to use sequenced wheat genome to cut pesticide use, but anti-GMO activists may slow their progress
Genetic Literacy Project

Is fact lost among ‘spurious claims’ in the GM debate?

No, the world is not going to end now that CRISPR is GMO in Europe, but it’s a shame, say scientists

Mexico will ban GMO corn when new government takes office, incoming agriculture secretary says
Genetic Literacy Project

Are genetically modified organisms a blessing or a curse
Life Science Leader

Opportunities and resources

Volume 56 of the Annual Review of Phytopathology is now online! Check out the full table of contents here.

Report: Assessment of the use of conservation agriculture on durum wheat yield, water and nitrogen use efficiencies and soil health, Tunisia
Fara Africa

Report: Analysis of the Value Chains for Root and Tuber Crops in Malawi
Michigan State University

International leaders in science, agriculture, justice arrive August 27 for 2018 Cornell Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellows Program
Cornell Chronicle

Join CGIAR Gender and IFPRI for a webinar on ‘Women’s Land: Beyond “access” to rights,’ September 7. Register now

Regional Seminar on Nutrient Stewardship for West Asia and North Africa 8-9 October, Amman, Jordan