In the news...

May 31st, 2018 /

Last week, we heard about the discovery of a second armyworm invasion in West Africa. This week, there’s hope on the horizon as we learn that 228 applications were received by the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize, recently launched by Nesta, Feed the Future, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Land O’ Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. The prize, which looks for digital solutions to identify, track and protect crops from Fall Armyworm across the African continent, will distribute $400,000 in awards, and winners be asked to develop prototypes for testing and feedback from smallholder farmers. The majority of the entries came from African countries: those with the highest numbers of entries were Uganda at 52; Nigeria, 25; USA, 23; Ghana, 22, and Kenya, 21. “We are thrilled with this result as it’s a tremendous response,” said Research and Impact coordinator for Nesta Bhavik Doshi. “We are also pleased that over 80 percent of the entries came from across Africa. It indicates that the people of Africa want to find solutions to the Fall Armyworm threat.”

The week also saw a progress review of the Cassava Brown Streak Disease Control Project in Rwanda and Burundi. A team of scientists and development partners involved in the project learned that it has introduced 17 elite cassava varieties that will form the basis for pre-basic seed multiplication after evaluation. “The project aims to combat the destructive Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CBD) pandemics that have ravaged cassava in Rwanda, Burundi, and some parts of Eastern DR Congo,” says an article about the project posted by IITA. “In four years the project … is expected to identify best clones resistant to both CBSD and CMD and enter them into a clean seed system—at least the pre-basic and basic seeds.”

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes from Uganda about how to watch for banana bacterial wilt disease, which is currently seeing an outbreak in various parts of the country. “The current outbreak in the region is significant because central region and western produces more than 70 per cent of bananas consumed in Uganda and therefore could have serious consequences on food and income security of small-scale farmers,” she writes. Meanwhile, Kevin Folta’s Talking Biotech podcast this week also focuses on GM solutions to Ugandan banana disease and what’s keeping them from the field.

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228 applications received, mostly from Africa, for the global Fall Armyworm Tech Prize

Cassava Brown Streak Disease Control Project in Rwanda and Burundi commended by partners

Watch out for the banana wilt disease
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Talking Biotech: What’s keeping disease-resistant GMO bananas from Ugandan farmers?
Genetic Literacy Project

AgBio news

Musa project develops hybrids of local Tanzanian cooking banana “Mchare”

Obasanjo wants biotechnology to end hunger globally
The Guardian

Why 7.5m Kenyan farmers are yet to adopt new seed varieties
Business Daily Africa

Toward a drought-resilient sorghum: Q&A with Innovation Lab Director Andrew Paterson

Sub-Saharan Africa to receive £25m to fund research on science
Journal du Cameroun

CRISPR-edited rice plants produce major boost in grain yield
Purdue University

CRISPR plants are on the way—but gene-edited animals face more barriers
Genetic Literacy Project

CRISPR creator Jennifer Doudna: It’s ‘important that ethical discussions keep pace with technology’
Genetic Literacy Project

These CRISPR-modified crops don’t count as GMOs
The Conversation

US FDA approves Golden Rice
Cornell Alliance for Science

This is how GM crop Golden Rice could solve Vitamin-A deficiency in Asia
The Print, India

Golden Rice meets food safety standards in three global leading regulatory agencies

British government sparks new green revolution with £100m investment in ‘super-crops’
The Telegraph

How seeds from war-torn Syria could help save American wheat

Legislators bat for the advancement of agri-biotech in Philippines

Exclusive: Gene-edited super-crops to be grown in UK for the first time
The Telegraph

Study says GM potato can help cut pesticide use by up to 90%

Lack of “happiness” hormone makes rice plants less attractive to insects
Newcastle University

Antifungal resistance could lead to ‘global food shortages’
Food Navigator

What happens if we run out? Pesticide resistance needs attention, large-scale study
NC State University

Best practice

Power of school coffee gardens
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Supporting a brooding hen
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali


On the International Day for Biological Diversity, consider the beauty of the potato
Food Tank

Pollination and International Development: How bees can help us fight poverty and feed the world

International Biodiversity Day: Diversifying agroecosystems to suppress crop pests

Climate chang

Spanish scientists find crop genes to adapt to climate change

Change policy to scale up climate-smart farming in Africa – experts

Climate change threatens agriculture, food security in Nigeria
The Guardian


Science in Africa: homegrown solutions and talent must come first
The Conversation

Agriculture is fuel that will drive industrialisation in Africa
Daily Nation

CTA’s Central African cassava project to benefit 10,000 smallholder farmers
African Farming

Why merely owning land isn’t enough to empower Africa’s women farmers
The Conversation

EAC countries join efforts to increase trade on staple foods
New Vision

Korea is a model for Africa’s industrialization, says President Adesina
Capital FM

African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings: Regional cooperation, structural reforms key to economic transformation
CNBC Africa

Israel and Ethiopia to work together to improve agriculture
Farmers Review

Opinion: Unfair agricultural rules
New Straits Times

Do men and women benefit equally from technology adoption? New paper explores

African Development Bank approves loan for fertilizer production expansion
World Fertilizer Magazine

Agricultural trade liberalization undermined food security

Energy and innovation

Robots fight weeds in challenge to agrochemical giants

Food security

Genetically modified foods and the search for food security In Nigeria
Nigeria News

Malawi maize production down by 20 per cent
African Farming

Africa can feed itself with a productive agricultural infrastructure
Irish Times

Hunger, food insecurity plague the lives of millions in Africa
The Star

UN release $30m to avert acute hunger in West Africa
Business Post

Africa’s green revolution stumbles at Congo project to solve food shortages

The African demographic dividend: Can it be harnessed to avoid rising food insecurity?
Future Directions

Ertharin Cousin talks food insecurity, conflict and climate change
Stanford Daily

Innovation and energy

A start-up that holds the secret to pesticide-free crops and the future of food

Pests and diseases

New menacing cassava pest identified in West and Central Africa
Africa Science News


USDA releases proposed biotech labeling rules

The GM debate

Rejoinder: GMOs do not cause cancer
News Ghana

How the defamation of GMOs was achieved

Here’s why you don’t need to freak out about GMOs

Mozambique is ready for GMO crops: “We are already eating it”
Cornell Alliance for Science

Mark Lynas converts from GMO opponent to advocate in ‘Seeds of Science’

From health benefits to increased flavour and longer shelf-life, discover the new generation of GM foods designed with the consumer in mind
New Scientist

US wants China to approve more biotech crops under trade deal

Maharashtra farmers say they’ll use GM seeds
The Economic Times

How GM crops can save the environment, ensure food security
Nigerian Tribune

In cotton country, facts beat fear factor in war against GM
The Weekly Times

Advocates say game-changing genome editing is completely different from genetic engineering — but will the public agree?
Alberta Farm Express


Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources Course in Stockholm in September. Application deadline June 1, 2018

Global Alliance for the Future of Food, deadline 8 June
Future of Food

Opportunity: Are you an African early-career researcher hoping to undertake cutting-edge scientific research in sub-Saharan Africa? Future Leaders – African Independent Researchers (FLAIR) Fellowships applications are open!
The Royal Society

Opportunity: Communications consultant, Accra, Ghana

Opportunity: Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Strategist, Accra, Ghana


Introducing the 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals
World Bank

Global and local land use and the planetary boundaries

Banana21: From Gene Discovery to Deregulated Golden Bananas
Frontiers in Plant Science

Genetically engineered bananas resistant to Xanthomonas wilt disease and nematodes
Wiley Online Library