In the news...

July 5th, 2018

This week, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) launched the annual report on the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2017, which details recent data on the adoption of biotech crops, including their global impact, economic benefits and future prospects. According to the ISAAA, biotech crop land area increased in 2017 by 3 percent – equalling 4.7 million hectares – and 189.8 million hectares of biotech crops are now grown globally. It also notes that the total land area of biotech crops in developing countries surpasses that of industrial countries at 100.6 million hectares and 89.2 million hectares respectively. According to the ISAAA, developing countries now account for 53 percent of the global biotech area planted.

Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organziation (FAO) has launched a campaign to train more than 500,000 Sub-Saharan African farmers to manage Fall armyworm at farmer field schools. “We have developed tools and put measures into place to tackle Fall armyworm from training farmers and extension workers on how to apply local remedies such as collecting Fall armyworm larvae killed by naturally occurring pathogens, making a mixture of these pathogens and applying them on the infested crops to kill the pest, to equipping them with mobile apps so they can recognise their new foe faster, and get immediate advice on how to manage it,” says Bukar Tijani, assistant director-general and regional representative of FAO for Africa.

Last week, we reported on Nuru, an FAO app that helps African farmers identify Fall armyworm in the field. A complementary FAO app, the Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS), allows farmers and researchers to input data in Fall armyworm–infested fields, pinpointing exact locations of infestation. An artificial intelligence (AI) assistant will feed back advice in several languages. Meanwhile, data gathered will be analyzed to better understand how and where the Fall armyworm spreads.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who writes about the importance of the sweet potato to Uganda for food security and nutrition, and why the crop should be prioritized for biotech research against pests and diseases.

We welcome questions, comments and story links to [email protected]. Please also visit B4FA.org for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Headlines

ISAAA reports new record-high adoption of GM crops
ISAAA

Brief 53: Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2017
ISAAA

FAO to train 500,000 African farmers to manage Fall Armyworm
African Farming

AgBio news

Herbicides are under evolutionary threat. Can modern agriculture find a new way to fight back?
Scientific American

How sorghum’s drought-resistant genes could benefit other crops
AgriPulse

AgriLife scientists use gene knock in approach for broad disease resistance in food crops
ISAAA

Popular rice variety gets extra gene power to fight bacterial attacks
The Hindu Business Line

Biotech crop adoption leads to greater sustainability and socioeconomic opportunities for global farmers and citizens
Open PR

Gene discovery could make GMO poplar trees a renewable source of biofuels
Genetic Literacy Project

WACCI urges government to scale-up agricultural research investment
GhanaWeb

WACCI-AU $1 million research project launched
GhanaWeb

East Africa: EAC beefs up efforts against invasive weed – parthenium hysterophorus
AllAfrica

New tomato hybrid may cut harvest losses by 31 per cent
Farmbiz Africa

China GMO crop panel meeting raises approval hopes
Reuters

Canola extracts curb potato nematodes
Farmbiz Africa

Would Rachel Carson eat organic?
The Conversation

Best practice

Bringing farming back to nature
The New York Times

Rwanda launches agriculture program to enhance food security
XinHuaNet

Development

Preserve the sweet potato says B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Diversify sweet potato to entice youth to agriculture
SciDevNet

‘Super crops’ could revolutionise agriculture in Africa, expert claims
The Independent

MoBreed aims at harmonizing training among its founding partners on plant breeding and educating high profile breeders who can promote the underutilized crops in Africa
MoBreed

AfDB: low productivity at heart of rural poverty in Nigeria, others
The Nation

Tanzania: Chinese firm, local varsity in novel rice production initiative
AllAfrica

Fascinated by the advanced technology on farms in America, African farmers are demanding increased access to mechanized means of farming as the sure way to ensure food security
Joy Online

Tanzania to boost earnings from cotton exports
XinHuaNet

Op-Ed: Angola has the potential to become a major exporter, this is what it needs to do
CNBC Africa

Science-based policy making: reality or fake news?
Euractiv

Community knowledge greater than individual expertise
The Herald

Scientists gather In Ghana to advance research in Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH)
Modern Ghana

Nigeria: Federal Government seeks Chinese partnership on seeds research, agriculture machinery and training for youths and rural farmers
The Eagle Online

Ghana: Govt launches ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’
AllAfrica

Rwanda and Ethiopia: countries to watch in terms of development
Business Week

Energy and innovation

West Africa moves ahead with renewable energy despite unpredictable challenges
IPS News

Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending PLC (NIRSAL) to African countries: upscale cassava production
New Telegraph

Insuring against extreme weather events
CNBC Africa

Safaricom targets farmers in food security venture
Business Daily

Food security

International Food Security Assessment, 2018-2028
KTIC

Research and Policy Partnership to Reduce Child Malnutrition wins the 2018 World Food Prize
The World Food Prize

Kenya: Overlooked link in food security – food safety
Business Daily

Experts call for scale up of rainwater harvesting across Africa
New Times

Global survey of rice breeders to investigate characteristics and willingness to adopt alternative breeding methods
BMC

Transforming Africa’s agriculture through greenhouse farming: case study of Ghana
Modern Ghana

Pests and diseases

Agricultural product to control aflatoxin in crops launched
Modern Ghana

IITA holds training on techniques for weed management in cassava
The Guardian

Kenya: diseases pose threat to dairy farming gains
AllAfrica

From chicken to billy-billy, invasive pest brings hardship to Cameroon
ReliefWeb

Viewpoint: Neonicotinoid use on field crops should be reined in
Genetic Literacy Project

The GM debate

Organic or GMO maize? Ugandan bill would force many farmers to make fateful choice
Global Press Journal

Ethiopia progresses with GMO crops
Alliance for Science

Who is afraid of GMOs? Fear peddlers, says Margaret Karembu
Daily Nation

GIMODE: GMOs no panacea for food security needs
Daily Nation

Agricultural advances draw opposition that blunts innovation
Science

Labeling decreases opposition toward GMOs, study finds
Cornell Alliance for Science

How GMO crops can help Nigeria achieve food security
Genetic Literacy Project

Trust the facts on GMOs
Bloomberg

Opportunities

RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition 2018 now open.

World Vegetable Center seeks scientist to manage & strengthen its genebank in Arusha, Tanzania to conserve and enhance the use of the genetic resources of traditional vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa.

Conference: 3rd International Whitefly Symposium 2018: 16-20 September 2018, Perth, Western Australia

UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy call for applicants. Closing date: August 15, 2018
University of California

First of a monthly news update for members of the CONNECTED virus network now available
Connected

Resources

Resource: Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA)
PACA