In the news...

March 1st, 2017 / B4FA.org

At the top of the news is a UN warning of impending famine in four countries: South Sudan, Somalia, the northeastern part of Nigeria and Yemen – and famine has already been declared in two counties in South Sudan. “We are facing a tragedy; we must avoid it becoming a catastrophe,” says United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “This is preventable if the international community takes decisive action.” The UN is calling for funds for humanitarian aid as 5.1 million people in Nigeria, 5 million in South Sudan, 2.9 million in Somalia, and 7.3 million in Yemen face critical food shortages. Guterres says $4.4 billion is needed by the end of March, and more than $5.6 billion by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, an FAO food security report, launched at a regional conference in Sierra Leone last week, showed that 153 million Africans – one in four people above the age of 15 – suffered severe food insecurity in 2014 and 2015. The report (access it here) says that world wide 406 million people experienced food insecurity – 7.5 per cent of the world’s population above the age of 15. FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Bukar Tijani said of the report: “[T]his assessment underlines the significance of the challenge facing the region in meeting SDG Target 2.1 and the relevance of sustainable and substantial support to food security and nutrition policies and programmes in the region”.

In biotech stories, Professor Lucy Ogbadu, the Director General of Nigeria’s National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that farmers have a choice as to whether to adopt GM seeds. At a training event to teach staff of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) how to distinguish GM seeds from conventional ones, Ogbadu said: “You are not under compulsion to make use of GMOs. If a farmer feels GM seed is beneficial to him, he will go for it. You don’t need to preach to the farmers. Let the farmers decide which one is more beneficial.” Meanwhile at the same event, the Nigerian Agriculture Seed Council (NASC) highlighted the need to scale up funding for agricultural biotechnology in the country to fully domesticate the development of GM crops in Nigeria.

In Kenya, lawmakers have given the go-ahead to back commercialization of GM cotton, while the National Assembly’s Agriculture Committee is recommending the local production of GM crops in order to mitigate against perennial food shortages in the country. Chairman of the Agriculture Committee Noor Mohammed said: “This country has a lot of potential for food production, arid and semi arid lands for irrigation. We are not expanding land use and we must exhaust all this. We’ve got our issues in terms of policies but we shall not believe that GMOs are the only way for food safety”.

And from Uganda, we hear from B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali, who writes about the importance of teaching children how to farm by giving them hands-on experience, and about the effects of climate change on African agriculture.

Global

Gene catalogues aim to help crops survive climate change
Scientific American

Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading
Science Daily

Dr Raj Shah to lead Rockefeller Foundation: Implications for global food security
AgriPulse

Video: How to cultivate food security
Panel from the 2017 Food Tank Summit at George Washington University

Water supply: The emptying well
Nature

Asian agrobiotechnology slowed by private-public sector tensions and NGO activism
Genetic Literacy Project

EU: No patents on conventional plant breeding
HortiBiz

Indian farmers can benefit tremendously from planting GM crops, new book says
Genetic Literacy Project

Biotech indispensible to ensure Iran’s food security
Financial Tribune

Overexpression of wheat gene TaOEP16-2-5B enhances heat and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis
ISAAA

Potential and risks of recent developments in biotechnology
Royal Society

USPTO releases verdict on CRISPR patent
ISAAA

Climate-smart rice helps farmers face climate change
ISAAA

Australian OGTR approves field trial of GM potato
ISAAA

Helsinki & Cairo Universities collaborate to advance science; Cairo U improving drought tolerance in canola & wheat
ISAAA

Pan-Africa

Report: Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2016
FAO

UN – 20 million people on brink of famine
AllAfrica

Report: Hunger rife in sub-Saharan Africa
Africa Review

Food insecurity and poverty, a major challenge to meeting SDGs target 2.1m in sub-Saharan Africa
The Point

How European-based NGOs block crop biotechnology adoption in Africa
Genetic Literacy Project

African farmers to get quality seeds in new drive
AllAfrica

Poverty plus a poisonous plant blamed for paralysis in rural Africa
NPR

Scientists warn armyworm invasion to endanger East Africa’s food security
News Ghana

Mahama John Mahama’s keynote address at 2016 African Leadership Magazine Person of the Year Awards
Ghana Web

The right way to help Africa
AgWeb

As Lake Chad shrinks rapidly, space technology and drones are needed to fight Africa’s droughts
Quartz Africa

The new face of farming: youth making agribusiness ‘cool’!
Africa Renewal

Drought leads to sharp rise in food prices in East Africa
African Farming

Young African agricultural researchers come together to discuss the continent’s future
University of the Western Cape

Food security early warning system
Agromet Update Issue 04, via ReliefWeb

How African agricultural economies can balance opportunities, risks
NewsDay

AfDB to invest $24bn In 10-year agric transformation plan
Nigeria Today

Agriculture in Africa: Potential versus reality
How We Made It in Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo

14 improved crop varieties officially released in the Democratic Republic of Congo
AGRA

Ghana

Ghana launches food security project In March
Daily Guide Africa

Vice president targets youth In agriculture in education/entertainment project
Peace FM Online

Kenya

Kenyan lawmakers back commercialization of GMO cotton
News Ghana

Parliamentary team recommends local production of GMO crops
Citizen Digital

Kenya’s potential in agriculture lies in rural transformation
MEFAN

Nigeria

Farmers have choice whether to embrace Genetically Modified Organisms seeds in Nigeria
World Stage Group

NASC, NABDA train 20 scientists on detection of genetically modified seeds
Guardian

Agency seeks increased funding for the domestication of GMO
Guardian

30,000 farmers to produce soya beans in Kebbi
AllAfrica

South Africa

Operation Phakisa calls for transformation in rural economy
AllAfrica

KZN in control of fall army worm
AllAfrica

Uganda

How much farming do our schools teach?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

What are you doing about climate change?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Public learns about GMOs at ‘Harvest Money’ Expo in Uganda
ISAAA

Minister Tumwesigye seeks Brazil agricultural cooperation
New Vision