In the news...

October 18th, 2017 /

This week has seen the publication of the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) which charts progress in reducing hunger around the world. Advances have been uneven, with millions still experiencing chronic hunger and many places suffering acute food crises. According to the 2017 GHI, of the 119 countries assessed, in one, hunger is rated as extremely alarming (Yemen); seven as alarming, all of which are in Africa (Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Liberia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Zambia); 44 as serious; and 24 as moderate. Only 43 countries globally are rated as having low hunger. In addition, nine of the 13 countries that lack sufficient data for calculating 2017 GHI scores still raise significant concern, including Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia remain the two regions struggling with most hunger.

The message of the 2017 Global Hunger Index Is reinforced in an article by Elwyn Grainger-Jones is Executive Director, CGIAR System Organization in which she highlights that, after a prolonged decline, world hunger is on the rise again, with some 815 million people acutely or chronically undernourished in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015, and that “food insecurity is a contributor in what has now become one of the world’s most vexing problems – that of forced migration”. She is convinced, however, that this can be changed, if “we rigorously engage with local scientists and research partners, who know best the conditions where deprivations are greatest, and on what emphasis should be placed. Simultaneous transformations in genomics, big data, communications, markets and understanding of nutrition can be harnessed to benefit the people who most need them”.

In bioscience news, we learn that, according to a new study by an international team of scientists including Rajeev Varshney, research director at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India, and coordinator of the Pearl Millet Genome Sequencing Consortium, the key to breeding heat- and drought-tolerant rice, maize and wheat may lie in the ‘waxy biosynthesis’ genes of a related cereal, the pearl millet. This is grown in arid and semi-arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and nourishes more than 90 million people. And there’s also news of a Dutch-Chinese project to unravel the DNA of the world’s largest lettuce collection at the Netherlands’ Wageningen University & Research, with all the information collected by the researchers being eventually made globally available.

We also follow up on last week’s news of the passing of a new Biosafety Law in Uganda. First we hear from Mark Lynas, writing with Joan Conrow in Cornell University’s Alliance for Science, who welcomes the change saying “… with the passage of the long-delayed Biosafety law, small farmers can be more closely involved in the development of improved varieties of staple crops, which will no longer have to be grown exclusively behind high fences and locked gates far away from their intended beneficiaries”. Then, B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya reports on Arthur Makara, the Executive Director of the Science Foundation for Livelihoods and Development (Scifode), saying the enactment of the law will empower farmers with new and safer tools to fight ravaging pests. And in our featured article, B4FA Fellow Lominda Afredraru discusses the implications for farmers and other stakeholders.

As we have previously mentioned, the current funding of B4FA is coming to an end, and we are urgently searching for future support. This is now imminent, so if you feel that this weekly newsletter, our Tweets and website ( are useful and that you could help, please contact us at [email protected] as soon as possible for further details. We hope to hear from you.

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Global Hunger Index 2017 released
Global Hunger Index

The 2017 Global Hunger Index now live! See how the countries ranked.

Global Hunger Index 2017: Famine threatening 4 countries casts shadow over global hunger progress
ABC News

Chinese ag scientist receives Norman Borlaug award
Delta Farm Press

ICRISAT scientists use double-defense biotech approach to produce aflatoxin-free peanuts

Pearl millet genes hold key to climate-proof cereals

DNA of the world’s largest collection of lettuce to be unravelled
Wageningen University

Drought tolerant maize provides extra 9 months of food for farming families

More evidence parasitic Varroa destructor mite poses most serious threat to bee health
GeneticLiteracy Project

Making science communication a mainstream activity – Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan

World Food Day: fixing the food system to solve our greatest challenges
Inter Press

Bananapocalypse: The race to save the world’s most popular fruit
Washington Post

CGIAR wants to build a big data platform and innovate with startups to help smallholder farmers

Four-step instructions for Golden Rice adoption

Genetically improving nutritional value of corn could benefit millions

Food security needs more from GM crops

Regulatory status of gene-edited agricultural products in the EU

Non-browning biotech apples will be available in the U.S. soon

Rural areas have potential to feed and employ ‘younger, more crowded planet’
UN News Centre

Innovations for global food security: CGIAR Annual Report

Conventional agriculture holds multiple ecological advantages over organic, analysis shows
Genetic Literacy Project

Viewpoint: GMO debate needs more innovation, not scientific consensus
Genetic Literacy Project

Biotechnology part of the solution to Africa’s food insecurity, scientists say
Inter Press

Funding and cross-sector cooperation needed to combat East Africa’s growing hunger crisis
ReliefWeb  via @reliefweb

UN chief stresses importance of resolving conflict to prevent famine in Africa

AfDB President, 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, participates in Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium

Implement Maputo Declaration, women farmers to African Leaders
The Whistler

Fall armyworm arrives in Africa on the heels of climate change
Sierra Magazine

Agriculture can power the economic transformation of African countries
Joy Online

Agriculture can drive African growth under right policy reforms
Business Day

A home-grown solution to Africa’s woes
Daily Nation

Army worm threatens African grain trade
New Vision

Only modernised commercial farms will fill Africa’s plate, economists warn
The Guardian

Rural employment, innovative financing and agricultural development to accelerate sustainable growth in Africa

For sustainable growth of the agriculture sector, Africa must invest in agricultural censuses

Create rural jobs for youths to stem flight to cities, says UN

African farmers may soon be adopting Philippines knowledge, expertise in rice production
Manila Bulletin

Ethiopia on right path to Bt cotton commercialization
Ethiopia Herald

Ghana aims to regain top spot in cocoa production

In Ghana’s cocoa industry, a strong push to make farms ‘climate-smart’

Kenya launches task force to facilitate commercialization of GM cotton

Drought puts millions of Kenyans at risk of starvation
Daily Nation

No rain? No problem for these Malawi farmers and their new, improved seeds

Nigeria bio-safety chief defends GMOs
Premium Times

Genetically Modified Organisms are improvements on conventional crops

Stakeholders brainstorm over adoption of GMOs
Nigrian Tribune

Nigerian seed companies gear up for GM seed, by B4FA Fellow Alex Abutu
Scientific Nigerian

Government to phase out importation of seeds
New Times

Armyworms destroy crops in Eastern Sudan

Uganda’s Biotechnology Law: the implications on farmers and others, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru
Daily Monitor

Mixed farming keeps Mayiga picking money, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor

Conference on science, technology, & innovation in African ag offers hope for Uganda, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor

Uganda biotech law opens door to disease-resistant GMO crops
Alliance for Science

What next after passing of the biosafety law? by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya

Biosafety law a red card to pests, says pro-biotech campaigner, by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya

Farmer adds value to coffee, earns more
Daily Monitor

Zimbabwe: Climate change a threat to food security
The Herald

Opportunities and resources
Join the GFAR webinar on “Webcasting & Webstreaming”
17 October 1500 CET

USDA still accepting Applications for 2018 Borlaug Fellowships. Deadline: 5 Nov

Invitation to the High Level Ministerial Dialogue and Flagship Launch of Post-Harvest Losses and Agro-Processing, 21 and 22 November 2017

Report: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition: The Role of Public-Private Partnerships