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July 19th, 2017 /

A week ago, the United Nations celebrated its annual World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, including the issue of food security and sustainability. For the occasion, IFPRI posted a brief report based on featuring an analysis generated by its International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) tool – which helps researchers model the effects of rising population on the global demand for food and on regional dietary changes. IFPRI’s tool maps out population vis-á-vis food demand, factoring in such issues as socioeconomic change, current trends in agriculture, changing temperature and precipitation patterns, and so on. The post points out that “according to the UN, nine countries will account for half of the world’s population growth during this period [up to 2050], with two in South Asia: India and Pakistan, and five in Africa south of the Sahara: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, and United Republic of Tanzania.”

Nigeria has the world’s fastest-growing population, says the report, and will become the third largest country shortly before 2050. “As rising incomes improve access to food for more and more people, current trends in agriculture will present challenges for meeting this demand sustainably. For instance, changing temperature and precipitation patterns along with increased weather variability will likely slow regional growth in food production. There is also limited scope for expansion of crop and pastureland, continuing competition for productive resources, and growing water scarcity,” it says.

A story from the CIP International Potato Center tells a story about Indonesian scientist Erna Abidin’s fascination with and love of the sweet potato – a passion that led her to become a researcher investigating Ugandan sweet potato varieties and using that information to contribute to sweet potato breeding efforts, then later working in Malawi to promote Vitamin A fortified orange-fleshed sweet potato. “We need to acknowledge the local knowledge to help us reach our goals,” Erna says. “They already know about sweet potato. When we work to improve upon what they know, it becomes easier for them to adopt a new way.”

Meanwhile a piece in environmental magazine Ensia discusses some of the ways in which African farmers are responding to climate change — and what we can learn from them. Among the methods explored by the author are alternative animal feed, climate-friendly grasses and the use of fodder trees. These offer farmers resilience, “leading to benefits such as more productive livestock and new business opportunities — all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building healthy soils,” says the post. “As unpredictable weather and natural disasters hamper food security across the globe, innovation will be paramount for the world’s food producers, from smallholder farmers to industrial operations.”

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who writes of Uganda’s urgent need to pass its biosafety bill as a step towards easing its food security issues. “Uganda’s agricultural production issues could be the worst in the region due to recently arrived incurable crop diseases and climate change,” he writes. “Besides cassava, maize, and cotton production constraints, Uganda, whose population heavily depends on banana as a food crop, is faced with the banana bacterial disease which has nearly halved the crop’s production and significantly raised food prices. Uganda can hardly afford to take such food insecurity issues lightly given its rapidly growing population, declining soil fertility, frequent droughts, and high refugee influx,” he concludes. We also hear from Lominda Afedraru, who writes in Uganda’s Daily Monitor about what rice farmers must do to gain good yields, the lucrative practice of cultivating quail eggs, and best practices in passion fruit cultivation.

As ever, please send questions, comments and story links to [email protected] and visit  for further reading and useful resources. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation.


World Population Day 2017: IFPRI models impact of population growth on demand for food

Extreme botany: How far should we go to save a plant species?
Christian Science Monitor

Historic seed samples can now be used to breed drought-tolerant & pest-resistant plants
Biodiversity International

Is ‘Food Evolution’ propaganda? No! Just an accessible presentation of a tough topic
University of California, Berkeley

Genetically modified food is too advanced for its out-of-date regulations
The Hill

GM mustard: The crop meets the interest of farmers, consumers

Lessons from GM crops: Agritech will not take root without better communication

After Green Revolution, time for Gene Revolution says agripreneur Dr. Vasanth Kumar Thimakapura
Star of Mysore

How ‘pollinator entrepreneurs’ helped stave off ‘beepocalypse’
Genetic Literacy Project

Genetically modified pink pineapples a hit on Instagram

Chinese venture partners FG to boost mechanised agriculture
Tribune Online

India: ASG advises Centre to clarify law over cotton seed prices
Business Standard

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—the roles of livestock

USDA to publish draft of GMO labeling rule this fall
Food Navigator

Report: Modifying Bananas: From Transgenics to Organics?
MDPI Sustain

European Commission authorizes five GM products for food/feed use

6000 farmers cultivating Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh
Financial Express

JIC scientists biofortify wheat to produce flour with more iron

Bt cotton falling to pest, Maharashtra tensed
Times of India

In a bind: How policy divide between forestry and farming can result in poverty and hunger

Do you know how long does it take to develop a new variety? Check it out
European Seed Association


Sweet potato: a love story
CIP International Potato Center

How some African farmers are responding to climate change — and what we can learn from them

Biotech crops help African countries
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Interview: South-South cooperation critical in boosting Africa’s agricultural production

Africa needs better farm policy—not better farmers
Food Tank

Kanimba calls on Africa to renew efforts to protect its agric sector
New Times Rwanda

FAO: failed rainy season worsening hunger in East Africa
National Accord Newspaper

Inside how donors are hurting Africa
Southern African News

The G20’s missed opportunity in Africa
International Policy Digest

FAO urges policy shift to end hunger in Horn of Africa

Communiqué on the food and nutrition situation in Sahel (June-August)
Relief Web

After food security, let’s go for nutritional balance

Discovering the true G20 Africa Partnership Conference storyline

Aquaculture to play significant role in Africa’s food security – NEPAD
PM News Nigeria

Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank agree to mobilize $2 billion in three years
New Business Ethiopia

World Vision East Africa: Hunger Response Situation Report No. 7 (6 July 2017)
Relief Web

Experts blame food shortage in Africa on soil nutrient depletion
News Ghana

Bringing smallholders & farming startups into the fold


Massive incentive for cocoa farmers to cut down old trees

Ghana set to promote agricultural production through science
Ghana News Agency


Kenya hosts forum to promote youth participation in agriculture

Solar-powered cold storage & biological pest control help protect Kenya’s mangoes from climate change
Thomson Reuters

State targets cassava as maize production falls


FAO predicts vibrant agriculture sector


‘Grow some yam’, Nigerian minister advises critics of govt export policy

Nigerian University develops new maize varieties for farmers

Adulterated farm inputs threaten Nigeria’s food security drive
Nigeria Today

At Feed Nigeria Summit, stakeholders chart path to agric revival

Expert calls for commitment to transformation of agriculture sector
Daily Trust

IITA research eases fears over yam supplies as Nigeria kicks off export
National Accord Newspaper

South Africa

Southern Africa’s Marshall Plan to stop voracious crop worm
IPS News

Agro-enterprises to benefit from new innovation centre


Cultivation of biotech crops on increase despite challenges
Business Week

What rice farmers must do to gain good yields
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

How to get a great passion yield
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Farmer finds gold mine in quail eggs
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Opportunities and resources

2016 Global Hunger Index website

Call for abstracts: African vegetables: from plot to plate, deadline 30 August 2017

Webinar: Research for Development: How Three Innovation Labs Are Driving Impact, July 25, 9:30-11am

Online Discussion Forum: Engaging African Youth in Agribusiness in a Changing Climate
Climate and Agriculture Network for Africa

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Agriculture Webinar, 20 July

Course: Making higher edu boost food security, 30 Oct-17 Nov, Netherlands

Course: Building agribusiness relations for sustainable profit 13-24 Nov, Nigeria

GAAAP Module III: Trade and Partnerships Development, 8-9 Aug, Accra, Ghana

Call for applications: Advanced bioinformatics training workshop, 4-13 Oct

Nutrition-Sensitive Intervention (NSI) Selection Tool helps practitioners of agriculture and nutrition to identify and select nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions.