In the news...

August 2nd, 2017 /

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) scientist and wheat breeder Matthew Reynolds published an opinion piece in Science this week, exhorting scientists to adopt a ”more internationally oriented and integrated approach to leverage technology, expertise and infrastructure with greater efficiency and purpose,” according to a press release published by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The proposed solution: the development of a new global crop alliance that would allow globally coordinated research and data sharing, with the goal of accelerating global food security efforts. The so-called Global Crop Improvement Network (GCIN) would encompass information on “most staple food crops, providing access to well-controlled ‘field laboratories,’ while harmonizing research practices and sharing data,” says the summary of the Science article. “Combined with socioeconomic and cropping systems research, a GCIN could revolutionize the ability to understand and model crop responses to environments globally and accelerate adoption of vital technologies.” To read the full report, visit Science.

This week also saw the sad death of B.R. Barwale, 1998 World Food Prize winner and known as the father of the Indian seeds industry, credited with the production of affordable and higher-quality seed varieties – including okra, sorghum, pearl millet, cotton, sunflower, pulses and oilseeds – boosting production and improving the country’s food security.

Turning to Africa, an article in the New York Times addressed the “looming crisis” in Africa of loss of soil fertility, and how dwindling arable land is driving conflict and hunger. Also still making headlines is the armyworm invasion – including new outbreaks in Ethiopia and Kenya, news that a WEMA-developed Bt maize variety in Nigeria protects the crop from the worm, a plea from Ghana’s environment and scence minister encouraging local scientists to intensify their research, Uganda’s importation of prowling insects to kill the armyworms, and a pledge from a newly graduated plant breeder from the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) in Ghana to develop a scientific method to fight the pest.

From the B4FA Fellows, Michael Ssali writes from Uganda about the importance of financing for smallholder farmers, while Lominda Afedraru writes about using fertilisers for higher yields and best practices of soybean farmers.

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


Agricultural scientists urge new global crop alliance to secure future food supply

Improving global integration of crop research (pdf)

India’s B.R. Barwale passes sway

GM plant-derived omega-3 successfully cultivated on commercial scale

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

Crop breeders sprout plan to boost public sector research

These stunning golden bananas may make you feel differently about GMOs

Rice, papaya, oranges — 3 GMO versions of conventional crops tweaked for humanity’s benefit
Genetic Literacy Project

How the climate crisis could become a food crisis overnight
Washington Post

Annual Report 2016 Bioversity International
Biodiversity International

Interview with Prof Sir David Baulcombe of Cambridge University on new Cambridge Centre for Crop Science
Cambridge Independent

Protecting the world’s seeds: Are we doing enough to ensure genetic diversity?
Genetic Literacy Project

Genebanks, the world’s insurance policy against hunger
CI Potato

Resistance to CRISPR gene drives may arise easily
Science News

Davis biotech firm Marrone Bio makes first product shipments to Africa
Sacramento Bee

Scientists create new pesticide-free tomato varieties
The Connexion

What biotechnology issues resonate with students?

Better communication is essential to the future of agriculture…and the planet
Huffington Post

Buzzworthy: A new blog series on edible insects, agricultural development and food security

Philippines – Mission: Establish thousands of resilient agricultural communities

Web portal established to speed up genetic research in plants

Study finds plants reprogram their genetic material to fight pathogens


Loss of fertile land fuels ‘looming crisis’ across Africa
New York Times

African biosafety regulators embrace biosafety communication at ABBC 2017

SADC countries urged to promote understanding of biosafety issues

African biosafety agencies move to bridge GMO communication gap

Multifunctional agriculture: At last, a solution and ‘Plan B’ for Africa
SciTech Connect

Finding new leaders to boost Africa’s sustainable development
Africa Times

AfDB to invest $24b in agriculture in next 10 years
World Stage Group

Agriculture, access to electricity, entrepreneurship will create jobs in Africa
African Brains


Eiar fighting a new invasive worm

Climate change to push Ethiopian coffee farming uphill


Agric supervisor preicts successful farming season


WACCI graduates Plant Breeding graduates
Ghana News Agency

WACCI plant breeders to fight armyworms

Environment minister encourages local scientists to innovate solutions for fighting fall army worm

University of Ghana: UG awarded £5.4m with partner universities to tackle global issues

Financial institutions urged to increase agriculture financing

African leaders urged to embrace science in agriculture
Ghana News Agency


Rabbit urine cuts pesticide and fertiliser costs

Here is a better way to attain food security
Daily Nation

Armyworm re-emerges in Kenya’s breadbasket

Farmer turns to short season maize to escape lethal necrosis disease
FarmBiz Africa


The Season of Rewards: Photo essay showing crop biodiversity in the context of life and food in Southern Africa
Crop Trust


Mangochi farmers drilled in pigeon peas treatment

Improved breeds to boost poultry production in Nigeria


How WEMA project can protect maize from army worms
Tribune Online

Kano State produces 60% of Nigerian seed

We invested $130m on farmers – Biteye, Rockefeller Foundation boss
Nigeria Today

Dangote goes into dairy darming to ensure food security, cut importation cost, create jobs


World Food Programme embarks on new strategic plan in Tanzania


Best practices soybean farmers can adopt today
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Using fertilisers for higher yields
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Farmers must access loans
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Gov’t imports predators to kill fall armyworm
Daily Monitor

President says subsistence farming has stifled national realisation of agricultural potential
Media Centre

Farmer to champion value addition in coffee
Daily Monitor

Biotechnology praised at the biggest agri expo in Uganda

Opportunities and resources

Are you an innovator in your field? Apply to become a TED2018 Fellow! Closing date: 10 September

Call for applications: Support to research institutions and organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation)

3rd International Whitefly Symposium, Fremantle, Western Australia, 16- 21 September 2018

Advanced Bioinformatics Training Workshop 2017 call for applications. 4-13 October 2017, Nairobi, Kenya Closing date: 20 August