In the news...

October 4th, 2017 /

What would the world do without coffee? The 29th of September was International Coffee Day, during which people all over the world celebrated one of humanity’s favorite beverages. But over at the International Coffee Organization (ICO), coffee is taken extra seriously. During a meeting taking place from 29 September to 1 October in Côte d’Ivoire, dozens of coffee associations from around the world gathered to discuss the future of coffee, including its sustainability, its vulnerability to climate change, diseases and pests. Just last week, for example, The Guardian, UK reported that coffee yields in Tanzania have dropped 50% since 1960, due to climate change. To mark International Coffee Day, the Crop Trust posted a blog with information about coffee, including the fact that humans cultivate only two of 125 known coffee species – arabica and robusta – and of those, we are only using a few varieties. This genetic diversity, stored in gene banks, may help provide the tools needed to sustain the coffee industry, says the post.

A narrow gene pool also threatens our current supply of cacao, from which chocolate is made, reports a feature in the New York Times. This problem is being mitigated by a disease-resistant hybrid called C.A.T.I.E.-R6, developed in the 1980s, which yield three to six times more cacao than standard trees. However, more work needs to be done to ensure the survival of cacao in the world’s ever-changing conditions, relying on the genetic diversity of the 1,235 types of cacao trees stored at the International Cacao Collection at  the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (C.A.T.I.E.) in Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, there’s been a breakthrough on the Fall armyworm front as an international consortium of scientists decode its genome. A study published in Scientific Reports on 25 September 2017 offers possibilities for better understanding the invasive moth’s pesticide resistance, and may help researchers develop methods of biological control and a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in pesticide resistance. Two genomes of S. frugiperda were analysed, and the data has been made available to the international scientific community so that scientists can identify the variant of the moth currently invading Africa. This comes at the same time as news of a new species ofarmyworm descending on Tanzania, prompting a red-alert status from the FAO, and further news that the UN has commited to working with Tanzania to fight the pest.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Lominda Afedraru, who about how the scientific community in Uganda is encouraging farmers to adopt agricultural technologies to improve food production and best practices for attaining high cassava yields, and from Michael Ssali, who discusses the need for good storage practices among farmers to prevent food loss.

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Calling all coffee lovers: let’s save coffee together

A battle to save the world’s favorite treat: chocolate
New York Times

Scientists develop disease-resistant hybrid cacao clones that dramatically increase yields
Genetic Literacy Project

Creating ‘super wheat’: Genetic modification supercharges photosynthesis
Genetic Literacy Project

2017 World Food Prize Laureate will present Iowa State’s Borlaug Lecture
Iowa State University

5 lessons for policymakers to reduce malnutrition
Malabo Montpellier Panel

In pictures: Food in a fragile world

Can U.S.–China cooperation address public distrust and increase food security?
New Security Beat

Genetically modified wheat used to make coeliac-friendly bread
New Scientist

Many weed scientists reject summit with Monsanto to discuss mounting dicamba herbicide crisis
Genetic Literacy Project

Conference showcases big data for solving challenges in Africa

GMO that’s not all GMO: Monsanto’s rootworm-fighting corn seed uses RNA interference
Genetic Literacy Project

Climate change, food security and health: Why GMOs are vital for adaptation
Eurasia Review


Scientists decode the genome of Fall armyworm: a moth pest that is invading Africa
INRA Science and Impact

Africa called on to embrace plant genetic varieties to boost food security

West Africa Key Message Update: Probable improvement of the food security situation

Researcher wants African leaders to invest In agric research, development

Scientists call for tech transformation in how Africans undertake agricultural production to help food security

New mobile app diagnoses crop diseases in the field and alerts rural farmers
Penn State

Investing in horticulture requires a patient investor
Fresh Plaza

Boost for East African wheat production
Farmers Weekly

USAID, partners develop Atlas to aid West Africa
Business Ghana

Can solar powered irrigation change the farming landscape in Africa?
International Fertlizer Association

Can food help in the battle against climate change? An Insight on Paris-compliant healthy food systems
Food Security

New app diagnoses crop diseases in the field and alerts rural farmers


Ernest Aubee lectures on climate smart agriculture


OFAB Kenya recognises excellence in science journalism

Farming lovers to meet at ‘Seeds of Gold’ clinic


Liberian farmers encouraged to try organic farming


Local – not just commercial – crop seeds key to food security, Malawi admits


FG reviews AU Malabo Declaration on Agricultural Development
This Day Live

No hope for Nigeria without agriculture, says Obasanjo
The Nation

Govt reviews AU Malabo Declaration on Agricultural Development

Nigeria’s future depends on agriculture


Fresh university graduates to drive agric modernisation and food Security Efforts

South Africa

Premium Times report on presidency’s rice claim shortlisted for Africa Fact-checking Award
Sahara Reporters

Farmers speak out against new plant bills


FAO ‘Red’ Alert: New species of armyworm descends on Tanzania

Tanzania, UN ink $2 million pacts to fight armyworms

Visualizing gender in Tanzanian sugarcane production
Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Tanzania can become world food basket


Farmers asked to adopt agriculture technologies
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Ways to get high yields from cassava
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Farmers must observe good storage practices to prevent food loss
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Uganda likely to pass its Biotech Bill next week
Cornell Alliance for Science

GMO bill debate to resume Tuesday
New Vision

Opportunities and resources

[PDF] Report: Nutrition and food systems, FAO

Report: Diversifying Food Systems in the Pursuit of Sustainable Food Production and Healthy Diets Science Direct

“The Road out of Poverty” 2017 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, October 18-20, 2017, Des Moines, IA