In the news...

June 21st, 2017 /

In a development that should add interest to discussions about seed patents, plant breeders in Germany have developed open-source plant seeds, according to Science magazine. “The idea behind the open-source license is that scientists and breeders can experiment with seeds –and improve them – unimpeded by legal restrictions,” states the article. The license “says that you can use the seed in multiple ways but you are not allowed to put a plant variety protection or patent on this seed and all the successive developments of this seed,” says agricultural scientist Johannes Kotschi, who helped write the license last year. It remains to be seen how an open-source system will help or hamper innovation among commercial and university-based breeders.

Meanwhile, a report presenting evidence of the impact of agricultural research for rural development since 2010 on poverty reduction, improved nutrition and greater resilience in Africa, Asia and Latin America has been published by researchers at Tufts University. A summary article posted on the US government’s food security site Feed the Future lays out some of the findings, which include: agricultural research remains among the highest-return public investments; agricultural research has reduced poverty; agricultural research works even without other investments but makes them more attractive; agricultural research has improved nutrition; and research for resilience is more recent but finds some success.

Turning to Africa, an article in The Conversation addresses the seeming disconnect between food production and food security (“Science has the power to boost farming in Africa. But a lot has to change’). It calls for scientific research to be Africa-based, owned and led. It cites examples of ways in which science has led to dramatic increases in food production and more secure livelihoods for farmers in some African countries, but points to dependence on “external capacity” for its scientific research in agriculture. “This has undermined its capacity to use science to deliver solutions for problems unique to Africa,” says the article. “Investment will be key – and so will solidarity among African scientists and governments,” it adds.

From the B4FA Fellows, we hear from Michael Ssali, who asks “Why did Tanzanian farmers demand growing GM crops?” From Uganda, Lominda Afedraru contributes two pieces on best practices: “How to boost coffee  yields amid harsh weather conditions” and “Scientists’ tips on better banana yields

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.


Spatial database on rice for research and policy questions on food security

Report: Ag Research and Development in the 21st Century: Recent Evidence of Impacts on Poverty, Malnutrition and Resilience

German breeders develop ‘open-source’ plant seeds

Researchers identify gene against wheat streak mosaic virus

Handbook of the Science of Science Communication published by Oxford

Future of corn: Genetics could improve maize’s sustainability and productivity
Genetic Literacy Project

Prince Charles urges diversity in the crop world

Ecuador passes law allowing GMO crop research
Genetic Literacy Project

Talking Biotech: Toxicologist on flawed approach of IARC’s glyphosate evaluation
Genetic Literacy Project

Climate change, transgenic corn adoption and field-evolved resistance in corn earworm
Royal Society

Opinion: USA – Think this is biotech regulatory relief? Not yet

How the US wants removal of trade barriers that cannot be defended scientifically

The WHO’s cancer agency left in the dark over glyphosate evidence

GMO Answers launches improved consumer education website
PR Newswire

Overfed and underfed: Global food extremes

Can CRISPR gene editing revive promise of GMOs to provide hardier, more nutritious, better tasting crops?
Genetic Literacy Project

The enormous challenge of sustainably feeding an expanding population

Apple genome sequence published

Scientists discover that symbiotic fungi get carbon from plants in the form of fatty acids

Filipino crop scientists tackle ways to face climate change and globalization

Study shows rice first cultivated in China 10,000 years ago

Breakthrough research makes synthetic photosynthesis possible

CRISPR-Cas9-mediated deletion of a target gene in Indica rice

Forget GMOs. The next big battle is over genetically ‘edited’ foods
Washington Post

CRISPR: A new toolbox for better crops
Chemical & Engineering News


Science has the power to boost farming in Africa. But a lot has to change
The Conversation, Africa

Africa could help feed the world – if its fertile land doesn’t vanish

EU ministers pledge more efforts for Africa partnership

Agriculture, Africa’s link to global value chain
BusinessDay Online

Call for participation to e-Forum sustaining the impact of capacity development initiatives for African youth in agriculture
Young Professionals for Agricultural Development

Experts seek ways to consolidate West Africa’s food security
News Ghana

Pan-African bloc pledges continued partnership with WFP

New initiative to accelerate crop improvement for food security in Africa
Africa Biosciences

Food Security: Empowering young scientists in East Africa

Smallholder farmers: Climate change, food security and adaptation
Gulf Times

FACT FILE: Climate change, food security, and adaptation

Food security in Africa requires strong links between rural and urban areas
Malabo Montpelier Panel

There’s more to agriculture than handhoes: Rising opportunities for youth in African agrifood systems
World Bank

Jobs in East African Community said to be too few for the youth

Investing in women agri-entrepreneurs

Why reliable climate and weather data is key to Africa’s agricultural transformation
How We Made it in Africa  


Aflasafe products tested in Ghana for aflatoxin control in maize and groundnut

Agric experts laud ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ policy


Bad weather hurts coffee production


Chinese center launches support for farmers

55,000 farmers to receive agricultural inputs


Malawi testing GMO cotton
Daily Mail


Cotton farmers get improved seeds from RMRDC

Tomato farmers adopt different strategies for rain-fed cultivation

Striga – how to keep the killer weed off your farm

Jigawa perfects modalities to reactivate groundnut farming

How do Nigerian farmers understand climate change?

At 50, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) expands research investment
African Brains 

Taking agriculture to the next level in Nigeria
Biz Community


AfDB approves US$343,000 grant to enhance honey production in Rwanda
African Farming 

South Africa

Investing in youth in science key to transforming South Africa
African Brains


How to boost coffee  yields amid harsh weather conditions
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Scientists’ tips on better banana yields
by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Why farmers should be interested in beans
Daily Monitor 

How to practice climate smart farming with ease
Daily Monitor

When is the right time to plant sweet potatoes and how best?
Daily Monitor 


Why did Tanzanian farmers demand growing GM crops?
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali  

Opportunities and resources

e-Forum on ICTs and Open Data in Agriculture and Nutrition. 19 June to 14 July 2017

Borlaug Award for Research and Application, deadline 30 June

Call for applications: Workshop on reporting Africa-China engagements. Ethiopia, August 2017