In the news...

October 25th, 2017 /

The theme of World Food Day 2017 focused on addressing migration through investing in food security and rural development. At the global ceremony the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters HH Pope Francis called for governments around the world to collaborate to make migration a safer and voluntary choice, arguing that assuring food security for all requires tackling climate change and ending conflicts. The World Bank hosted a special event highlighting young people who are finding profit and purpose in agriculture – including Brian Ndyaguma, an entrepreneur who grows greens to supply his café in Uganda. Together, these farmers made the case for agriculture that is more open to young people and women, accessible to all, unafraid of being different, and is in harmony with the environment and used their experiences to show that everyone can contribute to building a food system that can feed everyone, everywhere and build a satisfying and profitable career while doing it.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina expanded on that (opposite), highlighting how Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people to agriculture and agribusiness. “We must get youths into agriculture and see it as a profitable business venture not a sign of lacking ambition”, he said, emphasizing how the sector can potentially create wealth and employment for African youth, thereby stemming migration. He went on “Africa sits on 65 per cent of the uncultivated arable land left in the world, so what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world African farmers need more than a helping hand. They need a policy lift,” Adesina said, and called for land tax for unused agricultural land or underutilised agricultural land to provide incentives for faster commercialisation of agriculture and unlocking the sector’s potential in Africa.

In bioscience news, we hear that of agricultural research institutions in Africa currently carrying out research into “orphan crops” to improve yields and control disease,. These crops have often been ignored but they contain essential minerals and vitamins and are widely consumed by rural African people.

From the University of California, Berkeley we learn that scientists there and at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a key region within the Cas9 protein that governs how accurately CRISPR-Cas9 homes in on a target DNA sequence, and have tweaked it to produce a hyper-accurate gene editor. This should help scientists customize variants of Cas9 – the protein that binds and cuts DNA – to minimize the chance that CRISPR-Cas9 will edit DNA in the wrong place.

The debate on genetic modification is never far away. This week, there’s news of it intensifying in Ghana over whether biotechnology applications are safe for food production as the country prepares for its first commercial release of a genetically engineered crop, BT cowpea, in 2018. From Nigeria, there’s news that The National Agriculture Seed Council (NASC) has begun sensitisation of Nigerian seed companies in preparation for the commercialisation of genetically modified Bt cowpea and cotton by 2018. And from Uganda, we have B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali’s thoughts on the new biotechnology law and two further contributions.

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World Food Day: Young farmers inspire optimism for our ‘Future Harvest’

World Food Day: Ways to address conflict-driven migration

World Food Day Ceremony

New, hyper-accurate CRISPR gene editor developed
Genetic Literacy Project

An endangered, wind-resilient bean, en route to Svalbard seed bank along with wheat, barley, potato, millet, sorghum
Crop Trust

World Food Day 2017: investing in food security and rural development

World hunger is increasing thanks to wars and climate change
The Conversation

Food insecurity and forced displacement of people – where do we draw the line?

Profile of an Indian GM farmer: high-tech seeds on a traditional farm
The Odd Pantry

GM crops not the answer to UK Food Security but advanced gene editing could make a major contribution

Slow pace of GMOs in Europe

Bipartisan group of 79 congressmen urge EPA, FDA to streamline agricultural biotech regulations
Genetic Literacy Project

In glyphosate review, WHO Cancer Agency edited out ‘non-carcinogenic’ findings
US News & World Report

Australia: GM crops: Farmers fight for access while importers benefit from foreign crops
Weekly Times Now

Rebooting subsistence agriculture in rural areas
World Policy

Utilization of GMO crops could double Bolivia’s corn yields
Genetic Literacy Project

Amazonian farmers discovered secret to wild rice domestication 4,000 years ago

Golden Rice to lead the way in producing healthier rice varieties

Found: Gene to help hybrid wheat breeding

ITIF, independent scientists call on US Interior Secretary to reverse policy against GM seeds

Preventing waste, a recipe for food security

5 Ways USAID Is Helping to End World Hunger

Rural women at the centre of development
World Food Project

Strengthening support for biotechnology in Philippines
Business Mirror

Video: IFIC Foundation on “Food Evolution”
Food Insight

World Food Day: AfDB urges African leaders to make agriculture attractive to young Africans and stem migration
Modern Ghana

World Food Prize Laureate says recognition motivates him to accelerate Africa’s agricultural transformation

As armyworms strike, the GMO debate continues
NewTimes, Rwanda

Closing UN’s ‘Africa Week,’ Assembly President says continent’s vision getting close to reality

Can index insurance make African farmers climate-resilient?

Urgent action needed to address Africa’s soil health issues, say experts
Business Day Online

Urban diets and nutrition: trends, challenges, and opportunities for policy action
CNBC Africa

AfDB to invest $24bn in agriculture – Adesina
PM News Nigeria

African agriculture needs modernisation to save $110bn by 2025 – Adesina
The News Nigeria

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

World Food Day 2017 – Change the future of migration. invest in food security and rural development

Africa holds key to feeding 9 billion people by 2050, says AfDB Chief

Why does Africa go hungry?

Report: Agriculture can power transformation of African economies

The traditional vegetable and sweet potato research revolutionising food and nutrition security in Africa

Geospatial tech could boost Africa’s agricultural sector

Interview: Tech transfer key to China-Africa agricultural cooperation: FAO official
Xinhua Net

The largest gathering of African entrepreneurs

AGCO starts course to develop skills for African agricultural prosperity
African Farming

The future of farming in Africa is not agriculture but agribusiness
Quartz Africa

Hunger in Africa, land of plenty
IPS News

Talking policy: Akinwumi Adesina on investing in Africa
World Policy

EAC states tasked with ensuring food security
Sunday Vision

Africa’s agricultural transformation
Africa Outlook

GMO debate intensifies as Ghana prepares for first crop release in 2018
Genetic Literacy Project

A recent ruling by the EU Court of Justice on GM maize vindicates Ghana’s policy position on the technology

Let’s increase taxes to fund research – Manso Adubia MP advocates

Ghana to cut down on food imports as warehouse project starts

11 million Ugandans eat unacceptable food

Kenyan GMO task force to oversee commercial rollout of Bt insect-resistant cotton
Genetic Literacy Project

Innovation for climate-smart agriculture key to ending hunger in Kenya
Huffington Post

As drought makes harvests uncertain, farmers mull a seed change

Woman who grew up in drought-stricken region returns to feed starving kids

Poor cereal harvest expected this year due to failed rains, says food agency

As Africa’s need for food grows, Mali’s rice turnaround shows a way forward
Thomson Reuters

Namibia must tackle food security challenges

NGO seeks clarifications on GMOs

Nigeria prepares for commercialisation of BT cowpea, cotton

Agency raises alarm over two emerging cassava diseases

World Food Day: Nigeria far from achieving food security

World Food Day in Uganda: Scaling down food migration welcome
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Thoughts on the biotechnology law
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Kasozi’s pumpkin wine a great deal
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Biotechnology a key part of Uganda’s food security strategy

New cassava varieties give hope to farmers
Daily Monitor

Panic as caterpillars destroy farms
Daily Monitor

Opportunities and resources
Webinar: Can small-scale irrigation empower women?
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 1:30pm GMT

Advanced course: Breeding small grain cereal crops in a climate change scenario
Zaragoza, Spain. 19-23 Feb 2018

Report: Risk Assessment of GM Crops on Aquatic Environments: From Idea to Implementation
Journal of Ecology and Toxicology

Report: Agriculture in Africa : Telling Myths from Facts

Report: Down to Earth: Agriculture and Poverty in Africa
World Bank

Job op: Malabo Montpellier Panel recruiting Research Associate, London
Deadline 29 October 2017

Job op: Regional Director, Africa (HarvestPlus)