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June 28th, 2017 / B4FA.org

Congratulations to African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, who has just won the prestigious World Food Prize in honour of his work to improve crop yields and incomes for farmers in Africa. Adesina grew up poor, the son of a Nigerian farm worker. He then earned graduate degrees in agricultural economics and worked to make seed, fertiliser and financing accessible to African farmers to enhance food and nutrition security and sustainable livelihoods.

Adesina says, “I believe that what Africa does with agriculture and how it does it is not only important for Africa but it’s important for how we’re going to feed the world by 2050 because 65 percent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world is in Africa,” he said. He also said, in a BBC interview: “You can find Coca-Cola or Pepsi anywhere in rural Africa, so why can’t you find seeds or why can you not find fertilisers? It is because the model that was used to distribute those farm inputs were old models based on government distribution systems, which are very, very inefficient. So I thought the best way to do that is to support rural entrepreneurs to have their own small shops to sell seeds and fertilisers to farmers”. These networks spread, bringing inputs to farmers and encouraging private sector involvement.

Meanwhile, a piece in Quartz Africa warns that the arabica coffee bean, native to Ethiopia, may be under threat due to rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall, according to new research published in Nature Plants this week (“Climate change could devastate the birthplace of the arabica coffee bean”). The article reports that 60% of Ethiopia’s coffee-growing areas may become unsuitable for coffee cultivation by the end of the century, affecting up to 15 million Ethiopian farmers – 15% of the country’s population. The study, undertaken by Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and scientists in Ethiopia, used modeling, simulations, and satellite imagery to project how climate change would affect coffee crops. “As Ethiopia is the main natural storehouse of genetic diversity for Arabica coffee, what happens in Ethiopia could have long-term impacts for coffee farming globally,” says senior botanical scientist at the University of Addis Ababa Sebsebe Demissew, one of the coauthors of the study.

In biotech news, researchers have found a way to improve nitrogen fixation in legumes involving antimicrobial proteins that evolved to manipulate certain bacteria to start the nitrogen fixation process. A team of researchers from Australia and India have also discovered traits in lentil genotypes that are tolerant to heat stress. Finally, the 2016 annual report on Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops (ISAAA Brief 52) has been launched in Cameroon and Malawi. According to the report, 2016 was the 19th year of commercialization of biotech crops in Africa, and a total of 13 African countries either planted, conducted trials or transitioned to granting approvals for general release of various biotech crops. Of these, of the 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops grown globally, South Africa and Sudan grew a total of 2.8 million hectares, says the report.

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Global

Adesina wins 2017 World Food Prize
ISAAA

Africa agriculture pioneer wins 2017 World Food Prize
BBC

Future of African youth lies in agriculture, not Europe: AfDB President
CNBC Africa

World Food Prize goes to African Development Bank president
News12 Westchester

GMO 20-year safety endorsement: 280 science institutions, more than 3,000 studies
Genetic Literacy Project

China approves import of GM crops from the U.S.
ISAAA

Research found way to improve nitrogen fixation in legumes
ISAAA

Student to boost Vitamin A content of chickpea
ISAAA

Heat tolerant lentils endure increasing global temperatures
ISAAA

GMO papaya saved an $11 million industry in Hawaii—and set off a political storm
Genetic Literacy Project

Are biotech crops safe to eat?
Business Mirror

Global Food Security Alert, June 21, 2017
Relief Web

Report: Plant Breeding Goes Microbial
Science Direct

The next farm bill: The future of international food aid and ag development in US
Paepard

Nina Fedoroff: USDA, FDA proposals intended to streamline biotech crop regulations don’t offer needed relief
Genetic Literacy Project

Environmental Defense Fund: Sustainable farming, feeding growing population require biotechnology
Genetic Literacy Project

After Svalbard: why safety of world seed vaults is crucial to future food security
Conversation, UK

EPA registers innovative tool to control corn rootworm
EPA

Why technologies could hook the youth to agriculture
SciDevNet

What role can agricultural extension and advisory services play in realizing gender equality and improved nutrition
FAO

GM crop approvals boost bioengineered foods market, says report
ISAAA

American Soybean Association: Biotech essential to feed 9.7B people in 2050
ISAAA

Researchers unlock the genetic secrets of plant cell walls
ISAAA

Pan-Africa

‘Food Evolution’ review: Film shows fear of GMOs in rich countries hurts African farmers
Genetic Literacy Project

African countries launch the Global Report on Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops
ISAAA

Agriculture to be placed as number one engine of economic growth in (EAC) integration process
AllAfrica

Technical solutions for food security in Africa
TechnoServe

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

FACT FILE: Climate change, food security, and adaptation
IRIN

Is Southern Africa facing a food security disaster?
ReliefWeb

Crop failure and conflict affecting food security in Africa
Farmers Weekly

Journalists, farmer group & industry tackle African agriculture and how ag journalists can help farmers succeed
Corn and Soybean Digest

African Union Commission to extend role in developing African agriculture
African Farming

New project to accelerate use of innovations for increased agricultural productivity in Africa
Africa BioSciences

Africa still hesitant to adapt agro biotech
AllAfrica

The NEPAD Nutrition Map provides a snapshot of Africa’s nutrition context as at the end of 2016
Ibrahim Mayaki

Stakeholders discuss rollout of science agenda for African agriculture
New Times Rwanda

Biotechnology could spur Africa’s industrialisation
Southern African News

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

This new disease could devastate our wildlife. Watch the Tories do nothing
George Monbiot, Guardian UK

Agricultural research and development funding opportunities
Paepard

Ethiopia

Climate change could devastate the birthplace of the arabica coffee bean
Quartz Africa

Coffee under threat: Will it taste worse as the planet warms?
BBC

Ghana

Improved seeds, the answer to Africa’s food security needs – Ghana’s agric minister
News Ghana

Finance minister launches $50m fund for West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement
Graphic

Kenya

Paying the price for rejecting scientific answer to food crisis
Daily Nation

House now seeks controlled trial of genetically modified maize
Daily Nation

Drought gives rise to green projects
AllAfrica

Grow pulses to boost earnings, farmers urged
AllAfrica

Nigeria

Nigerian govt may adopt agric youth initiative developed by IITA
AllAfrica

Nigeria projects N2.98 billion to check armyworm invasion
AllAfrica

FAO conducts emergency seed distributions in north-east Nigeria
African Farming

Rwanda

Agricultural show focuses on technologies
AllAfrica

South Africa

South Africa’s largest maize crop in history
Brand South Africa

Tanzania

Irish-potato growers in Tanzania stand to benefit from new Irish potato development centre in Mbeya
AllAfrica

Opportunities and resources

Call for entries: Best sweet potato scientific paper, deadline July 30