In the news...

September 1st, 2017 / B4FA

In a week when we have seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and beyond, climate change is also a theme in articles concerned with agriculture in Africa. A new study published in the Proceedings of the (United States) National Academy of Sciences has quantified the amount of carbon taken from the soil by farming, finding that agriculture has removed some 133 billion tonnes of carbon from the top two meters of the Earth’s soil over the last two centuries – and the rate is increasing. This suggests that agriculture has contributed nearly as much to climate change as deforestation.

A piece from the Genetic Literacy Project asks whether ‘carbon farming’ can sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Estimates of the ‘technical potential’ of agricultural soils to absorb carbon range from 3–8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year for 20 to 30 years, enough to close the gap between what is achievable with emissions reductions and what is necessary to stabilize the planet’s climate. If boosting soil organic matter used to be just a good way to farm, building soil carbon now looks like a key to planetary survival.

An article in BizCommunity reports on three novel ways in which African farmers are using adaptive strategies to thrive in the face of a changing climate. The first looks at how some farmers are seeding pastures with Brachiariagrass, some varieties of which can survive harsh conditions while helping to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production. Then there are the pastoralists in northern Kenya who are increasingly using a multi-urea nutrient block feed supplement for livestock as a coping mechanism when wild forage is in short supply. And lastly, the article reports on the planting of fast-growing trees that provide food for dairy cows and goats.

From elsewhere in Africa, we learn of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) calling for African countries to develop harmonised regional agricultural policies that promote investment in key resilient infrastructure to boost regional trade in agro-products. Then the former President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo Nwanze, writes that Africa’s future will not be built on a foundation of extractive industries but rather that Africa’s economic growth will come from unlocking and fully tapping into the potential of smallholder farmers who make up 70% of Africa’s population. And our featured story from SciDev.net, reports on a study by scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United States on how delays in approving the use of genetically modified (GM) crops are contributing to malnutrition and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We also hear from two Ugandan B4FA Fellows. Lominda Afedraru writes about 33 year-old Joseph Sande who quit his teaching career to concentrate on passion fruit farming, which has catapulted him into being one of the successful farmers in Uganda – and along the way he has inspired some local young people to follow his example. Michael Ssali reports on how the Ugandan National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) is working with its 198 member associations and cooperatives or one million small holder farmers to establish its own coffee processing plant near Kampala where coffee is graded, roasted, ground, blended and packaged before it is marketed as a patriotic product.

As ever, please send questions, comments and story links to [email protected] and visit B4FA.org  for further reading and useful resources. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation.

Global
Agriculture has contributed nearly as much to climate change as deforestation by intensifying global warming
All Africa

Can ‘carbon farming’ sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Genetic Literacy Project

Why trace pesticides found on food are not dangerous
Genetic Literacy Project

There are many ways that crops are modified – some have been used for centuries, others are more recent
Medium

Can epigenetics change the way we breed crops for drought and climate change?
Genetic Literacy Project

Viewpoint: Farmers not trapped into annually buying patented GMO seeds
Genetic Literacy Project

Seed treatments may hurt soil fauna, help weeds say researchers
American Agriculturalist

Crop scientist Kevin Folta: how to engage science deniers and anti-GMO activists
Genetic Literacy Project

Pesticide-spiked punch lures mosquitoes to their doom
Science

Pan-Africa
How some African farmers are responding to climate change and what we can learn from them
Bizcommunity

Seeds, not diamonds, will make Africa great
News Day

Technological development, key to African transformation
Leadership

Delays in approving the use of GM crops is contributing to malnutrition and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa
SciDev.net

Scientists working on transgenic vegetatively propagated crops in Africa acknowledge need to simplify terminologies for public communication
ISAAA

Rural transformation, cereals and youth in Africa: What role for international agricultural research?
Outlook on Agriculture

Growing inclusive economies and jobs through agriculture
CTA

What sub-Sahara can learn from India’s ‘Green revolution’: the good and the bad
The Conversation

Enhancing commercial cassava production
The Nation

Scientists make breakthrough in fight against cassava diseases
All Africa

African women want greater land ownership rights
News24

Increasing odds of success through characterising value chain actors
Newsday

Africa should harmonise agro-policies
Zambia Daily Mail

New tool separates wheat from chaff for climate-smart agricultural finance
All Africa

The African Union nutrition champion calls for increased investment in the nutrition sector across the continent
Relief Web

FAO: African governments should promote soil management to boost food productivity and economic growth
Zambia Daily Mail

Top 3 takeaways from the Global Hunger Index: Africa edition
Devex.com

Agricultural agencies need more resources to fight Armyworm say scientists
My Joy

UN Environment supports private sector partnerships for SDG implementation in Africa
IISD

Thabo Mbeki says African countries must shift economic focus to rural areas to achieve an inclusive economy
Eyewitness News

FAO: African farmers require high-yielding rice varieties to increase productivity
Graphic Online

CNN Marketplace Africa exploring the sustainable future of farming in Africa
BizCommunity

Vocational and technical education is essential for development
African Independent

G20 commits to Africa Partnership to recognise the opportunities and challenges as well as the goals of the 2030 Agenda
New Times

Ethiopia
Ethiopia: agrochemical business industry – needs to be tapped safely
All Africa

Ghana
Peanut processing facility brought to Ghana by international partners
African Business Review

United States and Ghana promote seed sector development
African Brains

Kenya
Newly elected government poised to open door to GMOs in Kenya
Genetic Literacy Project

Nigeria
CFIL, IITA and Tony Elumelu Foundation to launch first reality TV show on agriculture in Nigeria
Ecofin Agency

Strong value chain to boost rice production in Nigeria
This Day

Catholic medical professionals in Nigeria want GM crops regulated
Crux

Civil society groups reject IITA’s plan to grow genetically-modified cassava
New Times

Osinbajo: Nigeria will exit recession through agriculture
This Day

Rwanda
Our focus is market-oriented agriculture, says Mukeshimana
New Times

South Africa
Farming exports up 6% – exports of fruit, beverages, spirits and vegetables boost the agricultural sector trade balance
Business Day

South Africa: poultry industry execs seek solution to bird flu
All Africa

Subsistence and small-scale farming is key to sustainable development and a key source of livelihoods for most rural communities
Daily Maverick

South Africa reports eight new cases of bird flu H5N8 to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
All Africa

Tanzania
About 2,500 households to benefit from beekeeping project
All Africa

Tanzania aims to achieve a sustained agricultural growth of 5% pa, primarily by moving from subsistence to commercial agriculture
All Africa

Uganda
Growing coffee as economic patriotism
From B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali, Daily Monitor

As inventory of public land vanishes – the first signs of a land crisis are here
All Africa

Uganda poultry ban, due to bird flus, lifted, but some restrictions remain
All Africa

He left teaching to grow passion fruits in Luwero
B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru, Daily Monitor

Zambia
Zambia must increase investment in R&D to enable the adoption of modern farming techniques to meet climatic challenges
Daily Mail

Zimbabwe
Innovation, technology critical for agricultural development
The Herald

How agricultural markets signal changes in consumption patterns
The Herald

Minister incensed as University of Zimbabwe academic exposes government ‘lies’ on GMOs
All Africa

Opportunities and resources
Engaging African youth in agribusiness in a changing climate
Webinar 30 August 2017, 1400 GMT +3:
CCAFS