In the news...

March 8th, 2018 /

Today is International Women’s Day, themed “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” – putting a focus on rural women, who are typically forgotten and left out the development conversation, even though they represent more than a quarter of the world’s population. An infographic on rural women and girls released by the United Nations states that the share of women working in agriculture is 60 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, while less than 13 per cent of agricultural landholders globally are women. “Agriculture remains the most important employment sector for women in developing countries and rural areas,” states the sheet, “a sector that largely falls within the informal economy with little or no social protection and labour rights.”

As women around the world and of all walks of life speak up for gender equality, the ISAAA is drawing attention to the role women play in biotech in agriculture, highlighting a study it conducted in China, India and the Philippines focusing on the women who play a significant role in biotech crop farming. “In China, there has been a growing feminisation in cotton farming… Based on focus group discussions, the reduction in pesticide use and less labour requirement of planting GM crops benefited women,” says the ISAAA of the study. “In the Philippines, women take charge of managerial tasks such as budgeting farm expenses, deciding on inputs, and hiring labourers to work on the farm. These indicate that women who are engaged in biotech crop farming experience transformation because of the value they provide to their family farm operations and the benefits that they get from the technology.”

Meanwhile, President of the African Development BankAkinwumi Adesina stated in an op-ed published on 7 March for the occasion, “women are the backbone of Africa’s economies. They are primary producers and processors of food in Africa’s agriculture and rural economies. More than half of economically active women in Africa earn their livelihoods in agriculture, and they account for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses. Yet, they constitute a meagre 15 per cent of land use rights and just 1 per cent of land ownership. They receive only 5 per cent of agriculture extension services and less than 10 per cent of available financial credit. This state of affairs cannot and should not continue. For reasons of human rights, justice and equity, as well as financial common sense, the African Development Bank advocates for policies that encourage women to work, set up businesses and participate in market development as consumers, producers and entrepreneurs. Significant economic potential is wasted when women are deprived of such opportunities”.

We are pleased to be able to feature the voice of an African woman farmer, as the Daily Monitor this week published an opinion piece (“GMOs: Give farmers a chance to speak out”) by Ugandan farmer Emma Naluyima, who writes on her stance on biotech crops, calling for farmers’ voices to be heard in her country’s GM policy debate. “While farmers remain an important stakeholder category to benefit or lose from GMOs, their voices in these debates are seldom heard. [B]ecause actual farmers are too busy on their farms to be part of these debates, armchair farmers and NGOs claiming to represent farmers have jumped on this activism,” writes Naluyima, who farms livestock, fish and vegetables using both traditional and modern technologies. “As a farmer, all I look for in any given technology, is whether it can solve current challenges I am facing or suiting the needs of the market I am targeting,” she says. “If a GMO has a certain characteristic that can solve a challenge on my farm, I will gladly embrace it.”

We will look for more stories emerging this week covering women in agriculture, and bring them to you the following week.

As ever, we welcome questions, comments and story links to[email protected]. Please also visit for further reading and useful resources – and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with daily news and join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!


A long way still to achieving gender equality: International Women’s Day – Adesina

Women play vital role in biotech, study

Fulfilling the promise of Global Goals depends on empowering rural women & girls as they play key roles in achieving them
UN Women

Learn the Facts: Rural Women and Girls
UN Women

Achieving zero hunger in Africa by 2025: taking stock of progress

AgBio news

Durum wheat pre-breeding for food security
Crop Wild Relatives

CRISPR gene editing technology and the future of Nigeria’s biotechnology industry

Australia, New Zealand decision on Golden Rice sets tone for GM food approval
Business Mirror

Transgenerational CRISPR-Cas9 induces multiplex gene editing in wheat

Study shows how plants use ‘baits’ to trap pathogens

Scientists discover secret of how to triple number of sorghum grains

How we can save coffee scientifically, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Modified switchgrass has no negative effect on soils

Philippines: UPLABS holds annual National Biotechnology Summit 2018

Best practice

This month on Agrilinks: Food safety into focus

Planting season is here, have you tested your soil yet?
Daily Monitor

A soil science and water engineering expert wants the government to include irrigation farming and the creation of dams be in the flagship programme
Joy Online

Irrigation under best practices creates a dual cropping lifeline in Northern Ghana


The world needs to live up to promises made on biodiversity. Here’s how

A vast crypt was built to protect humans from the apocalypse. But doomsday might already be here

Australian seed stock safe for posterity in Norway

Climate change

Misery for farmers as coffee trees wilt, by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya
Sunrise, by B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya

Day Zero on the back of drought in Southern Africa: Lessons for the future

Index insurance trialled in sub-Saharan Africa as part of climate change fight

Zimbabwe crop prediction has to be cut in half
African Independent


Coffee’s future in dilemma

Youth-led research highlights key challenges facing young people developing and adopting agricultural technology
Pan African Visions

Research highlights agricultural technology challenges in Africa
BizNis Africa

“Everyone deserves an opportunity to live a productive, healthy life, and that starts with nutritious and enjoyable food.” – Vicki Wilde, Senior Program Officer at the Gates Foundation
Food Tank

Can aid engineer economic prosperity?
Down to Earth

When a head of state teaches farming, by B4FA Fellow Michael J. Ssali
Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael J. Ssali

It’s not all mud & manure – how to get youth back into agriculture

Nigerian businessman gives farmers ready market
FarmBiz Africa

Energy and innovation

Aerial remote sensing technologies offer radically new perspectives on maize field trials

Data can help to end malnutrition across Africa

How hacking the farm can fix a broken food system
HTXT Africa

Innovative soil scanner supports young Kenyan agropreneurs

App uses AI to offer smallholder farmers free crop-damage diagnosis

Food security

Towards a food-secure Africa: experts urge empowerment of smallholder farmers
Africa Renewal Online

The determinants of crop yields in Uganda: what is the role of climatic and non-climatic factors?
BioMed Central

Ethiopia Food Security Alert: March 01, 2018

Rwanda, Mali lead Africa in fight against hunger
This Day

State talks food security but agriculture cash low
The Star

Pests and diseases

How controlling Xanthomonas wilt of banana, better known as BXW, has been made easier by the unexpected behaviour of its causal agent

We must prevent another fall armyworm catastrophe
New Times

Hope for farmers battling armyworm
Daily Nation

Fall armyworm: USDA research lends a hand in international pest outbreak

A tiny beetle and its deadly fungus is threatening South Africa’s trees
The Conversation


Ghana’s civil society organizations call for revision of Plant Breeders Bill
Modern Ghana

The GM debate

GMOs: Give farmers a chance to speak out
Daily Monitor

The environmentalist case in favor of GMO food

Bill Gates calls GMOs ‘perfectly healthy’ — and scientists say he’s right
Business Insider

Russian sites promote anti-GMO articles, study finds
The Scientist

How Russia tried to turn America against GMOs and agricultural biotechnology and sow ideological discord
Genetic Literacy Project


International Master in Plant Breeding, XXII Edition

(September 2018 – June 2020) Instituto Agronómico Mediterráneo de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain CIHEAM


REPORT: Toward nitrogen-fixing plants