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Malawi’s toxic harvest: the problem with aflatoxins

October 16th, 2015 / SciDevNet

Floods followed by drought have led to a 30 per cent reduction in Malawi’s maize harvest and left the country facing its most severe food crisis for over ten years. On top of this, much of the harvest will be contaminated with aflatoxins, fungi-produced toxins that contaminate groundnut, maize, sorghum and …

Africa’s youth and abundant arable land are a potential winning combination

October 15th, 2015 / The Conversation

Africa’s agricultural sector has the lowest productivity in the world, contributing to food insecurity and malnutrition on the continent. But sub-Saharan Africa has two abundant resources: its youth and agricultural land. With the youngest population globally and the largest share of the world’s arable land, Africa stands to benefit greatly …

Rice: Nigeria needs Brazilian model

October 15th, 2015 / Vanguard

As Nigeria is set to stop importation of rice from 2017, the federal government has revealed it is interested in how to increase productivity and yield of smallholder farmers using the Brazilian co-operative model and technological advancements. Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Sonny Echono …

Local start-ups hold the key to transforming Africa’s seed industry

October 15th, 2015 / The Conversation

The seed industry in sub-Saharan Africa is informal. Approximately 80% of farmers save and replant seeds, offering security of access. But improved varieties – including high-yielding and hybrid crops – will increase productivity and income. To get these seeds into the hands of farmers, a better marketing and distribution system …

As a coffee producer, Uganda can’t ignore climate change

October 14th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali

Masaka is one of Uganda’s most important coffee producing districts, and farmers there are worried that the rain shortage will compromise the crop quality of the entire November/December harvest. Coffee accounts for up to a third of Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings, providing employment to over five million people. As coffee …

Uganda scientists, US university to breed improved sweet potato

October 14th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, by B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru

Sweet potato, the third most important food crop in East Africa, is threatened by pests and diseases, which are causing low yields. Agricultural scientists and the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Namulonge, Uganda, are teaming up with development partners to breed improved varieties of sweet potatoes resistant to …

Nigerian tech whiz Nasir Yammama on farming app Verdant and being an active farmer

October 13th, 2015 / AllAfrica

Nigerian tech wiz Nasir Yammama’s agronomy mobile phone service Verdant is helping 500,000 farmers from pre-planting period – with information about weather conditions, improved seedlings, inputs and best practices – all the way to selling farm produce. The Daily Trust interviews him about Verdant, his foray into active farming, and …

Could pigeon pea be a life-changer for Malawi’s drought-stricken farmers?

October 13th, 2015 / AllAfrica

The pigeon pea, a high protein pulse, has proven resistant to El Niño’s disastrous effects in Malawi. The FAO has estimated that cereal harvests have decreased by up to 27% compared to last year, and UN’s WFP recently announced that 2.8 million people in Malawi will face hunger in coming …

Delivering sustainable development goals in Africa

October 13th, 2015 / International Policy Digest

In September 2015, world leaders unanimously adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs) during the 70th UN General Assembly, signalling a united, mutually collective front against hunger, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, disease, climate change, low agricultural productivity, degraded ecosystems and social inequity, among the notable challenges particularly facing Africa. What are some …

How EU countries opting out of GMOs affect the rest of the world

October 12th, 2015 / Science 2.0

For the EU countries that are opting out of GM, not much changes in terms of current farming practice, and the decision has no real cost to their citizens. It does; however, deny many EU farmers potentially valuable options in the future, particularly as the science of genetic engineering advances. …