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Salt-tolerant plants eyed as crops of the future

August 20th, 2015 / CBC News, Canada

A team of scientists is searching for solutions to what they describe as a fast-approaching agricultural crisis. Their neatly plotted rows of naturally salt-tolerant plants, known as halophytes, could be a part of the answer. The scientists from the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation are also trying other approaches: tweaking genes …

Kenya: GM maize will double yields

August 20th, 2015 / Daily Nation, Kenya

Genetically modified maize will double productivity while reducing costs of fertiliser by eliminating the infestation of the stem borer. Scientists from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation say the water efficient BT maize has the potential to yield 3.7 tonnes of per hectare. See …

Disturbing contrasts in African agriculture

August 20th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali reports: In the preface to Africa Development Report 2014, Kofi Annan, wrote: “The unacceptable reality is that too many African farmers still use methods handed down from generation to generation, working their lands or grazing their animals much as their ancestors have done for millennia. Africa …

Can organic farming sustainably feed the developing world?

August 19th, 2015 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

A recent new paper published in the journal Sustainable Agriculture Research examines results from six experiments comparing organic and conventional farming methods. The long-term experiments showed an increase in soil health, productivity, water quality and economic benefits for farmers when they employed organic systems. “These results suggest that organic …

Gene therapy for a changing climate

August 19th, 2015 / Can we feed the world?

Supporting smallholder farmers to better adapt to climate change and build their resilience to a variety of risks – weather-related or not – can be done in a variety of ways. For example, better access to finance can enable farmers to invest more in their farms; better training can …

Kofi Annan promotes health-giving orange flesh sweet potato

August 18th, 2015 / YouTube.com

Noah Nash, B4FA Fellow from Ghana, reports: Former UN Secretary General, Dr. Kofi Annan has advised children and pregnant women to consume more sweet potatoes to get the nutrients they need – especially from the orange ones. See …

Power to the people – especially youth

August 17th, 2015 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

Lominda Afedraru, B4FA Fellow, reports: Conditions in the Ugandan energy sector are conducive to the use of renewable resources and steps have been taken to encourage greater efficiency of energy consumption. The programme which is aimed at Promoting use of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency supports the Ugandan Ministry …

Spectroscopy analysis of soil to help farmers

August 17th, 2015 / African Farming, UK

Soil testing before planting helps farmers to decide the quantity and quality of fertilisers they should apply, thus reducing the risks of crop failure and financial loss. The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has developed a new, faster, low-cost laboratory-based soil analysis technique. Developed by the African Soil Information Service …

Genetic sprays that don’t modify a plant’s genome might bring benefits with less controversy

August 17th, 2015 / MIT Technology Review

The cells of plants and animals carry their instructions in the form of DNA. To make a protein, the sequence of genetic letters in each gene gets copied into matching strands of RNA, which then float out of the nucleus to guide the protein-making machinery of the cell. RNA …

Zambia launches widespread sales of Vitamin A maize

August 14th, 2015 / Harvest Plus

Zambia reached a major milestone yesterday by officially launching commercial sales of vitamin A maize. It marks the first time that this orange maize variety, first introduced in select provinces three years ago, will be widely available to consumers across the country to purchase. Maize, the predominant staple food …