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The rise and rise of African agri-tech

February 7th, 2018 / Disrupt Africa

Agriculture is big business in Africa. The sector employs 65 per cent of the continent’s labour force, and accounts for 32 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank.
Yet it is beset by problems. Africa’s population is growing – it is projected to reach two million …

Evidence patchy on value of mobile apps for farmers

February 6th, 2018 / SciDev.net

A review of research on how information services based on mobile phone technology can improve the lives of farmers has found only patchy evidence of success.
The review, which looked at 23 studies of such services in Africa, Asia and Latin America, found that although users often reported improvements, these were …

The future of farming

February 6th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali writes:
Land disputes are getting more frequent as population pressure on land builds up. The population is increasing at the same rate as the struggle for people to get farming space.
Chunks of natural forests and wetlands have been turned into farmlands. In the majority of cases …

Centre aims to bridge gaps in climate-smart agriculture

February 6th, 2018 / AllAfrica.com

Africa Center of Excellence for Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation (Climate SABC) hosted by Haromaya University is aiming to train efficient agricultural and climate change experts in Africa.
The Center financed by the World Bank came to be operational in 2017 and is currently teaching 51 students drawn from Ethiopia, …

Uganda: Improving breeds to enhance food production

February 5th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:
Breeding agricultural products for improvement is not a recent technology because scientists in the entire globe have been doing it over a long period of time mainly for purposes of improvement for the benefit of farmers and consumers.
This started with mankind domesticating crops and animals from …

Mozambique: battling to save the world’s bananas

February 1st, 2018 / BBC, UK

Could the banana, the world’s most exported fruit and the source of nutrients for millions of people, be at risk of extinction?
Visiting the Matanuska banana plantation is not easy these days. After a two-hour drive from the nearest city in northern Mozambique, visitors who make it to the farm are …

‘Wild’ genes open up opportunities for healthier, climate-smart rice

January 31st, 2018 / International Rice Research Institute

The genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties has finally been completed. This breakthrough is expected to provide opportunities for breeders worldwide in developing better rice varieties that will respond to the changing needs of the farmers and the consumers.
This discovery is outlined in the article Genomes of 13 domesticated …

Why the genome of wheat is so massive

January 30th, 2018 / The Economist, UK

It has over five times as much DNA as the human genome!
THE domestication of wheat and other staple crops in the Levant some 10,000 years ago allowed for persistent settlement above a level of mere subsistence—one possible definition of the beginning of civilisation. Early farmers grew naturally occurring hybrids of …

Global cassava coalition calls for support for cassava transformation in Africa

January 30th, 2018 / National Accord, Nigeria

Ahead of the international conference on cassava, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) has called on policy makers, donors and the international community to support all efforts that will bring about cassava transformation in Africa.
The call is coming at a time when cassava is becoming central to …

Community Network for African Vector-Borne Plant Viruses

January 30th, 2018 / CONNECTED, UK

CONNECTED is a Vector-borne Disease Network awarded to the University of Bristol, UK. It is funded by the UK government Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) which supports research on global issues affecting developing countries. The Network Director is Professor Gary Foster (University of Bristol) and the Co-Director is Professor Neil …