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How investment in irrigation is paying off for Ethiopia’s economy

January 18th, 2019 / MENAFN

After rapid economic growth averaging 10% every year between 2004 and 2014, Ethiopia has emerged as an engine of development in Africa. 

And there are no signs that ambitions for further growth are fading. This is clear from the government’s blueprint to achieve middle-income status – or gross national income of …

Wild coffee species threatened by climate change and deforestation

January 18th, 2019 / Nature, UK

Most of the world’s wild coffee species have a high chance of going extinct in the next several decades due to more frequent and lengthy droughts, loss of forests and the spread of deadly pests, according to a study1 published on 16 January in Science Advances. 

The findings signal a potential threat to …

Bigger data, smaller farms: the role of big data in sustainable intensification

January 18th, 2019 / Foodtank

Farming, like any business, has a bottom line. At the end of the season, a farmer has to be able to account for the farm’s costs, subtract from the revenue, and determine whether or not the farm is profitable. Due to the number of variables involved in farming, however, calculating …

Why South Africa and Sudan lead the continent in GMO crops

January 17th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Why are South Africa and Sudan ahead of every other country on the continent when it comes to biotech? The answer is simple. The nations realized early on that they needed to embrace new technologies to develop faster maturing and better yielding disease-resistant and drought-tolerant crop varieties to counter a …

New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

January 17th, 2019

The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised. It requires huge cuts in red meat-eating in western countries and radical changes across the world.

The “planetary health diet” was created by an international commissionseeking to draw up …

At least 60% of wild coffee species face extinction triggered by climate change and disease

January 17th, 2019 / Independent, UK

Two decades of research have revealed that 60 per cent of the world’s coffeespecies face extinction due to the combined threats of deforestation, disease and climate change.

The wild strain of arabica, the most widely consumed coffee on the planet, is among those now recognised as endangered, raising concerns about its long-term survival.

These results are worrying …

As Nigeria makes final move to commercialise Bt cowpea

January 16th, 2019 / Leadership, Nigeria

After nine years of intensive trials of the Bacillus thuringiences (Bt) cowpea (beans), Nigeria finally begins the final processes towards the commercialisation of the crop with a public presentation to get input from scientists, farmers, policy makers, civil society organisations, experts, faith-based organisations and the media.

The public presentation by …

Fixing the nitrogen problem

January 16th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

In this video by Robert Hazen of the Alliance for Science, scientists from the Engineering Nitrogen Symbiosis for Africa (ENSA) project discuss how they are using genetic engineering to transfer the nitrogen-fixing capabilities of legumes (peas and beans) into cereal crops. Their work could help small-holder farmers in Africa and elsewhere realize higher yields, …

Scientists using CRISPR-based technology to target agricultural pests

January 15th, 2019 / European Scientist

A new paper published on 8 January in Nature Communications describes a ‘precision-guided sterile insect technique’ that can effectively alter insect genes to control female viability and male fertility. The method could potentially be used to suppress increasing pest populations that threaten agricultural crops and to prevent the transmission of deadly diseases. The controllable, …

Young Ugandan biotech advocates push back against scare tactics

January 15th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project

Jonan Twinamatsiko, a recent graduate of biotechnology from Makerere University in Uganda, belongs to a group of young people facing rising unemployment. A Uganda youth survey published by Aga Khan University in 2016 shows 80 percent of Ugandans are under age 35, and 52 percent of that group is unemployed. Jonan had …