In the news...

Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

February 1st, 2019 / New Scientist, UK

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially …

Reap big from mixing farming with forestry

January 31st, 2019 / Sunrise, Uganda

Agroforestry is the practice of growing trees and/or keeping livestock on the same field at the same time.

The trees could be grown purposely for timber production, shed, nutrients or medicine.  Trees could be planted on purely agricultural land or crops could be introduced to forested lands.

There are a number of …

How do organic pesticides compare to conventional pesticides?

January 31st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Many consumers choose to buy higher-priced organic produce because they believe organic foods are not grown using pesticides and therefore are healthier for humans and for the environment. However, organic farming can include any pesticides derived from natural sources. This distinction does not mean organic pesticides are necessarily less toxic than …

Food security feared as Kenya readies to start growing GMO cotton

January 31st, 2019 / Xinhua, China

At fresh produce markets across Kenya, citizens are shunning buying bigger tomatoes, mangoes, pawpaws or oranges for fear that they may be genetically modified.

The fear is extended to even poultry products where chickens that are too big are classified as genetically modified organisms by consumers and shunned therefore.

The misconception is …

Despite controversy, Nigeria ‘approves’ first genetically modified crop

January 30th, 2019 / Premium Times, Nigeria

The Nigerian government has approved for use its first genetically modified crop: the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea (popularly called beans).

This was after it had been genetically modified to resist the pest – Maruca Vitrata.

The cowpea, by this development, becomes the first genetically modified food crop to be approved in the …

Pesticides and food: It’s not a black or white issue

January 30th, 2019

Information about pesticides is ubiquitous online. Unfortunately, a balanced and nuanced discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of current pesticides is difficult to find. This series discusses the main concerns surrounding pesticides and illuminate the complexity and challenges involved in decision-making regarding current and future pesticide use.This series contains six …

Ssali combines journalism and farming

January 29th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

A profile of B4FA Fellow, farmer and journalist Michael Ssali

Daily Monitor’s long serving journalist, Michael J Ssali, 70, who also writes a weekly column, “Farmers Say” in the newspaper’s Seeds of Gold magazine is actually a practicing farmer.

“My first articles in the Daily Monitor way back in 1992 were mainly …

To predict droughts, don’t look at the skies. Look in the soil… from space

January 29th, 2019 / The Conversation

Scientists and governments alike have been looking for ways to measure drought in a way that relates more closely to its impacts. Any farmer or gardener can tell you that you don’t need much rain, but you do need it at the right time. This is where the soil becomes …

GM crops create “halo effect” that benefits organic farmers, says new research

January 28th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Mark Lynas writes:

Growing genetically modified insect-resistant corn in the United States has dramatically reduced insecticide use and created a “halo effect” that also benefits farmers raising non-GM and organic crops, new research shows.

This finding, published by University of Maryland researchers in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, effectively …

How to achieve high crop yields

January 28th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali writes:

The ideas in today’s sharing about how to achieve high crop yields are mainly drawn from the “Think Agronomy” newsletter published by the Kenyan-based Centre of Excellence for Crop Rotation. 

In a simple experiment last year it was possible to produce 11.84 tonnes of barley from one …