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Improving yams with genomics

January 31st, 2018 / BMC Biology

Human diet depends mainly on crops and a large number of species have been independently domesticated from wild relatives across the globe. In terms of quantity of the production however, a small number of crops currently dominate the world share, such as maize, wheat and rice. Accordingly the research efforts …

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 …

Uganda: farmers should embrace technology

January 30th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
We came to learn about a month ago that President Museveni had referred the Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill back to parliament for further debate. He was reportedly concerned about some issues that according to him were not well clarified in the bill.
His refusal to sign …

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 …

Bill Gates at Edinburgh University to help fund GM crop research

January 26th, 2018 / The National, UK

Scientists at a Scottish University are being given £90 million in UK Government funding for their cutting-edge research into developing genetically modified crops that are more nutritious and flood and drought resistant.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates will visit the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus today where he will announce $40m …

Farming is not a bed of roses

January 26th, 2018 / Daily Monitor

B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali writes
Nobody should deceive you that farming is a bed of roses and that it always leads to riches. Like all other occupations, there are big challenges that farmers face in form of risks and uncertainties.
Anybody planning to go into farming must be determined to work hard …

Scientists peek inside the ‘black box’ of soil microbes to learn their secrets

January 26th, 2018 / The Sale

A tablespoon of soil contains billions of microscopic organisms. Life on Earth, especially the growing of food, depends on these microbes, but scientists don’t even have names for most of them, much less a description.
That’s changing, slowly, thanks to researchers like Noah Fierer, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Fierer …

Opinion: Africa should follow in South Africa’s ‘food steps’ and embrace genetic modification

January 25th, 2018 / Huffington Post, South Africa

While there was also an outbreak of the fall armyworm in South Africa, farmers experienced minimal crop damage as genetically modified crops proved far more resistant.
More than 80 percent of South Africa’s maize production is now genetically modified, which is why the country managed to harvest its biggest crop in …

Rwanda makes progress on continental agricultural plan

January 24th, 2018 / New Times, Rwanda

Rwanda got the highest score, on Agricultural Transformation in Africa, and emerged 2017 Best performing country in implementing the seven commitments of the June 2014 Malabo Declaration.
The country scored 6.1 out of 10 when the 3.94 benchmark was set as the minimum score for a country to be on track …