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Favourite banana may be doomed; can new varieties replace it?

January 25th, 2016 / The Salt, US

There’s a deadly fungus that attacks banana plants. In the past century, an earlier version of this fungus wiped out commercial plantings of a banana variety called Gros Michel that once dominated the global banana trade. Now history may be repeating itself. A new version of the fungus, called Tropical …

Inter-planting coffee and banana to cope with climate change

January 2nd, 2016 / IPS

Studies by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partner organizations show that a Ugandan farmer gets 50 per cent more income from inter cropping coffee and banana than from growing either crop alone. Conducted in over 30 districts of Uganda, the study showed that coffee yield remained the …

Africa closer to a cure for banana disease

December 15th, 2015 / Inter Press Service

Scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) headquartered in Ibadan, Nigeria in partnership with the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) in Uganda are close to a breakthrough after more than eight years researching solutions to BXW.In one Ugandan dialect, ‘kiwotoka’, describes the steamed look of banana plants affected …

Will banana crisis force more rational consideration of GMOs?

December 14th, 2015 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The new strain of Panama Disease, known as Tropical Race 4, has already spread from Southeast Asia across the rest of the continent, as well as to Africa, the Middle East and Australia. Whenever it makes what researchers say is an inevitable jump to Latin America, it will devastate commercial …

Squash pots and bad bananas

November 19th, 2015 / Huffington Post Green, US

A promising biotech solution (developed by Ugandan scientists for Ugandan farmers) involves the transfer of 2 genes from green peppers into the banana plant to give it resistance to wilt. It has had tremendous success in field trials but is running into opposition from anti-GMO activists who, not unlike Honeycutt, …

Banana extinction is on the horizon once more

October 19th, 2015 / Food World News

Until 1965, the Gros Michel banana cultivar was the world’s most popular, but it became commercially extinct because of the virulent Panama disease. Today’s most popular commercial banana, the Cavendish, was quickly adopted worldwide due to its immunity to Panama disease, but its lack of genetic diversity makes it vulnerable …

‘Know GMO’ documentary, filming in Africa, challenges anti-GM scare campaign

October 5th, 2015 / Genetic Literacy Project

Forthcoming documentary “Know GMO” aims to quiet the noisy debate around GMOs. Filmmakers were recently in Uganda to interview banana and cassava farmers, scientists and members of Parliament, those invested in seeking solutions to the diseases threatening staple plants in Africa. The film will focus on perspectives from scientists, policymakers …

Progress made in fight against banana bacterial wilt but …

September 2nd, 2015 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports: Banana is grown in nearly 130 countries around the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is the biggest banana producer followed by Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. However, the crop could be wiped out by a disease that is spreading across different countries in Africa. Banana …

Tanzanian farmer brings forest back to life

August 14th, 2015 / SciDev.net

The village of Nkoasenga in northern Tanzania is increasingly experiencing drought and soil degradation, which make it harder for local people to grow food and cash crops. Jonas Somi, a 65-year-old farmer from Nkoasenga, blames the village’s environmental problems on deforestation and is planting fast-growing Grevillea robusta to provide shade …

Anti-GMO groups block solution to threats to Uganda’s bananas

July 28th, 2015 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Uganda’s number one staple, banana, locally known as matooke has been under attack by a bacterial disease, banana xanthomonas wilt. Ugandan scientists have developed transgenic banana varieties that are 100% resistant to the wilt, but the GMO rescue is being blocked, at least for now, by anti-GMO activists.  Read …