In the news...

Bio tech crops help African countries

July 18th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes:
It was reported in this column last month that maize, cassava, and cotton farmers in North Eastern Tanzania, had appealed to senior government officials to give them Genetically Modified (GM) crops to plant in order to avoid persistent crop failure.
This followed vain attempts made for years …

East African scientists turn to gene sequencing against Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD)

July 13th, 2017 / African Marketplace, CNN

Cassava has no defense against a tiny insect that is decimating crops across East Africa, with dire economic and humanitarian consequences.
The whitefly carries two viruses that together destroy over $1 billion worth of cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa each year. Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) is the more established threat and does …

Studying a cassava mosaic disease in order to prevent starvation

July 7th, 2017 / NC State University

Catherine Doyle, a graduate student in NC State’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, is doing field work related to a research effort aimed at tackling a disease that threatens the livelihood of people through sub-Saharan Africa. During the three-week field survey, she will work with scientists from Tanzania’s Mikocheni …

New cassava varieties to ease hunger pangs in Kenya and beyond

July 5th, 2017 / MediaMax

New cassava varieties that should help alleviate Kenya’s food crisis are on the way.
Researchers say the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa Plus (VIRCA Plus) varieties, which are disease-resistant and nutritionally enhanced, are expected to improve the livelihoods and health status of Kenyans and elsewhere Africa. The planting materials may be …

Why did Tanzanian farmers demand growing GM crops?

June 19th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali reports:
An online weekly newsletter, Crop Biotech Update, reported on June 6, 2017, that farmers in Mwanza Province, North Eastern Tanzania urged their government to hasten delivery of GM crops which they said would save them from crop failure.
The maize, cassava, and cotton farmers whose crop has …

Biofortification: is it the next ‘Green Revolution’ for more nutritious food?

June 5th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Projects, US

The Green Revolution that began in the 1940s and 50s brought about large increases in crop yields and saved millions of people from mass famine. Yet malnutrition remains widely prevalent around the globe. And, while many people eat enough calories, many do not get enough nutrients.
Now, plant breeders and biotechnologists …

Cassava is genetically decaying, putting staple crop at risk

May 3rd, 2017 / Phys.org

For breeders of cassava, a staple food for hundreds of millions in the tropics, producing improved varieties has been getting harder over time. A team at Cornell used genomic analysis of cassava varieties and wild relatives to make a diagnosis: Mutations have corroded the genome, producing many dysfunctional versions of …

Kenya launch drought-tolerant crop varieties to boost food security

April 28th, 2017 / Coastweek.com

Kenya’s ministry of agriculture on Tuesday launched several drought resistant and high yielding crop varieties to be deployed in 21 arid and semi arid counties where hunger and malnutrition is rampant.
Principal Secretary for Livestock, Andrew Tuimur said the drought tolerant crops including beans, green grams, cassava and grain amaranth will …

Zambia’s women contribute to cassava growing boom

April 18th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

Born in a small town of Mufulira, on the Copper Belt province of Zambia in 1960, Winnie Nachivula, is making a mark in the cassava production in Zambia which currently stands at over 1 million metric tonnes per year, making it the most important crop grown in Zambia after maize.
Cassava …

How ‘human bees’, biotechnologists and Gates Foundation are rescuing the African cassava staple

April 14th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

In the developed world, most people eat the root vegetable cassava only in tapioca pudding or bubble tea. But in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s the primary staple for half a billion people and is the continent’s most popular crop. It has gained prominence due to its tolerance to extreme weather conditions, …