In the news...

Pests and pathogens could cost agriculture billions

May 25th, 2017 / Reuters

The spread of pests and pathogens that damage plant life could cost global agriculture $540 billion a year, according to a report published on Thursday.
The report, released by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) at Kew in London, said that an increase in international trade and travel had left flora facing …

Can CRISPR feed the world?

May 22nd, 2017 / Phys.org

As the world’s population rises, scientists want to edit the genes of potatoes and wheat to help them fight plant diseases that cause famine.
By 2040, there will be 9 billion people in the world. “That’s like adding another China onto today’s global population,” said Professor Sophien Kamoun of the Sainsbury …

Rice plant engineered with a ‘tunable’ immune system could fight multiple diseases at once

May 22nd, 2017 / Science, US

Farmers are constantly spraying pesticides on their crops to combat an array of viral, bacterial, and fungal invaders. Scientists have been trying to get around these chemicals for years by genetically engineering hardy plants resilient to the array of diseases caused by microbial beasties. Most attempts so far confer protection …

Geneticists engineer a virus to fight citrus disease

May 19th, 2017 / The Scientist

Since 2005, Candidatus Liberibacter, a genus of bacteria that is spread by Asian citrus psyllids (Diaphorina citri) and turns fruit green and bitter, has been devastating orange crops in the United States. “There’s a real race on right now to try to save the citrus,” Carolyn Slupsky, a food scientist …

Nigeria: Armyworms invade maize farms

May 18th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

Farmers in Benue State are worried as army worms wreak havoc on newly cultivated maize farms across the state.
Similar incident is being experienced in some parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as farmers are recording isolated cases of armyworms attacks, which affected some farms particularly farms at the outskirt …

Action plan developed to tackle fall armyworm in Africa

May 16th, 2017 / SciDev.net

B4FA Fellow Samuel Hinneh reports: Research that explores the interaction between fall armyworm life patterns and insecticide spray timing is urgently needed to tackle the pest currently devastating maize in Africa, scientists say.
The fall armyworm, scientifically called Spodoptera frugiperda, is native to the Americas, and attacks maize and a variety …

Disastrous tomato pest, Tuta Absoluta, returns

May 16th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

Nigeria: The Gombe State Agricultural Development Project, ADP, says that the tomato pest, Tuta Absoluta, has seriously affected tomato harvests in three of the state’s 11 local government areas.
Tuta absoluta, a destructive tomato pest, ravaged many tomato farms across Nigeria in 2016 causing an astronomical increase in the market price …

Maize scientists vow to intensify research on armyworm invasion in Africa

May 3rd, 2017 / PAEPARD, Kenya

Nairobi. Scientists from the global maize research center vowed to intensify eradicate fall army worms that had invaded hundreds of farms in various regions across Africa. This two-day meeting was attended by 130 experts and stakeholders from African governments, international and national agricultural research organizations, non-governmental organizations, national plant protection …

Naturally transgenic sweet potato can be tweaked to fight plant disease, boost nutrition

May 1st, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Dr. Jan Kreuze, a plant virologist at the Center for Potato Improvement (CIP) in Lima, Peru is working on developing disease-resistant sweet potatoes that can fend off what he calls “the HIV of sweet potatoes.” His team was able to identify a protein that interferes with the sweet potatoes’ defense …

Microbes, new weapon against agricultural pests in Africa

April 26th, 2017 / IPS News, US

Microscopic soil organisms could be an environmentally friendly way to control crop pests and diseases and even protect agriculture against the impacts of climate change, a leading researcher says.
Africa is battling an outbreak of trans-boundary pests and diseases like the invasive South America fall armyworm (FAW), tomato leaf miner and …