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Cowpea protected from a devastating pest, free for smallholder farmers

October 27th, 2017 / Science Magazine, US

Across Africa, armies of hungry caterpillars destroy the flowers and pods of cowpeas; casualties can reach 80 percent of this staple food crop if no measures are taken. But the real victims are smallholder African farmers who feed their families on farms smaller than five acres. Next year, they will …

SA scientist’s maize weevil control breakthrough

October 27th, 2017 / Farmers Weekly, South Africa

Maize is the most widely grown grain variety in the world, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It is a vital staple food for primarily lower income groups, especially in Africa, and is grown on both a subsistence and large commercial scale.
Pests therefore pose a serious threat …

Is this $13 billion food security crisis (the armyworm) an opportunity?

October 26th, 2017 / Motley Fool

A few years ago, engineered biology conglomerate Intrexon (NYSE:XON) acquired a pioneering company called Oxitec. While there are plenty of whacky technology platforms in next-generation biotech, the start-up’s technical niche still caught many people off guard: genetically engineered insects incapable of passing their genes on to the next generation.
The sudden …

Biosafety law a red card to pests, says pro-biotech campaigner

October 11th, 2017 / Sunrise, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya reports:
The newly enacted Biosafety Act 2017 is a Red Card to some of the most menacing crop pests and diseases that are currently ravaging hundreds of farms owned by smallholder farmers across Uganda, leading to food insecurity and economic instability, according to one pro-GMO campaigner.
Arthur Makara, …

Substantial investment to tackle challenges of African vector-borne plant diseases

October 9th, 2017 / Univ. of Bristol, UK

The University of Bristol has been awarded £2 million to lead a major new project that aims to tackle the devastation caused by vector-borne plant diseases in Africa.
In much the same way as insects can transmit human diseases, destructive plant diseases are transmitted by aphids, beetles, whitefly and other insects.
These …

Plants become more tolerant when living in symbiosis with fungi

October 9th, 2017 / EurikaAlert

By developing a symbiotic relationship with fungi, plants not only become more tolerant to diseases but can also help contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices. This is the conclusion of a new study from the University of Gothenburg.
Most crops can form symbiosis with fungi to gain key nutrients. The fungi …

Saving chocolate: Scientists develop disease-resistant hybrid cacao clones that dramatically increase yields

October 3rd, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Few cacao varieties are widely cultivated, and that’s a problem: Like many other crops, cacao is under constant threat from diseases and environmental challenges exacerbated by our tendency to grow only a few varieties with similar or identical genetic traits and defects.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Phillips-Mora worked to identify …

Tanzania, UN ink $2 million pacts to fight armyworms

September 30th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has entered into two agreements worth $2million with the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries to boost surveillance of Fall Armyworm (FAW) across the country.
A fall armyworm outbreak has been causing considerable crop damage in some countries including in Tanzania. The pest …

New app diagnoses crop diseases in the field and alerts rural farmers

September 30th, 2017 / CGIAR

The team behind a new mobile app that uses artificial intelligence to accurately diagnose crop diseases in the field has won a $US100,000 award to help expand their project to help millions of small-scale farmers across Africa.
Cassava brown streak disease is spreading westward across the African continent, and together with …

Kenya approves field trials for disease-resistant GMO bananas

September 26th, 2017 / Genetic literacy Project, US

The National Biosafety Authority has approved field tests for genetically modified bananas, moving the country closer to accepting growing and consumption of GMO foods.
The authority…says the approval for controlled field tests was granted on November 7 last year, paving the way for the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation to …