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African countries need to push climate smart agriculture

May 30th, 2018 / AllAfrica.com

The World Bank recently launched one of its largest climate smart agriculture initiatives in India. Through this $420 million initiative, the bank expects to reach over 25 million smallholder farmers working on 3.5 million hectares of land. The project will support climate-smart agricultural practices including crop diversification and planting of …

New menacing cassava pest identified in West and Central Africa

May 25th, 2018 / African Science News

A new pest—southern armyworm, Spodoptera eridania (Stoll)—has been discovered in West and Central Africa!
Originating from the tropical regions of the Americas the fall armyworm (FAW) adult has a remarkable capacity for long distance migration and high female fertility. Its crop-destroying caterpillars can cause serious damage to maize but also to …

New pest identified in West and Central Africa!

May 24th, 2018 / IITA

A new pest—southern armyworm, Spodoptera eridania (Stoll)—has been discovered in West and Central Africa!
This introduced second armyworm species from the Americas was first found in cassava fields in south-eastern Nigeria in December 2016, reported Dr Georg Goergen, Entomologist/Biocontrol Specialist and Head of IITA’s Biodiversity Center in Bénin. Its presence was …

African conference confirms growing strength of plant disease research network

May 18th, 2018 / University of Bristol

Delegates from ten African countries joined counterparts from the UK at the CONNECTED Virus Network Africa Launch Conference, which took place in Kampala, Uganda.
Bristol University-based CONNECTED team members Dr Diane Hird and Richard Wyatt attended to co-ordinate operations along with local National Crops Resources Research Institute staff, following pre-conference organisation …

Cassava breeding hasn’t improved photosynthesis or yield potential

May 16th, 2018 / University of Illinois, US

Video: University of Illinois researchers analyzed four cassava cultivars preferred by African farmers and found unimproved varieties photosynthesize better than varieties selected for improved pest and disease resistance. …

Protecting cassava from disease? There’s an app for that

May 16th, 2018 / Scientific American

An image-recognition smartphone app uses AI to help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa identify up to five different diseases.
Cassava is one of the developing world’s most important crops. Its starchy roots and leaves are a staple food for more than 500 million people in Africa each day. And Africa produces half …

Uganda’s biggest agricultural problems

May 15th, 2018 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali, writes:
Agriculture is the science of growing crops and rearing animals for food and income.
The sector, which is our biggest employer, is however faced with a number of challenges that need immediate attention.
They range from climate change, incurable crop diseases, a fast growing population, land …

‘Precision plant breeding’ better describes crop biotechnology than misused ‘GMO’ term

May 13th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

GMO is now a widely recognized, often misused and misunderstood term. It’s used extensively by media and marketers alike. We can’t abandon it, but we can shift to clearer, all-encompassing terminology which covers all the latest advances.
No matter the type of plant breeding used over the last 10,000 years, the …

Video: Is gene editing the future of farming?

May 13th, 2018 / Wall Street Journal, US

A research team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is developing higher-yielding tomato plants with a gene-editing tool called Crispr-Cas9. Are these products different from traditional GMOs? Watch …

Ugandan farmers struggling with cassava viruses await GMO solution

May 10th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:
Cassava is a major staple food for millions of people in the tropical regions of the world.
In Uganda it is a major food crop for people in East and Northern Uganda. But it is particularly important for people in the West Nile region, with families preparing …