In the news...

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 …

New cassava variety developed

September 26th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
Cassava is an important source of food and income for small-holder farmers in several African countries, including Uganda because it grows well in conditions of drought and low soil fertility.
However, viral diseases especially Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV) and Cassava Mosaic Virus (CMV) can destroy …

Scientists intensify crop breeding

September 20th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:
Ugandan scientists have intensified efforts to breed key crops using conventional and biotechnology mechanisms in a bid for farmers to grow high yielding crops which are also resistant to pests and diseases.
Scientists from National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) have been breeding hybrid varieties of crops such …

New genomics tool is being deployed in East African cassava fields

September 19th, 2017 / Medium

TED Senior Fellow and computational biologist Laura Boykin has made her life’s work to rid cassava — a staple root crop on which 800 million people around the world rely for their daily calories — of whitefly-borne virus. Now, with a team of international scientists, including co-Principal Investigators Dr Joseph Ndunguru and Dr Titus …