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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 …

Warming of 2°C in Africa could reduce ag production by 20 per cent

April 19th, 2017 / Fresh Plaza, US

The Center for Global Development’s 2011 report, “Quantifying Vulnerability to Climate Change Implications for Adaptation Assistance,” forecasts median agricultural productivity losses due to climate change ranging from 18% in North Africa to 19.8% in Central Africa through 2050.
The weak output in Africa, reinforced by a spike in temperatures and exacerbated …

Soil microbiome – research into practice

April 17th, 2017 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

The previous blog looked at the extraordinary complexity of life supported by soils, in particular healthy, productive soils. This is especially true in the rhizosphere, the soils directly affected by plant root secretions. Key functions modulated by microbes include plant nutrition through the release of inorganic phosphorous in soils, the …

Five invasive pests cost African economy US$1 billion every year

April 17th, 2017 / News Ghana

New research by CABI reveals that just five invasive alien species are causing US$0.9 – 1.1 billion in economic losses to smallholder farmers across six eastern African countries each year, equating to 1.8% – 2.2% of total agricultural GDP for the region. These losses are expected to grow to $1.0 …