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New technique to help plant breeders develop drought resistant varieties faster

December 13th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Scientists from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) have teamed up with researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) to develop a new technique to examine drought tolerance in wheat. Led by Chithra Karunakaran and Karen Tanino, the team developed a simple non-destructive method to screen hundreds of wheat …

FAO looking at cactus as climate resilient food

December 6th, 2017 / UN News Service

With the reality of climate change becoming more real by the day, including its impact on food sources, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is urging communities around the world not to take the prickly cactus for granted.
“Climate change and the increasing risks of droughts are strong reasons …

Genes found in drought-resistant plants could accelerate evolution of water-use efficient crops

December 6th, 2017 / Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have identified a common set of genes that enable different drought-resistant plants to survive in semi-arid conditions, which could play a significant role in bioengineering and creating energy crops that are tolerant to water deficits.
Plants thrive in drylands by keeping …

‘Super beans’ raise hopes in hunger-prone parts of Africa

December 4th, 2017 / WRAL.com

Richard Opio dipped a dirt-stained hand into the pinkish beans, marveling at the dramatic changes they’ve made for his family. They used to harvest two sacks of normal beans; now they take in six.
The so-called “super bean,” a fast-maturing, high-yield variety, is being promoted by Uganda’s government and agriculture experts …

GM plant species numbers set to dramatically increase

December 4th, 2017 / Cosmos, Australia

Genetic modification of food crops is, depending on your point of view, a wondrous technological solution to feed a growing global population or a hubris-soaked scientific monstrosity sowing the seeds of environmental apocalypse.
Yet the war over GM crops, though intense, has so far been restricted to a small number of …

Scientist’s advise farmers to boost soils using organic fertilizer

November 29th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
There is increasing use of processed fertilizer by large scale farmers in the country with the aim of increasing their farm productivity.
Uganda’s smallholder agricultural sector continues to register one of the lowest fertilizer applications in sub-Saharan Africa.
The statistics indicates that Ugandan farmers use 1 to 1.5 …

Prickly pear cactus Is ‘miracle’ crop for dry regions

November 28th, 2017 / Thomson Reuters

It is spiky, alien-looking and can be found decorating homes around the world, but experts say the prickly pear cactus could help alleviate hunger in arid regions due to its ability to thrive in harsh conditions and its multiple uses.
“It’s impossible to describe how many things you can get out …

Mulching is key

November 27th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow and farmer Michael Ssali writes:
The practice of covering the soil with organic matter in a garden is referred to as mulching.
The materials used to cover the soil such as dry grass, banana leaves, maize stalk, eucalyptus tree branches, coffee husks or any other crop left-over material are …

Increased food production and reduced water use through optimized crop distribution

November 14th, 2017 / Nature Geoscience, UK

Growing demand for agricultural commodities for food, fuel and other uses is expected to be met through an intensification of production on lands that are currently under cultivation. Intensification typically entails investments in modern technology — such as irrigation or fertilizers — and increases in cropping frequency in regions suitable …

Climate change effects are cropping up and it’s only going to get worse

November 13th, 2017 / The Crop Trust

Since 2015, drought-induced crop failures and livestock deaths have left more than 10 million people in Ethiopia dependent on food assistance, while the drought remains relentless even today. In southern Africa, an outbreak of armyworms damages maize harvests and threatens the livelihoods of over 70 percent of the region that …