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Why do we need to keep breeding new crop varieties?

February 26th, 2019 / Sustainable, Secure Food Blog

Global warming and changes in the amount – and location – of water, are key factors in the need to continue crop breeding programs. In addition, there are many diseases that affect crop yield and quality. We need to continue breeding new disease resistant crop varieties to ensure a healthy, …

Seeking the new potato

February 14th, 2019 / Science, US

On a bleak, brown hill here, David Ellis examines a test plot of potato plants and shakes his head. “They’re dead, dead, dead,” he says. Pests and lack of rain have laid waste to all 17 varieties that researchers had planted.

It is a worrying sign for Ellis, the now-retired director …

Environment in multiple crises – report

February 12th, 2019 / BBC, UK

Politicians and policymakers have failed to grasp the gravity of the environmental crisis facing the Earth, a report claims.

The think-tank IPPR says human impacts have reached a critical stage and threaten to destabilise society and the global economy.

Scientists warn of a potentially deadly combination of factors.

These include climate change, mass …

Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR

February 1st, 2019 / New Scientist, UK

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially …

To predict droughts, don’t look at the skies. Look in the soil… from space

January 29th, 2019 / The Conversation

Scientists and governments alike have been looking for ways to measure drought in a way that relates more closely to its impacts. Any farmer or gardener can tell you that you don’t need much rain, but you do need it at the right time. This is where the soil becomes …

Seeds go digital

January 28th, 2019 / CIMMYT

Many Kenyan maize farmers are busy preparing their seed stock for the next planting season. Sowing high quality seeds of stress-tolerant varieties is a cost-effective way for African smallholder farmers to boost their harvests while being resilient to evolving crop pests and diseases as well as an erratic climate. However, even if a …

World Vegetable Center looks into wild relatives of eggplant for food security

January 23rd, 2019 / Nova

At the World Vegetable Center, experts are looking to the wild relatives of domesticated crops—like eggplant—to save the human diet from climate change.

At the World Vegetable Center, experts are studying a wide variety of eggplant relatives for their hardiness and ability to produce appealing, edible fruits—but it isn’t typical, business-as-usual …

How investment in irrigation is paying off for Ethiopia’s economy

January 18th, 2019 / MENAFN

After rapid economic growth averaging 10% every year between 2004 and 2014, Ethiopia has emerged as an engine of development in Africa. 

And there are no signs that ambitions for further growth are fading. This is clear from the government’s blueprint to achieve middle-income status – or gross national income of …

Wild coffee species threatened by climate change and deforestation

January 18th, 2019 / Nature, UK

Most of the world’s wild coffee species have a high chance of going extinct in the next several decades due to more frequent and lengthy droughts, loss of forests and the spread of deadly pests, according to a study1 published on 16 January in Science Advances. 

The findings signal a potential threat to …

Preparing Africa for ravages of climate change ‘cannot be an afterthought’ – COP24

December 18th, 2018 / Independent, Uganda

Africa is at a “tipping point” as global warming increases, and urgent action needs to be taken across the continent now, to mitigate risks and safeguard a decade of social and economic gains, according to a new report launched by the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP) at the COP24 climate …