In the news...

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 …

Rural areas have potential to feed and employ ‘younger, more crowded planet’

October 12th, 2017 / UNiv. of Bristol, UK

Long seen as poverty traps, rural areas are in fact key to economic growth in developing countries when pegged to food production, according to a new United Nations agriculture agency report released Monday.
With ‘sweeping transformations’ that can unlock the potential of rural areas to help feed and employ a younger, …

Drought tolerant maize provides extra 9 months of food for farming families

October 11th, 2017 / CIMMYT

Drought is a major limiting factor for maize production and can reduce maize yields by up to nearly 40 percent. In the past 10 years, most farmers in southern Africa have experienced around 1–3 drought years, potentially due to climate change.
A new study from scientists with the International Maize and …

The homecoming of African pasture grasses

October 10th, 2017 / Claudia Canales – B4FA

Brachiaria grasses, which originated primarily from natural grasslands in Africa, do not look particularly remarkable. Yet these forage species for feeding farm animals are the most widely used in the tropics, especially in Central and South America, where they were introduced in the middle of last century in an effort …

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 …

The immense challenge of desertification in sub-Saharan Africa

October 9th, 2017 / The Conversation

Today, dry areas represent more than 41% of land on the globe and they are home to more than two billion people.
They are the stage for the ongoing process of land degradation that is aggravated by climate fluctuations – particularly drought – and pressure exerted by human activities (including demographic …

Water harvesting techniques for smallholder and large-scale farmers

September 25th, 2017 / Farmbiz Africa

Kenya Meteorological Department recently warned of heavy rains between September 19 and 25, unfortunately many farmers may miss utilizing the opportunity to harvest enough of this rain water and store it for future use due to lack of even simple ways of harvesting water.
According to the Agroforestry world, Kenya is …

The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves

August 21st, 2017 / Phys.org

A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study shows.
Sarah Feakins, a scientist at USC who has studied leaf wax in the context …