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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 …

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 …