In the news...

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 …

Question of liability: Why researchers are worried about Uganda’s new biotech act

February 1st, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Uganda’s new Genetic Engineering Regulatory Act 2018 passed by Parliament on November 28th 2018, has sent a cold chill down the spines of scientists and researchers who dream of discovering and patenting new biotech crops.

Many critics see GERA as an effort by anti-GMO activists to block foreign multinationals from involvement …

Food security feared as Kenya readies to start growing GMO cotton

January 31st, 2019 / Xinhua, China

At fresh produce markets across Kenya, citizens are shunning buying bigger tomatoes, mangoes, pawpaws or oranges for fear that they may be genetically modified.

The fear is extended to even poultry products where chickens that are too big are classified as genetically modified organisms by consumers and shunned therefore.

The misconception is …

Can we ditch intensive farming – and still feed the world?

January 30th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

Our reliance on artificial fertiliser and intensive farming techniques did not happen overnight, but took decades. Along the way, these methods revolutionised farming and enabled huge population growth and economic growth. We now have a wealth of scientific evidence that shows that continuing down the same path would risk runaway …

Despite controversy, Nigeria ‘approves’ first genetically modified crop

January 30th, 2019 / Premium Times, Nigeria

The Nigerian government has approved for use its first genetically modified crop: the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea (popularly called beans).

This was after it had been genetically modified to resist the pest – Maruca Vitrata.

The cowpea, by this development, becomes the first genetically modified food crop to be approved in the …

Pesticides and food: It’s not a black or white issue

January 30th, 2019

Information about pesticides is ubiquitous online. Unfortunately, a balanced and nuanced discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of current pesticides is difficult to find. This series discusses the main concerns surrounding pesticides and illuminate the complexity and challenges involved in decision-making regarding current and future pesticide use.This series contains six …

Researchers develop disease-resistant climate-smart grains to help eradicate poverty in Africa

January 29th, 2019 / Bakeryandsnacks.com

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) says it foresees rolling roll out new varieties of drought- and disease-resistant grains to African farmers next year to increase food security in the region. Read …

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 …

How to achieve high crop yields

January 28th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali writes:

The ideas in today’s sharing about how to achieve high crop yields are mainly drawn from the “Think Agronomy” newsletter published by the Kenyan-based Centre of Excellence for Crop Rotation. 

In a simple experiment last year it was possible to produce 11.84 tonnes of barley from one …