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To discover Africa’s biodiversity, look to the soil

January 16th, 2017 / AllAfica.com

South Africa is finally embarking on a long-overdue initiative: mapping the incredible biodiversity in Africa’s soils. It will document the microbial life hidden in the ground in sub-Saharan Africa, and the data it derives could help solve the continent’s crisis of hunger and food insecurity, and give birth to a …

New app to help farmers manage livestock

January 16th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

After losing all his rabbits from which he raised money that saw him through school, Ronald Katamba was inspired to seek not only a method to curb livestock theft, but also to monitor the animals and birds on farm.
It is how he came to develop an application that does exactly …

Fortified composite manure doubles crop yields

January 13th, 2017 / Farmbiz Africa, Kenya

Farmers, who fortify composite manure, may increase harvests by two-fold as a result of adding the missing mineral components that support a wholesome growth.
Composite manure fortification involves introduction of extra mineral elements into the fertiliser, which is prepared from organic farm waste.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation officer Jane Kiptoo …

Farmers in developing countries benefit more from GM crops than developed world ones

January 13th, 2017 / Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, US

… The benefits vary by the type of GM technology used. Insect-resistant crops result in larger income gains and pesticide reductions than do herbicide-tolerant crops. The meta-analysis also showed geographic variation; in particular, farmers in developing countries benefit more from GM crop adoption than do farmers in developed countries. The …

Promote alliances in cassava R&D to aid food security

January 10th, 2017 / SciDev.net, UK

Strengthening collaborations among institutions and small-scale cassava farmers could help Central Africa reduce hunger and foster nutrition security, experts say.
Research scientists from academic institutions and policymakers say that collaborations in research and development would promote innovation to address the challenges of nutrition insecurity such as stunting in children. See …

Food security is West and North Africa’s urgent priority

January 9th, 2017 / The National, UAE

In the field of future studies, the “black elephant” stands tall. A cross between the two idioms “the elephant in the room” and “a black swan”, it is an issue policymakers see but do not adequately address. Within policymaking circles in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), climate change, air …

Invest in training, African leaders told

January 9th, 2017 / Daily Nation, Kenya

Researchers have called on African governments to support vocational training in agriculture, noting the skills are crucial for smallholder farmers.
The researchers from more than 12 African countries, and India and Germany, were meeting at a recent conference on agricultural innovation in Nairobi organised by German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and …

Bridging the yield gap – the bioscience perspective

January 6th, 2017 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

There is a wide divide in many parts of the world between the yields of crops that could be achieved and those that are actually harvested.

Drought-tolerant maize has improved yields in more than a dozen countries.
What is the yield gap?
It is the difference between yields of crops that are actually achieved in …

More iron, zinc: new beans have an edge

January 6th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

Earlier this year, National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) released bean varieties, which have higher levels of iron and zinc for production by Ugandan farmers.
Dr Stanley Nkalubo, head of legumes research at NaCRRI—one of Naro’s research institutes, says use of bio-fortified foods is an inexpensive method to overcome or prevent malnutrition …

Climate change is smallholders’ pain

January 6th, 2017 / SciDev.net, UK

Experts use many numbers when talking about climate change. However, rising temperatures, the resulting crop failure and consequent loss of livelihoods and destitution of millions of households are this year’s most important and urgent developments for millions of smallholder farmers across African agro-ecological landscapes.
To illustrate the unfolding crisis, let us …