In the news...

Scientists using CRISPR-based technology to target agricultural pests

January 15th, 2019 / European Scientist

A new paper published on 8 January in Nature Communications describes a ‘precision-guided sterile insect technique’ that can effectively alter insect genes to control female viability and male fertility. The method could potentially be used to suppress increasing pest populations that threaten agricultural crops and to prevent the transmission of deadly diseases. The controllable, …

Young Ugandan biotech advocates push back against scare tactics

January 15th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project

Jonan Twinamatsiko, a recent graduate of biotechnology from Makerere University in Uganda, belongs to a group of young people facing rising unemployment. A Uganda youth survey published by Aga Khan University in 2016 shows 80 percent of Ugandans are under age 35, and 52 percent of that group is unemployed. Jonan had …

Strongest opponents of GM foods know the least but think they know the most

January 15th, 2019 / The Guardian, UK

The most extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least about science but believe they know the most, researchers have found.

The findings from public surveys in the US, France and Germany suggest that rather than being a barrier to the possession of strongly held views, ignorance of the matter …

Sunflower farming set to rise in Tanzania

January 7th, 2019 / African Farming

TANZANIA Agricultural Transformation Grant (TATG) has intended its commitment to develop a region-wide strategic plan for improving sunflower farming and addressing challenges facing farmers in the area.

As reported in the Daily News, the initiative, under the advocacy of Dalberg Global Development Advisors, aims to strengthen the region’s sunflower value chain …

Kalro releases disease resistant seed varieties

January 7th, 2019 / Business Daily Africa

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) has released eight maize varieties resistant to maize lethal necrosis disease.

Regional research officer John Karanja said the eight varieties have been developed for different climatic conditions.

“Besides their resistance to this disease, they are also hardy and can withstand inadequate rainfall regimes as well …

Genetically modified ‘shortcut’ boosts plant growth by 40%

January 7th, 2019 / BBC, UK

Scientists in the US have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials. 

The researchers say they have found a way of overcoming natural restrictions in the process of photosynthesis that limit crop productivity.

They believe the method could be used to significantly boost yields …

Nigeria leads West Africa on biosafety

January 4th, 2019 / Daily Trust, Nigeria

The Director General of National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr Rufus Ebegba, has said that Nigeria has been mandated to lead the West African sub-region on biosafety.

Dr Ebegba, who said this while presenting the agency’s score card to the public in Abuja, said it was gratifying that the agency under President …

UN backs seed sovereignty in landmark peasants’ rights declaration

January 4th, 2019 / Foodtank

On December 17, the United Nations General Assembly took a quiet but historic vote, approving the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas, by a vote of 121-8 with 52 abstentions. The declaration, which was the product of some 17 years of diplomatic work led by …

Small-scale urban agriculture results in high yields but requires judicious management of inputs to achieve sustainability

January 4th, 2019 / PNAS, US

Growing food in cities for human consumption could be one means of increasing global food supply in the face of rising population growth and global food security concerns. While previous studies have shown that urban agricultural systems are productive, few studies provide yield figures that incorporate data on the inputs …

Training youth key to growing African agriculture

January 3rd, 2019

The West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) is providing education sponsorships, technology training, and mentorship for youth in agriculture, research, and entrepreneurship. CORAF’s programs for youth prepare for the quickly aging population of researchers in agriculture.

In West Africa, 63 percent of the population is under 25 years …