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Vicious circle of poverty and food insecurity

April 18th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali writes: A poor household is usually malnourished, and vulnerable to disease and other evils. Uganda is known to be well endowed with fertile soil and bi-annual rainfall. Yet we have thousands of households that are too poor to produce enough food for their nutritional requirements or …

Soil microbiome – research into practice

April 17th, 2017 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

The previous blog looked at the extraordinary complexity of life supported by soils, in particular healthy, productive soils. This is especially true in the rhizosphere, the soils directly affected by plant root secretions. Key functions modulated by microbes include plant nutrition through the release of inorganic phosphorous in soils, the …

The significance of smallholder farms in the global food system

April 17th, 2017 / The Lancet Planetary Health, UK

When many of us contemplate the role of agriculture in feeding 7·2 billion people, we picture large-scale, industrialised, and efficient systems that produce lots of food that is shipped around the world. Although those systems are relevant, they are only one dimension of what agriculture consists of, who feeds us, …

Will organic community embrace gene editing if it restores ancient crops?

April 17th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The majority of plants used in organic farming were conventionally bred to select for traits that increased productivity and are not suited for organic farming where pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer usage is limited. Significant inbreeding during the selection process has led to loss of several beneficial traits such as salt …

Farmers in Makueni reap big after planting drought-tolerant crops

April 17th, 2017 / The Star, Kenya

For many years, farmers in Makueni county have stuck to growing maize, but this has not yielded much, leaving them to rely on relief food when the crop failed and during droughts like the current one.
But now an initiative from the Anglican Development Services-Eastern and the Alliance for a Green …

How ‘human bees’, biotechnologists and Gates Foundation are rescuing the African cassava staple

April 14th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

In the developed world, most people eat the root vegetable cassava only in tapioca pudding or bubble tea. But in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s the primary staple for half a billion people and is the continent’s most popular crop. It has gained prominence due to its tolerance to extreme weather conditions, …

Africa’s agriculture needs new blood, but young people are attracted to the cities

April 14th, 2017 / Development & Cooperation

The growing population of Africa needs food, but millions of young people are looking for jobs and future prospects. The countryside offers lots of opportunities for employment but suffers from a lack of attractiveness.
It is the well-educated young Africans, in particular, that are leaving rural areas for the cities. A …

Hunger will continue to plague Africa until we get serious on soils

April 14th, 2017 / Thompson Reuters

Severe hunger in Africa could become a thing of the past even in arid regions. Long-term strategies to build resilience to the harsh climates that decimate crops and cattle do exist and need implementing with urgency. In Africa, these strategies, that can lead to major productivity gains in the face …

Study shows natural genetic engineering in grafted plants

April 13th, 2017 / IAAAS, US

Rutgers University researchers led by Pal Maliga reported that grafted plants exchange mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells which contain their own genomes. Furthermore, when the whole mitochondria from one plant get into the cells of another, they combine their DNA with that of the existing mitochondria. These findings, published …

How nanobiotechnology could transform agriculture at every level

April 13th, 2017 / Huffington Post, India

Considering the advancements in science and technology, nanotechnology is being visualised as a rapidly evolving field that has the potential to revolutionise agriculture and food systems. Nanotechnology, when applied as a tool, in tandem with other measures, can seek to address some of the world’s most critical sustainable development problems …