In the news...

Bringing smallholders and farming startups into the fold

July 13th, 2017 / BizCommunity, South Africa

Transformation. It’s a word we hear, and use, often. But how many of us take the time to pause and think about what it really means? By definition, transformation is “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.”
My specific field of interest is education – and even more specifically, …

As solar refrigerator keeps mangoes cold, farmers’ profits heat up

July 13th, 2017 / Thompson Reuters

It is a hot and cloudless morning, a sign that it will be sunny right through the afternoon. Joseph Mailu moves along rows of fruiting mango trees with a long pole in his hand, harvesting the mature fruits.
The succulent green mangoes drop inside a net tied to the tip of …

Soil nutrient depletion, major cause of food shortage in Africa

July 11th, 2017 / Xinhuanet, China

Experts at the three-day West Africa Fertilizer and Agri-Business Conference which began here on Monday identified depletion of soil nutrients as one of the key challenges to food security on the African continent.
Eugine Rurangwa, Land and Water Officer at the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) African Regional Office noted there …

Refugee strikes gold in farming

July 11th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru writes:
When one is watching news on TV or reading news on print media about the plight of refugees from South Sudan, the common thing you will see is families leading a difficult life. The story is, however, not the same for Mary Yangi, who has found …

Vinegar: A cheap and simple way to help plants fight drought

July 11th, 2017 / Phys.org

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) have discovered a new, yet simple, way to increase drought tolerance in a wide range of plants. Published in Nature Plants, the study reports a newly discovered biological pathway that is activated in times of drought. By working out the …

Ghana: Finance minister launches $50m fund for West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement

July 4th, 2017 / Graphic

Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has launched a $50 million endowment fund for the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI). The fund is established to complete, furnish and equip the centre’s new multi-purpose building into a world-class teaching and research centre. The finance minister says the government …

Modified maize that kills with RNA is given go-ahead in the US

June 30th, 2017 / New Scientist, UK

For the first time, a crop that produces an RNAi-based pesticide has got the green light.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved a genetically modified corn known as SmartStax Pro. In addition to producing two Bt toxins to kill any western corn rootworm larvae that try to eat it, the …

How soil dwelling bacteria adapt to richer or poorer conditions

June 30th, 2017 / Phys.org

Scientists have identified a unique mechanism that the soil dwelling bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens uses to effectively exploit nutrients in the root environment.
The breakthrough offers multiple new applications, according to the team of John Innes Centre scientists behind the discovery: for the study of human pathogens, for synthetic biology, and for …

To feed 9 billion, will we need ‘GMO 2.0’?

June 30th, 2017 / Greenbiz.com

Amidst all the conflict and confusion around food safety and nutrition, how do we make the best decisions about how to feed ourselves? What choices do we need to make when it comes to feeding a planet that will, by 2050, more than 9 billion hungry people?
These questions — …

New alliance seeks to fast track crop improvement in Africa

June 29th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

An international alliance was formed to speed up crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa, which was launched at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK on June 16, 2017.
The Alliance to Accelerate Crop Improvements in Africa (ACACIA) aims to support African scientists in their efforts to find ways to address food security …