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Favourite banana may be doomed; can new varieties replace it?

January 25th, 2016 / The Salt, US

There’s a deadly fungus that attacks banana plants. In the past century, an earlier version of this fungus wiped out commercial plantings of a banana variety called Gros Michel that once dominated the global banana trade. Now history may be repeating itself. A new version of the fungus, called Tropical …

MYTH: UN endorses small-scale organic farming over biotech

January 23rd, 2016 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Looking at the body of current evidence, most scientists have found a reduced environmental impact, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and better situation for farmers as result of biotechnology. When you combine that with the scientific consensus that GMOs are just as safe, and in some cases nutritionally and environmentally superior …

Most African smallholder farmers mainly buy seeds through informal markets

January 23rd, 2016 / AllAfrica.com

Small, family farmers in Africa purchase more than half of their seeds every year through local markets and other informal sources – neglected outlets that present a major opportunity for improving access to better crop varieties crucial to dealing with climate, nutrition, and other production challenges in a region where …

Africa gets new centre for agricultural innovation

January 22nd, 2016 / SciDev.net, UK

A new research centre that will help African countries promote innovation in the agricultural sector to combat rural poverty and hunger has been inaugurated. The Green Innovation Center, which was inaugurated at AfricaRice in Benin this month (3 January), aims to boost agricultural productivity, increase the incomes of smallholder farmers …

New seed varieties NOT reaching small farmers

January 22nd, 2016 / Eye Witness News, South Africa

Africa’s small farmers, more than half of whom buy their seeds from local informal markets, need access to improved seeds that can yield more food and cope with climate change, according to research. Innovations in food science, including seeds that produce vitamin-rich food and crops that can withstand the hotter, …

Growing concern over El Nino’s impact on southern Africa as planting window ends

January 20th, 2016 / UNFP, Rome

The El Niño global weather event, which is leading to even worse drought across the region, is already affecting this year’s crop. With little or no rain falling in many areas and the window for the planting of cereals closing fast or already closed in some countries, the outlook is …

2016 top priorities for Africa

January 20th, 2016 / Brookings Institute, US

Africa is at a tipping point in 2016. Despite all the success the continent has achieved in recent years, new and old dangers—economic, political, and security-related—threaten to derail its progress. With sound policymaking, effective leadership, and enough foresight, however—Africa can meet and defeat these challenges as well as the many …

The opportunity, science and politics of GM crops

January 18th, 2016 / Farm Weekly, Australia

Despite the numerous advances made through modern farming, agricultural innovation continues to have more than its fair share of critics, mostly from outside the farming sector. Agriculture touches on almost every aspect of our lives and is impacted by decisions and events in almost every sector – from energy, to …

Foods available to African farm households increase with market access and off-farm work

January 18th, 2016 / ILRI News

Rural development in sub-Saharan Africa has to be more than closing yield gaps and agricultural development per se. Connecting people to urban centers and generating other employment sources will directly affect food security in a manner that boosting production cannot. Farmers start selling produce at levels below fulfilling food self-sufficiency, …

Digging for seeds of truth in GMO debate

January 18th, 2016 / CBS News, US

By some estimates, 80 percent of all processed foods — cereals, baby formula, canned soups and more — contain at least one GMO, or Genetically Modified Organism. But whether GMOs are safe and whether they should be listed on the label has led to a very big food fight. …