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Protecting cassava from disease? There’s an app for that

May 16th, 2018 / Scientific American

An image-recognition smartphone app uses AI to help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa identify up to five different diseases.
Cassava is one of the developing world’s most important crops. Its starchy roots and leaves are a staple food for more than 500 million people in Africa each day. And Africa produces half …

Africa struggles for weapons against armyworm curse

May 8th, 2018 / The Strats Times, Singapore

On farms across Africa, a seemingly innocuous brown and beige caterpillar is waging a silent war, devastating rural incomes and posing a major threat to the continent’s food supply.
In just two years, the so-called fall armyworm has colonised three-quarters of Africa, according to the British-based Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences …

Banana experts converge in Tanzania for meeting

April 24th, 2018 / AllAfrica

Agricultural experts are meeting today to discuss how to improve production of banana, a staple food in eastern and central Africa. In so doing, they will review a five-year project that aims to expand and speed up existing banana breeding efforts in Tanzania and Uganda. The breeding is intended to …

Scientists discover wild relative of tomato resistant to many insects

April 18th, 2018 / ISAAA, US

Scientists from the Wageningen University & Research have discovered a wild tomato species from the Galapagos Islands that is resistant to a wide range of insect pests. The wild tomato is closely related to the cultivated tomato, making the resilience easier to interbreed into the latter and ultimately make it …

Hybridisation and the new frontier against spread of global pests

April 11th, 2018

IT’S the stuff of science fiction. Hybridisation of two caterpillars in Brazil confirmed through extensive genomic testing by CSIRO researchers.
But it’s real and will enable the international agricultural community to stay ahead in the race to combat the megapest.
Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa zea (commonly known as the cotton bollworm and …

Agricultural guide on a phone helps increase developing-world farmers’ yields

April 10th, 2018 / FastCompany.com

When Kenyan farmers need to know whether to take their cows to the vet, they can now just ask their phones. Using a popular new service called DigiFarm, they can use their phones to get simple information that will let them determine if their cow is infected with mastitis (a …

Kenya approves field trials of bollworm-resistant GMO cotton

April 10th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

The National Environment Management Authority [of Kenya] will approve performance trials for genetically modified cotton by May.
Chief compliance officer Margaret Njuki said they are waiting for feedback from the public before they can give a go-ahead.
The sites proposed for the field test include Mwea, Katumani, Kampi ya Mawe, Bura, Perkerra, …

Kenyan maize farmers raise alarm as armyworms resurface

April 9th, 2018 / Xinhua, China

Kenyan maize farmers are set to go through another tough year as the fall armyworm strikes the crop again this season.
The pest, which was first detected in Kenya in March last year, contributed to decline in maize production, from over 40 million bags production a year to 32 million, according …

FAO launches mobile application to support fight against Fall Armyworm in Africa

March 21st, 2018 / Reliefweb

FAO has launched a mobile application to enable farmers, agricultural workers and other partners at the frontline of the fight against Fall Armyworm in Africa to identify, report the level of infestation, and map the spread of this destructive insect, as well as to describe its natural enemies and the …

A tiny beetle and its deadly fungus is threatening South Africa’s trees

March 2nd, 2018 / The Conversation

Sandton is Johannesburg’s economic hub – home to numerous companies’ headquarters and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. And now it has a new, unwelcome resident: a tiny beetle that could lay waste to several tree species found in the suburb and potentially the wider Johannesburg area. This is particularly concerning, as …