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Shocking encounter with fall army worms

March 21st, 2017 / The Sunrise, Uganda

About a week ago, my wife Esther brought my attention to an attack in our little maize garden. She urged me to spray the tender plants having detected damage on the leaves on the crop that is just three weeks now.
I hesitantly accepted to spray against the feeling that it …

CRISPR, microbes and more are joining the war against crop killers

March 17th, 2017 / Nature, UK

Resistance to conventional pesticides — among insects, weeds or microbial pathogens — is common on farms worldwide. CropLife International, an industry association based in Brussels, supports efforts that have counted 586 arthropod species, 235 fungi and 252 weeds with resistance to at least one synthetic pesticide (see ‘The rise of …

Raising crop productivity in Africa through intensification

March 14th, 2017 / Agronomy, Switzerland

The population of Africa will double in the next 33 years to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. Although roughly 60% of the continent’s population is engaged in agriculture, the produce from this sector cannot feed its citizens. Hence, in 2013 alone, Africa imported 56.5 million tons of wheat, maize, and …

Pests, disease seen hitting southern African food output

February 15th, 2017 / Reuters, Africa

Crop pests and diseases sweeping through southern Africa pose a threat to food security in a region where production has yet to recover from drought, a senior U.N. food agency official said on Tuesday, calling for a swift and coordinated response.
At the start of an emergency conference called by the …

Search for targeted pesticides leads scientists to eavesdrop on crosstalk between plants & fungi

February 13th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

In the conversation between plants and fungi, the organisms rely on a well-worn mechanism of gene-expression regulation that has stood the test of evolutionary time: RNA interference (RNAi). Listening in on the RNA crosstalk between plants and their pathogens could reveal previously unknown facets of basic plant biology, and point …

Online Pest Risk Atlas for Africa to combat climate change effects on pest management

February 7th, 2017 / AAAS, US

The International Potato Center (CIP) announces the launch of its free online mobile accessible Pest Risk Atlas for Africa that assesses potential pest risks under current and potential future climate conditions for a number of important pests that effect African agricultural and horticultural crops like potato, sweetpotato, vegetables, and maize.
“African …

Why microbes are key to solving Africa’s food security crisis

January 31st, 2017 / The Conversation, UK

Microbial-based solutions, which are formulated from microbes, offer multiple benefits to crops. These include improved growth as well as protection from insects, drought and other climate-related extremities. The solutions also offer environmentally sustainable approaches to improved crops and productivity while ensuring the resilience of agricultural systems. Poncho®/VOTiVO® is an example …

Natural killers: developing better biopesticides

January 26th, 2017 / Global FoodSecurity, UK

As armyworms return to devastate crops in Africa, Lancaster University’s Professor Ken Wilson reports on renewed efforts to bring a sustainable solution.
The pressing need for alternatives to chemical pesticides was the subject of a recent GFS workshop and blog post: How would we cope with a post-pesticide world?
As harmful …

Alien armyworms invade corn in drought-hit southern Africa

January 18th, 2017 / Agweb, US

The fall armyworm that’s native to the Americas has arrived in southern Africa for the first time, wiping out tens of thousands of acres of corn fields. For a region trying to recover from drought, the pest brings renewed fears of food shortages and inflation. The United Nations’ Food and …

To discover Africa’s biodiversity, look to the soil

January 16th, 2017 / AllAfica.com

South Africa is finally embarking on a long-overdue initiative: mapping the incredible biodiversity in Africa’s soils. It will document the microbial life hidden in the ground in sub-Saharan Africa, and the data it derives could help solve the continent’s crisis of hunger and food insecurity, and give birth to a …