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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 …

Combined biological control tames five field pests

January 13th, 2017 / Farmbiz Africa, Kenya

Horticultural farmers can control up to five common crop pests by a single application of a combined fungi-based biological spray from the Real Integrated Pest Management (Real IPM).
With the help of International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Real (IPM) has come up with a biological spray, MetaMix, which hosts …

Common insecticides are riskier than thought to predatory insects

December 14th, 2016 / Phys.org

Neonicotinoids—the most widely used class of insecticides—significantly reduce populations of predatory insects when used as seed coatings, according to researchers at Penn State. The team’s research challenges the previously held belief that neonicotinoid seed coatings have little to no effect on predatory insect populations. In fact, the work suggests that …

With a little help from fungus

December 9th, 2016 / New Phytologist

If you need help defending your tomato plants from pests, enlisting the help of a fungus might not be at the top of your list. But a recent study, published in New Phytologist, has shown that a fungus could actually be an unlikely ally in the greenhouse.
Similar to the beneficial …

Hermetic bag keeps off grain pests for over two years, reducing losses

November 25th, 2016 / Farmbiz Africa, Kenya

Farmers can keep off grain destroying pests for two years without chemicals after the USAID Kenya and the Ministry of Agriculture launched hermetic bags, which suffocate any crop storage enemies.
The official launch follows years of testing for efficacy in taming maize, wheat, beans, cowpeas, among other grains destroying organisms such …

The (shrinking) garden of Earthly delights

October 31st, 2016 / Claudia Canales, B4FA

This periodic blog will discuss food security, with a specific focus on how plant genetic research might contribute to addressing the challenge of feeding a fast-growing global population in increasingly uncertain climatic conditions.
Achieving food security is a complex problem that goes far beyond just producing more food. Its realisation …

Ethiopia: Utilizing technology to increase productivity of crop farming

July 15th, 2016 / The Ethiopian Herald

Using biotechnology boosts productivity. Though the agricultural sector has been dominated by small scale type, the productivity of the sector has been increasing as a result of using the agricultural technologies. The utilization of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, pest, herbicides and irrigation plays considerable role in improving productivity. See …

Burkina Faso puts GM cotton on hold

April 30th, 2016 / Cornell Alliance for Science, US

GM cotton in Burkina Faso has been a runaway success for local farmers, and with new improvements in the pipeline to fix an issue with fiber length, the crop can continue to provide much needed extra income for smallholders keen to emerge from poverty. GM cotton was commercialized in …

Two novel DNAs that enhance symptoms and overcome CMD2 resistance to cassava mosaic disease

February 17th, 2016 / Journal of Virology, US

Cassava is a major crop in the developing world, with its production in Africa second only to maize. Cassava mosaic disease (CMD) is one of the most important diseases of cassava and a serious constraint to production across Africa. Now two DNA sequences, SEGS-1 and SEGS-2, which produce similar …