In the news...

DNA of the world’s largest collection of lettuce to be unravelled

October 12th, 2017 / Wageningen University

It is to be the second largest DNA dataset of plants in the world, after the one for rice. The Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands, which is part of Wageningen University & Research, and China’s Beijing Genomics Institute have formed a unique partnership to unravel the DNA of the …

Rural areas have potential to feed and employ ‘younger, more crowded planet’

October 12th, 2017 / UNiv. of Bristol, UK

Long seen as poverty traps, rural areas are in fact key to economic growth in developing countries when pegged to food production, according to a new United Nations agriculture agency report released Monday.
With ‘sweeping transformations’ that can unlock the potential of rural areas to help feed and employ a younger, …

Biosafety law a red card to pests, says pro-biotech campaigner

October 11th, 2017 / Sunrise, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya reports:
The newly enacted Biosafety Act 2017 is a Red Card to some of the most menacing crop pests and diseases that are currently ravaging hundreds of farms owned by smallholder farmers across Uganda, leading to food insecurity and economic instability, according to one pro-GMO campaigner.
Arthur Makara, …

Hope for Uganda

October 11th, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali wirties:
Last week, Uganda hosted a three-day high-level conference on the application of science, technology, and innovation in harnessing African agricultural transformation at Speke Resort, Munyonyo.
It attracted delegates from across the world, mainly agricultural biotechnology scientists, farmers’ group leaders, senior science journalists, entrepreneurs, and politicians, among others. …

Drought tolerant maize provides extra 9 months of food for farming families

October 11th, 2017 / CIMMYT

Drought is a major limiting factor for maize production and can reduce maize yields by up to nearly 40 percent. In the past 10 years, most farmers in southern Africa have experienced around 1–3 drought years, potentially due to climate change.
A new study from scientists with the International Maize and …

Substantial investment to tackle challenges of African vector-borne plant diseases

October 9th, 2017 / Univ. of Bristol, UK

The University of Bristol has been awarded £2 million to lead a major new project that aims to tackle the devastation caused by vector-borne plant diseases in Africa.
In much the same way as insects can transmit human diseases, destructive plant diseases are transmitted by aphids, beetles, whitefly and other insects.
These …

Uganda removes key hurdle to GM crops

October 9th, 2017 / Science Magazine

Biotech researchers here are celebrating the long-awaited passage of a bill this week that clears the way for large-scale field tests and commercial release of genetically modified (GM) crops. Uganda, with several engineered varieties waiting in the wings, is expected to join a handful of other African nations moving quickly …

Agriculture, nutrition and fortification, supplementation and biofortification

October 6th, 2017 / BioMed Central

“…why should Africa be prohibited from growing the most technologically advanced and sustainable crops?” “[African] Farmers need and want choices, not European-imposed restrictions”
The worlds growing population and limited land resources require high intensity of food production. Human nutrition needs both macronutrients and micronutrients. One way of providing micronutrients in …

Uganda allows GMOs use

October 6th, 2017 / New Vision, Uganda

“We need to trust and support our scientists because they are working for Uganda to own its patents and technology so that we are not beholden to foreigners” – Kafeero Ssekitoleko,Nakifuma County MP
Dr Barbara Zawedde Mugwanga, the co-ordinator of the Uganda Biosciences Information Centre (NARO information hub) said the passing …

Grafting helps pepper plants deal with drought

October 5th, 2017 / SciDev.net

Joining a high-yield pepper plant sapling to the roots of a strong and resistant variety could help pepper farmers cope with lower rainfall, a study has found.
An experiment using the technique of merging two plants, known as grafting, resulted in higher fruit yield during periods of less rain. Plants also …