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Sustainable agriculture is the root of Africa’s economic transformation

April 23rd, 2019 / Relief Web

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stressed that Africa must transform or modernize its agriculture, primarily to feed itself and reduce dependency on imports for agricultural and food items, while fostering the sector to drive the industrialization process.

Speaking on the topic, “Accelerating Sustainable, Economic Transformation in …

As weeds outsmart the latest weedkillers, farmers are running out of easy options

April 15th, 2019 / The Salt

There was a moment, about 20 years ago, when farmers thought that they’d finally defeated weeds forever.

Biotech companies had given them a new weapon: genetically engineered crops that could tolerate doses of the herbicide glyphosate, also known by its trade name, Roundup. Farmers could spray this chemical right over their …

Hybrid rice seeds yielding hope

April 15th, 2019 / China Daily

Under the scorching sun, fields displaying 31 major hybrid rice varieties grown in Belt and Road countries attracted more than 700 rice experts and businesspeople on Friday to the golden paddy-themed national park in Sanya, Hainan province.

They had gathered on the tropical island in South China to attend the four-day …

Boosting plants’ uptake of vitamins and minerals

February 26th, 2019 / The Scientist, US

The corn Elsbeth Walker grows looks a bit strange. Its leaves are streaked with yellow, instead of being entirely green. This yellow-streaked corn is a mutant that has trouble taking in iron, making it hard for the plant to create chlorophyll, a green pigment involved in photosynthesis.

Walker, a molecular biologist at the …

GM maize’s surprising benefit

February 25th, 2019 / Youtube.com

Reporter Joseph Opoku Gakpo tells the story of how African farmers are excited about GMO maize engineered to resist the destructive stem borer pest, which has also shown promising resistance to the devastating fall armyworm pest. Watch the …

Growing threat to food from decline in biodiversity

February 25th, 2019 / BBC, UK

The plants, animals, and micro-organisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline, according to a UN study.

If these critical species are lost, the report says, it “places the future of our food system under severe threat”.

The study says that land-use changes, pollution, and climate change are all …

How our plants have turned into thieves to survive

February 20th, 2019 / Phys.org

Scientists have discovered that grasses are able to short cut evolution by taking genes from their neighbours. The findings suggest wild grasses are naturally genetically modifying themselves to gain a competitive advantage.

Understanding how this is happening may also help scientists reduce the risk of genes escaping from GM crops and …

Crop diversity worldwide is growing, but wheat, maize (corn), soy, and rice cover almost 50% of farmland worldwide

February 19th, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Global agriculture is increasingly dominated by just a handful of crops with limited genetic richness, says a group of researchers writing in PLOS One.

The research shows that despite an uptick in the diversity of crops grown across the planet over the last 60 years, the largest share of our crops worldwide is …

Fighting against pests

February 18th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali reports:

Farmers always worry about possible loss of their crops due to pests and crop diseases. It is one of the reasons they keep monitoring their fields to ensure all is going on well. Fighting pests and crop diseases increases the farmers’ production costs and often reduces profits.

It …

Evolutionary plant breeding helps farmers develop seeds for local conditions

February 15th, 2019 / Yale Climate Connections, US

A four-minute documentary video on evolutionary plant breeding, a technique that can help farmers develop plant varieties that thrive in local conditions. In the video, Italian plant geneticist Salvatore Ceccarelli explains how the technique could help farmers around the world respond to problems posed by climate change and gain autonomy. Over …