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Tanzania: new maize seeds impress farmers as yields improve

April 12th, 2018 / AllAfrica.com

The Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) in cooperation with Ilonga Agricultural Research Institute have produced water-efficient maize seeds under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (Wema) project.
Trials have been made and Isamilo villagers at Kamwanga Ward in Geita District are happy with results.
Their Muungano Group was given Wema 2109 …

Wheat research discovery yields genetic secrets that could shape future crops

April 12th, 2018 / John Innes Centre, UK

A new study has isolated a gene controlling shape and size of spikelets in wheat in a breakthrough which could help breeders deliver yield increases in one of the world’s most important crops.
The team from the John Innes Centre say the underlying genetic mechanism they have found is also …

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 …

Vaccines for plants? RNA spray could help protect crops from pests and disease

April 11th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Novel technologies are being sought to replace the traditional pesticides used to protect plants, particularly edible plants such as cereals. A new collaborative project between the University of Helsinki and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is shedding light on the efficacy of environmentally friendly RNA-based vaccines that …

Agroecology’s potential to transform food systems for the better

April 10th, 2018 / BizCommunity Africa

According to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at the second International Agroecology Symposium, agroecology can contribute to healthier and more sustainable food systems. “We need to promote a transformative change in the way that we produce and consume food. We need to put forward sustainable food systems that offer …

GMO crops can empower smallholder women farmers in Africa

April 9th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Efforts to get products of modern agricultural technologies, such as GM crops, into the hands of farmers have so far been stymied by the absence of an enabling national policy. Uganda’s National Biosafety Act, passed by Parliament in October 2017, was referred back to lawmakers by President Museveni, who cited …

New genomic tool searches wheat’s wild past to improve crops of the future

April 9th, 2018 / John Innes Centre, UK

A new genetic directory launched today will enable researchers and breeders to scan the genomes of wild relatives of modern wheat to find disease-fighting properties lost to domestication.
The time-travelling trawl is possible following the launch of Open Wild Wheat, a directory which includes the genetic sequences of 150 wild wheats …

Hybrid swarm of ‘mega-pests’ threatens crops worldwide, warn scientists

April 9th, 2018 / The Independent, UK

A pair of major agricultural pests have combined to produce a “mega-pest” that could threaten crops around the world.
Losses from the original pest species, cotton bollworms and corn earworms, already amounts to billions of dollars worth of food.
But a hybrid of the two, shows signs of rapidly developing …

Project using R&D is changing wheat farming in Africa

April 9th, 2018 / SciDev.net, UK

Wheat farmers in 12 African Countries – Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are benefiting from a project aimed at increasing production and reducing demand gap of …

The USDA says Crispr-edited foods are just as safe as ones bred the old-fashioned way

April 4th, 2018 / Quartz

Last week the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would no longer regulate crops that have been genetically edited.
Gene editing, which includes Crispr techniques, enables researchers and now farmers, to genetically nip and tuck the DNA of living things and sell them to consumers. This could mean …