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The homecoming of African pasture grasses

October 10th, 2017 / Claudia Canales – B4FA

Brachiaria grasses, which originated primarily from natural grasslands in Africa, do not look particularly remarkable. Yet these forage species for feeding farm animals are the most widely used in the tropics, especially in Central and South America, where they were introduced in the middle of last century in an effort …

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 …

Plants become more tolerant when living in symbiosis with fungi

October 9th, 2017 / EurikaAlert

By developing a symbiotic relationship with fungi, plants not only become more tolerant to diseases but can also help contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices. This is the conclusion of a new study from the University of Gothenburg.
Most crops can form symbiosis with fungi to gain key nutrients. The fungi …

The immense challenge of desertification in sub-Saharan Africa

October 9th, 2017 / The Conversation

Today, dry areas represent more than 41% of land on the globe and they are home to more than two billion people.
They are the stage for the ongoing process of land degradation that is aggravated by climate fluctuations – particularly drought – and pressure exerted by human activities (including demographic …

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 …

Climate science: Getting African researchers involved

October 5th, 2017 / SciDev.net

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met for its 46th session in Montreal, Canada, from September 6-10. It reached an agreement on an outline of contributions from its three working groups to the Sixth Assessment Report, which is due to be published in 2022. It will now recruit a …

Africa’s agriculture needs a big dose of digital transformation

October 5th, 2017 / Digital Journal

Scientists are now calling for a technological transformation in how Africans undertake agricultural production. With almost three quarters of the workforce on the continent focussed on agriculture, such a change could lead to rapid innovation.
Looking at Africa as a whole, it is the agricultural sector that will see a revolution …