In the news...

Scientists make breakthrough in fight against cassava diseases

August 29th, 2017 / Daily News, Tanzania

Scientists have identified the first ever genetic markers associated with resistance to two deadly cassava viral diseases in Tanzania’s grown varieties.
The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in a statement availed to the ‘Daily News’ yesterday, identified the two varieties as Namikonga and Albert.
Mostly grown by Tanzanian farmers, the varieties …

Can epigenetics change the way we breed crops for drought and climate change?

August 24th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Crops that can withstand the ravages of climate change or resist killer diseases? Many already have been developed — including varieties of bananas, cassava, wheat and oranges — but they languish on laboratory shelves as their creators navigate the complex, and sometimes contradictory, regulations developed over the years to deal …

Farmers and scientists embrace Naro technologies

August 22nd, 2017 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
There are efforts by scientists in agricultural sector in Uganda to breed key crops using conventional and biotechnology mechanism in a bid for farmers to grow crops which are resistant to pests and diseases and tolerant to drought to achieve improved yields.
Scientists from the National Agricultural …

Can crop biotechnology boost food security in Nigeria?

August 21st, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Since his assumption of office in May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has repeated said that the nation’s economy must be diversified to, especially Agriculture which “must cease from being treated as development programme but be treated as business. Our goal will be to pursue government supported private sector agriculture value …

The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves

August 21st, 2017 / Phys.org

A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study shows.
Sarah Feakins, a scientist at USC who has studied leaf wax in the context …

Enhancing powdery mildew resistance in wheat

August 17th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) suffers significant yield losses due to powdery mildew, a major fungal disease caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt). The enhanced disease resistance1 (EDR1) gene plays a negative role in the defense response against powdery mildew in Arabidopsis thaliana, making EDR1 a target for improving …

Tanzania: Ambitious new plan aims to double production of coffee

August 17th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

Coffee production in Tanzania could more than double in four years’ time if an action programme to increase the competitiveness of small holder farmers is successfully implemented.
The ten-year programme launched in 2011/2012 aims to increase coffee production and quality from 50,000 tonnes a year by then to 150,000 tonnes in …

Plants love microbes – and so do farmers

August 10th, 2017 / UQ News, Australia

Increasingly, farmers want to capitalise on beneficial microbes to support their crops, and science can assist the design of effective crop probiotics to make crops healthier, hardier and more productive, by increasing their resilience to pests, diseases and environmental stresses, and improving access to nutrients. Read …

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

August 7th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Which is more disruptive to a plant: genetic engineering or conventional breeding?
It often surprises people to learn that GE commonly causes less disruption to plants than conventional techniques of breeding. But equally profound is the realization that the latest GE techniques, coupled with a rapidly expanding ability to analyze …

Capitalize on African biodiversity

August 4th, 2017 / Nature, UK

Artemisinin, ginkgolides, quinine, reserpine, scopolamine, paclitaxel. What do these molecules have in common? They are all extracted from plants and transformed into useful drugs, treating conditions including malaria, nausea, cancer and high blood pressure. None of the plants is from Africa.
Almost 60% of commercially available drugs are based on molecules …