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In a variable climate, good science pays

June 11th, 2018 / ACIAR

Climate variability significantly affects cropping productivity around the world, but perhaps nowhere more so than in eastern and southern African countries. Compounding this, low agricultural productivity and research capacity have historically led to chronic food insecurity.
Responding to this critical situation, ACIAR’s work over the past eight years in the region …

Why climate-smart agriculture is crucial to Africa

June 11th, 2018 / SciDev.net

Agriculture is a risky business in Africa due to dangers such as uncertain weather and poor rural infrastructure but a new detailed guide on the status of and opportunities for climate smart agriculture (CSA) could offer farmers the much needed break.
The detailed guide for CSA that cover 14 African countries …

‘Sexy plants’ on track to replace harmful pesticides to protect crops

June 8th, 2018 / The Guardian, UK

“Sexy plants” are on the way to replacing many harmful pesticides, scientists say, by producing the sex pheromones of insects which then frustrate pests’ attempts to mate.
Scientists have already genetically engineered a plant to produce the sex pheromones of moths and are now optimising that, as well as working on …

Breeding a better cowpea

June 8th, 2018 / AgriLinks

Q&A with Timothy Close, Director of the Feed the Future Climate-Resilient Cowpea Innovation Lab. Based at University of California, Riverside, the Feed the Future Climate-Resilient Cowpea Innovation Lab develops and applies advanced genomic tools to cowpea breeding to increase yield, drought tolerance and fungal resistance in cowpea (commonly known as …

Bill Gates to support 12 African countries in the battle against cassava disease

June 7th, 2018 / Pulse, Nigeria

American billionaire, Bill Gates, has lent support to 12 countries in Africa in battling Cassava Brown Streak Virus Disease, a disease that causes $100 million loss annually across the continent.
Gates, according to a report by The Guardian, is supporting the cause through his foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Delegates …

Africa needs another million PhD scientists to develop homegrown solutions

June 4th, 2018 / Quartz Africa

It’s been a recurring refrain: Africa still lags woefully behind the rest of the world in generating new scientific knowledge.
As figures collated by the World Bank in 2014 show, the continent—home to around 16% of the world’s population—produces less than 1% of the world’s research output. These are painful admissions …

Minimising further insect pests invasions in Africa

June 4th, 2018 / SciDev.net

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) recently offered prize money for the best and digital tools that can be used to help combat the fall armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread across Africa. The winners will be announced in the coming months.
Identified in over 35 African countries …

CRISPR-edited rice plants produce major boost in grain yield

May 29th, 2018 / Purdue Agricultural News

A team of scientists from Purdue University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has used CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to develop a variety of rice that produces 25-31 percent more grain and would have been virtually impossible to create through traditional breeding methods.
The team, led by Jian-Kang Zhu, a distinguished professor …

Obasanjo wants biotechnology to end hunger globally

May 25th, 2018 / Guardian, Nigeria

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has canvassed the adoption of biotechnology in agriculture to end hunger across the world.
“If agricultural yields remains the same, we would need to cultivate more than double the present amount of land to feed that population. That is 82 per cent of our total land area …

These CRISPR-modified crops don’t count as GMOs

May 23rd, 2018 / The Conservation

Yi Li, Professor of Plant Science, University of Connecticut, writes:
To feed the burgeoning human population, it is vital that the world figures out ways to boost food production.
Increasing crop yields through conventional plant breeding is inefficient – the outcomes are unpredictable and it can take years to decades to create …