In the news...

August 12th, 2015 / B4FA

This week has seen a report on US scientists are working to develop faster or more complete methods to test for mycotoxins in feed crops as a way to increase feed safety and animal performance – mycotoxins have a direct impact on animal particularly gastrointestinal health. Then there is a piece from the principal scientist of India’s National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources refuting the criticism surrounding the country’s first transgenic food crop and calling for the rapid commercialisation of Bt Brinjal which, she says is perfectly safe for human consumption. From Africa, there is a confirmation from Kenya that a genetically modified drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize variety, developed locally (WEMA Bt maize), is set to be launched in November, and a radio interview with Prof Alhassan, Director of Bio-Safety and Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in West Africa, about the trial of GM crops in Ghana which is now in its final stage. Lastly, we report on scientists from Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia in partnership with Egerton University in Kenya and Boku University in Vienna, Austria and the Uganda National Seed Potato producers Association working to address the region’s potato yield declines due to bacterial wilt.

A report from sends a message to those negotiating the new global climate treaty not to forget farmers.  In Africa, it says, climate change could lower crop yields, impacting food security, but the draft global pact appears silent on agriculture – global negotiations must re-focus on food security. More positively, we report on agricultural experts and policymakers who are re-imagining African agriculture in face of climate change, as well as on why Africa offers growing opportunities for agricultural products and how youth are the key to Africa’s success – after all it has the youngest population in the world and will have a labour force of a billion by 2040.

There are three more positive reports from Kenya, one reporting on a government initiative to make certified seeds available to 5,000 cotton farmers to address the shortfall in cotton production, a second explaining how a Kenyan company is offering loans to farmers with the interest rates charged linked to the quality of their soil, providing an incentive for preservation and improvement. The third tells the story of Amisha who saw the limitless potential in the super-fruit that is baobab (mabuyu), and what a good job she is making of selling its health benefits to the world.

This week’s contributions from B4FA Fellows include Naoh Nash’s video report on famers in Ghana’s Northern Region being taken through a maize demonstration farm, under the Integrated Agricultural Productivity Improvement and Marketing Project, to learn and adopt the best practices in maize cultivation and improve their farms’ yields. From Uganda, Asenath Byaruhanga tells B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru about mushroom growingand how her business has grown and now involves her whole family. Lominda also reports on how solar energycan provide a solution to phone owners in rural areas – especially farmers. And Michael Ssali, himself a farmer, explains why the choice of seed is critical in crop production.

Finally, two other stories have caught our eye this week, and made us smile. The first draws on a new study in The Lancet Global Health which demonstrates that people in Mali, Chad, Senegal and Sierra Leone enjoy some of the world’s healthiest diets, better than their counterparts in the US, the UK, Japan or Canada. The other reports on the competition to find Miss Uganda 2015. Miss Zahara Nakiyaga, the eventual winner, impressed judges and the public alike with her positive answers when asked about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – all contestants had attended a week-long agricultural camp during which they introduced to various crop agricultural technologies, including genetic modification.

Thank you as ever for joining us, and please send questions, comments and links to

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world
Bt Brinjal is safe for and should be commercialised at all costs says Dr Gurinderjit Randhawa.
The Tribune, India

North American researchers fight mycotoxins with increased testing, awareness., US

Is Glyphosate carcinogenic? WHO clarifies conflicting declarations
The Genetic Literacy Project, US

East meets west: How biotechnology accelerates shrinking of global economic divide.
The Genetic Literacy Project, US

Three ways GMO rice could improve world but tech hurdles and anti-GMO protests block way.
The Genetic Literacy Project, US

A study showing GM golden rice could alleviate vitamin A deficiency in children was retracted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Science, US

In Africa, climate change could lower crop yields, impacting food security, But a global pact on climate change appears silent on agriculture – that must change.

Why Africa offers growing opportunities for agricultural products.
The Conversation, US

Youth are the key to Africa’s success; it has the youngest population in the world and will have a labour force of 1 billion by 2040.
Can we feed the

Experts & policymakers re-imagine African agriculture in face of climate change.
UNEP, Kenya

Kenyan company offers loans to farmers with interest rates charged linked to soil, providing an incentive for soil preservation.

Kenya: the government will make certified seeds available to 5,000 cotton farmers to address the shortfall in cotton production.

Kenya: New genetically modified maize seed to be launched in November.
The Standard, Kenya

In Kenya, Amisha saw the limitless potential in the superfruit that is baobab (mabuyu), and she is doing a good job selling its health benefits to the world.
Farmbiz Africa, Kenya

Ethiopia: ‘We Should Not Fear GMOs As Long As We Strictly Follow the Bio-Safety Procedures,’ Dr. Tileye Feyissa.

From maize to rice – electricity cost hike impacts the food choices in South Africa.

East Africa: researchers partner to eliminate wilt disease as potato yields decline.

East Africa: new platform connects East Africa farmers with grain buyers

Zambia chosen to host the African Green Revolution Forum (September 30 to October 2)
Zambia Times

Zambia to benefit from over €70m for agriculture from the EU and the FAO aimed at boosting food security and sustainable agriculture.
Daily Mail, Zambia

Integrating agriculture & manufacturing vital – Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Daily Mail, Zambia

Fish farming a big hit in Africa as people turn to raising fish to complement their diets.

The Lancet Global Health: West Africans have some of the healthiest diets in the world.
Quartz Africa

B4FA Fellow Yao Noah Nash reports on Ghana’s IAPI&M project taking farmers through a maize demonstration to improve their yields.
You Tube

Radio interview with Prof Alhassan, Director of Bio-Safety and Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in West Africa, about the trial of GM crops in Ghana which is now in its final stage.
Ghana Broadcasting

The high cost of fertiliser and a lack of access to credit by smallholder farmers is eroding earnings.

Horticulture: green shoots for Ghana’s flower industry. As profit grows so does the capacity and this provides the opportunity to employ more women farmhands.
The Africa Report

Dr Ahmed Alhassan, the Deputy Minister in charge of Crops, reiterated the need for indigenous knowledge of the African farmer to be enhanced.

‘Our challenges are increasing’ say Nigeria’s maize farmers.
All Africa

Pastor Gideon Dagunduro, an award-winning bee farmer, organises training for people who seek to go into bee farming & has helped establish farms for many people across Nigeria.
All Africa

The next generation of billionaires from Africa will be farmers says Nigerian Minister
Farmbiz Africa, Kenya

Farmers urged to use available local technology by Charles Mpambwe of the Vocational Education and Training Authority.
All Africa

Why the choice of seed is critical in crop production – by B4FA Fellow, Michael Ssali.
Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Henry Lutaaya reports on how superior seeds and better farming practices have made Charles Lwanga a millionaire.
The Sunrise, Uganda

Asenath Byaruhanga tells B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru about mushroom growing and how the business has grown and now involves her whole family.
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Solar energy provides solution to phone owners in rural areas reports B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru.
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Protection of new varieties of plants is an important aspect of the agriculture sector.
Daily Monitor, Uganda

There are several opportunities in using modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve farming operations.
Daily Monitor, Uganda

New study suggests that good quality fertiliser is more important than agricultural education or microcredit for improving food security in Uganda.
The Guardian, UK

Train farmers in climate-smart agriculture says Agriculture Minister Tress Bucyanayandi.
New Vision, Uganda

GMO question determines winner of Miss Uganda 2015 – Zahara Nakiyaga.

Views and opinions in Week in Review are solely those of the author or authors and do not necessarily represent those of B4FA.