In the news...

September 2nd, 2015 / B4FA
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This week, we lead with a feature asking how we will be able to feed the 9 billion people likely to populate the world by 2050 while showing what percentage of household income is currently spent on food. There are big differences around the world, and this article also questions whether cheap food and good food are synonymous. We balance these with a story from the Food Tank listing 34 indigenous fruit, vegetables and grains that are nutritious, delicious and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in rural communities across the globe. More widely cultivated, could they help feed our growing population? Focusing on agricultural bioscience, WIPO Magazine discusses a hot agricultural issue – the trade-off between the need to offer incentives to invest in new innovation so that new and improved crops and technologies are available down the line and the need to ensure public access to the benefits of existing innovation.

The controversy surrounding genetic modification continues despite such benefits as a new blight-resistant potato and gluten-free wheat that can help the 1 per cent of people around the world who are gluten-intolerant. We report on how scientists are closing in on discovering how plant sensors detect pathogens; how they evaluate potential health problems of GMOs and on how GMO crops benefit small vegetable farms as well as large industrial farms. And two further pieces really sum up the issue, the first arguing that biotech can help feed those in desperate need – it’s a valuable technology that can do good things, with a balance of risk and benefit – while the second grounds us with the thought that GM technology isn’t good or evil – it’s what we do with it that counts. The whole issue of feeding the world is put in sharp focus by the Director General of the FAO who said ‘far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing’.

This week has seen optimism for improving food security and more in Africa, despite climate change impacting crop production on the continent. We report on how Africa is ramping up efforts to fight malnutrition; on Africa’s hottest industries, which include agriculture; on the innovators and entrepreneurs who will unlock Africa’s agribusiness promise; on an African Development Bank (AfDB) initiative to empower women in African agriculture and on a call from the Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture for Southern African countries to unleash Africa’s considerable agricultural potential. And to back all this up, there is confirmation of the importance of raising awareness and informing African smallholders about new technologies – that’s where good journalism comes in.

This week has also seen three positive developments: the EU, UK and others are investing N900bn in Nigeria’s agriculture; cereal farmers in Kenya will benefit from a Sh3.5 billion Kenya Cereals Enhancement Programmethat was launched by Deputy President William Ruto; and Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that his country wants to use its agricultural technology to improve African food production.

At the farm level, we report on innovative PICS bags that provide a low-cost, practical way of reducing post-harvest losses in cereal crops due to insect infestations and on how farmers planting rice, potatoes, wheat, beans and maize can almost double their produce by using micronutrient fertilisers. Lastly B4FA Fellow Loninda Afadraru explains how planting different trees in crop lands contributes to higher crop and animal productivity and helps the soil, while B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali appeals for farmers to be taught what constitutes a balanced diet, encouraged to produce a variety of foodsto eat regularly in sufficient amounts and how that all relates to the food crops the grow and the livestock they produce.

Thank you as ever for joining us, and please send questions, comments and links to karen@b4fa.org.

Biosciences & plant genetics around the world
How will we fill 9 billion bowls by 2050?
Thomson-Reuters, US

34 indigenous crops promoting health and feeding the world
The Foodtank, US

Who benefits from IP rights in agricultural innovation?
WIPO, Switzerland

GM technology isn’t good or evil – it’s what we do with it that counts
The Guardian, UK

Gluten-free GM wheat can help celiac patients: that’s 1 in 100 people
Biology Fortified, US

Sustainable potato that resists blight given green light, but anti-GMO activists remain opposed
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Public-private partnerships can address hidden hunger and nutrient deficiencies by food fortification — adding vitamins and minerals
SciDev.net

Genetically modified trees are being ‘strangled’ by red tape
BBC, UK

GMO crops benefit small vegetable farms as well as large industrial farms
Genetic Literacy Project, US

How scientists evaluate potential health problems of GMOs
Genetic Literacy Project, US

How plant sensors detect pathogens
Eurika Alert, AAAS, US

Biotech can help feed those in desperate need – it’s a valuable tech that can do good things, with a balance of risk and benefit.
The Gainsville Sun, US

What percentage of household income is spent on food? Big differences, and are cheap & good the same?
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Bt crops safe to eat, reduce pesticide use and collateral damage to beneficial insects
Genetic Literacy Project, US

The misleading war on GMOs: the food is safe but the rhetoric is dangerous.
The Slate, US

Why activists, but few farmers, complain they can’t save patented seeds
Genetic Literacy Project, US

Germany moves to ban genetically modified crops
Food Navigator.com

‘Far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing’ – Director-General Jacques Diouf, FAO
Seameo Searca Bic, Philippines

Pan-Africa
CGIAR Report: Climate change impacts on African crop production
CCFAS, Denmark

How Africa is ramping up efforts to fight malnutrition
Gainhealth, Nigeria

Innovators and entrepreneurs will unlock Africa’s agribusiness promise
Quartz Africa

Africa’s hottest industries – public infrastructure, agriculture and other growth support services.
Moneyweb, South Africa

Plan to empower African women in agriculture
African Development Bank (AfDB), Côte d’Ivoire

We can’t ignore the air pollution crisis in Africa’s fast-growing megacities. It affects crops, too
The Conversation, UK

Innovative PICS bags provide a low-cost way of reducing post-harvest losses in cereal crops due to insect infestations
Graphic Online, Ghana

African data champions take up SDG challenge
SciDev.net

Open-access database will help water-scarce countries get more crop per drop
FAO, Italy

Production diversity and dietary diversity in smallholder farm households
PNAS, US

Better journalism can benefit farmers, raising awareness and informing smallholders about new technologies that can improve productivity.
AfricanBrains, UK

What Africa can learn from China about growing its agribusiness sector
The Conversation, UK

Southern African countries urged to unleash agriculture potential say DG of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
This Day Live, Nigeria

Ethiopia: Ministry to enhance agricultural land proper use in GTP II
The Ethiopian Herald

Israel wants to use its agricultural technology to improve food African production, and win friends says PM Netanyahu
Yahoo, US

Kenya: Farmers to Benefit From Sh3.5 Billion Deal
The Star

Kenya: A snapshot of farmers adapting to climate change – report
Eldis, UK

Mozambique: President Nyusi wants to see agriculture making a greater contribution to the country’ gross domestic product (GDP)
allAfrica.com

Farmers planting rice, potatoes, wheat, beans and maize can almost double their produce with the use of micronutrient fertilisers
The New Times, Rwanda

SA farmers should make use of more GMOs to protect themselves against droughts in the future
Iafrica.com, South Africa

Zambia: ‘Climate Change Affecting Nutrition, Food Security,’ says Agriculture and Livestock Minister Given Lubinda
The Times of Zambia

Zambia calls on Africa to adopt climate resilient agricultural policies
Coastweek.com, Kenya

Hunger hits 1.5 million in Zimbabwe as maize production halves
Business Day Live, South Africa

Zimbabwe: 10-Point Plan for economic growth includes agriculture
The Herald, Zimbabwe

Ghana
Prof Gyapong urges WACCI to help address food insecurity
GhanaWeb, Ghana

Africa’s agriculture is in a sore state – it can’t address economic woes if citizens refuse to trade in the continent According to a Pan-Africanist and law Professor, Professor P.L.O Lumumba
Pulse.com

Nigeria
Nigeria: AfDB to empower women in agriculture
Daily Trust, Nigeria

EU, UK and others invest N900bn in Nigeria’s agriculture
Punch, Nigeria

Nigeria: ‘More than 70 per cent of Benue (State) foods are wasting’
This Day, Nigeria

Biotechnologist Dele Fapohunda urges government to formulate a mycotoxin policy to regulate the amount of aflatoxin in food
Vanguard, Nigeria

Uganda
From B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali: Food production efforts should include nutrition education
Daily Monitor, Uganda

Planting different trees in crop lands contributes to higher crop and animal productivity and helps the soil. B4FA Fellow, Lominda Afadraru
Daly Monitor, Uganda

Invest time and hard work for success in farming.
Daily Monitor, Uganda

When small holder farmers form cooperatives, NARO can support them with technical skills to enable them establish community seed banks.
East African Business Week, Uganda

Getting Uganda’s agriculture plans ready for climate change
CCAFS, Denmark

Uganda: Boom-Bust Farming in Uganda
allAfrica.com

Beyond Kony: agriculture flourishes In Northern Uganda after rebels exit
AFK Insider, US

Uganda Government must not give away research land
The Sunrise, Uganda

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