Maize disease in Kenya no longer a mystery and being controlled

Maize showing symptoms of Maize chlorotic mottle virus © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA license, via Flickr)

Update [March 2013]: More information about the pests and viruses associated with Maize Lethal Necrosis disease can be found on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

In January this year, ProMed-mail reported an undiagnosed disease of maize that had been destroying farmers’ crops in the Rift Valley of Kenya since the previous September. The Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya swiftly took action to investigate the problem, and at the end of May, the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Dr Sally Kosgei announced their conclusions. Read more of this post

Banana genome revealed to aid crop yield improvement.

It is hoped this research will improve banana crop yields. (CC BY 3.0 Forest & Kim Starr)

Scientists working at CIRAD, a French research centre, have sequenced the banana genome for the first time. The researchers have been able to trace the evolution of the banana, as well as study the current genetic make-up of the species. This will help future research into why this crop is so susceptible to pests and disease. Improved varieties could then be developed, producing higher yields for farmers.

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Big names ask British Prime Minister to act on hunger issues

It is hoped the UK hunger summit will step up efforts to tackle hunger © FMSC (CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr)

Today, David Beckham, in his role as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron to deliver a letter calling for action on nutrition and hunger issues in developing countries. The letter, signed by UNICEF supporters including over 50 well-known sports and entertainment stars, requests that Mr Cameron makes a bold move at a food security summit to be held in London on the final day of the Olympics.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (26 July 12)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include identification of a new citrus disease in China, the first incidence of Banana bunchy top virus in Benin, and the first time that leaf spot disease has been caused by the fungus Dactuliophora on cowpea in India.

Banana bunchy top virus has been found for the first time in Benin © Malcolm Manners (CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr)

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Plantwise Knowledge Bank fully launched

Knowledge Bank country homepage for Kenya © CABI

The Plantwise Knowledge Bank has now gone live! This central portal for collated global information on crop pests and diseases brings together international science and local material. It is targeted at providing knowledge to all users involved in plant health systems – from farmers on the ground, to researchers and academics, to governments and policy makers.

The most significant development for the Knowledge Bank since its launch as a prototype last year is that information can now be easily filtered by country. The country homepages display relevant information on local pests and their treatment.
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Update: Plant Health News (18 July 12)

Striga parasitises sorghum and other crops © Ton Rulkens (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including new varieties of sorghum resistant to Striga, a new fungus attacking citrus in China, and a greater insight into how cyst nematodes attack soybeans.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news! Read more of this post

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (12 July 12)

© Stephen Ausmus, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org (CC BY 3.0 license)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include three new nematode species found in the rhizosphere of potatoes in China, the first record of the mushroom brown blotch Pseudomonas tolaasii in Serbia, and two species of ambrosia beetle found for the first time in Thailand.

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Climate change to affect agriculture

Sorghum is likely to be badly hit by climate change. Flickr Bob Nichols CC BY.

With the Rio +20 conference occurring just last month, the world leaders have been encouraged to take notice of the global poverty and environmental concerns. Climate change was a key issue and with the population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, the impact this will have on food security is of paramount importance, especially with only a finite amount of land suitable for crop growth. The focus is therefore on finding ways to increase yields from the existing agricultural land. Read more of this post

Update: Plant Health News (04 July 12)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including frosts affecting citrus in Argentina, Plum pox virus in Japan, and new disease resistant bean varieties in Rwanda.

Japan’s Ome plum orchards are threatened by Plum pox virus © Yoshizumi Endo (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news! Read more of this post

Plantwise plant clinics start up in China

Pilot plant clinic opened in Guangxi, Southwest China © CABI

A pilot scheme of Plantwise clinics has started in China. Huanhuan Wan and Caroline Scotter-Mainprize report on the success of the first clinic session in Southwest China.

China’s first Plantwise plant clinic was successfully established in Rongjiang town, Xing’an county, Guangxi province, Southwest China on 19 May 2012. A great number of local farmers arrived with problem crop samples to consult the plant doctors; Han Chuyuan, a vineyard owner, travelled more than 40km with his samples of pest-damaged vines and grapes. Read more of this post

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