Update: Plant Health News (11 Feb 15)

Maize plants infested by Striga © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Maize plants infested by Striga © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Striga resistant maize yielding well in Kenya, scientists in the UK  finding a potential way to control leaf blotch disease in wheat and a grant under the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) to help small scale rice producers by creating better linkages in the rice value chain.

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

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Update: Plant Health News (28 Jan 15)

Ants seen on an Indonesian cocoa pod © Sanjit Das/CABI

Ants seen on an Indonesian cocoa pod © Sanjit Das/CABI

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including native ants helping to improve cocoa yields in Indonesia, unseasonal rains affecting crops in India and local mangoes in the Philippines declared free from mango seed weevil.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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World Food Prize 2014

Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (left)  in the field with Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (left) in the field with Norman Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

This week, the President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn announced that Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram has been selected as the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate for his contribution to improving wheat yields. Dr. Rajaram’s work on crossing winter and spring wheat varieties resulted in an impressive 480 wheat varieties which have been released in 51 countries on six continents and benefited countless farmers and consumers around the world.

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Factsheet of the month: June – Wild Oat Weed in Wheat

Wheat is one of the most important crops grown around the world. Its high protein content compared to other cereals  means it is a key component in the diets of  many. It is also easy to cultivate, versatile and contains a range of vitamins and minerals.

Although pest resistant varieties of wheat have been developed, there are still numerous pests that can affect the yield of wheat, such as weeds. Wild oat is an example of one of these weeds. Wild oat resembles wheat so it often goes unnoticed until the wheat crop is already being affected. For information about how to identify wild oat in your wheat field, and how to manage this weed, please read the ‘Wild Oat Weed in Wheat’ factsheet, written by staff at the Plant Protection and Quarantine Department of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture. Please note this factsheet is also available in Dari.

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Update: Plant Health News (23 Apr 14)

The proportion of coffee producing areas used to cultivate shade-grown coffee has reduced by almost 20% in as many years (Fernando Rebelo, GFDL)

The proportion of coffee producing areas used to cultivate shade-grown coffee is decreasing (Fernando Rebelo, GFDL)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the postharvest pathology of beans, a reduction in the proportion of shade grown coffee and the filamentous fungus that may be effective at controlling sugarcane nematodes.

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Factsheet of the month: April – Wheat stem rust

wheat stem rustLast week, the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security took place in Mexico, bringing together thought leaders, policymakers, and leading agricultural research-for-development organizations to discuss the role of wheat in the future of food security. Wheat is an extremely important crop that provides around 20% of the world’s calories but this staple crop is threatened in some areas by a fungal disease called stem rust.

To find out about the symptoms and management of wheat stem rust, please click the Wheat stem rust factsheet which was produced in Rwanda (also available in Kinyarwandan).

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Crowdsourcing: citizen farmers help in the fight against climate change

Wheat is susceptible to the effects of climate change © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA licence)

Wheat is susceptible to the effects of climate change © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA licence)

Farmers in India are helping in to fight the effects of climate change by lending their data collection skills for research into wheat. Biodiversity International is working with partners such as the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and the IFFCO Foundation as part of an initiative called Seeds4Needs. This initiative aims to identify the crop varieties that are likely to perform best under future climatic conditions, via a number of different projects. One such project is currently being run in Vaishali, in India’s Bihar state. Seeds4Needs are using a method called ‘crowdsourcing’ to collect vital data on crop varieties, while farmers benefit by gaining access to more crop varieties. These farmers have been dubbed “citizen scientists” to reflect the time, effort and expertise they contribute to the project. As part of the work, each farmer is provided with seeds from 3 of the 10 wheat varieties being tested. The farmer grows all 3 varieties, then ranks them on characteristics such as yield and quality of grain.
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