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. Continue reading

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! Continue reading

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

© Stephen Ausmus, USDA Agricultural Research Service, (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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