Why the green peach aphid is such a successful pest

Myzus persicae (green peach aphid); an alate (winged) adult
Myzus persicae (green peach aphid); an alate (winged) adult

Recent research highlights why the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) is one of the most successful crop pests. These findings will help further the development of effective management and control measures which will ultimately reduce worldwide crop losses.

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A WhatsApp-like app for the tech-savvy farmer

By Nilesh Christopher. Reblogged from The Economic Times of India.

A WhatsApp like app for the tech-savvy farmer

Before the start of the next crop planting season, third generation farmer Krishna Balegayi – who has been farming for 25 years – is sure to take the help of an Android app to better his yield.

Bangalore-based startup Nubesol technologies has created a WhatsApp-like messaging app through which farmers can chat with eminent agricultural scientists, and discuss the factors contributing to the poor yield.

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Calibration is the key

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A farmer spraying his crops in Uganda. Awareness of how to use chemicals safely is limited and this farmer isn’t wearing the right protective clothing for spraying.

Do farmers know how to calibrate their sprayer so they are mixing the right amount of pesticide with water to spray their crops?

When we asked the Basooka Kwavula farmer group from Wakiso district in Central Uganda, we found that not many of them do. They all saw the process as complicated and even if they attempted to do it accurately once, they would use those settings for a season or more rather than repeating each time they needed to spray.

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Scientists discover new crop-destroying Armyworm is now “spreading rapidly” in Africa

Scientists discover new crop-destroying Armyworm is now “spreading rapidly” in Africa

New research announced today by scientists at CABI confirms that a recently introduced crop-destroying armyworm caterpillar is now spreading rapidly across Mainland Africa and could spread to tropical Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years, becoming a major threat to agricultural trade worldwide.

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Bringing financial services to smallholder farmers

Microfinance in India
Microfinance in India. Photo: Peter Haden (CC BY 2.0)

Financial inclusion has made considerable progress in recent years. There are now a wide range of financial products which can help small farmers: debt financing, short term working capital to finance purchasing of inputs, long term working capital to finance machinery, equity and factoring. Whereas banks used not to want to go the ‘last mile’, ICT innovations have made it possible and profitable to do so. Vision Fund, for example, has over 1.2 million customers.

There is nonetheless still a large financing gap for smallholders: $50billion is being offered, but over $200 billion is needed. This means that smallholders often have to resort to loan sharks. In India for example 37% of loans are still from the informal sector with interest rates of 20-40%.

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Good growth relies on good seeds

Anethum graveolens (dill); dried seeds.Seeds are the unsung heroes of agriculture, and modern varieties provide beneficial traits such as drought tolerance and cooking quality. Some varieties are even designed to provide a platform with which to provide other products, such as seed treatments conferring additional insect and disease protection.

The lack of modern varieties, particularly in developing countries, is a major constraint on smallholder productivity. A commonly quoted figure of 35% penetration of modern varieties in Africa is probably an overestimate and the real figure is closer to 20-25%. As an example there are no modern varieties used on 6 million hectares of sorghum in Mali and the situation is similar for groundnuts.

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Game changers: digital agriculture and new technologies

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Tablets being used at a Plantwise plant clinic in India. Photo: CABI

ICTs play a pivotal role in facilitating solutions for smallholder farmers and the markets they are trying to access. For GLOBALG.A.P., the world’s leading farm assurance program, the only way to make the auditing of the 160,000 farms it covers economically viable is through technological solutions. CABI’s Plantwise programme also relies on ICTs for collecting data from plant clinics and to share plant health knowledge via the Knowledge Bank. Similarly, the provision of micro-finance and insurance services for smallholder farmers has only been made possible through advances in mobile technology.

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