Sweet potato improving Vitamin A status in Uganda

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A variety of sweet potato has been shown to decrease childhood blindness, when eaten regularly. The variety, called Orange Sweet Potato (OSP), provides higher levels of β- Carotene (the precursor the body uses to produce Vitamin A) than its white and yellow counterparts.
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MaryLucy’s diary – training plant doctors in Kenya

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Yesterday, Mrs Rael Taiy, the District Agricultural Officer for Trans Nzoia East, told us that her and the extension team are very happy about the plant clinics as the initiative greatly complements their extension work. Farmers present their ‘sick’ plants and they are given solutions immediately by the plant doctors. This reduces pest incidence and…
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US drought could spark a global food crisis

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The US is currently facing its most severe drought of the past 50 years, raising questions about the implications for global food security. The US is a major producer of grain, including maize and soybean, which have both been adversely affected by the drought, causing a knock-on effect for the global market. The predicted reduction…
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Big names ask British Prime Minister to act on hunger issues

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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…
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Plantwise plant clinics start up in China

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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…
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Pesticide use does not guarantee increased yields

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The ongoing decline of pollinators has caused a global concern. Factors contributing to this decline include among others, use of pesticides, habitat destruction such as bush burning, bee diseases and pests (Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Varroamite), and climate change.  Research in Ghana has revealed that cocoa and oil palm production is on the decline…
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Aphids Run Scared from GM Wheat

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Genetically Modified wheat, gifted with the ability to fight off plant pest attacks, is being grown in England. In a situation similar to the film The Happening, wheat crops are now able to defend themselves against aphids. In the barely-believable movie, plants gained the ability to release chemicals that affected people’s behaviour in order to…
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Which is the most important plant-pathogenic fungus?

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A survey by the journal, Molecular Plant Pathology, had 495 responses from international fungal pathologists on what they thought the most scientifically and economically important fungal plant pathogens were. Several of the ‘top 10’ fungi from these results are those that infect cereal crops, which isn’t surprising as cereals such as wheat and rice are…
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The road to sustainable intensification of agriculture

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Last week, Professor Tim Benton, the UK Global Food Security programme ‘champion’, wrote a guest blog post about ecosystem services and the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture. This week he follows on from this by looking at how farmers can integrate protection of ecosystem services into their land management without losing out finanically.
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Planet under Pressure

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A major international conference ‘Planet under Pressure (PUP)’ is being held in London, United Kingdom, this week, 26–29 March 2012. The meeting is being attended by scientists, industry leaders and decision makers. It will show whether science can, not only diagnose our environmental crisis, but also provide effective solutions, says David Dickson, SciDev’s editor, the official organisation…
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