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.
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the potential impact of climate change on food security in Sub-Saharan Africa, the use of biocontrol to manage fruit fly in Kenya and the impact of Fusarium on banana production in Honduras.
“Open source software is accompanied by a licence that encourages people to share it and create new programs with it, and at the same time prevents anyone from releasing a program that uses the code under any other form of licence. The creativity embedded in the code cannot be privatised. Kloppenburg and a group of like-minded seed companies, plant breeders and academics want to apply similar licences to plant genetic resources.” Continue reading →