South-South collaboration helps in the fight against invasive pests

Invasive species cause widespread devastation and huge economic losses to smallholder farmers across the world, especially in sub-Saharan in Africa. Invasive species not only directly undermine farmer’s ability to achieve food security, they also affect smallholder agribusiness making farmers unable to link to profitable food value chains and international agricultural trade networks.
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Introducing APHLIS: The African Postharvet Losses Information System

Plantwise have recently been investigating APHLIS data, a great source of information on postharvest losses in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The system is run by a network of local experts who collect and supply data.  Using a shared database and a Losses Calculator APHLIS provide estimates of weight losses for cereal grains at a national and provincial…
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Managing plant pathogens by enhancing ecosystem services

  From the 8th-12th April experts met in Bellagio, Italy to develop a strategy to mitigate the effects emerging plant diseases are having on crops in sub-Saharan Africa. Among these experts were Plantwise staff. A major theme throughout the conference was ecosystem services and how agricultural biodiversity can enhance the provision of these services, creating resilient agro-ecosystems. Click on the…
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A Tale of Two Worlds: Favourable Projections, Looming Dearth

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the season of plenty, it is the season of famine – in short, it is that time when the positive medium term outlook for world agriculture is tempered by the “usual suspects.” For the fourth month running, the FAO Food Price…
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Keeping an eye on banana disease

Dr. Fen Beed is an experienced plant pathologist based at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He leads research for development activities to mitigate the impact of diseases of maize, soybean, cowpea, cassava, banana and vegetables and promotes plant diseases on problematic weeds. The first and critical step to manage…
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Research Projects Into Improving Crop Plants Receive Major Funding

The University of Illinois has received a five year, $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the photosynthetic properties of key food crops, such as rice and cassava. The project, entitled ‘RIPE- Realising Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency’ has the potential to benefit farmers by improving the productivity of staple food crops. Increasing photosynthetic efficiency…
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Cassava virus resistance breakthrough for Africa

One of the worst diseases of the tuber crop, cassava, in sub-Saharan Africa is Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD). Since its resurgence in East Africa in recent years, it is now spreading to Central and Western Africa. The other major disease of cassava in this region, Cassava mosaic disease (CMD), can also cause widespread damage…
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Solution to devastating weed draws closer for sub Saharan Africa

Striga, commonly known as witchweed, is a group of parasitic weeds found in over a third of cereal crops in sub Saharan Africa (SSA). Crops typically yield at least 40% less when they are parasitised by Striga, causing an estimated US$ 7 billion loss and reducing the food security of millions. 
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Climate change to affect agriculture

With the Rio +20 conference occurring just last month, the world leaders have been encouraged to take notice of the global poverty and environmental concerns. Climate change was a key issue and with the population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, the impact this will have on food security is of paramount importance, especially…
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Stopping Striga before it’s started

Striga, or witchweed, is the main weed affecting many cereals including rice, maize, sorghum and millet. One species, Striga hermonthica, is responsible for more crop loss in Africa than any other individual species of weed. Striga is a hemi-parasitic weed; its roots latch onto the roots of its host (e.g. a crop plant such as…
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