Category Archives: In the Media

Calling On Nature To Combat Insect Pests In Vietnam’s Cassava Crop

“Good bugs, huh?” –farmers and homeowners alike all too often give a blank stare when questioned about the beneficial insects that occur on their respective farm, backyard or flower patch. Though insects abound within natural and agricultural ecosystems across the globe, and a fair share of them provide vital services to humanity, we as human beings rarely pay attention to them. Aside from honeybees and the occasional colorful butterfly, we routinely regard these ‘creepy crawlies’ with disinterest, ignorance or even outright fear.

 

Yet, many of the insects that assume concealed lifestyles in the undergrowth are natural-born killers – specialized in combating pests through a process called ‘biological control’; a cost-free service provided by nature that’s worth $4-17 billion annually to US agriculture. Biological control thus constitutes a most lucrative alternative to pesticide-based measures for crop protection, helps protect the environment and is a core component of sustainable food systems.

One particular type of biological control, so-called ‘importation biological control’, is tailor-made to tackle invasive species problems. More specifically, invasive pests are managed through the careful selection and subsequent introduction of a highly effective, specialized beneficial insect (or ‘natural enemy’) from the pest’s region of origin. By doing so, scientists reconnect insect ‘friend and foe’ and thus restore balance in invaded ecosystems…

Continue reading the article by Dr. Kris Wyckhuys on Science Trends.

World Potato Congress highlights scientific advances

Tubers were the talk of the town in Cusco, Peru during the week of May 27, when the 10th World Potato Congress (WPC) and the 28th Congress of the Latin American Potato Association (ALAP) were held together for the first time.

The event drew more than 800 participants from 50 countries to the potato’s center of origin for four days of scientific presentations, networking, field trips and celebration of the potato’s cultural and economic importance. 

The WPC is the most important international event for potato scientists and businesses. It is held every three years in a different country and is organized by the non-profit World Potato Congress Inc. and local partners.

Continue reading on Potato Pro. 

Tanzania: Banana Experts Meet to Discuss Hybrid Varieties

An international project whose goal is to boost banana production in Tanzania and Uganda brings together a team of international researchers to deliberate on delivery of hybrid varieties to farmers.

The team will starting today to Friday gather at Arusha-based Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) to review their progress and plan for next years’ activities. “The Breeding Better Banana project is focused on breeding varieties that farmers like and with resistance against the key problems.

However, bananas are difficult to breed because they are sterile and do not produce seeds. “Breeders deal with this (challenge) by using fertile parent varieties that produce seed but the process takes long time,” Lead Banana Breeder at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and project’s team leader Prof Rony Swennen said.

Continue reading on All Africa.

New mobile app diagnoses crop diseases in the field and alerts rural farmers

Researchers who developed a new mobile application that uses artificial intelligence to accurately diagnose crop diseases in the field have won a $100,000 award to help expand their project to help millions of small-scale farmers across Africa.

Cassava brown streak disease is spreading westward across the African continent and, together with cassava mosaic disease, threatens the food and income security of more than 30 million farmers in East and Central Africa. Likewise, banana is threatened by fungal and bacterial diseases, including the devastating banana bunchy top virus, while late blight still plagues potato farmers.

Farmers often are unable to identify these diseases properly, while researchers, plant-health authorities and extension organizations lack the data to support them.

To stop the spread of these diseases, a team under the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) has developed a revolutionary app to accurately diagnose diseases in the field, which will be combined with SMS services to send alerts to thousands of rural farmers.

Continue reading on Phys.org 

BASICS targets sustainable seed system to transform cassava production

Stakeholders in the seed sector have been advised on the need to work towards a sustainable seed system in Nigeria. Project Director, Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS), Hemant Nitturkar, who made the call at a national stakeholder conference on cassava seed system, held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State, reminded participants that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54m tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about eight tons, less than half of the realisable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare.

Researchers say one of the factors responsible for the low yield of cassava is the low adoption of clean and healthy seeds of improved varieties of cassava by farmers.“We have to start with the right planting material and nurture it with good agronomy and weed management practices.  Each of these three components has the potential to raise the productivity of cassava by 30 per cent. If we do not improve our practices in seed, weed and agronomy, we are incurring a lost opportunity of about N200b annually from each of the three issues,” he explained.

Continue reading on The Guardian Nigeria

Uganda: Search for Ways to Improve Cassava Shelf Life

Millions of Uganda rely on cassava not only for food security but as a means of livelihood. However, an issue of concern is its shelf life.

To address this, a research is being conducted on technologies to enable longer storage of cassava as well as the economic feasibility.

Known as RTB-Endure, the project is implemented in Uganda by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas. It is led by International Potato Center (CIP) and is part of a wider three-year EU-funded project with technical support of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“First, we screened several cassava varieties to identify the ones characterised by slower post-harvest deterioration,” says Harriet Muyinza the principal investigator for the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) team on this project…

Read the full article on AllAfrica.com

Stakeholders combat banana bunchy top disease

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has intensified efforts aimed at preventing the further spread of Banana Bunchy Top Disease, that is debilitating banana production in sub-Saharan Africa.

The disease, first discovered in Nigeria, in Odologun community, in Yewa South council area in 2012 by IITA in collaboration with University of Ibadan and Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service (NAQS), has reportedly spread to Ado-Odo/Ota, Yewa North, Imeko-Afon and Abeokuta North council areas. It has also been recorded in Ibarapa zone of Oyo state…

Read the full article on The Guardian Nigeria

Nigeria: $11.6m for Sustainable Cassava Seed System

A four-year $11.6m project ending 2019 to develop a commercially sustainable cassava seed value chain in Nigeria, was recently launched at the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Titled ‘Building Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ the project funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is led by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). Despite being the largest cassava producer in Africa, Nigeria’s average yields of 14 tons per hectare are less than half of what may be realistically attainable.

The project aims to help Nigerian producers reach this potential through developing a commercially sustainable cassava seed value chain based on the purchase of quality seed by farmers provided by vibrant and profitable village seed entrepreneurs and basic seed production linked to cassava processors.

Read the full story on Science Africa

New Project To Build Commercially Sustainable Cassava Seed System In Nigeria

A four-year project (2015 – 2019) to develop a commercially sustainable cassava seed value chain in Nigeria, was officially launched Monday 18 April at a public event at the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Titled ‘Building a Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ (BASICS), the $USD11.6 million project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

Despite being the largest cassava producer in Africa, Nigeria’s average yields of 14 tons per hectare are less than half of what may be realistically attainable.

The project aims to help Nigerian producers reach this potential through developing a commercially sustainable cassava seed value chain based on the purchase of quality seed by farmers provided by vibrant and profitable village seed entrepreneurs and basic seed production linked to cassava processors

Read the full story at The Nigerian Voice