Researchers underscore importance of harmonization of agricultural regulations

AFRICA – Research experts have underscored the importance of harmonization of individual country regulations as well as the close coordination of government approaches for the long-term benefit of agricultural innovation in the African region. The experts explored the policy implications for seed systems in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region where genetically modified (GM) crops are being approved by different countries in the area. Good seed quality is important to a country’s agricultural productivity and much more to a continental sub-region. The availability of these seeds, on the other hand, is…

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KALRO follows up on improved chicken project in Kenya’s Migori County

KENYA – Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) officials have visited Migori farmers in Nyatike Sub County to evaluate how the upscaling KALRO improved indigenous chicken project is being implemented. In May 2020, KALRO with the support of the Kenyan Government and European Union, sponsored Blue Cross Nyakite, a non-governmental organization, with Ksh6.8m (US$ 61151)  to upscale KALRO improved indigenous chicken project among the residents of Migori particularly in Nyatike Sub County and Homabay. The KALRO team that was led by the Chief Researcher and National Project Coordinator, Dr…

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New hope for Ugandan biotech sector as scientists urge re-tabling of adoption bill

UGANDA – Ugandan scientists have issued a communique urging parliament to re-table the biotechnology adoption bill for further debate, raising new hope for the technology despite the previous disincentive regulatory climate. Faced with weather extremes, food insecurity and a fast-growing population, there is growing acceptance in Uganda for adopting innovative biotechnologies to address climate change-related agricultural challenges. Unlike its neighbor, Kenya, which has warmed up to and benefitted from biotechnology, Uganda has faced long odds, primarily due to the lack of a supportive biosafety law and low awareness about the…

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Tanzanian agricultural research institutes evaluate different rice hybrids for yield levels

TANZANIA – The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF),  the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), and Hybrid East Africa Limited (HEAL) have conducted a second season on-farm multilocation trial (MLT) to evaluate four rice hybrids for adaptability and performance in comparison to the three best commercially released rice inbreds in Tanzania. The trial will be conducted  across five locations namely, Babati, Ukiriguru, Kilombero, Morogoro and Mombo.  The four rice hybrids were among six hybrids evaluated during the first season MLTs concluded in December 2020. Data from the trial indicated that the…

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Nigeria consents open cultivation of genetically modified TELA maize

NIGERIA – The federal government of Nigeria has granted environmental approval for evaluation and open cultivation of TELA maize, a new maize variety genetically modified to tolerate moderate drought and resist the fall armyworm and stem borer. This development now places Nigeria one step closer to commercializing the biotech maize following in the footsteps of South Africa and Egypt. The TELA maize project builds on progress made from a decade of excellent breeding work under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project.  WEMA’s purpose was to develop drought-tolerant and…

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Africa launches Coalition for Communicating about Genome Editing

AFRICA –  A consortium of African countries has launched a coalition for communication of innovative technologies such as gene editing for promoting productivity on the continent. The African Coalition for Communicating about Genome Editing, a platform that will foster open and transparent dialogue on genome editing on the continent, was launched at the recently concluded Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication Symposium (ABBC 2021). The launch was presided over by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization and Trade Hon. Betty Maina. Hon. Maina joined a host of bioscience stakeholders in welcoming the Coalition…

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Africa launches OFAB Day to commemorate strides in agricultural biotechnology

AFRICA – African countries hosting the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), a project of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), have designated September 28 as a day to celebrate strides in agricultural biotechnology recorded by various chapters of the organization. OFAB facilitates constructive conversations among key stakeholders and decision-makers on agricultural biotechnology. For both policymakers and the larger public, OFAB facilitates quality engagements and conversations on the safety and benefits of modern biotechnology. It is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and is being implemented in…

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Nigerian farmers demand for more PBR cowpea following increased yields

NIGERIA – Nigeria’s public sector scientists who developed the high-yielding genetically modified cow pea variety have struggled to produce enough certified seeds to meet the huge farmer demand. Nigeria approved commercial use of the pod borer-resistant (PBR) cowpea in December 2019. As farmers who planted it in trials in 2020 spread the news about how it helped protect their fields from attacks by the voracious pod borer pest, more farmers became interested in trying it out. Hajia Dijesaidu, coordinator of the Small-Scale Women Farmers Organization, said she first planted the…

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Cuban farmers to receive bioengineered tomatoes, soybeans seeds

CUBA – Cuba is set to kick off dispersal of bioengineered tomatoes and soybeans (Giron 50 and Cuvin 22) seeds following successful field trials earlier in the year. With the help of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Cuba’s National Institute of Agricultural Science (INCA) has been implementing breeding programmes using irradiation and biotechnology to develop new varieties that can better cope with extremes in growing conditions imposed by climate change. They will now be distributed to…

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Biotech stakeholders at ABBC2021 moot for enhanced scientific collaboration

AFRICA – Biotech stakeholders gathered at this year’s Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC2021) symposium have called for enhanced scientific collaboration, government/political goodwill and development of public-private partnerships in the biotechnology sector. The stakeholders opined that Africa’s biotechnology sector is poised to develop faster if all involved parties cooperated in their concerted efforts to address challenges that affect the sector. The 4th of the ABBC symposium series first held in 2015, ABBC2021 runs from September 20-24 and brings together stakeholders to take stock of gains that modern biotechnology has made in…

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