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Welcome to Issue 10 of the DrumBeat!

This issue takes us to Sudan where Dr. Rasha Omer, Deputy Director of Biotechnology and Biosafety at the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC), makes a case for genetically modified drought tolerant food crops. In 2017, Sudan was the only other African country, besides South Africa, to plant biotech cotton. The country planted 192,000 hectares of insect resistant (Bt) cotton, an increase from the 120,600 hectares planted in 2016.

In our story of the month segment, Ms. Obaiya Utoblo, a PhD student from the University of Ghana, reflects on her PhD journey and calls for more inclusion of women voices in food production debates. The video of the month highlights how Tigray Biotechnology Center in Ethiopia contributes to the country’s food security and agro-industry sector.

Lastly, the United Nations biodiversity conference is scheduled to take place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 17 to 29 November 2018. A number of critical issues will be addressed at the conference including digital sequence information, synthetic biology, and other effective area-based conservation measures. ISAAA AfriCenter will be actively participating to dispel misconceptions that could adversely affect decisions at the meeting, and attend events convened to discuss contentious agenda items. Follow our twitter handle @afri_isaaa for real-time updates from the conference.

Happy reading!


Biotech crops approved for commercial use in September 2018

Country Crop Modified trait Date of approval
Nigeria Soybean Herbicide tolerance October 2, 2018
Brazil Maize Herbicide tolerance and Insect resistance October 12, 2018
Cotton Herbicide tolerance
USA Cotton Insect resistance October 18, 2018
20th International Conference on Laboratory Biosafety and Personal Protective Equipment
UN Biodiversity Conference (COP14, COPMOP9, COPMOP3)
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) @10 Celebrations
Story of the month
Reflections from a Young Female Scientist: Women Voices in Food Production are Key

Growing up in the cool elevations of the Jos-Plateau, near central Nigeria, the sight of healthy looking, nutritious sweetpotato roots with diverse skin color was an inheritance nature afforded me. In the markets, they were usually displayed in cleverly crafted little pyramids for sale. Often, these nutritious roots made their way to my family’s table as food. Occasional visits to the village canvassed on my young mind an understanding about food production, and I witnessed first-hand, the challenges faced by farmers. These experiences perked my interest and quest for knowledge in agricultural development.

Bringing Climate Smart Agriculture to Scale: Experiences from the Water Productivity Project in East and Central Africa.

Since 2010, six research organizations in the region have implemented a regional project that sought to combat food insecurity, poverty and climate change by up-scaling Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies across farms and landscapes using the Climate Smart Landscape (CSL) approach. Several CSA technologies were evaluated and promoted across landscapes using this approach with remarkable success.

Exploring genetic diversity and disease response of cultivated rice accessions (Oryza spp.) against Pyricularia oryzae under rainfed upland conditions in Benin.

This study investigated the relationship between the genetic profile of cultivated rice (Oryza spp.) accessions and their resistance to rice blast. Huge differences in responses of rice accessions to P. oryzae were observed, ranging from highly susceptible to highly resistant. Twelve percent of all accessions were highly resistant to P. oryzae.

Detection of rust resistance in selected Zimbabwean and ICARDA bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) germplasm using conventional and molecular techniques.

Host resistance is the most effective and economical method to minimize yield losses caused by rusts. The aim of this study was to detect the presence of resistance in 75 wheat genotypes. The presence of rust resistance genes was investigated using simple sequence repeat and sequence tagged site markers. Cultivars grown in Zimbabwe lacked important rust resistance genes.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World: Building Climate Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition, FAO 2018
Global Status and Economic Benefits of Biotech Maize Production by 2017
Africa Agriculture Status Report 2018: Catalyzing Government Capacity to Drive Agricultural Transformation
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