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Africa shifts towards genetic modification to boost food security

Africa shifts towards genetic modification to boost food security

THE designation of Ghana as the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) collaborating centre for Africa, focusing on plant breeding and associated technologies for food and nutrition, is being seen as a pivotal moment in the application of genetic modification in Africa. In a recent press statement, the IAEA announced its collaboration with the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, in a four-year commitment “to promote research and development on mutation breeding in West and sub-Saharan Africa.” Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Applications termed mutation breeding…
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‘Dangerous’ Tunisian droughts threaten food security

‘Dangerous’ Tunisian droughts threaten food security

BY TAREK AMARA and JIHED ABIDELLAOUI THREE years of drought have dried up Tunisian reservoirs, threatening harvests that are critical to the North African country's battered economy and pushing the government to raise tap water prices for homes and businesses. Since September only 110 million cubic meters of rain fell in Tunisia, about a fifth of the normal rate, and officials in the farmers union and the main trade union warned that grain crops will suffer - adding to existing problems of food supply. "The situation is very dangerous because of years of continuous drought," said Hammadi Habib, an Agriculture…
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Torrential floods in West Africa hurt food security

Torrential floods in West Africa hurt food security

DESIRE DANGA and MAHAMAT RAMADANE SOULOUKNA Mourga plodded through his flooded millet and cotton field in northern Cameroon and uprooted soggy stems that had a few bolls on them. All six hectares of mostly dead crops were under water. The 50-year-old father of 12 is one of an estimated 4 million people, many of them small subsistence farmers, in over a dozen countries in West and Central Africa that have seen their crops decimated by unusually heavy flooding. The floods have destroyed harvest for this season, while nearly 1 million hectares of farmland across the region remain under water, with…
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Senegal hones its home-grown rice to cut dependence on Asian imports

Senegal hones its home-grown rice to cut dependence on Asian imports

NGOUDA DIONE and ELODIE TOTO SENEGALESE cook Amy Gueye always tries to use imported rice at her family-run restaurant in Dakar, knowing that customers prefer the taste to home-grown varieties when they buy her spicy rice-based fish and chicken dishes. Senegal's rice production has soared in recent years as it seeks to reduce dependence on imports, but the population across West Africa has also risen fast, meaning countries still rely on Asia for supplies, particularly high-quality produce. With concern growing over food security across Africa, prompted by trade disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, that dependence is now…
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Sisi and Biden discuss food security, energy in first meeting

Sisi and Biden discuss food security, energy in first meeting

EGYPTIAN President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed food security and disruptions to energy supplies with U.S. President Joe Biden as they met for the first time on Saturday on the sidelines of an Arab summit in Jeddah, the Egyptian presidency said. The two leaders also addressed ways to revive a Palestinian peace process, and Egypt's efforts to secure a legally binding agreement over the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a statement from the Egyptian presidency said. Egypt has come under sharp financial pressure due to global price increases for commodities including wheat and oil that accelerated after Russia's…
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To what extent does climate change affect food insecurity? What we found in Lesotho

To what extent does climate change affect food insecurity? What we found in Lesotho

FOOD security is a growing concern globally, with two billion people being subject to moderate to severe food insecurity in 2019 according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Food security consists of four interconnected pillars: food availability (how much is produced), food access (can people afford food), food use (how is food prepared and consumed) and stability (how stable is the food supply and consumption). FRIEDERIKE OTTO, Associate Director, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford JASPER VERSCHUUR, DPhil Student, University of Oxford Large-scale droughts can have cascading impacts on all these four pillars. They can reduce yield which…
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How Cabo Verde indigenous beans could boost food security

How Cabo Verde indigenous beans could boost food security

WITH just over half a million inhabitants, Cabo Verde is heavily dependent on food imports. It spent $65 million importing food products in 2018. ANYSE SOFIA FERNANDES PEREIRA ESSOH, PhD Student Tropical Knowledge and Management at Nova SBE (specializes in genetics and agrobiotechnology), Nova School of Business and Economics This dependence on food imports puts the country in a vulnerable situation when it comes to food security. According to Food and Agricultural Organisation, Cabo Verde has not yet eradicated hunger, with about 5.3% of its population suffering from food insecurity. There are other challenges too. Cabo Verde is located in…
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Can the COVID-19 crisis help reboot urban food in Africa?

Can the COVID-19 crisis help reboot urban food in Africa?

GEOFFREY MAKHUBO and MARK WATTS THE COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis, but for millions of people it is also a local food crisis. City lockdowns, stalled supply chains and closed borders have all limited the flow of food from farms to consumers. School closures and rising unemployment mean millions of people are missing out on sufficient, healthy and nutritious meals. The African Union projects that 20 million jobs are at risk on the continent as a result of the pandemic. The Department of Statistics South Africa estimates that food insecurity will double, mirroring the World Food Program’s projection…
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Fishing for food security, Africa puts tilapia on the menu

Fishing for food security, Africa puts tilapia on the menu

SETH ONYANGO, BIRD MORE tilapia are finding their way onto African plates - and palates - as rapid population growth in Africa fuels demand for locally-produced fish and opening up a multi-billion dollar market for ‘aquapreneurs.’ Aqua-Spark’s new Aqua Insights Report show the continent will consume up to 29 million MT annually by 2050, up from the current 10 million MT. It represents a 190 per cent jump in demand against 86.57 per cent projected population growth in Africa which is expected to hit 2.5 billion in the period under review. On the menu is farmed tilapia, a freshwater fish,…
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African countries must embrace the concept of good food as good medicine

African countries must embrace the concept of good food as good medicine

FRESH impetus is being directed into identifying and advocating for scientific priorities in the area of food security and nutrition across Africa, with a particular focus on health implications. CHARLES WAMBEBE, Professor Extraordinaire, Tshwane University of Technology At the centre of these efforts is a five-year project initiated by the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Africa, a partnership between the African Academy of Sciences and the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD. This project aims to identify the continent’s most urgent research and development questions, and to advocate for investments in these areas. This will go a long way in helping the…
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