Knowledge for Development

Related developments

South Africa: new potatoes - blessing or curse?

The debate around GM crops in South Africa has flared up once again after the rejection of a permit application for the general release of the SpuntaG2, a potato that is resistant to the Potato Tuber Moth (PTM). While the developers argue that this potato is a blessing to small-scale farmers, who suffer the most from the pest, other organizations reject these claims. To boost both commercial and small-scale agricultural production, the South African government over time has allowed for the introduction of various genetically modified crops, such as maize and soy. The SpuntaG2 contains an introduced protein that kills caterpillars of the PTM. It is estimated that this insect contributes to losses of up to U.S.D 5.2 million a year to the country's potato industry. Although a permit application for the general release of this modified vegetable has recently been rejected, the developers remain determined to introduce their potato. It is the small-scale farmers, and not the big commercial potato growers, who suffer from the PTM. Most of them cannot afford to spray chemicals in order to protect their crops The SpuntaG2 seeds will therefore be no more expensive then seeds of conventional potatoes. There has been much interest from small-scale farmers, both in South Africa and abroad. (Source: AllAfrica, 30 October 2009)


Nigeria: improved cowpea varieties hit Nigeria's savannah

Nigeria has released two new cowpea varieties to raise production and improve farmers' incomes. The varieties were developed in Nigerian research institutions. The varieties - so far going under the technical names IT89KD-288 and IT89KD-391 - were developed by scientists working at four Nigerian universities and research centers. "Both varieties have proven superiority over the current improved lines being cultivated and aim to overcome the challenges faced by cowpea farmers in the country," according to researchers. (Source: afrol News, 16 April 2010)


African nightshade: An underappreciated native plant

The term “nightshade” refers collectively to a wide-ranging group of plants, including poisonous, medicinal, and edible species (from the genus Solanum). This includes three major crops of global importance: tomato, potato, and eggplant. The broad-leafed African nightshade (Solanum scabrum) is widely cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa on smallholder plots and in home gardens around cities. African nightshade is sometimes referred to as black nightshade or garden huckleberry. The vegetable is an excellent source of protein, iron, vitamin A, iodine, zinc. Nightshades are traditionally used worldwide as medicinal plants, especially to treat stomach ailments. Leaf extracts from African nightshade are used to treat diarrhea, eye infections, and jaundice. The raw fruit is sometimes chewed to treat stomach ulcers or stomachache. There are no solid statistics on how much African nightshade is currently cultivated. But the crop is one of the most important indigenous leafy vegetables in West and Central Africa, and to a lesser extent East Africa, according to Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA). Cameroon produces enough African nightshade to export to neighboring countries. According to Patrick Maundu at Bioversity International, demand for the crop has recently risen significantly since East African supermarkets started stocking it. In September of 2010, Kenyan Professor Mary Onyango-Abukutsa—who is quoted in ‘State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet’ - was awarded a grant by Kenya’s National Council for Science and Technology to lead research on African indigenous vegetables at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Her research will focus on three key vegetables: African nightshade, spider plant, and amaranth. Professor Mary Onyango-Abukutsa was the first place winner of the 2008/2009 Africa-wide Women in Science Competitions that was organized by CTA in collaboration with several partners.(source: Worldwatch Institute, 7 Feb. 2011)


Integrated pest management means more profit for cabbage farmers in Fiji and Samoa

Cabbage farmers in the Sigatoka Valley, in Suma, Fiji, have seen their incomes increase by 20–30% since adopting integrated pest management (IPM) farming techniques. The farmers are part of an IMP project promoting effective and environmentally friendly approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. The project, which started in 2006 in both Fiji and Samoa will conclude in 2012. The project will extend to other vegetables and be replicated in Tonga, Solomon Islands and Kiribati, as well as Fiji and Samoa. (SPC, 10/01/2012)


Giant swamp taro: untapped potential in the Pacific

World Watch Institute's 'Nourishing the Planet' project describes another little known food crop with an untapped potential for securing food security. Giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) is more abundant on Pacific atolls than its cousin, the taro (Colocasia esculenta), but it is much less commercially available. Its traditional cultivation is labour intensive and dependent upon a consistently saturated environment, which makes it practical to grow only in small, marshy plots. Swamp taro is a native plant of the Philippines that has dozens of varieties thriving on most of the tropical islands in the Pacific. Giant swamp taro is grown and harvested in small patches for its underground tubers, called corms. Atoll farmers often grow giant swamp taro as part of complex polycultures, in the shade of larger trees. Researchers consider the potential of giant swamp taro to be largely untapped, partly because it is not often studied by researchers and techniques for improving the plant's cultivation have not been developed. (Nourishing the Planet, 27/02/2012)


Greenhouses in Jamaica helping forge an agricultural renaissance

As Jamaica seeks to slash high import food bills, the country and its farmers are reaping success with greenhouse technology. This report by the Miami Herald tells the story of Jamaican farmers and entrepreneurs who successfully developed, vegetable-growing greenhouses to grow the food crops that are normally imported to the island, helping reduce prices at food stalls and dependence towards imported agricultural commodities. Such initiative to use technology should encourage farmers in the Caribbean to compete with food imports. (Miami Herald, 31/10/2011)


African Cowpea farmers benefiting from new varieties

Cowpea farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are earning about 55 percent more per hectare by using new varieties of the crop, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture said. Farmers who use the traditional strain of cowpea, also known as black-eyed beans, earn about $251 a hectare ($100 an acre), while those growing the improved varieties earn nearer $390, the IITA’s Agricultural Economist, Paul Amaza, said. (Source: Vincent Nwanma, Bloomberg, 9 March 2009)


Growing fresh lettuce with less irrigation

Lettuce growers could safely reduce the amount of irrigation water used on their fields by 25 %, so say researchers working on an ongoing EU-funded project into how climate change and globalisation affect the production of fresh produce. The findings of the Veg-i-Trade ('Impact of climate change and globalisation on safety of fresh produce governing a supply chain of uncompromised food sovereignty') project, coordinated by Mieke Uyttendaele from Ghent University in Belgium, show that using less water also helps increase the shelf life of fresh-cut lettuce, reduces farming costs and improves sustainability. One of the Veg-i-Trade partners has investigated the influence of different irrigation water doses on the quality and safety characteristics of two different types of fresh-cut lettuce: Romaine and Iceberg. The results show that using 25% less irrigation water prolongs the lettuce's shelf life, decreases browning on the cut edge of lettuce pieces and preserves microbiological quality.(CORDIS, 9/7/2012)


Innovative pellets to benefit organic farmers

Researchers in Germany and Hungary have engineered novel pellets that are able to repel pests in a way that does not harm the environment and that could fertilise the plants. These pellets are made of cyanobacteria and fermentation residues from biogas facilities. The organic farming industry could stand to benefit from this innovative development since organic farmers stand to lose entire crops when pests lay their eggs on freshly planted vegetables.(CORDIS, 11/4/2012)


Innovative greenhouse for Western Kenya launched

The Kenya Horticultural Competitive Programme (KHCP) has partnered with Good Neighbours Initiative to come up with locally improvised greenhouse in Western Kenya region. The partnership heralds what could be a major paradigm shift from open pollinated farming to hybrid high-yielding technique for improved income generation, crop production and self reliance in food security. The Kenya Horticultural Competitive Programme field officer Henry Nyamato says controlled climate in the greenhouse (ranging from 21-29) for tropical crops records high yield and uniform maturity with over 90% yield assured. (ASNS, 5/6/2012)


Biopesticides and their role in modern pest management in West Africa

The West African regional workshop on biopesticides was held in Ghana, March 2012 to mark the first successful registration of commercial environmentally friendly biological pesticides in the country. The workshop marked the culmination of a long-term research initiative by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, UK and collaborators that develops and promotes the use of new safe effective biological pesticides in West Africa. Pest control in Africa has so far depended upon the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. However, fears concerning the affect on workers' health, increased pest resistance and the negative environmental impact of these chemicals has led to the development of safer, more environmentally acceptable and cost effective biological control alternatives. Read about this issue on NRI’s website. (NRI; 13/4/2012)


Collaborative mapping of horticultural projects in world's poorer countries now in progress

Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) and GlobalHort are working together to catalogue past and ongoing horticultural projects in the world’s poorer countries. Over 600 horticultural projects have so far been gathered and mapped. If your organization has, or has had, horticultural development projects please take the time to fill out a short survey (at ), or send answers to the questions to Peter Shapland by email. (Source: Horticultural CRSP, 21 April 2010)


Potato blight DNA decoded

A team of international scientists has successfully decoded the DNA of the potato blight pathogen. Spread by spores, Phytophthora infestans, or potato blight, is a form of water mould that can ruin crops in just a few days, and causes losses of about US$6 billion each year. The research, published in the journal Nature, discovered that the genome of the organism is between two and four times the size of closely related species and contains areas of repeated DNA sequences which enable fast mutation. These stretches of code are the key to plant infection, changing so rapidly that the host can't fight back. This explains how the pathogen is able to attack new varieties of potato that have been genetically bred to resist the infection. Scientists hope that with a better understanding of the genome it will now be easier to breed new blight resistant potato varieties and develop more effective treatments. (Source: New Agriculturalist, November 2009)


Africa crop tool launched: Interactive 43-nation guide on what to plant, when and where

FAO has launched a quick reference calendar covering 43 major African countries that advises which crops to plant when, according to the type of agricultural zone from drylands to highlands. The web-based tool, developed by FAO experts, covers more than 130 crops from beans to beetroot to wheat to watermelon. It is aimed at all donors, agencies, government extension workers and non-governmental organizations working with farmers on the continent. There are 283 agro-ecological zones covered in the calendar, representing the vast richness and variety of the African ecology as well as challenges of land degradation, sand encroachment and floods.(Source : FAO, 11 November 2010)


Traditional crop varietal diversity use to reduce pest and disease damage

Much of the worlds’ annual harvest loss to pests and diseases occurs as a consequence of crops grown in monocultures, or cultivated varieties with uniform resistance. This uniform resistance is met by the continuing evolution of new races of pests and pathogens that are able to overcome resistance genes introduced by modern breeding, creating the phenomenon of boom and bust cycles. One of the few assets available to small-scale farmers in developing countries to reduce pests and diseases damage is their local crop varietal diversity, together with the knowledge to manage and deploy this diversity appropriately. By performing cross-site on-farm experiments, it was possible to identify traditional varieties with higher resistance to pest and diseases when grown outside their home sites. Increased diversity of crop varieties, measured by number of varieties (richness) and their evenness of distribution, corresponded to a decrease in the average damage levels across sites and to a reduction of variance of disease damage. In sites with higher disease incidence, households with higher levels of diversity in their production systems had less damage to their standing crop in the field compared to sites with lower disease incidence. The results support what might be expected of a risk-minimizing strategy for use of diversity to reduce pest and disease damage. (ScienceDirect, 19/3/2012)


Africa: Is there a "logic of fodder legumes" in Africa?

The logic of introducing fodder legumes into African farming systems is explored. The findings suggest that: fodder legume use in Africa was based on local experience and traditional practices; the development of fodder grasses has been a more important research theme in Africa in the past 100 years than the development of fodder legumes; there is no strong evidence that the agricultural revolution in Europe was a major contributing factor to attempts aimed at promoting fodder legumes in Africa; using appropriate methodology, national and international fodder researchers have developed some successful fodder grasses and legumes in Africa, especially for "crop" and "niche" roles; and, there are at least 3 well-documented examples of successful promotion of fodder legumes in African mixed (crop + livestock) farming systems. For the past 10 years, systems-based approaches to fodder legume research have had an increasing impact on productivity in and policy for African mixed farming systems. From abstract Elsevier Science Journal.


The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) February 2011 Newsletter

Published biweekly, Fresh: News from AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center features short articles about the Center's work in breeding and production technologies, reports from conferences and symposia, updates on new vegetable lines, photos from the field, and more. The February 2011 issue of the Newsletter details postharvest innovation for the processing of legumes in Mali (vegetable-based seasoning). It also shares knowledge on tomato breeds, and presents new developments in ARD relevant to South-east and Pacific Asia and Africa.Regular updates on the practical application of the Center's technologies are provided in the newsletter, which can be downloaded here.(Source: AVRDC, Feb. 2011)


AVRDC: 31st International Vegetable Training Course

Dates: 10 September 2012 –30 November 2012Venue: Bangkok, ThailandThe World Vegetable Center is pleased to inform you that registration is now open for the 31st AVRDC International Vegetable Training Course (IVTC): ‘Vegetables: From Seed to Table and Beyond’, which will be held from 10 September to 30 November 2012 at the Research and Training Station of AVRDC's East and Southeast Asia Regional Office in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.The course is divided into three inter-related modules, which may be taken singly or as a whole:Module I: From Seed to Harvest (10 September - 5 October 2012)Module II: From Harvest to Table (8 October - 2 November 2012)Module III: Vegetables for Sustainable Development (5 November - 30 November 2012)The 31st IVTC is organized in close collaboration with the HortCRSP Center of Innovation at Kasetsart University and endorsed by the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), particularly its Commission on Education, Research Training and Consultancy.

Monday 10 September 2012 - Friday 30 November 2012

Local vegetable production in Papua New Guinea

Improvements in vegetable production, transport and marketing are important to the well being of small holder farmers in Papua New Guinea, and opportunities for strengthening the industry and enhancing performance can be achieved by use of value chain analysis. A project on ‘Increasing Vegetable Production in Central Province, Papua New Guinea to Supply Port Moresby Markets’ funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research is identifying and addressing vegetable supply chain priorities in Central Province of PNG. It aims to provide small farmer communities with production options and marketing skills so they can take advantage of the opportunity to improve their socioeconomic position in a sustainable manner in an economy that is expanding due to mineral and gas development projects. An integral part of the project was a value chain workshop for the stakeholders held at Pacific Advent University, Port Moresby. The value chain workshop was designed to assist stakeholders to develop skills to improve the performance of the value chain through enhancing relationships among the chain participants (or actors) – farmers, transporters, wholesalers and consumers. The ultimate aim is the development of viable, functional value chains that provide satisfactory returns to all participants in them.(AgriCultures Network, 2012)


Crop Wild Relatives and Climate Change

This resource is being developed by the project ‘Adapting agriculture to climate change: collecting, protecting and preparing crop wild relatives’. This Project is led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK, and is supported by the Government of Norway. It is being implemented through partnerships with national and international crop conservation and use programmes, universities and other research institutions, and in accordance with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Many individual scientists, herbaria, genebanks and specialist institutes are contributing advice and information to the Project and this website. The Project aims to collect the wild relatives of 26 key crops, conserve them in genebanks, and prepare them for use in plant breeding programmes in time to breed new crop varieties adapted to new climates.