Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’


Daily Monitor


Posted Friday, November 7 2014 at 11:57

About 2,000 sunflower farmers in Masindi and Kiryandongo districts are counting losses after a strange disease attacked more than 2,800 acres of the crop.

The disease, yet to be identified, causes the crop to wrinkle immediately after germination before the leaves turn yellow and dry up.

The seeds were supplied to Mukwano Group of Companies by a South African seed firm, Panner.
A South African expert, who declined to disclose her identity, claimed the crops were attacked by a primary infection.

However, during a visit to the affected fields on Tuesday, Mr Blasto Byabakama, the Masindi production officer, said other varieties which have been planted in the same conditions have not been affected, adding that a virus might have been attacked the seeds.

The Masindi Mukwano agro project spokesperson, Mr Ben Mulimba, said the South African experts and Ugandan scientists are working to identify the disease and how it can be controlled.

“We are going to compare notes with both the ministry scientists and technocrats from Panner and come out with the way forward, especially in eradicating this disease,” Mr Mulimba said.

Farmer cries foul
According to one of the affected farmers in Pakanyi Sub-county, Masindi District, Mr Job Kaheru, he invested more than Shs60 million to grow close to 80 acres of sunflower but they have dried up. “We saw the problem coming. It started with yellowing of leaves as the crop was just germinating but as the sun flower was maturing, we saw almost the whole field drying,” Mr Kaheru said.



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sci dev logoFrom: Semiu Babalola, SciDevNet,
Published August 12, 2009 10:22 AM

May 21, 2009 09:33 AM

[LAGOS] A variety of soybean resistant to a devastating Asian rust will soon be widely available in West and Central Africa. The rust, a fungal disease that entered Africa in 1996, can wipe out 80 per cent of infected crops.
Scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria and the country’s National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) developed the rust-resistant variety, named TGX 1835-10E.
They say it will drastically reduce the rust problem as it has resistance genes for all known types of rust in Nigeria.
“The [rust resistant] variety can be used for direct cultivation in tropical Africa or as a source of resistance genes in soybean breeding programmes,” says IITA soybean breeder, Hailu Tefera. “It was previously released in Uganda by Makerere University and has also already shown excellent performance in trials carried out in southern Africa.”
Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda are the largest producers of soybean in Africa, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
In 1999, farmers in southwest Nigeria found the leaves of their immature soybean crop rapidly turning brown and falling off, leaving only straggly stems. Tests confirmed the cause was the rust fungus, Phakopsora pachyrhizi.

The breakthrough is important because farmers can plant the new variety without applying expensive anti-rust chemicals. In 2003 — just two years after Asian rust arrived — Brazil lost US$2 billion in soybean harvests despite spending US$400 million on fungicides.
“The new cultivar does not solve the general problem of [all] fungal disease on plants but it does provide relief to farmers faced with the challenges of rust disease without any other solution,” Olumide Shokalu, the NCRI pathologist who led trials, told SciDev.Net.
He says the seeds will be available to farmers by the start of the new cropping season in 2010. The National Agricultural Seed Council and NCRI are producing stocks for distribution, at a token price, through certified seeds outlets.
But Nasiru Ibrahim, of the department of agriculture at Nigeria’s Usmanu Danfodiyo University, sounded a note of caution: “Methods of pest or disease control only work for some time and need periodic review. Pests or disease develop new strains to break whatever resistance is in place.
This article was reproduced with the kind permission of Science and Development Network.


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What can we, as coffee drinkers, do? The answer, of course, is to support brands that provide the best coffee

Created on Saturday, 31 May 2014 18:38 Written by Malcolm Burgess

Malcolm Burgess explores the mighty David and Goliath challenge that the world’s ethical consumers recently took on.
Wake up and smell the coffee. It’s what two billion of us enjoy doing every single day. But the bad news is that this could become a thing of the past.
Whether we enjoy a half-caf soy almond latte or something even more exotic, the world’s future supply of quality coffee is at risk. A combination of extreme weather, rising temperatures and pests as a result of climate change means that prime coffee growing areas are seeing production plummet.
‘Climate change is the biggest threat to the industry, if we don’t prepare ourselves for a big disaster,’ says Mauricio Galindo, head of operations at the intergovernmental International Coffee Organisation.
It’s already led Starbucks to visit the White House to warn that the world’s coffee supply is under threat without a strategy in place.
But while western coffee drinkers may be affected by rising prices and poorer quality, the impact on coffee producers has already been catastrophic. Over 25 million rural households across the globe which depend on coffee growing are at risk.
Nowhere has been worse hit than the two million small coffee farmers in Central America where this winter’s harvest was 50% down on normal, for the second year running.
Trees can be saved by pruning and being treated with chemicals but this costs money and means normal production will be interrupted, together with the problem of toxicity to humans.
Nicaragua is one of the countries in the world most affected by climate change, according to the 2013 Global Climate Change Risk Index. It is also one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. The Nicaraguan government estimates that by 2050, 80% of its current coffee growing areas will have disappeared.
Rosibel and Benjamin Fijardo, with two young children, work in Jinotega, in the country’s central highlands, and falling production has turned them to scavenging.
‘If we don’t pick dropped coffee beans, we don’t eat, and nor do our children,’ says Rosibel. ‘There are lots of people and just not enough work here.’
They have no money for fruit or meat and instead, ironically, drink coffee.
Rising temperatures have also seen the appearance of the berry borer beetle in Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, causing $500 million of damage a year in Africa. This year’s drought in Brazil led to a doubling of coffee prices, with major concerns that climate change will cause a big decrease from the world’s biggest coffee producer.
It isn’t just the weather that has led to the current crisis. While Fairtrade has made inroads, the majority of producers still only receive a fraction of the price of a cup of coffee and the situation has worsened.
‘Commodities analysts confirm that, in a global market awash with speculators’ cash as a result of the quantitative easing policies of governments trying to end the recession, the price of coffee beans bears little relationship to supplies,’ says food writer Alex Renton.
What can we, as coffee drinkers, do? The answer, of course, is to support brands that provide the best coffee and pay their producer a fair price. And to appreciate that climate change affects us all. Starbucks isn’t knocking on President Obama’s door for nothing.

Since the Middle Ages, and its origins in the luxury coffee houses of the Middle East, this mysterious, complex, stimulating beverage has provoked love and fear. Considered by some to be a cure-all, coffee has always aroused scientific interest. Experts agree that consumption of 4- 5 cups per day is healthy.

Coffee facts:
• Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks after water.
• Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world after oil.
• Over 1400 million cups of coffee are drunk around the world each day.
• The majority of coffee is consumed at breakfast.
• Take your coffee black with no sugar? Then your coffee is practically calorie-free with just 2-5 kcal per cup. (from Nestle)
• The two main coffee species grown commercially are Arabica andRobusta.
• A coffee plant can live for between 60 and 70 years.
• It can take up to four years for a coffee tree to reach maturity and bare fruit
• The English word coffee originates from the Arabic word ‘kaweh’ meaning strength or vigour
High temperatures have led to an epidemic of leaf or coffee rust fungus – a hazard of growing 70% of the world’s total production of Arabica. Grown on hillsides at higher altitudes, there was no problem until recently as the fungus dies at temperatures under 10 degrees C.
Malcolm Burgess

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Dieter Telemans / Panos

Speed read

  • Conflicts between farmers and elephants are a growing problem
  • Fences incorporating beehives take advantage of elephants’ aversion to bees
  • ‘Beehive fences’ are in use in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda


[NAIROBI] Wire fences booby-trapped with beehives are being built in five African countries to prevent elephants from raiding farms, while also providing local people with honey.‘Beehive fences’ are now being put up in Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda by UK charity Save the Elephant, says Lucy King, leader of the Elephants and Bees Project in Kenya — and they are already in use at three communities in Kenya.

The project, which is a collaboration between Save the Elephants, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, studies how to use the African bush elephants’ instinctive avoidance of African honey bees to avoid crop losses.

King says conflicts between farmers and elephants are a growing problem, with the animals’ encroachment onto farms causing massive crop losses.

But she tells SciDev.Net that it is easy to construct simple beehive fences using local materials.Hives are hung every 30 feet and linked together,” says King. If an elephant touches one of the hives or the interconnecting wires, the beehives all along the fence swing and release the stinging insects.

Global distribution of undernourishment_Figure 1_F&F
The hives, which are connected with trip wires, are easily upset — releasing the stinging insects — if elephants get too close. Credit: The Elephants and Bees Project in Kenya. ENLARGE ICON Click here to enlarge

She says that a pilot study she led involving 34 farms on the edge of two farming communities in northern Kenya found beehive fences to be an effective elephant deterrent compared with traditional thorn bush barriers.

King says that in the study, which was published in 2011 in the African Journal of Ecology, elephants made 14 attempts to enter farmland and 13 of these were unsuccessful. In each case the elephants were forced to turn away from the area after confronting a beehive fence or walk the length of the fence to choose an easier entry point through a thorn bush.

Only once did elephants break through a beehive fence to eat crops, according to the paper.

Where elephants and agricultural land overlap, incidents of humananimal conflict are on the increase.

Paul Udoto, Kenya Wildlife Service 

More than a decade ago, research found that elephants avoid feeding on acacia trees with beehives in them, says King. “This was followed by behavioural experiments demonstrating that not only do elephants run from bee sounds, but they also have an alarm call that alerts family members to retreat from a possible bee threat,” she says.

Electric fences have proved successful in barring elephants from some human designated areas, says the study. But King notes that, in Kenya, electrification projects often fail because of poor maintenance, spiralling costs and the lack of buying capacity among the communities where the elephants are common.

King says farmers and conservation agencies have focused recently on the effectiveness of farmer-based deterrents such as fire crackers, dogs or drums, but the use of beehive fences has proven more successful.

A similar method — playing recorded tiger growls to scare off marauding elephants — has been trialled separately in India.

According to Paul Udoto, corporate communications manager at the Kenya Wildlife Service, the use of beehive fences to prevent elephants from raiding farms is not a silver bullet, but it could be used alongside these other interventions.

He adds that human-animal conflict is largely due to people moving onto land used by animals.

Where elephants and agricultural land overlap, incidents of humananimal conflict are on the increase, Udoto tells SciDev.Net.

Suresh Raina, a bee expert at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, is impressed with the idea.It is an intelligent solution to a challenge which farmers were facing in the past to save crops from the incursion of elephants in their fields, he tells SciDev.Net.

> Link to full paper in the Journal of African Ecology


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