The New Agriculturist - Reporting Agriculture for the 21st Century


'At butcheries people are not buying the meat. Consumers are fearful of contracting the virus.' Joseph Musaa, Kenya's Director of Veterinary ServicesMore than 150 people have died and thousands of livestock have succumbed to an outbreak of Rift Valley fever, first detected in the northern region of Kenya in late December 2006. The impact on Kenya's meat industry is now of major concern.

More than 98 per cent of all soybean currently grown in Argentina is GM (credit: Eduardo Trigo)While the global debate over genetically modified crops continues, Argentina could not imagine an agricultural landscape without them. In 2007, 98 per cent of the country's soybean crop will be GM, but why the growing trend, and what is the impact for farmers and the environment?

Members of a women's farming group in Deve, Benin, check their harvest of NERICA riceUpland rice varieties, the New Rices for Africa (NERICAs) have been bred by crossing African and Asian rice plants, providing many traits that make them particularly suitable for women farmers. The African Rice Initiative, hosted by the Africa Rice Center (WARDA), is co-ordinating efforts to scale up cultivation of the varieties across the African continent.

Crispus Kiamba, the permanent sectretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology in Kenya (credit: Zablon Odhiambo)More than 100 million hectares were planted to GM crops in 2006, a rise of 13 per cent from the previous year. Future growth is predicted to be highest in the developing world, particularly in Asia.

Bundles of khat, captured by the DEA in 2006 (credit: US Drug Enforcement Agency)Despite its status as a semi-legal crop, farmers are showing an enterprising spirit, and by using lessons learned from other crops they are taking the initiative to meet consumer demands.

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March 2007