Science and Technology

In an attempt to help farmers in Kenya and sub Saharan Africa improve their productivity, a group of scientists known as geospatial experts have develop an internet based information hub that will avail instant information to farmers on relevant seeds and potential markets for their produce.

Can you imagine keeping a snake, an animal considered by millions of people as evil and of deceit character as a pet? This is exactly what officials at a government outfit who care for snakes are requesting Kenyans to do.

The female population in the overall pool of professional agricultural research and higher education staff increased by eight per cent per year between 2000/2001 and 2007/2008, a rate that is four times higher than the two per cent rate for the male population.

Crop biotechnology is a vital tool in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing hunger and poverty by half and ensuring sustainable agriculture by the year 2015 and beyond.

To ensure that theses goals are achieved, a continued broadening and deepening of biotech crop use is crucial to meeting food, fuel and feed needs in the future. 

For the umpteenth time, leading researchers across Africa are sending warning that the welfare of the people on the continent may deteriorate further if governments continue to pay leap service to funding research work.

Much of the resources driving research in Africa come from donors, who in most cases fund their area of interest and not necessarily what is going to benefit the continent.

“The weak institutional linkages and the over reliance on international donor funding is dragging the continent backwards and is partly to blame for the miseries facing African countries,” says Dr. Rebecca Hanlin, Development and policy expert from the Open University, Britain.

 Scientists at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have developed new Striga weed resistant seeds that may just result in the doubling of maize yields in many African countries.

 The unveiling of the maize seed, which is coated with herbicide, follows a 12 year study that looked into its viability.

 According to Dr. Fred Kanampiu an agronomist with CIMMYT, farmers will now plant seeds that are coated with herbicide - Imazapyr. 

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A helping hand for fathers

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Men planning to have children can now test the quality of their sperm long before doing so to determine if they are capable of siring babies. Or rectify an infertility problem in its early stages of development.

Unknown to many men and women, a number of laboratories in the country are now undertaking sperm quality tests or what they call semen analysis for men at very affordable prices.
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Act or perish, report warns African countries

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A new World Development Report has a chilling message to countries that fall behind the pack in investing in science and technology: be prepared to continue losing the ground in adapting new knowledge and technologies developed elsewhere.

The 2008 World Bank report is bemoaning the stagnation of funding in the area of agricultural research and development and broader knowledge systems in sub Saharan African, saying the greatest urgency now is to reverse this trend. 

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is currently in the process of moving thousands of crop varieties from Kenya and other parts of world for safe keeping in a gene bank in Norway where a repository of last resort for humanities agricultural heritage has been built.

The seedlings of crops such as rice, wheat, beans, sorghum, sweet potatoes, chick peas, lentils, forage and agro forestry plants will be shipped to a remote island near the Arctic Circle , where they will be stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV), a facility capable of preserving their viability for thousands of years.

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