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Posts tagged: Africa

Secretary’s Column: Rural-Made Goes World Wide

This week, I visited Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, a small city outside of my hometown of Pittsburgh to kick off the first of five Made in Rural America forums designed to help rural small businesses access the information they need to grow through exports.

The global appetite for high-quality, American-made products is well established. Over the past five years, rural America has achieved record agricultural exports, but the rural economy is diverse. Last fiscal year, agricultural exports reached a record $140.9 billion and we are on track for another record year, with fiscal year 2014 agricultural exports projected to reach $149.5 billion. Last year was also the fourth-straight record-setting year for U.S. exports as a whole, reaching $2.3 trillion. Read more »

Insects for Dinner? Potential Tool in the Toolkit to Achieve Global Food Security

As an entomologist, the notion of eating insects isn’t new to me. However, for most Americans, the thought can make their stomachs churn. And yet, maybe seeing insects on their dinner plates is something Americans should get used to seeing.

Yesterday, I delivered the keynote address at the Insects as Food Conference, which was hosted by the FAO and Wageningen University in the Netherlands. As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), my goal is to ensure that the science we invest in leads to solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. One of those challenges relates to our world’s growing population, which is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. We need to find new ways to feed all people while minimally impacting the environment. This “9 Billion Problem” has implications for how we grow and view food now and in the future. Read more »

Stopping a Winged Purveyor of Disease and Death

The mosquito Aedes aegypti can spread several diseases as it travel from person to person. Only the females feed on blood. In this photo, the mosquito is just starting to feed on a person’s arm.

The mosquito Aedes aegypti can spread several diseases as it travel from person to person. Only the females feed on blood. In this photo, the mosquito is just starting to feed on a person’s arm.

During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine.  For example, researching mosquitoes that spread diseases that threaten human health worldwide.

Today is World Health Day, and this year’s theme is vector-borne diseases—those diseases spread by organisms like insects, ticks and snails.  Significant vector-borne diseases in the Americas include dengue fever, malaria, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis.

One of the most egregious offenders is the mosquito, and the scientists of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are taking aim at this winged attacker with weapons ranging from traditional remedies to computer modeling and satellite images. Read more »

Why You Should Know the Name Norman Borlaug

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog.  Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most Americans have never heard the name Norman Borlaug—and that’s ironic, considering that he is hailed around the world as one of the greatest Americans ever.

Compared to storied politicians, creative industrialists, brilliant inventors, or military heroes, Borlaug’s accomplishments have never been the topic of discussion at the dinner table — he merely set the world’s table. But what a table. The simple Iowa farm boy is credited with saving a billion people around the world from starvation and malnutrition. Read more »

Kenya Borlaug Fellow Gains Insight on Helping Local Farmers

“Our dream is to be part of upgrading the living standards of small-scale farmers who produce the foods that go into Azuri products, in a sustainable and profitable way,”  —Tei Mukunya, CEO of Azuri Health Limited, Kenya

A common challenge among small-scale farmers in developing countries is getting their products from the farm to markets. Tei Mukunya, the CEO of a health foods company in Kenya, believes her recent participation in USDA’s Borlaug Fellowship Program will help her address this issue in her country.

For nearly 10 years, the Borlaug program has helped developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing U.S.-based training and research opportunities to visiting agricultural policymakers and researchers. Mukunya recently finished a 12-week fellowship at Michigan State University to study the latest solar drying technology. Her company uses the technology to make organic health foods. Read more »

Scientists Discover Gene to Combat Devastating Wheat Rust

USDA scientists and their partners have found a molecular tool that will help control wheat stem rust, a fungal disease threatening much of the world’s wheat supply.

First reported in 1999 in Uganda, wheat stem rust–caused by the Ug99 pathogen–is a devastating disease in several countries in Africa and the Middle East where losses can be up to 70 percent. Many experts predict this specific strain could spread rapidly, causing a wheat shortage affecting food security worldwide. Ninety percent of the wheat grown worldwide is susceptible, so if no preventive action is taken, it could cause wheat shortages and affect food security. Read more »