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Posts tagged: Africa

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 »

A Symbol of Strength, Perseverance and Dignity Shared Between Friends

Imagine sitting at your desk one day and answering the ringing phone, only to hear the US State Department’s Office of Protocol on the other end.  That is precisely what happened to Michael Perry, Export Specialist for the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) when he was told President Obama was traveling to Israel in late March and wished to give a special gift to the Israeli people. Read more »

Full Speed Ahead for Open Ag Data

Participants in the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture, including US Chief Technology Todd Park, listen to opening remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Apr. 29, 2013. (USDA photo by Bob Nichols).

Participants in the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture, including US Chief Technology Todd Park, listen to opening remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Apr. 29, 2013. (USDA photo by Bob Nichols).

Cross posted from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog:

Last week, hundreds of innovators gathered at the World Bank IFC Center to brainstorm about how Open Data can be harnessed to help meet the challenge of sustainably feeding nine billion people by 2050.  The group included delegates from the G-8 group of nations, US Government officials, private sector partners, Open Data advocates, technology experts, and nonprofit leaders – all participants in the first-of-its-kind G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture. Read more »

Using Data to Change The World One Goat at a Time

Goats are an important part of the solution to global food security. USDA-ARS Photo. Taken by Heather Huson.

Goats are an important part of the solution to global food security. USDA-ARS Photo. Taken by Heather Huson.

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.

USDA scientist Tad Sonstegard’s comparison of the World Food Programme’s “Hunger Map” to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s goat census statistics, reveals that 90 percent of all goats in the world are located in main ‘hunger zones’ of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.   What’s the connection?  Goats are a common animal of the poorest people, and they are an important part of the solution to global food security.   They are fairly low maintenance and easy to raise and farm. Read more »

Open Data for Agriculture Offers Lift-Off for Global Food Security

Secretary Vilsack in Washington addressing the G-8 Open Data meeting.  Secretary Vilsack today kicked off a two-day international open data conference, saying that data “is one of the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value. USDA photo by Bob Nichols

Secretary Vilsack in Washington addressing the G-8 Open Data meeting. Secretary Vilsack today kicked off a two-day international open data conference, saying that data “is one of the most important commodities in agriculture” and sharing it openly increases its value. USDA photo by Bob Nichols

The opening day of the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture was action-packed and inspiring. From the moment the doors opened at 7:30 am, the air was punctuated with the sound of languages from across the globe. Scientists, policy makers, and leaders from the non-profit and development community all shared a day of discovery and connection around the unlimited opportunity in open data for agriculture.

Secretary Vilsack kicked off the proceedings with a speech that focused the day. “Data is quickly becoming one of the most important commodities in agriculture,” he told the attendees, and encouraged the sharing of data to magnify its power.  He also compared the digital revolution fueled by open data to the industrial revolution, in that data sharing has the same potential to accelerate development of new tools that will bolster the productivity of farmers around the world. Read more »