Juncao Technology provides with an agricultural technology to cultivate edible and medicinal fungi


Photo credit: XinhuaNet

Liu Jieyi (C, front), China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, addresses a workshop at the UN headquarters, May 26, 2017. A project promoted by China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund was launched on Friday at the UN headquarters in a bid to help developing countries reduce hunger and explore renewable energy. The project named Juncao Technology provides with an agricultural technology to cultivate edible and medicinal fungi by using wild grasses and herbal plants instead of trees or woods. (Xinhua)

Project of China-UN development fund launched at UN headquarters

Source: Xinhua


A project promoted by China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund was launched on Friday at the UN headquarters in a bid to help developing countries reduce hunger and explore renewable energy.

The project named Juncao Technology provides with an agricultural technology to cultivate edible and medicinal fungi by using wild grasses and herbal plants instead of trees or woods.

At a workshop held here, China’s Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi said Juncao Technology is a priority project that the China-UN Fund is promoting, because it fits the needs of countries in Asia and Africa to eradicate poverty and it is a solution contributed by China to help them overcome development challenges.

The Juncao technology is developed based on research conducted by Professor Lin Zhanxi from China’s Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University who invented the Juncao technology in the 1980s.

According to his research, the Juncao grass can develop its root system in deserts and grow fast and therefore it has been used to control soil erosion, desertification or manage saline-alkali soil.

It is also used to produce clean energy. Lin said the power generated from the burning of Juncao grown on one hectare of land is equivalent to that from more than 50 tons of coal but with much less emissions.

Statistics show that in China’s northwestern region of Ningxia which is dry and desert-like, the project has helped lift 17,500 households out of poverty with farmers’ annual income increasing from 80 U.S. dollars in 1998 to 1,024 dollars in 2007.

Read the full article: XinhuaNet

Innovative technologies for young agricultural entrepreneurs


Photo credit: SciDevNet

Turning the youth into agricultural entrepreneurs

Equipping the youth with innovative technologies could expand their business opportunities in agricultural value chain and turn many into entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.

This was one of the major impressions I got from Canadian Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) entrepreneurship and innovation training last month (21-24 February) in Lilongwe, Malawi, where I also learnt that youth in agriculture face limited access to natural and financial resources, inadequate opportunities for upward mobility skills and experience to run successful business.

This necessitated call of interest from youths on fish value chain to generate and test novel, creative and bold models that increase the participation of youth in fish industry in Malawi and Zambia and maize post-harvest agribusiness sector in Zimbabwe.

YAAD is of the view that the presence of the food science department within the campus will help them raise the bar in terms of standards, nutrient identification but also quality before marketing.

Priscilla Nsandu, YAAD

I gathered from the meeting that the review process was initially developed around five core evaluation criterion: product understanding, strategies for capturing the market, business vision, management and financial discipline.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Smallholder farming largely remains a low technology, subsistence activity



Despite its large-scale impact across Africa, smallholder farming largely remains a low technology, subsistence activity.


Ongoing land insecurity is a structural cause of food insecurity in Tanzania, particularly for pastoralists, agro-pastoralists, and small-scale crop farmers. In recent years there has been an increasing number of conflicts between these groups, many turning violent. It has been reported that in Kiteto District alone, more than 34 people were killed between 2013 and 2015 as a result of these conflicts. With expanding competition for land and without steps taken to secure the rights of those with entitlements to land and resources, such conflicts are likely to increase.

Land tenure security can be improved through village land use planning and land certification, which involves the issuing of certificates of customary rights of occupancy (CCROs) as facilitated by land policy and legislation in Tanzania. The process provides opportunities for bringing different stakeholders together, to negotiate and agree on land use, and to resolve land use conflicts.

In situations where villages share resources such as grazing areas and water, joint village land use planning and the provision of group CCROs are more appropriate than individual ones. Due to a lack of resources and capacity, the implementation of joint village land use planning has been limited and particularly in ‘difficult’ areas where land use conflicts occur. Indeed, in 2015, the Tanzania Ministry of Lands recorded that only about 2.1% of the 60 million hectares of rangelands is protected as grazing land in village land use plans.


Read the full story on the Livestock Systems and Environment blog (ILRI) >>



Photo credit: ICRISAT

Chief guest Sri Krishna Byre Gowda, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, addresses the participants at InterDrought-V as conference chair Francois Tardieu, chief organizer Rajeev Varshney, ICRISAT DG David Bergvinson and DDG Research, Peter Carberry look on.



Harnessing modern tools is critical to help farmers overcome the devastating effects of drought. This was the key message from Sri Krishna Byre Gowda, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka at the InterDrought-V conference held in Hyderabad, India.

Every year, drought related disasters affect vast regions that impact food production. The most immediate consequence is a drop in crop production due to inadequate and poorly distributed rainfall.

“Given the severity of drought, a central challenge for researchers and policy makers is to devise technologies that lend greater resilience to agricultural production under this stress. Therefore 942 participants from 315 organizations from 56 countries assembled here to address this important issue,” said Rajeev Varshney, the Conference Organization Chair and Research Program Director, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

In the inaugural address, Dr Rob Bertram, Chief Scientist, Bureau of Food Security, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said, “A combined approach including crop improvement, agronomic practices and irrigation needs to be used for mitigating drought stress in developing countries.”

“By using a holistic approach, organizations like ICRISAT need to work together and contribute to this important international food production constraint to feed the world. Prime Minister Modi has laid before us the challenge to double the income of farmers. It will be essential to enhance crop production and link farmers to markets,” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

“Farmers need to be placed at the centre of research and developing activities related to drought so that they can have more produce and better incomes,” said Sri S Pattanayak, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.

“Drought research needs to be handled from different angles. We need breeding, physiology, biotechnology, agronomy to make the crops resilient,” said Dr JS Sandhu, Deputy Director General-Crops Sciences, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Read the full article: ICRISAT

Failure to act now will compromise future food production, sabotage 2030 development agenda


Photo credit: FAO

Members of an Indian farmers group measure local groundwater levels at an observation well.

FAO Director-General urges more support to help small farmers adapt to a changing climate

Failure to act now to make our food systems more resilient to climate change will “seriously compromise” food production in many regions and could doom to failure international efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned today.

“Agriculture holds the key to solving two of the greatest problems now facing humanity: eradicating poverty and hunger, and contributing to maintaining the stable climatic conditions in which civilization can thrive,” he told participants at a roundtable on climate change during the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The FAO Director-General stressed in particular the need to support smallholder farmers in the developing world adapt to climate change.

“The vast majority of the extremely poor and hungry depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, he said, adding: “They are the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming and an unstable climate.”

Innovative approaches exist that can help them improve yields and build their resilience, he said, such as green manuring, greater use of nitrogen-fixing cover crops, improving sustainable soil management, agroforestry techniques, and integrating animal production into cropping systems.

“But farmers face major barriers, such as the lack of access to credit and markets, lack of knowledge and information, insecurity about land tenure, and high transaction costs of moving away from existing practices,” the Director-General noted.

He pointed to the fact that 70 countries do not have established meteorological services as an example. FAO is working with the World Meteorological Organization to develop low-cost, farmer friendly services to address this need.

To withstand the vagaries of a harsher, less predictable climate, small farmers will also need better access to other sorts of technologies and to markets, information and finance — as well as better land tenure and improved agriculture infrastructure, added Graziano da Silva.

Ultimately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, he argued.

Read the full article: FAO

Early-warning and drought risk reduction



Press Release: Satellite based early-warning system to bolster drought risk reduction

Experts meet in Delhi to discuss how South Asian countries could adopt the new drought monitoring system to better prepare and mitigate drought risks

(Delhi, January 30):  The South Asia Drought Monitoring System (SADMS) and its newly launched online portal was demonstrated at a regional workshop held in New Delhi today. The SADMS expected to provide near-real information of drought onset and progression helping decision makers respond in time. The interactive SADMS online portal, http://dms.iwmi.org/, would help in data sharing and viewing of all available drought and related maps for the entire region instantly.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General of ICAR, Government of India said, “South Asia routinely suffers from drought and severe impact on agriculture production and livelihoods.  Early warning and monitoring system are important but at the same time need to be robust as climatic variation is huge and location specific. If water is going to be more limited in the future and droughts more frequent, a drought monitoring system would be even more relevant going forward.”

Solar-Powered Water Purifier for Global Drinking Water Shortages


From the top left corner, moving clockwise, the four images depict: University at Buffalo students performing an experiment, clean drinking water, water evaporating, and black carbon wrapped around plastic in water with evaporated vapor on top evaporated water. Credit: University at Buffalo. – http://www.azocleantech.com/images/news/NewsImage_23909.jpg

New Solar-Powered Water Purifier Could Help Address Global Drinking Water Shortages

Written by AZoCleantech

You have seen how Bear Grylls turns polluted water into drinking water with little more than plastic and sunlight. Based on this survival technique, academics have now added a third element – carbon-dipped paper – to create a highly efficient and inexpensive method to turn contaminated water and saltwater into potable water for personal use.

The idea could help address drinking water shortages worldwide, and especially in developing areas and territories affected by natural disasters. This is described in a study published online today (Jan. 30, 2017) in the Global Challenges journal.

Using extremely low-cost materials, we have been able to create a system that makes near maximum use of the solar energy during evaporation. At the same time, we are minimizing the amount of heat loss during this process.

Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo

Other members of the research team are from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University at Buffalo‘s Department of Chemistry, Fudan University in China, and the lab of Gan, who is a member of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics and UB’s RENEW Institute, an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to solving complex environmental problems.

Solar Vapor Generator

In order to perform the study, the research team created a small-scale solar still. The device, known as a “solar vapor generator,” uses the heat converted from sunlight to clean or desalinate water. Here’s how the device works:

Read the full story: AZO Cleantech

Offering information technologies tailored to developing world farmers


Photo credit: FAO

The ubiquitous cellphone can connect farmers to a range of information and tools.

More support to family farmers needed to meet world’s rising food demands, FAO tells G20

FAO Director-General calls for information technologies tailored to developing world farmers at ministerial meeting

In an era in which challenges like climate change and natural resource scarcity are making agriculture ever more knowledge-intensive, family farmers in the developing world need information and technology tools that can help them not just get by, but thrive and feed a growing world population, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

“Millions of small family farmers need technical and financial assistance to be more resilient and adapt to the impacts of climate change. They must be able to stay on their land, produce their own food and also have access to markets,” he said in remarks at the G20 agricultural ministers meeting here today.

The FAO Director-General argued that the world’s rural areas will be the key battleground in the push to achieve the 2030 sustainable development agenda, since it is there that poverty and hunger are most concentrated.

At the same time, most of the increases in agricultural yields required to feed a world population set to surpass 9 billion by 2050 will have to take place in these same regions, and will greatly depend on small family farmers, according to FAO studies.

“Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can have a profound impact on the efficiency, resilience and inclusion of poor family farmers,” Graziano da Silva said.

This is why FAO is pushing ahead with a digital strategy that aims to support the world’s most vulnerable through knowledge sharing and bottom-up learning.

Read the full article: FAO

Improved agricultural technologies


Photo credit: Africa Rising

Siza Mkini’s farm is now a village attraction. Her fellow farmers in Kitowo village frequently visit her farm to ‘take a look’ at what she does that makes it so productive.Photo credit: Ahazi Mkoma/ICRAF


Improved agricultural technologies for improved livelihoods in Tanzania

How switching to improved agricultural technologies like hybrid maize varieties and application of bladed fertilizers catalyzed a young female farmer’s dramatic rise from an off-season casual laborer to a champion farmer in rural Tanzania.

Some three odd years ago, 22year-old Siza Mkini was at a cross road in her life. She had just dropped out of school the previous year after it was apparent that she could not continue with her education because she could neither afford nor find a relative capable and willing to pay her school fees. Siza had also during that period become an orphan after her father passed on in early 2013. Her younger siblings now depended on her for their food and other daily needs almost entirely.

“At that point in time, my life seemed to be unravelling. So I had to do something fast to ensure that we get through the tough times,” explains Siza. “I initially started growing maize and poultry rearing in one corner of our family land. However because this wasn’t bringing in returns fast and often crop failures and disease infection to the poultry; I started working for neighboring families in Kitowo Village as an off season laborer,” she adds.

Siza’s challenges continued on and off; until in early 2015 when she got wind of the commencement of Africa RISING – NAFAKA project in Kilolo District. Through her participation in the project since its inception, Siza was trained on various agronomic practices of maize production and introduced to different improved maize varieties – some of which she has adopted.

From the income she gets from her farm, Siza Mkini can now buy clothes for her grandmother and her siblings too.

From the income she gets from her farm, Siza Mkini can now buy clothes for her grandmother and her siblings too.Photo credit: Ahazi Mkoma/ICRAF

Of the different technologies she was introduced to, two stand out in Siza’s opinion – growing of hybrid maize verities and bladed fertilizer application. The two technologies, in her opinion, have revolutionized her life! From the 4 acres family land where she would grow maize and harvest a measly 0.2 tons of maize, she now harvests 4 tons!


Read the full article: Africa Rising

Agroforestry and Contour Bunding Techniques


Photo credit: ICRISAT

Farmers examine an improved sorghum variety in the technology park at M’Pessoba, Koutiala district, Mali. Photo: ICRISAT


Agroforestry systems for growing nutritious local trees and crops for feed and fodder, and contour bunding technologies for preventing soil erosion caught the attention of farmers attending field days in two districts in Mali. The events were organized by two technology parks to showcase and review innovations and technologies developed and tried over a period of two years.

Women farmers like Ms Mariam Sarah from Sirakele village were interested in technologies related to nutrition. Mr Kalifa Coulibaly, the Mayor of M’Pessoba, stressed on encouraging women to be more involved in the nutrition program. “The nutrition research of the Africa RISING project is very important to help our district address the problem of malnutrition. The technology park is a learning school that will help promote local crops and the nutrition field schools offer an opportunity to enrich and diversify the household diet,” he said.

Read the full story: ICRISAT

An inventive cap to collect water in the air (Ghent University students – Belgium) – Text in Flemish language


An English translation would be very welcome.  Any helping hand ? Please send your translation to willem.vancotthem@gmail.com.

Studenten bestrijden waterschaarste met ingenieuze dop


Een groep master- en doctoraatsstudenten aan de Universiteit Gent heeft een inventieve dop ontwikkeld die water uit de lucht kan halen. Hun doel? Waterschaarste bestrijden.

Voor het ontwerp Dewpal – in het Nederlands ‘watermaatje’ – haalden de studenten inspiratie bij het schild van de woestijnkever, die de dauwdruppels op zijn schild condenseert om niet uit te drogen. Op die manier kan de structuur efficiënt en passief water te collecteren uit de lucht.

Ze modelleerden het schild van de kever in 3D. De structuur ziet eruit als een dop in de vorm van een halve bol, en kan op een fles geschroefd worden om water handig op te vangen.

Het materiaal waaruit de Dewpal geprint is, ontwikkelden ze zelf en is een bijzonder staaltje biotechnologie. Het bevat onder andere een eiwit dat al in de natuur voorkomt: het vormt ijskristallen en helpt om wolken te vormen uit gecondenseerd water. Zo zorgt het ervoor dat de condensatie zo optimaal mogelijk verloopt en er dus zo veel mogelijk water uit de lucht gehaald wordt.

De groep studenten neemt binnenkort deel aan de iGEM-competitie. iGEM (International Genetically Engineerd Machine) is een internationaal vermaarde competitie in synthetische biologie waarin teams van over de gehele wereld een eigen project uitwerken.

HyperSolar to produce hydrogen and clean water from polluted water


Photo credit: Treehugger

Video screen capture HyperSolar

Prototype uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and clean water from polluted water

Derek Markham

Solar and nanoparticles and hydrogen, oh my!

The promised hydrogen economy keeps getting pushed back farther into the future, it seems, as producing hydrogen sustainably and at a low cost is always just around the bend in time, and while hydrogen has its share of opponents, it also has its boosters, such as HyperSolar, which looks to bring a breakthrough to scalable renewable hydrogen production.

Although this element is one of the most abundant in the universe, and the third most abundant on Earth, it’s also the lightest, which makes it rare in our atmosphere (meaning we can’t just hoover it up from the air). Hydrogen isn’t exactly known for its energy-density, but it is one potential storage solution for building a more sustainable energy system, if it can be produced efficiently with renewable energy, and then stored and distributed efficiently, as opposed to the current major source of hydrogen, which is steam-reformed natural gas.

Those are some big ‘ifs’ that won’t be solved overnight in the clean hydrogen quest, but HyperSolar believes it has the next step for producing low-cost, scalable, renewable hydrogen, with the source being polluted or dirty water, and the energy from the sun. Instead of using electricity from a separate solar array to power
an electrolyzer, this prototype has its solar energy component directly submerged in the water, with its “Self-contained Photoelectrochemical Nanosystem” technology that is “designed to mimic photosynthesis.” According to the company, this nanoparticle-based system enables a much more efficient electrolysis process than one powered by a separate solar input, which would have higher losses of transmission between the sun and the actual hydrogen production, and it says its system could “significantly” lower the cost of hydrogen electrolysis.

HyperSolar calls it the H2 Generator, and so far, it’s a lab-scale prototype, but the company believes it can be scaled up effectively, with the technology put to work turning wastewater or other non-potable water into hydrogen, “at or near the point of distribution.”

Read the full article: Treehugger

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