Category Archives: Trends

Innovating? Consider gender

Dr. Nathalie Me-Nsope conducts research in Golomoti, Malawi. Image: Stephanie White.

By Katie Deska

Gender relations, roles, responsibilities, influence and ownership of assets help decide if an innovation works.

Without considering them, innovators risk designing a technology unsuited to those who use it. Continue reading Innovating? Consider gender

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Getting graduates agricultural experience in Malawi: an Interview with Sera Gondwe

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Sera Gondwe is a faculty member at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In November of 2016, Sera and her team launched a 6 months experiential learning program with graduates from LUANAR’s Agribusiness Management bachelors program. In this interview, Sera tells us more about the pilot.

Listen here.

New tools to harvest better potatoes

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Mercy Kitavi is a geneticist and capacity-building scientist with the International Potato Center based in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Mercy Kitavi

In a traditional African setting, we say that time waits for no man and doesn’t spare the women either.

At exactly 5:30 a.m. in East Africa, the cock crows and Kanini slowly stretches from her rickety-legged wooden bed that is covered by a thin mattress. She knows she is lucky, yet every morning when she opens her eyes to a new day, she feels like closing them again.

Continue reading New tools to harvest better potatoes

Teaching a sweet potato self-defense

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By Max Johnston

Here in the states we like our sweet potatoes fried, sweetened and tater-totted. But the nutritious sweet potato is more than just a side dish. Sweet potato is also a cheap and resilient crop.

While it’s a popular food here, it can be a livelihood for low-income farmers. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

But there’s a small problem, or should I say a big problem in a small package. We may enjoy sweet potatoes, but so does the weevil–a small brown beetle that resembles an ant.

Listen to this story here.

Brooke Bissinger is an entomologist at AgBiome, a biotech company in North Carolina. She says the weevil loves the taste of sweet potato.

“Weevil is the most devastating pest to the sweet potato worldwide,” Bissinger said.

Bissinger says the weevil likes to eat and live in sweet potatoes. But in the process, they ruin them for everyone else. Continue reading Teaching a sweet potato self-defense

Poetry, improv and a lost crop of the Incas: Telling stories to save the world

CIP scientist Willy Pradel explains his research at a mock press conference. Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

Jan Kreuze stood in front of a room full of reporters and began shredding paper.

“This is how a plant attacks a virus,” the researcher explained.

Then he bent over and gathered up the pieces. Reassembling them with a computer program is an easier, cheaper way of getting a picture of the disease than sifting through the genetics of an entire plant, he said. And that could lead to better strategies for fighting it.

Wilmer Perez held a cardboard wheel above his head.

“It doesn’t need batteries or the Internet,” he told the group.  And yet the device helps farmers decide when to apply pesticides, dramatically reducing their use.

Continue reading Poetry, improv and a lost crop of the Incas: Telling stories to save the world