Category Archives: Farming

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.

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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

How private investment in food production can make the world less hungry

By Max Johnston

Food finances are tricky.

Funding food production in developing countries has been difficult for a number of reasons, according to Rebecca Toole, a policy expert in economics.

“Farmers may seem like risky borrowers,” Toole said. “They often don’t have a established credit history, they also might not have stores of capital they could use as collateral for loans.”

Heifer International, a global non-profit organization, uses something called impact investing. That’s where you have the private sector invest in food production, with a smaller relative return to their investment. Continue reading How private investment in food production can make the world less hungry

Professor wants to give farmers “magic wands”

By Max Johnston

If you had a magic wand that could make the world less hungry, what would you do? That’s the question David Kramer, professor of Photosynthesis and Bioenergetics at Michigan State University, is trying to answer. Kramer and his team have made a magic wand of sorts, the MultispeQ, a handheld device that measures a plant’s health.

98 percent of farms are less than ten acres, according to David Kramer, professor of Photosynthesis and Bioenergetics at Michigan State University. Continue reading Professor wants to give farmers “magic wands”