Keeping farms alive on a budget

Mphatso presenting before crowd at google science fair. Photo: Mphatso Simbao
Mphatso presenting before crowd at google science fair. Photo: Mphatso Simbao

As Southern Africa struggles to recover from its worst drought in decades, farmers are seeing their crops destroyed due to El Nino weather changes. Famine afflicts millions of people. Without crops, farmers can’t eat. Without money, they can’t buy farming supplies.
Continue reading Keeping farms alive on a budget

Fitbit for cows to boost dairy farming

fitbit-2

Every year a trillion dollars of milk is sold worldwide.

Small farmers in many developing countries face problems with low milk production.

But an electrical engineer and innovator from Pakistan hopes to help them with a fitbit for cows. It’s called the Cowlar, a collar for cows that is equipped with sensors to monitor their health, production and even if someone is stealing them.

Umer

Umer Adnan, a graduate of electrical engineering from Arizona State University now living in Memphis, Tennessee, says his invention texts such critical information directly to farmers. The result is reduced costs, more milk and more profits.

Ali Hussain, a reporter for The Food Fix, interviewed Umer.

Listen to their interview here

Researcher unlocks plant secrets that could better feed the world

Photo: Derrick Turner, MSU Photography Services.
Brad Day in his lab. Photo: Derrick Turner, MSU Photography Services.

The world’s population grows by more than two hundred thousand daily. That’s tens of millions of people annually. To feed them, food production must nearly double by 2050.

That’s a task.

Doing that in the face of climate change and the scarcity of land and water presents one of the world’s greatest challenges. Plants are stressed by drought, disease and non-native competitors. But people need to eat, no matter where they are.

In this episode, Michigan State University researcher Brad Day describes the tools he is creating to unlock the secrets of plants to better feed the world. His research could produce more resilient, stress-tolerant crops that use water and nutrients more efficiently.

Listen to the interview here

Edamame demand could spark production in Great Lakes region

Arkansas currently grows the most commercial edamame in the U.S. Image: Pamela Reed
Arkansas currently grows the most commercial edamame in the U.S. Image: Pamela Reed

By Carin Tunney

Great Lakes farmers could cash in on edamame, but a shift from dry soybeans won’t be seamless, experts say.

Edamame is a popular vegetable at many U.S. restaurants. It’s a type of soybean that is harvested while tender.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 90 percent of soy products come from U.S. farms and more than 80-percent are grown in the Midwest. But that is mostly grain-type soybeans dried and fed to cattle or manufactured into protein sources like soy milk. Continue reading Edamame demand could spark production in Great Lakes region

Scientists raise alarm over decline of invasive species in East African great lake

Nile perch. Image: Tonny Omondi
Nile perch. Image: Tonny Omondi

By Halima Abdallah

Editor’s note: Uganda-based reporter Halima Abdallah of The East African developed this story at an environmental journalism workshop led by Eric Freedman, director of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism which publishes The Food Fix.

Will the commercial viability of Lake Victoria and its ecosystem be sustained? This is the question arising from re-emergence of low value native species like dagaa against dwindling stocks of high-value species like the Nile perch.

Continue reading Scientists raise alarm over decline of invasive species in East African great lake