More cassava for less time

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Aeroponic-cassava_resized

Aeroponics involves growing the cassava with its roots suspended in air and automatically sprayed with a special solution. Photo by: Neil Palmer / CIAT


By  | Apr 5, 2018


Cassava has a relatively long growth cycle compared to other important crops. It takes an average of 10-12 months — sometimes up to 24 months! — for farmers to harvest the roots; maize, rice, and potato’s growth cycles span less than a third of that.

In other words, farmers can grow cassava at most once a year, or, in some cases, every two years. Dr. Michael Gomez Selvaraj, a CIAT crop physiologist, is working to change that.

There is very little understanding of how and why few roots in cassava turn into organs that store starch, the part of the crop most valued by rural communities and industry.

Together with his colleagues at the CIAT Phenomics Platform, Selvaraj is developing a method that will lead to identifying the genes and factors that cause early bulking of roots. This will help them establish how to shorten the growth cycle of cassava to as little as seven months.

In addition, the technique will help identify the genes and factors that can increase the number of storage roots, so farmers can sell more of these in the market.

A novel technique

The method being tested by Selvaraj and his team involves growing the cassava with its roots suspended in air and automatically sprayed with a special solution.

Known as aeroponics, it offers a controlled environment for breeders to identify the genes that trigger early bulking of roots and the conversion of fibrous roots — which are all what the cassava initially has — to storage roots.

In the past, breeders would need to dig up the root from the soil to study the genetic traits of cassava. But it was difficult to isolate genes as the plant interacted with numerous elements in and around the soil, such as insects, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms.

With aeroponics, breeders can see how and when some roots start to swell and become starch storage organs. Root swelling is the crucial step toward cassava yield. As such, if breeders can learn to manipulate the genes that induce this swelling, they can manipulate cassava yield.

Apart from locating which gene triggers early root bulking, Selvaraj and his team want to know at which point such a gene does this and why the plant selects certain fibrous roots to become storage roots. Temperature and certain types of hormones could be factors, Selvaraj suggested.

With that, breeders will be able to trigger the process of bulking of roots at the earliest possible time and of increasing the number of storage roots the plant develops.

In the future as such, a cassava variety whose roots start bulking at the fourth month and that only has at most 10 storage roots might have roots that would begin bulking from the second month and have 20 storage roots.

“If we can double the storage roots, farmers will have an equivalent of two harvests in one growing season,” said Selvaraj.

Next steps

Selvaraj aims to follow up his experiment with trials to test how the cassava would perform in the field. And he plans to do this again without having to dig up the root from the soil.

One part of the trials will involve the use of the so-called ground-penetrating radar technology or GPR.

GPR can detect objects underneath the surface. It has numerous applications in several fields such as engineering, military, and archeology.

“But this is the first time that the technology will be used on plants,” according to Selvaraj.

GPR can validate whether the roots of cassava are bulking early as expected. A study found it to be a suitable technology to predict and estimate storage root growth of cassava.

Another part of the future trials will entail using drones to see how the crop is performing depending on the type of soil and level of nutrients. Knowledge of the proper timing for fertilizing cassava is still limited, and drones can provide valuable information on this.

For instance, if the amount of nitrogen is low, the plant will likely be short. But with the right amount of nutrients, the plant will likely grow tall.

For farmers, the taller the cassava plant, the better. This means they have more planting materials for the next growing season, as farmers only need stem cuttings to propagate the crop.

“With the combination of all these innovative technologies, we are hopeful that one day farmers can produce more cassava in less time,” Michael Selvaraj said. “More importantly, this allows them to earn more and have more to feed their families.”

***

Additional information:

The project titled “Low-cost 3D Phenotyping of Cassava Roots” is funded by the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is a partnership between CIAT and the University of Nottingham’s Computer Vision Laboratory.

The use of GPR by the Phenomics Platform is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and forms part of the partnership between CIAT, Texas A&M University, and IDS North America Ltd.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CIAT and retrieved on 04/09/2018 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM, Inc. accordingly.


 

US-Based NGO Commit to Transforming Education in Liberia

mtm

Source: Front Page Africa Online, 2018


By Jackson F. Kanneh | March 19, 2018|Front Page Africa Online


Klay District Bomi County – The CEO and founder of US-based educational NGO More Than ME (MTM) says her organization’s priority in Liberia is to help the government improve the education sector of the country.

Katie Meyler made the pronouncement Thursday, March 15 at a quizzing competition organized by MTM in Golodee town, Bomi County.

“More Than Me wants to transform the entire primary education of the country. We are going to work with the Ministry of Education to strengthen the educational system from the foundation so that the people and the economy will be strong,” Meyler said.

“These children that we are bringing up will be the future of Liberia. So, More Than Me in partnership with the government of Liberia is calling on our community leaders and school administrators to work together to make a stronger Liberia.”

Madam Meyler also called on parents to encourage teachers to be on campus every day, adding that the work of teachers is difficult; therefore, parents must regularly remind and encourage them about its importance.

“Because when they are coming to school every day, it means our children, the future leaders of this country, will be learning something every day which is good for this country,” she said.

Alexander Duopu, Deputy Education Minister for Instruction, lauded MTM for its impact on the school system while calling on parents to provide their children with the necessary school materials.

“Our parents need to give the children the support they need because our children are our future leaders, so we should support them with the education they need,” Duopu said.

He said the Ministry of Education under the CDC led government will seek legislation for the establishment of an academic crime court for the handling of academic issues.

“When a student leaves another school and come to your school, you as principal must go and check behind that student before admitting them in your institution,” he said.

“This is why we are going to have legislation for us to have an academic crime court in this country – a court that will hold teachers, principals and parents accountable for academic crime.”

Seo Davies, Bomi County Education Officer, praised MTM for organizing the Quizzing competition in the county.

He also called on the NGO to collaborate with local authority of the Ministry of Education in the county to improve the sector.

At the end of the program, the six participating schools were all presented with school materials by MTM while special awards were given to the first, second and third winners respectively.

The Education Time Quizzing competition, which was contested by six schools from Montserrado and Bomi counties attracted vast numbers of residents from Golodee and the surrounding towns.

In the grand final of the competition, More Than Me Academy, the parent school of the NGO located on Ashmun Street in Monrovia, defeated Moore Town public school of Bomi county 80 to 40 points.


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This article originally appeared on Front Page Africa Online and was retrieved on 03/21/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

Meeting on Liberia: Peacebuilding Commission Ambassadorial Level meeting on Liberia

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UNDP-Liberia 2018

The people of Liberia have demonstrated resilience and readiness for democratic progress and a resolve to move forward on a path of development. Credit: UNDP.

 


By Achim Steiner | UNDP Administrator | March 13, 2018 |


As prepared for delivery.

At a time of much upheaval in the world, it is a distinct pleasure to meet here today to acknowledge Liberia’s impressive progress and discuss the path forward as the country enters the next phase of its development. While the era of peacekeeping will come to a successful close at the end of this month, long-term success demands sustained focus. Liberia’s partners cannot afford not to invest in Liberia’s future. There are far too many examples of reversal of peace and development at moments such as this to ignore the risks, as we all heard last week from the Secretary-General during his remarks to the General Assembly on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.  Our support to sustainable development going forward must focus carefully on issues that will secure the peace.

The people of Liberia have already taken the first step in sustaining peace through a successful election and a seamless transition. They have demonstrated resilience and readiness for democratic progress and a resolve to move forward on a path of development. Liberia’s endowment of national resource constitutes an important opportunity if well-managed to promote the aspirations of the people. While the recent achievements deserve to be celebrated the road ahead for Liberia is marked by challenges. The country faces significant economic constraints brought about by the global slump in commodity prices, a narrowing fiscal space and a slow recovery from the Ebola crisis.  Challenges concerning national reconciliation, human rights, rule of law, marginalization of the periphery and basic governance capacity also remains.

The outcome of the election shows that the people of Liberia stand behind a pro-poor vision founded on a decentralized, people-centered approach seeking to narrow the gap between rich and poor and fight corruption. The formulation of the National Development Agenda for 2018-2024 offers a great opportunity to build on the President’s vision and fully incorporate the SDGs with an emphasis on education, health, gender equality and an inclusive economy focusing on jobs especially for women and youth as well as address the key elements of the Liberia Peacebuilding Plan.

The UN Country Team, of course, remains in Liberia after UNMIL’s departure and will spearhead the Secretary-General’s concept of a new generation of Country Teams tailored to national priorities and ensuring the continued availability of UN expertise to the country in critical areas. It will naturally be a reduced UN footprint compared to the peacekeeping era but the Secretary-General has requested a strengthened Resident Coordinator’s Office and the establishment of a Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Liberia to ensure our strong, coherent and coordinated support to the country’s efforts in implementing its vision and achieving the SDGs which will ultimately lead to sustained peace for the people of Liberia. While the MPTF will initially be based on the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and informed by the priorities of the peacebuilding plan, it will ultimately be one of the principle mechanisms in implementing the next national development plan and achieving the SDGs.  The MPTF will ensure that strategic seed funding for priorities is available for both government institutions and UN Agencies. that not only includes sustained financial support but also ensures a coordinated and coherent approach to achieving peace.

We cannot expect the government of Liberia to meet the broad and demanding challenges they face without our continued support. In this regard, I would like to thank the Peacebuilding Configuration for their continued support to the government of Liberia and the United Nation during the transition period.  The new Government will continue requiring the direct support from the Peacebuilding Configuration and all international partners.  The “Liberia Moment” on 23 of March presents an important opportunity for the Government, the PBC, and development partners to jointly kickstart the formulation of a Framework of Engagement, that will define the collaboration between the Government of Liberia, the UN and the international community in meeting their obligations with respect to sustaining peace agenda and meeting the SDGs.


 

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Innovative wood and furniture testing centre opens in Ghana

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By Juan Pablo Davila | UNIDO | 6 FEB  2018|


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UNIDO-Ghana 2018


ACCRA, 6 February – An innovative, new wood and furniture testing centre in Ghana was officially commissioned today by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with support from the Government of Switzerland through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Located at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), in Fumesua in the Ashanti Region, the Centre will ensure trade facilitation and support the Government’s efforts in promoting industrialization across all sectors.

The Wood and Furniture Testing Centre (WFTC) is the first of its kind in the West African sub-region and the third in Africa, following Egypt and South Africa, allowing Ghanaian and imported wood and furniture products to be tested to ensure they meet the required trade standards for consumer use and protection. Entrepreneurs in the wood industry will now be able to conduct tests to determine the strength of the materials used in producing wood products, including the bonding quality of plywood, and the durability, stability and strength of tables and chairs. These tests determine the lifespan of wooden products and their ability to perform the functions for which they are designed, and will help to ensure durable wood products in the Ghanaian and global market. The UNIDO Country Representative to Ghana, Fakhruddin Azizi noted that “The UNIDO-SECO partnership has given fruitful results in Ghana and the TCB Programme is truly a flagship example of confidence and trust between strategic partners.”

He encouraged CSIR – FORIG to effectively manage this wood and furniture facility to achieve sustainability and ensure that it creates positive lasting impact for the wood and furniture sector in Ghana and in the global market place.

Daniel Lauchenauer, representing the Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, emphasized the important contribution the new centre can make towards the enhanced international competitiveness of Ghana’s wood and furniture sector and with this, to a much needed increased diversification of the economy, in line with the objectives of the government of Ghana.

“It is my hope that our support to CSIR – FORIG has a much greater impact and leverages existing government strategies such as the One District, One Factory (1D1F) to go a long way in supporting the wood and furniture industry in Ghana effectively,” added Azizi.

For further information, please contact:

Juan Pablo Davila, Project Manager

UNIDO’s Trade, Investment and Innovation Department (TII)

UNIDO Trade Capacity Building Programme for Ghana

Email

For the full image gallery, please see here



Article Disclaimer


This article originally appeared on UNIDO and was retrieved on 02/19/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

A 5-year voyage to tackle plastic pollution

UNEP| 22 FEB 2018 | Story | Ocean & Seas


 

It’s possible to cross all of the world’s oceans without using a single drop of fossil fuels: the Race for Water is proof. Entirely propelled by solar energy, hydrogen and wind, the boat set off last year on a five-year journey around the globe to raise awareness of the urgency of curbing plastic pollution in the oceans.

This week, the vessel arrived in Panama City as part of a series of stops in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Bermuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe. 

Race for Water
A view of the boat’s solar panels, part of the renewable energy mix that powers the Race for Water. (Source: Race for Water)

The expedition, led by the Swiss Race for Water Foundation and supported by UN Environment, reaches out to the communities along its route. More than 1,500 children have benefited so far from lectures and interactive presentations aboard the vessel on how to tackle plastic pollution. Around 8 million tonnes of plastic waste end up polluting the oceans each year. If no urgent action is taken, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

“The Race for Water Foundation is demonstrating that a zero-emissions future is not a utopia – it is already becoming reality,” said UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim. “UN Environment is proud to support the round-the-world odyssey of this innovative vessel.”

Camille Rollin
Race for Water specialist Camille Rollin shares “plastic waste to energy” projects with children aboard the vessel. (Source: Race for Water)

The crew of the Race for Water also undertakes research projects that aim to measure the impact of marine litter on wildlife and biological cycles. The expedition aims to inspire governments, companies, scientists and students to use the latest technologies to reduce plastic consumption and better manage their plastic waste.

“We are thrilled to be in Panama and to have the opportunity to share with audiences here the fragility of marine ecosystems and the solutions we need to tackle plastic pollution, including microplastics,” said Franck David, leader of the expedition.

The Race for Water is a 35-metre long boat with 500 square meters of solar panels on its roof, a plant to produce energy from saltwater hydrogen, and a maximum-efficiency sail, which helps to harness the power of the wind.

plastic waste
Plastic waste collected by the crew for study. (Source: UN Environment)

“This innovative vessel demonstrates that through technology and innovation we can already achieve efficient solutions to plastic pollution, one of the most serious problems of our time,” said UN Environment regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Leo Heileman, during a visit to the Race for Water.

“We already have the innovations that will help us to set up a new plastic economy. Now we need to build momentum among all sectors to change our unsustainable production and consumption patterns and that is why plastic pollution is the theme of this year’s World Environment Day,” Heileman added.

Race for Water
Even when there is no wind, the Race for Water requires no fossil fuels. (Source: Race for Water)

“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme of World Environment Day 2018, urges governments, industry, communities and individuals to break up with single-use plastic, which is polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.

The Race for Water expedition will spread the word on this pressing issue. In the coming months, the vessel will stop in Peru and Chile, before continuing on to the Pacific islands. “Shanghai, Tokyo and Dubai will follow, and we will end this unique expedition in the Mediterranean, before returning to France in 2021”, David said.

Leo Heilemen on the Race for Water
UN Environment regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Leo Heileman, joins expedition leader Franck David on board the Race for Water. (Source: UN Environment)

Panama, Chile and Peru are part of UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, which aims to engage governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in a global fight against marine plastic litter.


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This article originally appeared on UNEP and was retrieved on 02/22/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.

 

‘We are not out of the woods yet’ on drought relief efforts, warns top UN aid official in Somalia

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UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed | A woman walks in drought-hit Salaxley village, 15 kilometers south of Garowe in Puntland, one of the regions hit by a severe drought. UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed


18 February 2018 | Humanitarian Aid


The top United Nations humanitarian official in Somalia has commended the drought relief and recovery efforts of the authorities in the northern state of Puntland, while cautioning that the current humanitarian crisis is far from over.


“We took stock, together with [Puntland’s] leadership, of the drought response as it has been so far, looking back to what has been a good year in terms of close cooperation and a very successful drought relief effort,” the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, said in Puntland’s capital, Garowe, on Saturday, in the wake of a series of meeting with officials, including the Federal Member State’s President Abdiwali Mohamed Ali.

“At the same time, we talked about the remaining challenges because we are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination,” he added.

Mr. de Clercq – who also serves as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia and the UN Resident Coordinator – was visiting Puntland to meet with security, planning and humanitarian officials from the local government, as well as representatives of civil society organizations, to discuss the current drought response and other challenges in the region.

Speaking on the collective response so far to the drought that has affected Puntland and the rest of Somalia for over five failed rain cycles, Mr. de Clercq said that, while 2017 was a good year in terms of close cooperation to avoid the worst impact of the drought, further effort would be needed.

He added that, in areas like Sool and Sanaag, there are still massive needs and a strong possibility that famine-type conditions would develop. The two areas, located on the north-eastern tip of the Horn of Africa, form part of a disputed region claimed by both Puntland and neighbouring ‘Somaliland.’

Mitigating the effects of the drought and helping the people who have been displaced by it was one of the main topics covered in the UN official’s meeting with President Mohamed Ali. “Our discussion was frank and candid, very fruitful,” the President noted afterwards.

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UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed

Peter de Clercq, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia and UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator accompanied by officials from the UN and Puntland administration interacts with residents of drought-hit Salaxley village., by UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed

At the end of the visit, which included discussions at the ministries of security and planning, together with Puntland’s disaster management agency, Mr. de Clercq said that it was important to get the right resources to the right place and work with the right partners, such as the Puntland authorities, and to consider longer-term factors.

“We try to address the underlying causes of the crisis, like food insecurity and livestock depletion, and to think of alternatives for people to make a living and to rebuild their lives,” he said.

In 2017, drought-related famine was averted through the efforts of Somalis and their international partners. However, the risk is not yet overcome as there are 5.4 million people in Somalia needing life-saving humanitarian assistance. Work is being done in all regions, including Puntland, to build and sustain resilience in all communities, especially the populations affected the most by the recurring cycle of drought and famine risk, such as pastoralists, displaced persons and fishing communities.

There is a resilience and recovery framework in Somalia, to help it transition from humanitarian intervention to sustainable recovery and disaster preparedness. Led by the authorities and supported by the United Nations and the World Bank, it is tightly linked to its development plan. It enables the national and regional governments to take the lead in medium- and long-term developments solutions, going to the root of communities’ vulnerability to droughts, and helping them withstand recurrent shocks.


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This article originally appeared on United Nations and was retrieved on 02/19/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

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