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WORLD HUNGER

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2009, 07:30:03 am »










                                                   1.02 Billion People Hungry:



                           One Sixth Of Humanity Undernourished, More Than Ever Before






ScienceDaily
(June 20, 2009)

— World hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009 with 1,020 million people going hungry every day, according to new estimates published by United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor, the UN agency said.

"A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security. We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world and to take the necessary actions."

"The present situation of world food insecurity cannot leave us indifferent," he added.

Poor countries, Diouf stressed, "must be given the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity. Investment in agriculture must be increased because for the majority of poor countries a healthy agricultural sector is essential to overcome poverty and hunger and is a pre-requisite for overall economic growth."

"Many of the world's poor and hungry are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Yet they have the potential not only to meet their own needs but to boost food security and catalyse broader economic growth. To unleash this potential and reduce the number of hungry people in the world, governments, supported by the international community, need to protect core investments in agriculture so that smallholder farmers have access not only to seeds and fertilisers but to tailored technologies, infrastructure, rural finance, and markets," said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"For most developing countries there is little doubt that investing in smallholder agriculture is the most sustainable safety net, particularly during a time of global economic crisis," Nwanze added.

"The rapid march of urgent hunger continues to unleash an enormous humanitarian crisis. The world must pull together to ensure emergency needs are met as long term solutions are advanced," said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme.





Hunger on the rise

Whereas good progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, hunger has been slowly but steadily on the rise for the past decade, FAO said. The number of hungry people increased between 1995-97 and 2004-06 in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. But even in this region, gains in hunger reduction have been reversed as a result of high food prices and the current global economic downturn.

This year, mainly due to the shocks of the economic crisis combined with often high national food prices, the number of hungry people is expected to grow overall by about 11 percent, FAO projects, drawing on analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Almost all of the world's undernourished live in developing countries. In Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 642 million people are suffering from chronic hunger; in Sub-Saharan Africa 265 million; in Latin America and the Caribbean 53 million; in the Near East and North Africa 42 million; and in developed countries 15 million in total.

In the grip of the crisis

The urban poor will probably face the most severe problems in coping with the global recession, because lower export demand and reduced foreign direct investment are more likely to hit urban jobs harder. But rural areas will not be spared. Millions of urban migrants will have to return to the countryside, forcing the rural poor to share the burden in many cases.

Some developing countries are also struggling with the fact that money transfers (remittances) sent from migrants back home have declined substantially this year, causing the loss of foreign exchange and household income. Reduced remittances and a projected decline in official development assistance will further limit the ability of countries to access capital for sustaining production and creating safety nets and social protection schemes for the poor.

Unlike previous crises, developing countries have less room to adjust to the deteriorating economic conditions, because the turmoil is affecting practically all parts of the world more or less simultaneously. The scope for remedial mechanisms, including exchange-rate depreciation and borrowing from international capital markets for example, to adjust to macroeconomic shocks, is more limited in a global crisis.

The economic crisis also comes on the heel of the food and fuel crisis of 2006-08. While food prices in world markets declined over the past months, domestic prices in developing countries came down more slowly. They remained on average 24 percent higher in real terms by the end of 2008 compared to 2006. For poor consumers, who spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on staple foods, this means a strong reduction in their effective purchasing power. It should also be noted that while they declined, international food commodity prices are still 24 percent higher than in 2006 and 33 percent higher than in 2005.

The 2009 hunger report (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, SOFI) will be presented in October.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
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 MLA Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2009, June 20). 1.02 Billion People Hungry: One Sixth Of Humanity Undernourished, More Than Ever Before. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 7, 2009, from



http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/06/090619121443.htm
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« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2009, 06:56:15 am »











                                                G8 set to tackle hunger in Africa






BBC NEWS
July 10, 2009

"It is time for us to switch because food security is not just food aid," he said.

"It is the ability of people to produce food locally and for them to be able to have access to local markets."

Mr Nwanze said he expected US President Barack Obama to call for support on Friday from the G8 and other emerging economies for the agriculture initiative.

The US is reportedly planning to contribute some $3.5bn to the programme.

Mr Obama was to meet representatives of Angola, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal in L'Aquila, before meeting Pope Benedict XVI in Rome and embarking on an African tour later on Friday.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is also attending Friday's talks in L'Aquila, told Reuters news agency that the key message from African nations was that the G8 had to live up to its commitments.

Aid organisations have criticised some members for failing to deliver on the promise made at the 2005 G8 summit to increase annual aid levels to sub-Saharan Africa by $25bn by 2010.

Italy, the present summit host, has come under particular pressure for cutting, rather than increasing, aid this year.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said the global economic crisis and Italy's mounting debts are responsible for a delay in Rome meeting its promises.
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2009, 07:02:19 am »










G8 summit tackles food supplies 



Leaders of the G8 developed nations are reported to have agreed new efforts to boost food supplies to the hungry, on the final day of a summit in Italy.

The group has reportedly pledged to provide at least $15bn (£9.2bn) over three years to efforts to help poor nations develop their own agriculture.

AFP news agency quotes a G8 statement as saying there is "an urgent need for decisive action" on hunger and poverty.

On Thursday, the second day of talks, the summit focused on climate change.

Leaders from both developed and developing nations agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2C above 1900 levels.

That is the level above which, the UN says, the Earth's climate system would become dangerously unstable.

 
On Friday, attention at the summit in the Italian city of L'Aquila turned to the issue of food security.

BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker says the idea is to put more emphasis on helping people feed themselves.

That is to be achieved with more investment in the agriculture of developing countries, and the G8 nations - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US - are expected to pledge significant resources, our correspondent adds.

However, although the total amount of overseas development aid (ODA) was increased in 2008, the rich countries are still behind on their target to double aid that was made at the G8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005 - and Italy is among the laggards.

Not all the $15bn reportedly pledged to the agriculture initiative will be new funding.

Kanaya Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, told the BBC that he welcomed the announcement of more investment in agriculture in the developing world.



 G8 KEY ISSUES/TIMETABLE

0630 GMT - impact of economic crisis on Africa, African leaders attending
0830 GMT - food security
1100 GMT - final news conference


G8 members: Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, US
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2009, 07:30:20 am »










                                        World leaders launch $15Bln food initiative





           
Alessandra Rizzo And
Emma Vandore,
Associated Press Writers
July 10, 2009
L'AQUILA, Italy

– World leaders have launched a $15 billion initiative to help farmers in poor countries increase production, marking a shift in the way the West tackles world hunger, according to a draft statement obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Not all the money is new, and it will be distributed over three years. The United Nations welcomed the new strategy as an overdue shift away from the focus on delivering emergency food aid. Anti-poverty groups, however, said the funding was insufficient.

The new strategy is aimed at enabling poor farmers to produce more of their own food by improving productivity, shifting the focus from delivering aid. The initiative is a new approach on an issue — food security — that has emerged recently as a threat to political stability.

"There is an urgent need for decisive action to free humankind from hunger and poverty," said the draft statement. "We will aim at substantially increasing aid to agriculture and food security."

The initiative was launched at the end of three-day of talks in Italy of Group of Eight industrialized nations. The talks were expanded to include emerging economies and, on Friday, African nations. All of the 27 countries were expected to endorse the statement.

Washington was expected to commit $3 billion, and Paris $2 billion, delegates said.

In a separate statement, leaders said it is important to increase access to water and sanitation and the G-8 promised to assist African countries in doing so.

Food security, or ensuring adequate access to food, has jumped to the fore of the political agenda recently. High prices last year led to food riots in some countries, including some violent ones.

Increasing small farmers' productivity would have long-term impact on world hunger, regional trade and eventually help curb immigration toward Europe and other rich nations, delegates and experts said. While food aid will still be necessary to prevent people from starving, the new approach puts emphasis on a longer-term aim.

"It's a total shift, a welcome and encouraging one," said Jacques Diouf, the chief of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

"You solve the problem of hunger by giving the necessary tools to farmers who are in these poor countries so they can produce food," Diouf told the AP.

The initiative calls for support around harvest time and puts emphasis on small farmers and private sector growth, as well as on families and women. It says that any improvement in agricultural production should be coupled with measures to help countries to adjust to changing conditions caused by global warming.
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« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2009, 07:45:58 am »











                             Once world's bread basket, Iraq now a farming basket case




           

Mike Tharp,
Mcclatchy Newspapers.
– Fri Jul 17, 2009
MISHKHAB,
Iraq

— Once the cradle of agriculture for civilization, the Land Between Two Rivers — the Tigris and Euphrates — has become a basket case for its farmers.

Just ask Naji Habeeb , 85. His family has been growing rice in this village 135 miles southeast of Baghdad for generations. Thin green shoots stick out of the flat paddies, shin-deep in brown water.

The Iraqi government, he claims, still owes him half of what he's due from last year's crop. He turned it in months ago and still hasn't been paid. "Shall I suck my fingers and eat like a baby?" he shouted. "The Ministry (of Agriculture) will never know my family is hungry!"

Habeeb's family members have farmed the 538-square-foot plot next to a branch of the Euphrates River the same way for centuries. Except today they till with tractors, run water pumps with gasoline and spread artificial fertilizer. They plant seedlings by hand in June and July, irrigate and keep bugs and disease away in the summer heat, harvest by hand in October.

However, their efforts haven't helped Iraqi agriculture overcome the twin disasters of war and sanctions, which have transformed the country from one of the world's premier sources of aromatic rice and nearly 500 kinds of dates 30 years ago into a net importer of food.

Iraq now imports nearly all the food its people eat: California rice, Washington apples, Australian wheat, fruits and vegetables from its neighbors. All are staples in Iraqi groceries and on the dinner table.

The decline of the farming sector creates other problems. Agriculture accounts for half or more of Iraqi jobs and is the second-largest contributor to the gross domestic product. The prices that people and the government pay for shortfalls in what they used to grow weaken the country's economy.

For its part, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's office says he unveiled an "agricultural initiative" two years ago. It included $240 million to bolster farmers, including no-interest loans, guarantees to buy crops, research and development, and other plans. A deputy in the Ministry of Agriculture , Mahdi al Qaisi, said that his agency "will be happy to help farmers, who are our brothers. The time of fear has ended; there is no need to be afraid."

Iraq's agriculture faces the same problems as farmers everywhere: drought (in its fifth year), bugs, disease, salty water, red tape. Those problems are exacerbated, however, by location and history. Eight years of war with Iran , defeat in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, then 12 years of sanctions and, most recently, six years of war and U.S.-led occupation have left the country's agricultural sector in shambles.

Reliable statistics are elusive or suspect. Iraq is the only country, for example, in which the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service estimates crop yields by using satellite data.

The available numbers, however, suggest a stagnant and backward sector.

This year's wheat harvest is expected to be 1.3 million tons, down a million tons from last season. The prized amber rice crop grown by Habeeb and popular throughout the region for its perfumed scent will be around 100,000 tons, one-third of last year's yield.

One result is that Iraq has become one of the world's biggest importers of wheat, around 3.5 million tons. Barley to feed livestock — sheep, goats and cattle — also is shipped in from other countries. The higher cost of raising livestock means that more will have to be culled.

Another result: Iraqi consumers pay more for homegrown produce than they do for some imports.

Zaineb Kemal , a mother of four in Mosul , said that Iraqi produce had become scarce and expensive. That's why "so many people prefer to buy imported goods," she said, adding that she likes Iranian watermelons, Syrian cucumbers and Egyptian oranges.

Anti-globalization groups praise the fact that Iraqi farmers reuse their own seeds season after season. That doesn't lead to robust crops, however, and farmers routinely spread twice as much seed as they ordinarily would need to ensure the reduced yields.
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« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2009, 07:46:45 am »










As in any country, agriculture is political. Unlike most nations, however, the present Iraqi government doesn't protect — let alone subsidize — many of its farmers, according to Western experts, the rice farmers in Mishkhab and consumers.

"Most farmers have been abandoned by the state," said Qasim Muhaideen, 43, who works in Mosul's central market. "How can our farmers compete in price and availability?"

Geopolitics also influences what happens to Iraq's farmers.

Turkey and Syria have built dams on the Euphrates within their borders, and they turn the spigot off and on to Iraq .

"The shortage is very effective," Awn Theyab, the director general of Iraq's National Center for Water Resources , said after Turkey reduced the flow after one week. "If it continues, we won't have enough water for the first round of the winter season, because our reservoirs are empty."

A few bright spots have sprouted. Aquaculture is emerging slowly as a food source, and 100,000 carp fingerlings were released to reservoirs in April. They'll grow to only one-fourth the size of the 25-pound monsters pulled from the Tigris, but the supply is more stable.

There's also been a boom in "hoop houses," plastic greenhouses for tomatoes using drip irrigation, not the usual field flooding.

Multinational provincial reconstruction teams report growing interest in better farming practices. Beekeepers, poultry producers and growers who want to learn modern techniques have started attending workshops. During the years of sectarian and tribal violence, they were afraid to be seen with Americans. Just this week, 175 Iraqis signed up for a soil salinity seminar.

Habeeb and his partner, Abdul Abbas Muhair, 67, have never met a foreign agricultural adviser, however.

Sitting barefoot on a carpet runner in a tiled room next to their paddies, Habeeb and Muhair swapped gripes about the government. Poor or zero planning. Delayed or incomplete payments. Baksheesh — bribes — needed for the best seeds. Weak fertilizer. Weaker pesticide. Power to run water pumps for only six hours a day, so they must buy gasoline for generators.

Even worse than their litany, they said, is their loss of pride. In their fathers' day, the aromatic rice they grew was enjoyed in Egypt , Lebanon — throughout the Middle East . Now it's all sold to the government.

A rooster crowed outside as little boys in the 15-member clan slid closer and listened to their elders.

"I feel sad not to export our rice anymore," Muhair said. "It was enough for your life."



(Tharp is the executive editor of the
Merced (Calif.) Star-Sun .

McClatchy
special correspondents
Laith Hammoudi and
Sahar Issa
contributed to this article
from Baghdad .)

MORE FROM MCCLATCHY

Shiite pilgrimage poses major challenge for Iraqi military

In Baghdad , the poor have no choice but to beg

With one bat and no uniforms, Iraq's baseball team hits field




Read what McClatchy's
Iraqi staff
has to say at

Inside Iraq .
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« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2009, 09:59:31 am »









Amazonian TERRA PRETA Can Transform Poor Soil Into Fertile



http://atlantisonline.smfforfree2.com/index.php/topic,14638.0.html
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2009, 02:22:08 pm »

Starving locals struggle to pull through in famine-hit E Uganda


www.chinaview.cn  2009-07-20 20:35:46        

    By Samuel Okiror Egadu

    TESO, Uganda, July 20 (Xinhua) -- As wild plants, leaves, fruits and weeds are withering in the unmerciful sunshine, the hope for the starving population in eastern Uganda to pull through a looming famine become dimmer as well.

    "I don't know what I am going to survive with my family now. The wild plants we have been depending on have withered," said Innocent Opumar, a resident in Katakwi district.

    Local residents in six districts in eastern Uganda, also known as Teso region, since earlier this year resorted to what had been left in the field after a widely crop failure following prolonged drought and unpredictable rainfalls.

    As 34 starvation-related deaths were reported, hunger drove people to risk digging up and eating immature cassava, which may keep them fed for a moment but hospitalized later for food poisoning.

    "The hunger forced me to go and uproot the immature cassava. We boiled it. After eating, it turned out to be a disaster. Everybody had diarrhoea and vomiting," Charles Anoma told Xinhua at Acowa health centre in Amuria district.

    Anoma and his family of ten people were admitted at the health centre due to food poisoning.

    The health center was also crowded by malnourished children, who are the most vulnerable and imminent victims along with elders in this crisis.

    "We receive this kind of cases on a daily basis. We only give them oral dehydration salt as we don't have food to give them," said Rauben Ibwalatum, the health assistant at Acowa health centre.

    Without food, social gatherings including weddings were banned by Amuria authorities in a bid to regulate and control food; children massively dropped out of schools to work outside for a solid meal; HIV/AIDS patients stopped taking antiretroviral drugs which require five meals a day.

    "We are only waiting for our days to come and die," an AIDS patient who declined to be named told a group of visiting legislators in Amuria.

    "I have never seen a climax of famine like this. People can't afford a meal for several days," said Omax Hebron Omeda, the Amuria resident district commissioner.

    "People now don't know what is called breakfast, lunch or supper. Very soon, if government doesn't intervene by scaling up the food supply, people are going to die," he said.

    A severe food shortage has swept most parts of the country, leaving up to three million people in the crisis while the government has yet come up with enough funds to respond to the urgent appeals from 52 out of 80 districts.

    Granaries went empty in most parts of Teso region. For those who have any little left, they prefer keeping it inside the house due to escalating food thefts reported in the last few months.

    "You cannot even leave any food stuff to dry on the compound; you will not get it because some one will just steal it," said Judith Akello, a resident of Katakwi district.

    A total of 17 districts in northwestern, northeastern and eastern Uganda have been listed as the most hit, acute food shortage is being experienced in 31 districts while four districts in western Uganda were evaluated as moderately affected.

    The government has so far delivered relief food to over 1,000 starving people in the region, but it is far beyond enough.

    "What can one cup of beans and two of posho do? It's just for one meal," said Patrick Amuriat, the chairperson of Teso Parliamentary Group.

    Robert Ekongot, the Katakwi district chairperson, asked the government to provide food that can last for at least six months as no harvest would be expected in the near future.

    "We need both immediate, short term and long term interventions to address this situation," he said.

Editor: Deng Shasha

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-07/20/content_11740584.htm
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Bianca
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2009, 11:20:33 am »








"GIVE A STARVING MAN A FISH

AND HE WILL EAT FOR A DAY



TEACH A MAN TO FISH

AND HE WILL EAT EVERY DAY"




I am just paraphrasing here, but the best that we can do is improve the quality and disease resistance

of STAPLE CROPS. 
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2009, 11:20:58 am »










                                                 'Burton' Barley Fends Off Aphids






ScienceDaily
(Apr. 1, 2005)

— When they're attacked by Russian wheat aphids, leaves of vulnerable barley plants develop tell-tale white streaks and tight, corkscrew curls. These weakened plants produce fewer plump, nutritious kernels needed for feeding cattle or sheep, or for foods such as pearled barley for soups--or malt for making confections or brewing beer.

But an animal-feed barley named Burton, developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists and their university colleagues, resists attack by both kinds, or biotypes, of Russian wheat aphids that are found in this country. Leaves on Burton plants don't become streaked or curled when the green, one-sixteenth-inch-long aphids puncture them to feed on the plants' sap. Without the snug, rolled-leaf shelters, aphids become more vulnerable to their natural enemies, and more easily knocked off the plant by wind or rain, according to ARS plant geneticist P. Phillip Bregitzer. He works at the agency's Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit at Aberdeen, Idaho.

Bregitzer and plant geneticist Dolores W. Mornhinweg at the ARS Wheat, Peanut and Other Field Crops Research Unit, Stillwater, Okla., chose the sequence of parent plants for Burton barley. Those plants included two well-known, ARS-developed malting barleys, Crystal and Klages; a popular animal-feed barley known as Baroness, and a parent that Mornhinweg developed from a wild, Russian wheat aphid-resistant barley from Afghanistan.

Burton is named for former ARS entomologist Robert L. Burton, now deceased, who spearheaded much of the ARS Russian wheat aphid research from his Stillwater laboratory.

Researchers at the Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska and New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Stations collaborated to make Burton available to growers in 2004. Seeds of this plant, described technically as a hulled, two-rowed spring barley, are still available in limited quantities from the University of Idaho's Foundation Seed Program, 3793 N. 3600 E., Kimberly, Idaho 83341, phone (208) 423-6655.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal scientific research agency.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by USDA / Agricultural Research Service.
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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2009, 11:22:31 am »









                                          New Winter Hulless Barley Has High Protein






ScienceDaily
(Apr. 7, 2005)
— Blacksburg, Va.

– Virginia Tech's Small Grains Breeding Program is developing a new type of barley that lacks the fibrous covering. This new hulless barley offers producers an alternative grain for both traditional and new markets, including food, feed, and ethanol.

The price for winter barley has declined since 1996. Even though winter barley was an integral component of the region's cropping system, growers stopped producing it because it was not profitable. The Small Grains Breeding Program work is aimed at reversing this trend. It has focused on improving and diversifying barley's end-use quality.

"Traditional hulled barley cultivars that have higher starch and energy content, therefore, better feed quality, such as cultivars named 'Thoroughbred' and 'Price,' have recently been released by Virginia Tech," said Carl Griffey, professor of crop and soil environmental science at Virginia Tech. "Similar to wheat in appearance, ulless barley is significantly higher in starch content and significantly lower in fiber than traditional hulled barley," he said. Virginia Tech released the first winter hulless barley cultivar, "Doyce," in 2003.

The breeding program is developing both traditional soft red winter wheat cultivars and new cultivars with unique and high-value end-use characteristics such as higher protein content, quality, and white seed color. The Virginia Tech wheat cultivars "Tribute" and "Renwood 3260" have a unique protein quality, making them suited for specialty products. The cultivar "Pearl" is the first soft white cultivar developed and released from the program. Production of such high-value specialty grains offers producers an economic alternative to commodity markets.

The Small Grains Breeding Program continues to work on more new cultivars that help provide solutions to agriculture problems. Another of the projects aims to develop wheat and barley cultivars resistant to pests and so require fewer chemical inputs. For example, producers would obtain higher yields of a safer and higher quality grain that is resistant to Fusarium head blight, commonly referred to as scab. Scab problems have occurred on an annual basis during the past decade, and severe epidemics nearly devastated the crop in Virginia during 1998 and 2003. Scab-resistant wheat cultivars developed at Virginia Tech include "Roane," "McCormick," and "Tribute."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2009, 11:24:07 am »



Hydoponics screening of barley.

(Credit:
Image courtesy of
University of Adelaide)
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« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2009, 11:34:11 am »










                                                    Crucial Barley Gene Identified






ScienceDaily
Dec. 4, 2007

— Adelaide scientists have identified the major gene responsible for boron toxicity tolerance in barley, allowing breeders to select with 100% accuracy barley varieties that are tolerant to boron.

The discovery was made by a research team led by Dr Tim Sutton of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the Waite Campus.

The gene, known as Bot1, was first discovered in a boron-tolerant African barley known as Sahara.

Bot1 helps barley plants survive in soils containing high amounts of boron, common to much of Southern Australia, Asia and Africa. The gene works by preventing the entry and accumulation of boron in the plant, which causes the damage and limits growth.

Since the early 1980s scientists have known about the toxic effects of boron on cereal crops in southern Australia.

“Highly boron-tolerant barley landraces (crop varieties) had been previously identified, but nothing was known about the molecular basis of their tolerance,” says Dr Sutton. ‘We used genomics, which is a combination of modern molecular biology techniques, to identify the sequence of the boron-tolerant gene from Sahara, and the underlying molecular mechanism that provides the tolerance.”

“Boron is an essential micronutrient for plants but they require just the right amount, and boron toxicity and deficiency severely limit crop production worldwide,” says Professor Peter Langridge, CEO of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. “This discovery means that farmers growing barley in high boron environments will be able to choose varieties of barley more suited to their soils, therefore minimising crop loss to this condition.”

Scientists can now work towards transferring this gene into commercially important barley varieties using either conventional breeding or transformation techniques.

The paper, Boron toxicity tolerance in barley arising from efflux transporter amplification (2007) by Tim Sutton, Ute Baumann, Julie Hayes, Nicholas C. Collins, Bu-Jun Shi, Thorsten Schnurbusch, Alison Hay, Gwenda Mayo, Margaret Pallotta, Mark Tester and Peter Langridge, appears in the 30 November issue of Science.

Boron toxicity appears in the tips of the older leaves first, turning them yellow with characteristic brown spots. It then extends down the leaf as toxicity increases until it causes tissue death and eventually plant death.

Barley is a main ingredient in the production of beer and confectionary. In Australian barley crops, yield has been estimated to be reduced as much as 17% as a result of boron toxicity.

Thirty per cent of South Australia’s grain growing soils are affected by high levels of boron.

The findings were published in the journal Science November 30, 2007.


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Adapted from materials provided by University of Adelaide.
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« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2009, 11:36:18 am »










                                          New Winter Hulless Barley Has High Protein






ScienceDaily
(Apr. 7, 2005)
— Blacksburg, Va.

– Virginia Tech's Small Grains Breeding Program is developing a new type of barley that lacks the fibrous covering. This new hulless barley offers producers an alternative grain for both traditional and new markets, including food, feed, and ethanol.

The price for winter barley has declined since 1996. Even though winter barley was an integral component of the region's cropping system, growers stopped producing it because it was not profitable. The Small Grains Breeding Program work is aimed at reversing this trend. It has focused on improving and diversifying barley's end-use quality.

"Traditional hulled barley cultivars that have higher starch and energy content, therefore, better feed quality, such as cultivars named 'Thoroughbred' and 'Price,' have recently been released by Virginia Tech," said Carl Griffey, professor of crop and soil environmental science at Virginia Tech. "Similar to wheat in appearance, ulless barley is significantly higher in starch content and significantly lower in fiber than traditional hulled barley," he said. Virginia Tech released the first winter hulless barley cultivar, "Doyce," in 2003.

The breeding program is developing both traditional soft red winter wheat cultivars and new cultivars with unique and high-value end-use characteristics such as higher protein content, quality, and white seed color. The Virginia Tech wheat cultivars "Tribute" and "Renwood 3260" have a unique protein quality, making them suited for specialty products. The cultivar "Pearl" is the first soft white cultivar developed and released from the program. Production of such high-value specialty grains offers producers an economic alternative to commodity markets.

The Small Grains Breeding Program continues to work on more new cultivars that help provide solutions to agriculture problems. Another of the projects aims to develop wheat and barley cultivars resistant to pests and so require fewer chemical inputs. For example, producers would obtain higher yields of a safer and higher quality grain that is resistant to Fusarium head blight, commonly referred to as scab. Scab problems have occurred on an annual basis during the past decade, and severe epidemics nearly devastated the crop in Virginia during 1998 and 2003. Scab-resistant wheat cultivars developed at Virginia Tech include "Roane," "McCormick," and "Tribute."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2009, 11:39:22 am »



Dr Robin Allaby examines barley in a field.

(Credit:
Image courtesy of
University of Warwick)
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