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Resilience is therefore a predominant concern. Climate-smart agriculture CSA , an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate, is critical. The ability to apply site-specific nutrient management to match spatially and temporally variable conditions can increase application efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts while improving yields. Thus, precision farming technologies are critical. They can spatially vary nutrients and water prescriptions within a field based on various information sources soil properties maps, terrain attributes, remote sensing, yield maps, etc.

Soil- and crop-specific fertilization, as well as balanced plant nutrition, could significantly increase crop productivity. Fertilizer deep placement FDP technology has also proven to be an innovative fertilizer use efficiency strategy with sustainable returns on investment. Several studies across SSA have shown that significant yield increases percent in upland maize and percent in irrigated rice are achievable and have been realized with less fertilizer inputs, relative to the conventional farmer practices. In , the International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD proposed that the key measures to boost food security, feed future generations, and reduce poverty are: 1 getting young people interested in agriculture by introducing modern technology, training, communication, and information; and 2 improving the image of agriculture to be more technology-centered and business-oriented, ultimately making the field less risky.

Thus, there is a pressing need to rebrand agriculture to address the long-held belief that farming is for those who cannot make a livelihood anywhere else.

Agriculture needs to be branded as the new unexploited frontier for growth in business opportunities. With an aging population of farmers, it is clear that agriculture needs to attract more young people. In many ways, young people do not see agriculture as an active, profitable profession.

By embracing and incorporating new technologies, the field can encourage youth to see past the stereotypes of traditional farming and help them view agriculture as an exciting and innovative industry. Incorporation of information and communication technologies ICTs is another way to provide new opportunities for making agriculture more interesting to young people. There is under-utilization of ICTs for agricultural production and marketing.

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9 ways to improve corn crop yields:

It is essential to digitize agricultural production, processing, and marketing information into web-based resources to increase outreach and use. Using ICT skills for farm planning, production, and marketing could improve the productivity and profitability of farming activities through high yield prices and farm income. The use of ICTs in agriculture will increase opportunities, and motivate and increase the capacity of youth to engage in profitable agriculture, target niche markets, and make agriculture an occupation worthy of investing time, effort, and financial resources. In SSA, small and marginal farmers constitute more than 50 percent of total farming communities.

Nearly all small and marginal farmers across these continents practice rainfed cultivation. Erratic, inadequate, and delayed rain often results in crop failure and, in turn, fuels severe food insecurity, financial loss, and large-scale migration to towns and cities. The strong dependence on rainfall for crop production in SSA is therefore a great concern. Long-term changes in the patterns of rainfall and more extreme droughts — all symptoms of climate change — are expected to shift production seasons, alter pest and disease patterns, and modify th e set of feasible crops, greatly affecting production, prices, incomes, and ultimately livelihoods and lives.

For example, in northern Ghana, the annual maize yield loss from drought is estimated at 30 percent, but localized losses might be much higher in the marginal areas where the annual rainfall is below mm and soils are bare or shallow. Adapting to climate change, among other interventions, may involve the use of crop varieties that have the ability to cope with higher temperatures, drier conditions, and emerging pests and diseases. With the increasing frequency, duration, and severity of drought conditions across much of the African continent, smallholder farmers are looking for new ways to ensure that their harvests are secured against erratic rainfall patterns.

This globally recognized, disaster mitigating, and irrigation guaranteeing technology filters, injects, and stores excess farm water or storm water underground for usage in dry periods. The technologies are designed for storing water for dry season farming, but they also supplement irrigation during short rainy periods. Many of these technologies, as well as the concepts and approaches in strategic farming, are directly applicable to agricultural production across the entire SSA region and in most developing country environments.

Therefore, the training will provide participants with a unique opportunity to develop their professional skills and collaborate.

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IFDC is uniquely positioned to stay abreast of the latest technologies related to soil fertility management and agricultural development around the globe, particularly for the smallholder farmer. IFDC has well-established relationships with essentially all public and private sector organizations that impact agricultural production. This training will allow participants to interact with some of these organizations including, but not limited to: farmer organizations; International Water Management Institute IWMI , Conservation Alliance, AfricaRice, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA , research and education institutes of major agricultural colleges and universities; and many large- and small-scale farmers.

The five-day training session will include lectures, case studies, field visits, and demonstrations of tools and methodologies. These will demonstrate the current technologies that can help smallholder farmers improve their productivity and livelihoods while simultaneously preserving the environment. All training deliberations and presentations will be conducted in English. Faculty for this training program will include IFDC specialists with more than 25 years of agronomy and soil science experience with a focus on improving nutrient use efficiency and facilitating the transfer of innovative agro-technologies.

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  4. Other faculty participating in this training will include international experts, farmers, extension agents, public sector researchers, entrepreneurs, and other representatives of the private sector involved in using, supplying, or developing the technologies. The training program will take place in Accra, Ghana, at the Erata Hotel — a three-star facility situated in the serene environs of East Legon and residential area in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

    The hotel is conveniently located: a 10 minute drive from the Kotoka International Airport, minute drive to Accra City Center, 20 minute drive to Aburi Botanical Gardens, and 5 minute drive to the University of Ghana. Erata Hotel has over 50 well-furnished, air-conditioned rooms and offers a complimentary shuttle from the airport.

    After this date, reservations will be subject to room availability and at the best available rate. Participants will be responsible for reservation and payment of accommodations at the Erata Hotel.

    Optimising profitability of crop production through Ecological Focus Areas

    Participants should plan to arrive in Accra, Ghana, on Sunday, January 22, From the scientific point of view, foods developed either by conventional breeding or by GM technology can impart the same effects on human health and the environment. The rigour of the food safety consideration is greatly influenced by the source of the DNA used to develop the GM crop.

    If the DNA is from an edible plant it will make the regulatory process before commercialisation easier and it will also improve consumer acceptance; as, for example, in our laboratory where the Ama1 gene was isolated from the edible crop Amaranthus and used to develop protein-rich GM potato.

    It was found to be non-allergenic and safe for consumption using the mouse model [ 6 ]. Similarly, the gene OXDC Oxalate decarboxylase isolated from the edible fungi Collybia velutipes was found to be non-toxic and non-allergenic [ 14 ]. When we introduced a single gene encoding C-5 sterol desaturase FvC5SD from Collybia velutipes to the tomato, we obtained a crop with multiple beneficial traits, including improved drought tolerance and fungal resistance [ 7 , 15 ].

    Other strategies include silencing of the host genes instead of addition of a new gene to enhance shelf life of fruits and vegetables [ 3 ].

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    The genes derived from plant viruses can also be considered as safe transgenes as these viruses are not known to be human pathogens. Several virus-resistant transgenics harbouring either the coat protein [ 16 ] or overexpressing siRNAs [ 17 ] have been developed and released for commercial purposes. Commercial cultivation of this GM papaya resulted in a considerable increase in papaya production. To date, no conventional or organic method is available to control this rampant virus. No harmful effects have been documented after several years of extensive cultivation of GM crops in diverse environments and consumption of GM foods by more than a billion humans and by a larger number of animals [ 10 , 18 ].

    However, it is important that the performance of a GM crop is closely scrutinized for several generations under field conditions and that it must go through rigorous bio-safety assessments on a case-by-case basis, before being released for commercial cultivation. Detailed studies should be carried out on various allergenicity and toxicity parameters on laboratory animals. Expressed proteins must be checked for the stability, digestibility, allergenicity and toxicity.

    Comparative nutritional profiling should be carried out in GM crops. Selectable and scorable marker genes SMGs are indispensible for the selection of transformation events for the generation of GM crops. Among the most highly used selectable markers are kanamycin and hygromycin resistance genes. The major biosafety concerns that are raised regarding SMGs relate to their toxicity or allergenicity and the possibility of horizontal gene transfer HGT to relevant organisms and pathogens.

    It has been suggested that transfer of these marker genes to other plants, may result in development of new unwanted weeds.

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    Neomycin phosphotransferase II NptII which is the most commonly used selectable marker is most extensively evaluated for biosafety. Studies have shown that NptII is non-toxic and it is not expected to result in increased weediness or invasiveness and it also does not affect the non-target organisms [ 19 — 21 ]. Plant biotechnology has the potential to address various problems in agriculture and society. GM strategies are being employed to minimize yield losses due to various stresses biotic and abiotic and are being used extensively for value addition in food crops by enrichment with quality proteins, vitamins, iron, zinc, carotenoids, anthocyanins and so on.

    Crop Production | National Institute of Food and Agriculture

    Other ongoing efforts include the enhancement of shelf life of fruits and vegetables so as significantly to reduce the post-harvest losses of perishable crops. Fruit crops are also targeted for the production of edible vaccines to combat major diseases. While the global area under GM crops continues to expand every year, no harmful effects of these crops have been documented even after several years of extensive cultivation in diverse environments and widespread human consumption [ 10 , 18 ].

    Thus, it can be concluded that sustainable integration of conventional agricultural practices with modern biotechnology can enable the achievement of food security for present and future generations. However, it is important that the performance of a GM crop is closely scrutinized for several generations under field conditions and goes through rigorous bio-safety assessments on a case-by-case basis, before being released for commercial cultivation.

    GM crops are going to be an essential part of our life and the enormous potential of biotechnology must be exploited to the benefit of humankind. Baulcombe D: Reaping benefits of crop research. Datta A: GM crops: dream to bring science to society.

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