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Satellites warn African farmers of pest parasitic diseases

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Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser for the UK’s Department for International Development, which funds the plant doctor scheme, says a new initiative with CABI and the UK Space Agency (UKSA) will use the network to prevent, rather than just reduce infestations.



When speaking to the newsmen, she expressed that the idea is to use satellite data collected by the UKSA to develop a system that is able to predict when pest infestations will strike a week or more in advance.

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It is also designed to inform the farmers through mobile phone alert for them to take precautions, adding that it will help boost farmers incomes and mitigate poverty rate.

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The modern forecast is being used in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia and will be rolled out soon to other part of the world.

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Food & Cuisine

UN FAO: Food prices jump in January.

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Food prices rose in January, and has become stronger for vegetable oils and sugar, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 164.8 points last month against 161.8 in December.

In spite of the rise, the index was still 2.2 per cent below its January 2018 level.



The FAO dairy price index jumped 7.2 per cent from December’s value, ending seven months of declines.

FAO said limited export supplies from Europe, caused by strong internal demand, was the main driving force behind the increase.

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FAO’s vegetable oil price index rose 4.3 per cent from the previous month, while its sugar index rose 1.3 per cent and its cereal index made marginal gains on December.

The meat price index was largely unchanged.

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FAO lifted its latest world cereal production forecast for 2018 to 2.611 billion tonnes, slightly higher than the December reading, reflecting upward revisions for maize, wheat and rice.

“Much of the projected growth is associated with expected increases in Europe, where beneficial weather has so far shored up yield prospects while also sowings are forecast to expand, largely driven by attractive prices,” FAO said.

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Cells that could prevent obesity, diabetes, hypertension found by American scientists.

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An American scientists has discovered a group of cells in the small intestine that slows down metabolism and increase fat accumulation.

The study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature  may lend a clue to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes and hypertension.



Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in the US found that mice lacking those cells called intraepithelial T lymphocytes or natural IELs could burn fat and sugar without gaining weight.

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When those cells are present, they suppress a hormone that speeds up metabolism and conserves more energy it gets from food.

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Such a mechanism used to be an evolutionary advantage when food was scarce in ancient time, but “with the food so abundant,this energy-saving mechanism can backfire and lead to unhealthy outcomes,” said the paper’s lead researcher Filip Swirski from Massachusetts General Hospital.

Swirski’s study can eventually contribute to cardiovascular disease and other metabolic ailments.

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