|CERES No. 140 (FAO Ceres, 1993, 50 p.)|
· Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture report a natural insecticide made from extracts of a tobacco plant mixed with water has proved 78 to 94 per cent effective against a major crop pest-the sweet potato whitefly. Biosoap, produced from the Australian tobacco plant Nicotiana grossed, destroys the fly by weakening its exterior protection. The insecticide is biodegradable and presents no danger to the environment. The pest, a tiny dipteron capable of reproducing every 17 days, attacks 600 species of plants throughout the world by sucking sap from leaves and fruit. It causes millions of dollars damage annually to fruit, vegetable, alfalfa and cotton crops in the western and southern United States alone.
· In an effort to achieve self-sufficiency in food within two years, the government of Bangladesh has called on farmers to produce three crops a year. Agriculture Minister Majid-Ul-Haq said his ministry will extend irrigation to 4.8 million hectares almost half the country's cultivatable land- and provide farmers with seeds and fertilizer. Bangladesh has produced about 20 million tons of food grain annually in recent years, leaving a gap of about two million tons to be imported to meet domestic needs.
· The International Livestock Centre for Africa has begun a project aimed at conserving Africa's indigenous livestock breeds and types, which are under threat from imported exotic breeds. The plan of action calls for an invento ry of African genetic resources and establishment of breed development strategies. Many centuries of adaptation to specific environments, diseases and plant systems have created great diversity in Africa's animal genetic resources. Now that improvements in veterinary care, nutrition and general husbandry have allowed crosses or replacement of native livestock with imported and improved exotic breeds to increase production, it is feared many indigenous breeds will disappear. The ILCA project is linked to a US$15 million FAO plan to preserve the ancestral gene pool of domestic animals in the developing world.