Moringanews in the news

Accra’s Daily Mail has a long and detailed article reporting that a large international meeting on Moringa is about to take place in that city, on 16-18 November. The Moringaceae have a home page here. The main useful species is Moringa oleifera, a tree which is native to India but now widely grown in the tropics. It has a network all to itself, Moringanews, which is organizing the meeting, but other species may also have potential. The main focus of the get-together seems to be the use of the leaves as a green vegetable, and how setting standards can aid in marketing this product, but really the adjective “multi-purpose” could have been invented for this plant. CTA, CDE and the GFU are providing support.

Fatal fungus

An insecticide based on fungal spores is devastating locusts in a trial in Mauritania, says a report from Reuters. The spores — dubbed Green Muscle — come from a species called Metarhizium anisopliae, whose locusticidal properties have been known since 1989. Green Muscle’s proponents have been waiting since 1998 for an opportunity to test it in the field, but have been thwarted by a lack of gregarious locusts.

The test showed that Green Muscle works well, with an added bonus that the weakened young locusts are a magnet for predators of all kinds, who despatch them even before the fungus has done its work. The treatment was developed by scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and the good folks at FAO have said that if the Mauritania test is a success they will adopt it for widespread use in Africa.

Gumming up the works

Researchers in Canada have developed an alternative to gum arabic by treating “soybean soluble polysaccharide” with some fancy enzyme. Bad news for gum arabic (an exudate of Acacia senegal) collectors and exporters in Sudan and Nigeria. Good news for soybean farmers around the world, I guess. But who’s in greater need of good news?

China and biofuels

Not sure whether this is a good thing or not. On Friday, the Chinese government released a series of documents dealing with biofuels. According to Biopact, a blog, one paper says that “Through a series of measures, unused land in mountainous areas will be made available and utilized for planting biofuel feedstocks, mainly sweet sorghum, corn and sweet potato”.

On second thoughts, it is probably not a good thing.