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Coffee Rust: What You Need To Know About It

Coffee Leaf Rust or CLR is a devastating disease that affects susceptible coffee plantations. It’s brought by a Pucciniales fungus called Hemileia vastatrix. In order to survive, the rust must come into physical contact with coffee, its obligate host.

It’s called coffee leaf rust because it looks yellow-orange and powdery. It also appears on the leaves’ underside. Young lesions usually appear pale yellow while older lesions are smaller in diameter.

Coffee Rust Life Cycle

The life of the Hemileia fungus starts with the germination of the uredospores. They mainly attack the leaves, but can also be found on fruits and young stems. Then, Appressoria are produced. They produce vesicles to enter the substomatal cavity of the leaves. After a day or two, infection is completed.

When an infection has been successful, the leaf blade colonization and sporulation will happen through the stomata. A lesion can produce 4 to 6 spore crops. After 3 to 5 months, they will release about 300,000 to 400,000 spores. Thus, spread the infection widely.

Coffee Leaf Rust Ecology and History

Coffee Rust destroyed the flourishing Sri Lanka and Java coffee plantations in the 1800s.

This epidemic disease was finally discovered in 1970. During then, it was widespread in Brazil and it was the first known infection in the Western Hemisphere.

In 1989, the coffee rust disease reached Costa Rica and in 1995, it hit Nicaragua.

The 2012 Coffee Rust Epidemic

Researchers were still looking for the solution for this problem when an epidemic hit ten Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2012. The disease became an epidemic and the resulting crop losses pushed coffee prices to an all-time high amid concerns for supply. The reasons for the epidemic remain unclear but an emergency rust summit meeting in Guatemala in April 2013 compiled a long list of shortcomings. These included a lack of resources to control the rust, the dismissal of early warning signs, ineffective fungicide application techniques, lack of training, poor infrastructure and conflicting advice.

 

 

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemileia_vastatrix
http://www.nature.com/news/coffee-rust-regains-foothold-1.12320
http://www.britannica.com/science/coffee-rust

Fighting Coffee Rust: How Small Farmers and Organizations Deal With This Problem

Coffee rust is one of the most leading problems in the coffee industry all over the world. Affected countries struggle in looking for ways to eliminate this devastating problem.

In fact, coffee rust highly affects a country’s industry especially those that mainly depend on their coffee industry. With that being said, the government and huge companies spend millions of dollars to get rid of this problem. In fact, thousands of farmers lose their jobs because of this.

If the government itself and some huge companies are already having a hard time, how much more for those small coffee producers?

Small farmers depend on their coffee crops for their living. So, when signs of coffee rust start to show, they know that they need to find a way to contain this epidemic.

Aside from the government’s continued support, small farmers also get help from co-op organizations. These organizations support the farmers by providing them financial assistance and helping them in looking for solutions.

Oikocredit is a cooperative itself, headquartered in the Netherlands but operating across the world with a focus on social impact investing and capacity building in low-income countries.

It provides loans and equity to mid-stage, revenue-generating cooperatives, fair trade organisations and small-to-medium- sized enterprises operating in financial inclusion, agriculture and renewable energy sectors in Africa, Asia, Latin America and cental and eastern Europe.

Learn more about it here.

The Effects of Heat to Vegetables and Other Crops

Though our crop plants need adequate sunlight, they can only take so much heat. The plant tissues die normally around 115°F. The plant temperature is just usually above air temperature. But in certain conditions, plant temperature can rise to the critical level.

Plants, in general, have three major ways to remove excess heat.
1. Through long wave radiation
2. Through heat convection into the air
3. Through transpiration

If either any of these major ways are interrupted, plant temperature can rise above the normal.

For instance, transpiration can be interrupted by inadequate water, injury, vascular plugging, and stomatal closure. When that happens, the major cooling mechanism of the plant is lost.

Take note that dry soil conditions can also lead to excess plant heating. When the soils are dry, roots produce ABA or Abscisic Acid. This acid is transported to leaves which signals stomatal closure.

How to protect your crops from heat damage:

  1. Overhead watering is the major method to reduce plant heat stress. Always make sure that you have sprinklers set up and you provide adequate water supply.
  2. Misting also helps in improving your plant’s temperature. It helps in lessening water vapor pressure deficit.
  3. You can also increase dissipation and reflection of radiative heat using reflective mulches.
  4. Low density and organic mulches like straw can also be used to conserve moisture and reduce surface radiation.
  5. If you are located in very hot areas, use shade cloth for partial shading. This will help in reducing heat and radiation. 

Newly developed ‘Trojan horse’ molecule might help in fighting crop fungus linked to cancer

A few months ago, researchers from the University of Arizona said that they were able to develop a new method to neutralize a dangerous toxin caused by fungi, that can lead to childhood stunting, cancer, and other health problems. These researchers made a genetically modified, edible maize plant, even when infected with a mold that produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin. ROME – Scientists said on Friday they had developed a new method to neutralize a dangerous fungal toxin affecting crops that can lead to cancer, childhood

Every year, more than 16,000 tons of maize are being thrown because of aflatoxin contamination. In most developed countries, they are able to screen their crops. However, some small farmers do not have the technology to do so. Therefore, people are consuming unknown levels of these dangerous toxins.

This latest research found out that a Trojan Horse molecule can jump onto the fungus and shuts down its aflatoxin production.

In a study published in the journal Science Advances, Schmidt and her team said they had created a genetically engineered maize plant, which produces a “Trojan horse” molecule that jumps onto the fungus and shuts down its aflatoxin production.

Schmidt said the method should be transferable to other crops prone to aflatoxin contamination, like rice, soy and peanuts, as it exploits a naturally occurring biological mechanism known as RNA interference.

For more information, visit this site.

Though the modified corns shouldn’t have side effects, it’s still important to get some testings done.

The Importance of Disinfecting Organic Produce

In the world we live in today, from fast-food to all the chemicals used in creating modern food, we need something organic and natural to live a healthier life. We all know for a fact that we always have to include fruits and leafy greens in our daily diet.

We stick to what’s natural. But how natural is natural? Regardless if we picked our produce from our own backyard or we bought them at the market, it’s important to make sure that our fruits and vegetables are properly disinfected.

Why Do We Need To Disinfect Our Produce?

As much as it’s healthy to eat organic, it’s also important to make sure that what we eat is free from harmful substances. Buying from the market doesn’t really ensure our safety from the chemicals and pesticides used on the produce.

Now, even if we grow our own produce, it doesn’t exactly mean that they are free from pesticides and chemicals. In fact, According to a study conducted in 2002, organically grown food contains up to one-third as much pesticide residue as conventionally grown food  due to drift from conventional farms, as well as contaminated soil. (Food Additives and Contaminants, 2002, vol. 19, no. 5).

Not only that, our produce is not safe from possible fungi contaminants. Some fungi are not visible to the naked eye. The worst part is, some fungi can cause serious diseases such as mycotoxins and aflatoxins.

Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by molds found in grain and nut crops. They can also be found on grape juice, apples, celery, and other produce. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that one fourth of the world’s food crops are affected by mycotoxins.

Meanwhile, Aflatoxin is a cancer-causing poison produced by certain fungi in or on food, especially in field corn and peanuts. Aflatoxins have been associated with different serious diseases like aflatoxicosis in livestock, domestic animals, and humans all over the world.

The prevention of aflatoxin is one of the most challenging toxicology issues of present time.

Therefore, it’s really important to make sure that our produce and the food we eat are safe from those. We need to disinfect them properly and wash them very well before consuming.

How Pesticide Can Harm Human Health

Eating organic isn’t enough to stay healthy. No matter how much you try to stay away from chemicals, the fact is, they’re everywhere. It’s in your barbecue, your favorite chips, your hamburger, and even on your healthy salad.

Food handling and preparation play a very important role in making sure that what you’re eating is clean and safe. Before eating raw fruits and vegetables, it’s important to wash them properly to get rid of pesticides and any other chemicals.

According to research, petroleum based chemicals used in pesticides, consumer products, and job environments are linked to some health disorders. In fact, they are found to cause accelerated aging to the brain, blood brain barrier, and immune system. It’s also proven that these chemicals can also alter critical hormones that are necessary for teenage behavioral and neurological development.

Illnesses identified in the medical research include adult and child cancers, numerous neurological disorders, immune system weakening, autoimmune disorders, asthma, allergies, infertility, miscarriage, and child behavior disorders including learning disabilities, mental retardation, hyperactivity ADHD (attention deficit disorders) as well as altering hormones essential for maintaining healthy bodily processes. Petroleum based chemicals are believed to cause these problems by a variety of routes including – impairing proper DNA (Gene) expression, weakening DNA Repair, accelerating gene loss, degeneration of the body’s detoxification defenses (liver and kidneys) as well as gradual weakening of the brain’s primary defense (the Blood Brain Barrier).

Know more about the research here.

The Agricultural Health Study: What We Need To Know

It’s been more than 20 years since the AHS or Agricultural Health Study was created. The main goal of this study is to collect agricultural information to have a greater understanding of the role of agricultural exposures in or health. Throughout the years, the study has collected a lot of information that links chemical substances used in agriculture to serious health illnesses like cancer.

Pesticides and Cancer

Women who reported using OP insecticides were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never used these insecticides. In addition, some specific OPs were associated with other cancers:

  • Malathion, the most commonly used OP insecticide, was associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.
  • Diazinon, another common OP insecticide, was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

This is the first comprehensive evaluation of the use of these insecticides among women; it will be important to confirm these findings in other studies.

Know more about the study here.

BioNovelus Invited to Speak at USAID event with Feed The Future and Fintrac in Guatemala

USAID has invited BioNovelus at their next event in Guatemala.

Jean Ekobo will speak about the danger of chemical overuse,  introduce eco-friendly disinfectant and biofungicide CR-10, and explain CR-10 unique mode of action.

The participants include biological producers and farmers, local distributors, Exporters, Investors, NGOs, and Faculty.
Feed The Future partnering for Innovation, and Fintrac are supporting the event.

 

Foodborne Diseases and How We Can Avoid Them

No matter how we choose the food we eat, it’s still possible to get foodborne diseases. It’s important to be keen in our food preparations, but what’s even more important is to be smarter and always keep ourselves informed.

What is a foodborne disease?

According to Wikipedia, a foodborne disease is any illness resulting from the food spoilage of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food,[2] as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms and various species of beans that have not been boiled for at least 10 minutes.

Symptoms vary depending on the cause or type of the disease but mostly, a person may experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and dizziness.

How can we avoid these diseases?

In order to avoid foodborne diseases, you need to make sure that you handle your food properly.

For Consumers:

  1. Wash your produce
  • Soak your fruits and vegetables for 5 minutes before preparation.
  • Add a little vinegar when soaking green leafies.
  • Wash the skin of the fruit. If possible, don’t eat the skin.
  1. Cut off at least an inch at the end of hard vegetables like carrots.
  2. For meat, fish, and other shellfish, wash them well with water. Clean it up when you’re done with the preparations.

For Farms and Agricultural Companies:

  1. High-quality post-harvest management
  • Clean up after harvesting.
  • Only use disinfectants that are only approved by the NOA (depending on the category)
  1. Provide a safe and hygienic workplace and ensure proper food handling.

 

 

Importance of Using Organic Disinfectant for Post-Harvest Agriculture

As crucial it is to achieve an economically rewarding enterprise via the marketing of organic produce before the harvest phase is, it’s also important to make sure that the post-harvest phase is done properly.

The National Organic Program or NOP Rule has been established by the USDA to enforce uniform standards for producing and handling agricultural and processed food labeled as organic. Therefore, it is important that the chemicals used in organic post-harvest operations must comply with the rules set by the NOP. Of course, each produce falls into a different category and each category has its own list of disinfectants.

Post-Harvest Management

In order to have the best post-harvest management quality, it’s important to ensure that you are using an organic disinfectant. A lot of farms and companies use chemicals like chlorine, acetic acid, alcohol, peroxyacetic acid, and other ammonium sanitizers.

Though these disinfectants have been approved, they are still chemicals. Using an organic disinfectant helps a lot in improving the quality of post-harvest management.

Why Is It Important To Use Organic Disinfectant?

You may or may not agree, but organic is always better. It’s all natural and can definitely spare you from the effects of harmful chemicals.  If we can use organic disinfectants instead of bleach, chlorine, or alcohol, it’s definitely worth it!

Interesting references on the topic:

Health effects of chemical exposure:
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/emes/public/docs/Health%20Effects%20of%20Chemical%20Exposure%20FS.pdf

Effects of chemicals and pesticides upon health:
http://www.chem-tox.com/

On Pesticides and Health:
https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/pesticides/index.cfm

Agricultural Health Study:
https://aghealth.nih.gov/