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Sorghum seed sales profit and empower rural women in Tanzania - In a remote rural area of Tanzania, a group of women farmers has defied the odds and found prosperity through the cultivation of certified sorghum seeds
Nov 02

TSTA Weekly Update, 11/02/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


Membership renewals for 2023-2024 have been mailed, please look for them! And thank you to those who have already returned renewals!


Growout season is close! Please download a growout intention survey here and return it to the TSTA office via email attachment. It's important to have a reasonable idea of the acreage we'll be needing this winter.


Last year's growouts in Costa Rica were the best ever and the Gan Eden Farm in Puerto Rico does a great job year after year. Send your seed to either, or both, locations with confidence.


Join the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) this December 5 - 8, 2023 at our NEW venue, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, for the Field Crop Seed Convention, an unparalleled seed business networking and educational opportunity. Gathering over 2,000 attendees from 36 countries, the Field Crop Seed Convention (formerly known as the CSS & Seed Expo) is THE place to see and be seen amongst the global community of companies working in all field crops, from corn and soybean, to wheat, rice, cotton, sorghum and so much more. Now in Orlando, after 77 years in Chicago, our new venue offers any and all seed industry stakeholders a wealth of new opportunities, in a central hub of exhibits, sessions and private meeting rooms all in one combined meeting space area. 

Visit the conference home page to learn more


The 35th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference will be December 5 & 6 at the Brazos Center in Bryan, Texas. Click here for more info and to register

In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.


The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!


11/2/2023 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!

Sorghum seed sales profit and empower rural women in Tanzania - In a remote rural area of Tanzania, a group of women farmers has defied the odds and found prosperity through the cultivation of certified sorghum seeds

By Marion Aluoch and Mike Listman

CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)


After years of struggles, a group of women farmers in a remote rural area of Tanzania are finally profiting and forging an enterprise based on local farmers’ high demand for certified seed of sorghum, a dryland crop first domesticated in Africa and used in food and drink, livestock feed and even building materials.


Based in Usoche village, Momba District, Songwe Region, Tanzania, the Jitegemee womens group formed in 2018 to improve their livelihoods through sorghum production. In 2022 the group produced and marketed over 3 tons of certified seed, benefiting from access to foundation and certified seed with support from project partnerships and linkages to global and local initiatives.


“Through us, many women are now educated and motivated to engage in seed production,” said Rodha Daudi Tuja, a representative of the Jitegemee group. “I think in the next season we are going to have many women seed entrepreneurs.”


Based on seed companies’ inability to fully satisfy farmers’ high demand for quality seed of sorghum, the social and behavior change interventions component of the Dryland Crops program of CIMMYT, an international research organization with longstanding partnerships and impacts in eastern and southern Africa, worked with Tanzania’s Centre for Behaviour Change and Communication (CBCC) to encourage youth and women to engage in the seed business, including marketing. Banking on previous experience, the initiative helped the women raise awareness among farmers about the value of quality, improved seed, using fliers, posters, t-shirts and caps.


“The CIMMYT behavior change interventions and CBCC reached us through youth champions who trained us on the features and benefits of improved sorghum seed,” explained Tuja.

Jitegemee women’s group members proudly showcase the sorghum seeds they offer for sale. (Photo: CBCC)


Especially important was training the women received to grow “quality declared seed” (QDS) at an event for 18 women and youth in Mbozi district conducted by The Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI). QDS offers reliable quality in seed at an affordable price to farmers but is not formally inspected by official seed certification systems.


Immediately after the training, the group purchased 12 kilograms of foundation seed—genetically uniform seed that, when grown under controlled results, produces seed of ensured genetic purity and varietal identity—of the popular Macia sorghum variety from the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) at Hombolo. They multiplied that seed following meticulous quality protocols on a leased, 1.6-hectare farm.


A previous arrangement to grow seed for a local company had fallen through after one cropping season, and the Jitegemee group ended up recycling the seed and growing it for grain for sale. Still, the group realized that selling seed could be a lucrative business, if they could only gain access to foundation seed or certified seed. As part of growing pains during that period, the group lost half its members.


“Before our contact with the CIMMYT project we had a lot of challenges,” Tuja said. “First, we did not know about improved seed, we couldn’t access information about new farming technologies, and we were doing subsistence agriculture. However, after the project we were able to access seed and information at the Youth Quality Centres and through radio programs.”


“I advise youth and my fellow women to join us because, before, we had no hope in sorghum production but now we are prospering. The demand for sorghum seed is very high, a lot of farmers are now demanding improved seeds, and our group alone cannot meet the growing demand for seed.”


We gratefully acknowledge Florian Ndyamukama, Centre for Behaviour Change and Communication (CBCC), Tanzania, for contributing this story.

News Bits


There was decent U.S. corn and soybean harvest progress despite the colder temperatures, rain, and even snow in parts of the Midwest and Plains last week. Forecasts for most of the region this week do look at least a little more friendly for activity.


As of Sunday, the USDA says 71% of U.S. corn is harvested, compared to the five-year average of 66%, and 85% of soybeans are harvested, compared to 78% on average.


84% of winter wheat is planted and 64% has emerged, both close to normal, with 47% of the crop in good to excellent condition, compared to the first rating of 28% this time last year.


77% of sorghum is harvested, compared to 71% most years in late October.


29% of cotton is called good to excellent, steady with last week, with 93% of bolls opening and 49% harvested, very near the respective typical rates.


95% of U.S. rice is harvested, compared to 96% on average.


33% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, 2% higher than last week.


The USDA's weekly crop progress and condition reports run through the end of November.


By Patricia Weiss and Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Reuters


Bayer (BAYGn.DE) investor Union Investment called on Wednesday for the German company to reconsider its litigation strategy for glyphosate and a key U.S. trial lawyer signaled interest in re-starting settlement talks for thousands of Roundup weedkiller cases.


The two spoke out after Bayer lost its third consecutive trial over the weed killer's alleged carcinogenic effects. More cases are scheduled to go to trial in U.S. courts in the coming months.


"It is a very different day today than it was after nine wins," Jim Onder, who represents some 14,000 claimants, told Reuters.


A California jury on Tuesday found Bayer liable in a case brought by a man who claimed his cancer was due to exposure to the company's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer and ordered it to pay $332 million in damages.


The jury verdict was the third defeat for Bayer, after the company was ordered to pay a total of $175 million and $1.25 million in two other Roundup lawsuits.


Bayer said it would appeal all three verdicts.


Before the three consecutive losses, Bayer had won nine cases in a row.


After this week's loss, investor nervousness is mounting about the company's future litigation liabilities.


"Bayer's strategy is to file lawsuits only when it believes it has a good chance of winning. This has worked nine times, however has now failed thrice" said Markus Manns, a fund manager at Union Investment.


"Bayer should review its strategy again now to avoid further negative headlines," he added.


Union Investment has a 1.14% stake in Bayer, making it one of the 10 largest shareholders, according to LSEG data.


To read the entire article click here.


China has approved dozens of genetically modified corn and soybean seed varieties for planting, in a breakthrough move that could eventually boost production and reduce dependence on foreign supplies.


The country is the world’s top importer of soybeans and corn. Large-scale marketing of GM crops would support the government’s drive for food self-sufficiency and security, a top priority for President Xi Jinping.


A national committee set up by the agriculture ministry has approved 37 GM corn seed and 14 soybean seed varieties, after a preliminary review.


China started a pilot program for commercial planting of GM corn and soybean crops in 2021 and has expanded the trial to 20 counties in five provinces including major grain producers Hebei and Jilin this year, state media reported, citing an official from the agriculture ministry.


Corn area alone in China is about 44 million hectares, with output of over 288 million tons likely in the 2023-24 year, according to the agriculture ministry. While productivity lags far behind the US, where GM varieties are widely grown, such seeds can increase yields in China by as much as 12%, the ministry said.


This is an excerpt. Read the original post here


Major Policy Changes on November 7th Ballot

 TSTA Staff

If you would like to peruse the proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot early next month please take a look at what they really mean courtesy of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Before you vote this is WORTH your time.


And we NEED you to vote and your consideration of a "yes" vote on ballot item 1., the Right to Farm & Ranch.


You can access the document here.

The Food Insecurity Lie

Welfare payments created a nearly permanent "underclass," where generation after generation lives in poverty.

John Stossel via Patriot Post


President Joe Biden says 24 million Americans "suffer from food insecurity!"


News anchors were shocked that there is "food insecurity in the richest country in the world!" ABC hosts turned "insecurity" into "hunger."


But in my new video, Rachel Sheffield, who researches welfare policy at the Heritage Foundation, explains, "Food insecurity is not the same thing as hunger. It just means that they had to rely on cheaper foods, store-brand alternatives ... or reduce variety."


Really? The alarm about "food insecurity" is based on that? Well, yes. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its fine print, admits that "for most food-insecure households, the inadequacies were in the form of reduced quality and variety of food rather than insufficient quantity."


"They always want to create a crisis," I say to Sheffield.


"Government programs want to keep themselves going," she replies.


She's talking about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Women, Infants and Children program; the National School Lunch Program and the other constantly growing handouts that make up America's welfare system.

The biggest effect of these handouts is to harm the people they want to help. They harm people by making them dependent on government.

Before government's War on Poverty began, Americans were steadily lifting themselves out of poverty. Year after year, the number of people living below the poverty line dropped.


That natural progress wasn't good enough for us.

We (I include myself because I believed it, too) who wanted to reduce poverty declared "War on Poverty." Welfare checks poured out. The poverty rate continued to drop for seven years. But then progress stopped.


What happened? Why did progress stop?

Because handouts taught people to be dependent.


Welfare payments did something remarkable. They created a new class of dependent people — a nearly permanent "underclass," where generation after generation lives in poverty.

Today, government does things to perpetuate that, like claiming millions of Americans are "food insecure." Charities raise money using the same language. But the opposite is true.


"Americans consume too many calories," says Sheffield. "Food insecure" adults are more likely to be obese.


When that became obvious, activists promoted a new myth: Poor people are overweight because they live in "food deserts," neighborhoods where healthy foods are much less available. Michelle Obama talked about that a lot. She claimed some poor people had to take three busses to buy healthy food.




When government officials first labeled "food deserts,' they deviously ignored small stores, only counting stores with more than $2 million in sales.


It's true that one "food desert" Obama visited didn't have a supermarket. But it had multiple smaller businesses selling fruits and vegetables.


Government officials just didn't count them.

Now the media claim college students are food insecure.


But most college goers gain weight at school! At school!


It's bizarre that when obesity is the bigger problem, government hypes food insecurity. But of course, "that creates the rationale for expanding food assistance programs, expanding the welfare system," explains Sheffield.


Expanding welfare seems to be the government's goal. "We've spent more on the War on Poverty than all the military wars combined in the United States without any success," says Sheffield.

Really? More than all our wars combined? Well, yes. We've spent $23 trillion on the War on Poverty. So far.


"Actually," says Sheffield, "it's been a success in one way. It increases dependence on the federal government." That's what bureaucrats consider success. The handouts are good for the people who dole out the money. They're good for politicians who get to look like "good guys."

But they're bad for poor people.


Before government handouts began, private charities helped people escape poverty. They encouraged people to learn how to take care of themselves. Work gradually lifted people out of poverty. "Work also has a lot of other benefits," Sheffield points out. "It builds a greater sense of community, gives people access to resources and friend networks that help them improve in their lives."


Encouraging self-sufficiency is so much better than what government does.


Editor's Note: Mr. Stossel's article is particularly important right now as we have barely begun the process of drafting a new farm bill. SNAP is a very significant portion of farm bill spending and it has risen by an unprecedented amount in the last several farm bills and is slated to have by far its largest increase this time around. Keep in mind the dollars spent on SNAP will commensurately decrease dollars available for what production agriculture historically views as the most important parts of the farm bill.


COPYRIGHT 2023 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC. This is copyrighted material and we claim "fair use" as we do not, and cannot, profit from its reproduction here.


Wheat Plants and Their Microbiota Respond to Climate Stress in Different Ways, Study Shows

By Paw Mozter from Nature World News


Climate change is posing a serious threat to agriculture, especially to staple crops like wheat. Extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and heat waves can reduce the growth and yield of wheat plants, as well as make them more vulnerable to diseases and pests.

However, wheat plants are not alone in their struggle.


They have a diverse community of microorganisms living in and around them, called the microbiota, that can help them cope with climate stress.


A team of researchers from four non-university research institutions in Germany has been studying how wheat plants and their microbiota interact under different stress conditions, and how they use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to communicate and defend themselves.


Their findings could provide insights for plant breeding and crop management to enhance the resilience of wheat plants to climate change.


How Microbes Can Help Wheat Plants Survive Floods and Droughts


One of the main challenges that wheat plants face under climate change is water stress, either too much or too little.


The researchers found that floods and droughts not only affect the growth and yield of wheat plants but also change the composition of their microbiota.


In particular, more pathogenic microbes colonize the early growth stages of wheat plants under water stress, making them more susceptible to disease.


However, the researchers also discovered that beneficial bacteria can accumulate in the root zone of wheat plants during flooding, promoting the uptake of nutrients and vitamins by the plant.

The plant itself also changes its metabolism to cope with water stress. The researchers showed that the amino acid alanine plays a central role in maintaining nitrogen supply and metabolism in the stressed plants.


"Presumably, the altered microbiota then makes more supporting vitamins available to support the weakened wheat metabolism in the root zone," explained project coordinator Steffen Kolb from ZALF.


The researchers used systems biology methods to study the changes in plant metabolism and microbiota under water stress.

They also analyzed the VOCs emitted by the plant and its microbes, which are important for their interaction and defense.


They found that water stress alters the VOC profile of wheat plants, affecting their communication with the microbiota and their resistance to pests.


How Wheat Plants Use VOCs to Fight Pests


Another threat that wheat plants face under climate change is pest infestation, such as aphids. These insects can damage the plant by sucking its sap and transmitting viruses.


To defend themselves, wheat plants produce VOCs that can repel aphids or attract their natural enemies.


The researchers studied how pest infestation affects the VOC production of wheat plants and their microbiota, using mass spectrometry to measure the complex mixtures of VOCs.


They found that pest infestation induces a defense response in wheat plants, increasing the emission of certain VOCs that can deter aphids or attract parasitoids.


However, they also observed that some microbes can interfere with this defense mechanism by producing VOCs that mask or counteract the plant's signals.


This suggested that there is a complex interplay between wheat plants, their microbiota, and their pests, mediated by VOCs.


The researchers developed a new tool for data analysis of VOC mixtures using mass spectrometry, which will speed up follow-up studies on plant-microbe interactions.


They also compared different varieties of wheat plants in terms of their VOC production and pest resistance, which could provide information for breeding more resilient crops.

The first GMO was developed 50 years ago this November. Here are 8 key milestones in agriculture and medicine since

Darren Incorvaia | Science News


Half a century ago, the first genetically modified organism ushered in a new era of biological innovation. To mark this anniversary, here are eight milestone GMOs. Many have had, or are poised to have, a dramatic impact on our lives.


1. Escerichia coli 

In November 1973, geneticist Stanley Cohen and colleagues reported that they had built a plasmid, a ring of DNA, that carried a gene from another organism into an E. coli cell — the birth of genetic engineering.


2. Transgenic mice

Mouse models are a go-to for scientists who want to study human disease in a controlled way in the lab. In 1974, biologists Rudolf Jaenisch and Beatrice Mintz laid the groundwork for these models by injecting DNA from simian virus into mouse embryos… Since then, transgenic and knockout mice, where a single gene is broken or removed, have been developed to mimic and study human diseases from Alzheimer’s to alcoholism to depression and cancer.


3. Bt tobacco and more

In 1987, geneticist Mark Vaeck and colleagues reported that they had genetically engineered tobacco to produce Bt toxins. These toxins, made by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, affect only certain insects, including several common agricultural pests.


4. Flavr Savr tomato

The impact of the Flavr Savr tomato, introduced in 1994, is largely symbolic. Its genome was modified to block the production of an enzyme responsible for fruit softening, thus keeping the fruit firm longer. High production and distribution costs ultimately doomed the Flavr Savr, but it was the first genetically engineered crop to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and to be commercially sold.


5. Biofortified rice

Golden rice, developed in the late 1990s by a team led by biologists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer, contains genes from a daffodil and a soil bacterium that enable it to produce a precursor to vitamin A.


6. AquAdvantage Salmon

The FDA approved AquAdvantage salmon for human consumption in 2015 — making the salmon the first GMO animal to be OK’d as human food in the United States.


7. American chestunut

Historical efforts to develop a blight-resistant chestnut using traditional breeding haven’t panned out, but the Darling chestnut might be the answer. This genetically engineered tree is more resistant to the fungal blight disease thanks to a wheat gene that breaks down the harmful chemical the pathogen produces.


8. Mosquitoes

Genetically modifying animals that spread disease, including mosquitoes, could save a lot of lives; malaria alone kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. “We’re already using genetically modified mosquitoes for disease control,” says biologist Vanessa Macias of the University of North Texas in Denton.


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