Disease resistance trials for cassava being conducted simultaneously in 33 different locations across five African countries and involving 25 shared varieties are showing promise against the deadly Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD).

According to a statement, this first-of-its-kind multi-country collaborative cassava breeding initiative in East and Southern Africa is part of a major activity of the new cassava varieties and clean seed to combat CBSD and CMD (5CP) project which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project is led by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) working in collaboration with the national agricultural research systems of Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia where the trials are being conducted.

The project is in its final year of implementation.

Dr Edward Kanju, IITA cassava breeder and coordinator of the 5CP project, said that preliminary results of the trials have already shown that several of the new varieties are virtually unaffected by CBSD and CMD, even in locations where disease pressure is extremely high from infected fields surrounding the trials.

“Although in many of the countries the varieties are undergoing their first year of trials, our initial results are already showing good promise,” he said.


MARKETS: U.S. corporate earnings this week, BOE, and China’s GDP

In a regular trading environment, stocks and bonds should be moving in opposite directions and the current performance shows that investors believe that the accommodative Federal Reserve policy will remain for an extended period of time, which also explains why the upside dollar strength was limited on Friday.

Corporate America still in recession?

Sustainable improvements in US economic data along with low interest rate expectations create the best catalyst for equities to rally further, but an important ingredient of the formula is still missing, with this being earnings growth. Without it, this rally won’t be justified, and this is why investors will be monitoring the corporate earnings results that are expected to be released over the upcoming days. Alcoa kicks off the second quarter earnings season on Monday followed by JP Morgan on Thursday, and then Citi Bank along with Wells Fargo on Friday.

Analysts believe that we are going to see the fourth consecutive quarter of negative earnings growth, but when you consider that the energy sector was the biggest drag on the S&P index due to the collapse in oil and that the price of oil has rebounded in recent months, it will be interesting to see if earnings including the energy sector will recover from recession in Q2.

All eyes on Carney this Thursday

The Bank of England (BoE) will meet for the first time this week following the Brexit vote which has consequently sent the sterling to 31-year lows and resulted in an air of panic following huge amounts of money exiting the UK’s largest property funds. While the central bank has already started loosening policy through easing regulatory restrains on UK banks in a move aimed to free up an additional Pound 150 bln to the economy, there is the possibility that the BoE could be considering bringing in some emergency measures to stem the flee from property funds.

Markets seem to be divided on whether the BoE will cut or leave interest rates unchanged on Thursday, but even if kept unchanged, they will likely send a strong hint for a possible move in August when they are due to publish new forecasts in their quarterly inflation report. Another option on the cards, aside from an adjustment in interest rates, could be to boost their asset purchase programme, which currently stands at Pound 375 bln.

Whether the pound has reached a short-term bottom or is heading for new 30+ year lows, likely depends on the tone of the message or even the aggressiveness of the possible actions to be delivered on Thursday.

China’s economic growth continues to slow

China will also be under the spotlight again when it reports its second quarter GDP performance on Friday. Growth for the second largest economy is expected to slow further to 6.6% from the 6.7% seen in the first quarter as the economy gradually continues to slow down.

The National Bureau of Statistics said last week that it will include spending on research and development to better reflect the contribution of innovation to economic growth. The adjustments come as officials struggle to maintain their 6.5-7% target growth for 2016, while many economists believe that real growth rates are actually much lower than what is officially declared.

Source: Financial Mirror