Bursary improves cross-CABI collaboration for more effective international development work

IPP-CAAS group discussion
CABI bursary: seconded Mariya Iqbal and Gareth Dicks from CABI UK with CABI knowledge tool users from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety in Beijing.

By Dr Stefan Toepfer, CABI

A strength of CABI is its work on a global scale addressing global and local problems in agriculture. CABI can rely on its network of experts among various CABI centres, laboratories, project offices in many countries and world regions. To maintain this strength, a CABI Development Bursary was created to aid new experts to visit other CABI centres.

This year, CABI UK-based Gareth Dicks from the Product Development team and Mariya Iqbal from the Plantwise Knowledge Bank team visited CABI East Asia as well as the MARA-CABI Joint Laboratory for Biosafety in Beijing.

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How African Indigenous Vegetables production in Uganda revealed empowered women but struggles in the private sector

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African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals including micro-nutrients, supplementary protein, fibre, and calories. However, despite their nutritional value, these vegetables have not been a high priority in food programmes. As a result, adequate resources have historically not been allocated to promote their production and consumption. This compounds the issue of hidden hunger – a lack of vitamins and minerals that often has no visible signs – in Africa.

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Field trials of biocontrol product are paving way for aflatoxins control in Pakistan

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Team involved in collection of pre and post application samples of AflaPak™.

By Dr Sabyan Faris Honey, CABI, and Deborah Hamilton, USDA

CABI as lead implementing partner along with its technical partner, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) is working on a public-private partnership program led by U.S. company, Ingredion and its Pakistani subsidiary, Rafhan Maize to protect health and nutrition of Pakistan’s citizens by keeping food supply aflatoxin free.

Aflatoxin, produced by a poisonous fungus, is a serious threat to food security by contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products, including cereal grains, chilies, dry fruits and nuts, and milk. Indeed, the average contamination in wheat and maize in Pakistan, for example, is five and sixty times, respectively, the level permitted in the US.

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Food Gardening in the Anthropocene

By Daniela Soleri, University of California, David A Cleveland, University of California, Steven E Smith, University of Arizona

In early September 2017, the fall equinox was approaching, and things were different in our garden. The heat-loving basil plants that should have been slowing down as the days shorten and cooler weather usually arrives, were showing no sign of changing. The fruit on both varieties of our persimmon trees were turning deep orange at least one month earlier than in previous years. The unusually warm, dry summer of 2017 in much of the western US contributed to similar experiences for many gardeners.

The experimenatl garden of Mashhad University in Iran

That autumn was an example of how the timing and duration of plant life cycles, and our garden activities, are changing from what we are familiar with, and like other gardeners and farmers, we need to figure out how to respond.

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Food for thought: Fungal biological resources to support international development – challenges and opportunities

13) Powdery mildew spores wheat
Powdery mildew spores on wheat – the second most important food crop in the developing world after rice (Copyright CABI).

At first glance it might be hard to see how the exploitation of microbes, especially fungi, can have the power to help humanity meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), feed the world’s growing population and improve the bioeconomies of poorer nations.

But a team of international scientists from CABI, the Westerdijk Institute and the US, led by CABI lead author Dr Matthew Ryan, have come together to pen a new paper in the World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, which examines the challenges and opportunities of putting fungal biological resources right at the centre of supporting international development.

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Remembering Anthony Johnston – former Director Commonwealth Mycological Institute

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Anthony Johnston (left) was Director Commonwealth Mycological Institute between 1968 to 1983. He was instrumental in the changeover from manual to computerised production of abstract journals and setting up a computer database with an online retrieval service.

By Dr David Smith, Director Biological Resources at CABI

It was sad to hear of the passing of Anthony Johnston, a plant pathologist and former Director of the Commonwealth Mycological Institute (CMI) 1968-1983. He is fondly remembered by his colleagues, some of whom are still working at CAB International (originally CAB – Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux) which was the parent organisation of the Institute.

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Improving disease resistance in Kenyan crops

Cabbage with TuMV
Necrotic spotting symptoms of a cabbage head associated with TuMV infection. Photo credit: J. Walsh

By Dr Charlotte Nellis, (NIAB EMR, UK) 

It is estimated that globally two billion people suffer from deficiencies in essential vitamins and nutrients, termed ‘hidden hunger’.  Sub-Saharan Africa has a number of countries that have high levels of hidden hunger, including Kenya, which is ranked 2nd and 17th worst in Africa and the world, respectively.

Vegetables provide one of the most affordable and accessible sources of micronutrients.  However, plant pathogens pose a serious threat to crop production and cause substantial losses annually. An environmentally-benign way of reducing losses and increasing yields is to improve plant resistance to pathogens. Long-term, durable resistance is critical to sustainable, resilient food systems.

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