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

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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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Embracing change – how family farmers can face the future

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CABI CEO Dr Trevor Nicholls and Director General of CIMMYT Dr Martin Kropff share their expertise on family farming

This year opens the Decade of Family Farming, which aims to improve the life of family farmers around the world. In an earnest discussion, two leaders in the global agriculture community reflect on the challenges facing family farmers, the promises of high- and low-tech solutions, and their hopes for the future. A conversation between Dr Trevor Nicholls, CEO of CABI and Dr Martin Kropff, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), was published by Rural 21 – The International Journal for Rural Development on how family farmers can face the future. The men also propose six key investments needed to help family farmers thrive in the next decade as part of special report by the Economist magazine’s Food Sustainability Index.

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Engendering a more profitable cotton industry for Pakistan through female empowerment

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CABI is helping to engender a more productive and profitable cotton industry for Pakistan through the training of more than 57,000 farmers and farm workers – including these women picture above – as part of the Better Cotton Initiative.

The Pak Mission Society teamed up with CABI in the Tehsil Khipro, District Sanghar of Sindh province, to provide a training workshop to scores of women who are now better equipped to implement improved practices for cotton picking, handling and storage.

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The Anthropocene is official – but what does this mean for the future health of planet Earth?

By Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London

In recent months, there has been increasing academic and public discourse over the continued damage modern lifestyles are inflicting on our planet. The term ‘planetary health’ has emerged as a catch-all for addressing issues as diverse as climate change, plastic pollution, antibiotic resistance, increasing meat consumption and poorly-planned urban expansion as well as a call to action to address the challenges of the Anthropocene – the ‘Age of Man’ – which recognises that the challenges the Earth currently faces are, largely, inflicted by humans. There has never been a more pressing need to ensure the scientific community has a common platform from which to research, understand and influence action on the environmental damage inflicted by the modern lifestyles enjoyed in the developed countries of the Global North.

Urban smog in China.
Photo: Pixabay

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Climate-smart pest management holds the key to future global food security

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Forest-agriculture mosaic system in Amani in the Tanga Region of Tanzania – credit René Eschen (CABI).

CABI scientists Luca Heeb, Dr Emma Jenner and Dr Matthew Cock, have issued a stark reminder to the world – we must embrace climate-smart pest management (CSPM) if we are to ensure the food security of a global population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050.

In the paper ‘Climate-smart pest management: building resilience of farms and landscapes to changing pest threats’, published in the Journal of Pest Science, Heeb et al highlight that climate change is having a significant impact upon the biology, distribution and outbreak potential of crops pests around the world.

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Why a global insect decline affects us all

Insects crucial for ecosystem functioning and food production

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A comprehensive review of insect declines around the world gives a stark picture of the scale of the declines and the consequences both for ecology and human welfare. The paper, published in Biological Conservation, warns that 40% of the world’s insect species could become extinct within a few decades under current trends. And the loss of this diversity could lead to dramatic increases in pest insects which harm food production and human health.

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Can a ‘diet’ of digital data really help feed the world?

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Last week (29 January 2019) CABI was awarded a $1.49 million grant from the Gates Foundation to work with them to help increase food security in India and Ethiopia through better access to data on soil health, agronomy and fertilizers.  In this blog Communications Manager Wayne Coles looks at whether or not the use of digital data in agriculture can have a real impact on our need to feed the world….

The facts are clear; if we’re to stand any chance of feeding a global population of around 9.1 billion by 2050 we must make better use of ‘digital data’ to unlock the potential of more than 570 million smallholder farmers around the world.

The complexity of Africa’s growing food problem, which is exacerbated by social and climatic factors, should not be underestimated. Its population, for example, will exceed 42 million a year over the next three decades while a rise in extreme weather events will wreak havoc on farming communities already grappling with threats to crop yields from a range of agricultural pests and diseases.

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