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

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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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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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The history of cultivating citrus

By L Gene Albrigo

Citrus is one of the most important exported fruit crops. Large plantings in countries bordering latitudes 20 south and north and in-between provide fresh and processed citrus for the more populated northern European and American countries as well as other large populations around the world. Citrus has also been a cultivated crop in southeast Asia for thousands of years. Its genetics are unique in that stable hybrids naturally propagated through polyembryony have been recognized as species. New molecular techniques have clearly elucidated the true genetic background of citrus.

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CABI hands over Phytosanitary Risk Management Programme (PRMP) to provincial stakeholders in Pakistan

PRMP handing over

By Umair Safdar, Communication Development Executive, CABI Central and West Asia (CABI CWA), Rawalpindi

CABI in Pakistan implemented a USAID/USDA funded project ‘Phytosanitary Risk Management Programme in Pakistan (PRMP)‘ from 2014 to 2019. CABI’s scientific team upgraded the infrastructure at the relevant provincial agricultural departments and strengthened the capacity of Pakistan’s current agricultural system so that they can implement biological control programmes for pests including papaya and giant mealybug, apple codling moth, apple spider mites and fruit fly in Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan respectively.

The team also facilitated to mitigate the impact of post-harvest pests of rice and horticultural crops through SPS compliance to allied industries. Overall, the project helped to mitigate the impact of pre and post-harvest pests and improve the capacity of plant health regulators to certify exports of agricultural commodities.

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Village-based film screenings prove a popular way to reach and inform farming families in Northern Ghana

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Farmers and their families sit down to watch one of the screenings on how to grow soybean – a priority crop for many in Ghana

Duncan Sones, from the CABI GALA communications team, reflects on the first two years of the soybean campaign in Northern Ghana.

In the last two years, there have been 346 village-based film screenings of films made by CABI to show farmers how to grow soybean. Take into account the use of Facebook for a music-based video campaign, and an estimated 128,000 members of farming families in the North of Ghana have received information on soybean farming from the campaign work we have been delivering, with our partners, in the region.

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