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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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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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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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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Finding the farmers of the future: Encouraging youth engagement in agriculture

Young people
The youth of today could be our farmers of tomorrow but how do we encourage them to take a career in agriculture seriously?

Special International Youth Day report by Rebecca Quarterman

The number of young people involved in agricultural work in East Africa is significantly dwindling in an age of celebrity, quick income and the ‘side hustle’.  Quite simply, the future of farming rests in the hands of the youth of today and tomorrow – otherwise agriculture’s vital role in providing stable incomes and, ultimately, greater local, regional, national and global food security could be at risk.

Yet, today is International Youth Day; an ideal time to highlight what can be done to boost involvement in essential agriculture. The theme for this year, promoted by the UN, is ‘transforming education’. This complements the idea that a new, transformed approach must be taken to harness the drive and capability of these young people in the agriculture industry.

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Improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and food security through insects for feed

Installationof fly rearing facility in Burkino Faso
An insect rearing facility in Burkina Faso: Insects as a natural feed for livestock can help alleviate poverty and food insecurity

By Solomon Agyemang Duah, Communications Specialist at CABI based in Ghana

Poultry farming is practised by almost all smallholder farmers in West Africa but feed and in particular protein sources are becoming increasingly expensive thereby, affecting meat and egg production, reducing family incomes and, ultimately, putting food security at risk.

Fish farmers are suffering a similar problem. CABI as part of the Insects as Feed in West Africa (IFWA) initiative is promoting the use of insects, which are a natural food source for poultry and fish and endorsed by the FAO, as a tool to alleviate poverty and food insecurity.

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