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 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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Safer food in Pakistan through Aflatoxin control

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Aflatoxin poses a series threat to food security, contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products including cereal grains such as maize

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

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.

The fungus responsible, Aspergillus flavus, can contaminate crops before and after harvest as well as contaminate animal products if infected feeds are given to livestock. Consumption of these toxins in high concentrations can contribute to stunting growth in children and cause liver disease with fatal consequences. Estimates of deaths due to aflatoxin ingestion range up to 100,000 or more per year worldwide.

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Grasshoppers v Orange Juice: insects have nearly as much antioxidant benefit as popular breakfast drink

Grasshopper image
Crickets have 75 percent the antioxidant power of fresh orange juice, according to new study

By Mia MacGregor, CABI

A recent study by Professor Mauro Serafini from University of Teramo, Italy, revealed antioxidant levels in multiple, commercially available insects, which proved grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets to be the highest.

Found on every continent except for Antarctica, grasshoppers are a staple in the diets of animals all over the world such as birds, spiders, snakes, rodents and even other insects. However, after this study it is coming to light that these insects could be even more advantageous to the human diet than we had previously thought.

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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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