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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this video special Dr Babar Bajwa, CABI’s Regional Director – Central and West Asia, talks about CABI’s work towards helping partners achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals – including ‘Zero Hunger’ and ‘No Poverty’ – in Pakistan. This includes reaching out to smallholder farmers with expert advice on integrated crop and pest management practices so they are better equipped to grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases. This is true not only for ‘cash crops’ such as cotton but also fruit and vegetable plantations as part of a wider need to strengthen links in the food value chain.