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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CABI helps Pakistan Museum of Natural History showcase scourge of noxious parthenium weed

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CABI in Pakistan is helping the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) showcase the scourge of the noxious parthenium weed, otherwise known locally at ‘Gajar Booti’, to members of the public visiting its Bio Gallery exhibit.

Parthenium is regarded as one of the major threats to native species, environment and ecosystems in more than 48 countries around the world – including Pakistan where it is also considered as a risk to human health, biodiversity, agriculture, livestock, and food security.

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‘Cracking the code’ of woody weed spread with machine-learnt algorithms

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Machine learning algorithms have their origins in early ‘computers’ such as the German WW2 ciphering Enigma machine

A scientific tool which has its principles in early ‘computers’ such as the German WW2 Enigma machine – used to convey secret commercial, diplomatic and military communication – is helping to map the fractional cover of the woody weed Prosopis juliflora across the Afar Region of Ethiopia.

PhD Candidate Hailu Shiferaw from Addis Ababa University, who is being supervised by CABI’s Dr Urs Schaffner, Professor Woldeamlak Bewket (AAU) and Dr Sandra Eckert (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern), has compared the performances of five Machine Learning Algorithms (MLAs) to test their ability at mapping the fractional cover/abundance and distribution of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS) – particularly Prosopis which has already devastated an area equivalent to half of neighbouring Djibouti.

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CABI and IFDC join forces to get soybean film out to farmers in Northern Ghana

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By Duncan Sones – from an article which originally appeared on the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) website

Farmers in Northern Ghana are reaping the benefit of village-based film screenings to inform them about agricultural practices. Film screenings are growing in popularity amongst farmers and extension projects, as the technique for sharing information. This is because they are a very inclusive way of sharing information.

In mid 2018, IFDC approached Countrywise Communications about working together in Northern Ghana. IFDC wanted to improve the harvest and post-harvest treatment of soybean. They proposed doing this through showing a film. Countrywise knew exactly where to find films that was ideal for this purpose.

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Embracing ‘stakeholder interaction’ for better business strategy and integration in Pakistan

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The betterment of supply chains for condiments including spices is a key aim for some stakeholders

Dr Umair Safdar, Development Communications Executive at CABI in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, looks at ‘stakeholder interaction’ for better business strategy and integration in Pakistan through the cluster-based Agricultural Transformation (CDBAT) Project…

Stakeholders strongly influence a project’s success, particularly for complex projects with heterogeneous stakeholders. Therefore, understanding their influence is essential for project management and implementation.

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‘Switching’ onto ICT approaches to gender in extension services

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Duncan Sones, of the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) delivery team, looks back on six years of concept and project development that could unlock changes in farmer’s ability to effectively access improved technologies…

I don’t know about you but when I hear about something for the first time, I rarely take in all the nuanced details. However, ask me to sing an advertising jingle for a store than hasn’t existed for 40 years and I am probably able to sing it! My father knew all of the kings and queens of England in order. Well he did and he didn’t – he knew a rhyme that he could reel off 75 years after he learned it!

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Why it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks

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By https://www.flickr.com/photos/pbump/with/5637773582/

Dogs, just like humans, can have problems with learning, memory and attention, particularly as they get older. Several tests of cognitive ability in dogs have been used in research with a particular focus on the effects of ageing. What is less well understood is how diseases affect these cognitive abilities. In an article in CAB Reviews, Lena Provoost, Margret Casal and Carlo Siracusa discuss how changes in behaviour, such as loss of appetite, house soiling or changes in sleeping are often the first indicators to the pet’s owners that there is a problem. The team from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania say that while those changes could be caused by mental decline, they could be secondary effects of other medical causes, such as pain from infection swellings or kidney disease.

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