Developing skills for kitchen gardeners in the Punjab

Contributed by Madeleine Kaufmann, CABI Switzerland, with information from CABI Pakistan.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. It engages nearly half of the country’s workforce and accounts for over 20% of GDP. Together with agro-based products, agriculture contributes 80% of the country’s total export earnings.

But despite the economic importance of agriculture, many young people and women have little access to information that could help them improve their future farming careers and livelihoods. Each year, the number of young people and women choosing to farm for a living is going down. Left unchecked, this reduction in the farming workforce will affect the future of sustainable food production and, ultimately, food security in Pakistan.

The trained women looking forward to get their certificate. So far, the first 240 beneficiaries have been successfully trained. Many have gone on to start their own small businesses where they grow organic vegetables in their own gardens. Photo: CABI Pakistan.

The trained women looking forward to get their certificate. So far, the first 240 beneficiaries have been successfully trained. Many have gone on to start their own small businesses where they grow organic vegetables in their own gardens. Photo: CABI Pakistan.

Working directly with local communities, the CABI team has been working to enhance the skills of young people and women in particular, enabling them to get better jobs or generate income through self-employment. It develops capacity in kitchen gardening along with vocational skills. The project also focus on improving basic literacy and enterprise based skills. Also good links with local markets are created so that those in the training group can sell their produce and improve their livelihoods. Read more of this post

Update: Plant Health News (01 Jul 15)

Pheromone trap in Uganda © CABI

Pheromone trap in Uganda © CABI

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a reduction in banana yield in the Philippines due to the effects of El Niño on rainfall, a pest causing severe damage to tomato production in Nigeria and the use of pheromones to control insect pests in the field.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Expo visitors discover the plant clinic experience in Milan

Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann sits down with Nethenga Is

Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann of Switzerland sits down for a crop consultation with Nthenga Isaiah, a plant doctor from Zambia

For 3 minutes, you, too, can experience how smallholder farmers in over 30 countries receive the practical plant health advice they need to save their crops. This was the message shared with visitors of the live plant clinic session hosted by Plantwise at the Swiss Pavilion, Milan Expo on June 25. Plant clinics are one way Plantwise, led by CABI, is working to bridge the gap between smallholder farmers and the science-based knowledge to sustainably reduce crop losses from pests and diseases, which annually destroy 30-40% of crops worldwide. Plantwise exemplifies how public funding from partners such as the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and others can empower farmers to secure better yields, better incomes and better outcomes for their families.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (24 Jun 15)

Phytophthora species cause significant damage to natural and agricultural systems © Scot Nelson, via Flickr

Phytophthora spp. cause significant damage to natural and agricultural systems © Scot Nelson, via Flickr

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of the tomato russet mite in northern Chile, Cytospora species associated with walnut canker disease in China, and globalisation, the founder effect, hybrid Phytophthora species and rapid evolution causing headaches for biosecurity.  Read more of this post

Introducing APHLIS: The African Postharvet Losses Information System

APHLIS_Logo

Plantwise have recently been investigating APHLIS data, a great source of information on postharvest losses in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The system is run by a network of local experts who collect and supply data.  Using a shared database and a Losses Calculator APHLIS provide estimates of weight losses for cereal grains at a national and provincial level.  Read more of this post

Update: Plant Health News (17 Jun 15)

Coffee cherries in Thika, Kenya, photo by Rogiro

Coffee cherries in Thika, Kenya, photo by Rogiro

Contributed by Fiona Bunn

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the development of a new App in Kenya to help farmers select climate-smart seeds to maximise production, the use of drones to boost banana grower’s productivity in Columbia and new findings about how greening disease wreaks havoc in the citrus industry.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Increased carbon dioxide levels in air restrict plants’ ability to absorb nutrients

1.Pollution over fields- could now be a threat to plant nutrition    (Photo by Ken Douglas )

1. Pollution over fields- could now be a threat to plant nutrition (Photo by Ken Douglas)

Contributed by Fiona Bunn

A recent study from the University of Gothenburg has shown that plants that are grown in air with a higher percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) have reduced levels of nitrogen in their tissue, causing increased nitrogen deficiency and reduced growth. The study was conducted across four continents in large scale projects, and the plants showed the negative effects in all three major types of ecosystem: crops, grasslands and forests. The effects were even shown when fertiliser was applied, proving that CO2 restricts the plants’ ability to absorb the necessary nutrients, not the levels in the soil.  Read more of this post

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