Managing plant pathogens by enhancing ecosystem services

 

Pollination, an example of an ecosystem service  © Reinhold Stansich

Pollination, an example of an ecosystem service © Reinhold Stansich

From the 8th-12th April experts met in Bellagio, Italy to develop a strategy to mitigate the effects emerging plant diseases are having on crops in sub-Saharan Africa. Among these experts were Plantwise staff. A major theme throughout the conference was ecosystem services and how agricultural biodiversity can enhance the provision of these services, creating resilient agro-ecosystems.

Click on the link below to read more about the conference:

Bellagio Center conference on dangerous plant pathogens

[Video] Invest in prevention: save money, save lives, save livelihoods

This video from the Food Chain Crisis Management Framework of FAO shows how investing in prevention of pests and diseases before they are present in a region can save money and livelihoods in the long term. Read more of this post

Marginalised issues in food security: Oxford Food Security Forum 2014

Women making tortillas in Guatemala  ©  David Amsler

Women making tortillas in Guatemala © David Amsler

A blog by Léna Durocher-Granger and Rachel Hill

On 4th May we attended the Oxford Food Security Forum’s Annual Conference. The conference aimed to address some of the topics in food security research that have become excluded or marginalised.

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Food security and Biofuels

Sunflower field © Rob Huntley iStock Images

Sunflower field © Rob Huntley iStock Images

A short extract of some of the main points raised during the course “Examining Issues around Global Food Security” by Dr Julie Flood from CABI at the Department of Continuing Education’s program of the University of Oxford on March 7th, 2014. The course aimed to highlight the issues of food security/insecurity, and particularly around growing of biofuels.

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Plantwise develops new app for farmers

CABI’s Plantwise team along with App development specialists White October have designed an app which provides in country extension workers with a portable electronic library of pest management factsheets. These factsheets are designed to help extension workers give farmers the most appropriate, effective and safe recommendations they can.

The app, that aims to improve world food security, has already received some good local press and radio coverage .

Plantwise Factsheets App Screenshots

Plantwise Factsheets App Screenshots

 

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Plantwise Factsheets App gets the attention of BBC radio

Plantwise and White October met up for an interview on BBC Radio Oxford’s Kat Orman show to talk about how the new Plantwise Factsheets Library app will help get good crop information out to local extension workers, helping them to help farmers.

 

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2013 Global Food Policy Report: Nutrition in the spotlight

The development community has increased its focus on improving nutrition © Steve Evans (CC BY)

The development community has increased its focus on improving nutrition © Steve Evans (CC BY)

Last month, the International Food Policy Research Institute released its 2013 Global Food Policy Report. This report is the third annual report in this series which aims to give an overview of the food policy developments that have affected food security that year. This includes a review of the key highlights of the previous 12 months, the challenges faced and the possible opportunities for food policy in the coming year.

In 2013, the focus of discussion on food policy moved further towards nutrition. With the Nutrition for Growth summit in June, the effort committed to tackling undernutrition gained momentum with more than US$23 billion being pledged by development partners.

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The world’s last meal- what does a homogenous global diet mean for food security?

CAB Abstracts Globe_plusDietApple

You’d think, from the vast variety of international cuisines that line our high streets and supermarket shelves, that globalisation was widening the global palate. Recent evidence suggests it’s just not the case. As the global diet narrows, concerns are growing for the world’s food security and the ecological implications of setting up a ‘global monoculture’.

A recent PNAS study found that the variety of crops we are eating is narrowing. It found that in the last 50 years the global diet has homogenised on average by 16.7%. The highest rates of homogenisation are being seen in East and Southeast Asian and sub-Saharan countries. Diets are tending to ‘westernise’ with wheat, rice and oils becoming much more popular. More traditional local foods like sorghum, cassava and millet are contributing less to the global diet. Read more of this post

Tackling food insecurity with mobile technologies

It is important for farmers in developing countries  to have access to the best agricultural information available to prevent crop losses and boost food security and wider livelihoods. Under the Plantwise programme, CABI helps local governments and extension workers set up plant clinics where farmers can come for unbiased and practical agricultural advice helping them to “lose less and feed more”. Farmers come with their crops and the trained plant doctors diagnose plant pest and disease problems and give them tailored recommendations. These clinics have a range of hard copy resources to help the plant doctors make diagnoses and recommendations. Data on the problems are also collected via paper prescription forms- the analysis of these data could allow countries to map the spread of pests and diseases and feed back critical advice. This model has been working well for a number of years but as technologies have evolved they are opening up new opportunities for getting even more resources to farmers and ensuring data is collected and fed back even more quickly potentially making it far more useful.

In response to the new opportunities Plantwise are introducing mobile technologies (tablet computers and SMS messaging) into clinics through a number of pilots. These pilots will test how and in what ways mobile technologies might place plant doctors in the best possible  position to help farmers prevent crop losses and boost food security.

Mobile training workshop: teaching plant doctors to use tablets, the Factsheet app and how to fill in 'e-rescription forms'.

Mobile training workshop: teaching plant doctors to use tablets, the Factsheet app and how to fill in ‘e-rescription forms’.

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Crop diversification finds home for ‘orphan crops’

Farmer from Teso. Knowledge of orphan crops should conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

Farmer from Teso, Kenya. Indigenous knowledge of orphan crops should be conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

The term ‘orphan crops’ refers to plant species and varieties that of recent decades have been ignored by governments, seed companies and scientists due to their limited importance in global markets. Instead, only a few major staples have been of interest. From fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts, many orphan crops are highly nutritious, resilient to climate extremes and are well adapted to marginal soils. They are therefore of great significance for food security and the generation of income to the world’s poorest communities.

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