Checking in on the MDGs: how have we scored so far?

Corn fingers

Established in 2000 by the UN, the eight Millennium Development Goals provide a priority blueprint for ending poverty and meeting the needs of the world’s poorest- and they will hit their deadline in a little over a year’s time. The two questions which are on the minds of many policy leaders and international development institutions: how have we done in the past 14 years, and crucially, what comes next? Tomorrow evening the World Bank will launch its Global Monitoring Report 2014 which takes a look at progress so far in achieving results from development policies, including the Millennium Development Goals (go to the World Bank website to follow the event or #endpoverty on twitter). In terms of global food security, Millennium Development Goal 1 aims to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015, a goal shared by CABI and its work empowering farmers to lose less and feed more through the Plantwise initiative. Prior to this year’s report, it was already announced that there has been substantial progress towards reaching MDG 1, with malnourishment now afflicting an estimated 805 million people- something that could not be reported in 2006 when the spread of global hunger was still on the rise. Though this means 1 in every 8 people remains without sufficient supply of nutritious food to eat, this is also a sign that keeping food security at the top of the international development agenda is making a critical difference. “Political commitment of governments is increasingly being translated into comprehensive and effective action, with strengthened engagement of non-state actors,” commented José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. “These efforts are bringing the goal of achieving food security in our lifetime closer to reality.”

The Global Monitoring Report will outline MDG progress, analyzing efforts to reduce poverty, improve schooling, reduce maternal and child mortality, and ensure safe water and sanitation. The WB-IMF report also introduces the Twin Goals of ending poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity. Next week on October 13th in London, the Global Hunger Index 2014 will also be launched to weigh in on progress and room for improvement towards reaching global food security.

Backstopping visit to Bangkok, Thailand

As the last part of our data management trip, Claire and I headed to Bangkok for the 11th and 12th of September. We joined a group of plant doctors and farmers at the plant clinic/rally in Nong Kung village, Suppaya district, Chainat province. We saw a demonstration on biocontrol, looked through pamphlets and information available to farmers about crop problems, and discussed the rice harvest which was currently taking place. In the backstopping training at the Rice Department, the participants shared their concerns and plans for future data management in Thailand.


Participants of the data management backstopping in Bangkok. ©CABI


Farmers attending the clinic to listen to advice about crop protection. ©CABI


Emily, Claire, Fook Wing, and Siva observing how plant clinics operate in Chainat province. ©CABI


Discussing data management in Thailand. ©CABI


Looking forward to a delicious meal in Nong Kung village! ©CABI


Farmers learning about biocontrol products using fungal spores grown on a culture of cooked rice. ©CABI


A farmer and plant doctor discussing issues with food crops. ©CABI


Preserved samples and specimens for comparison purposes when diagnosing crop problems. ©CABI


View from the plant clinic into part of the village – it was a beautiful, sunny day. ©CABI

Backstopping visit to Hanoi, Vietnam

After our stay in Cambodia, Claire and I continued on our way to Hanoi, Vietnam on September 8th and 9th. From there we drove out to Hưng Yên province, visiting two plant clinics and an agro-dealer. We had the opportunity to speak with farmers and plant doctors about how clinics are going, and how useful they can be for farmers to seek advice on their crops. On the way, we enjoyed some pomelo and longans, and shared a cup of tea.  Afterwards, we headed back to the city and facilitated a backstopping training session about data management for 6 participants. Together, we identified bottlenecks in the data flow process, and discussed how they can be improved.


Plant doctors at Plant Clinic 8 in Hưng Yên province. ©CABI


Longan season in Hưng Yên province. ©CABI


Interview with the leader of Nhat Quang commune while sharing a cup of tea. ©CABI


Pomelo picked fresh from the tree! ©CABI


Visiting an agro-dealer and learning about the safety information available for farmers. ©CABI


Claire highlighting the importance of data management. ©CABI


The group visiting plant clinic 8 and talking with farmers about how much they valued the advice provided by plant doctors. ©CABI


Group photo from the backstopping data management training. ©CABI

Data management training in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – looking back on a successful trip!

In the first week of September, 2014, Claire Beverley and I went to Cambodia for three days to run data management training and a cluster meeting, along with our colleague Jeremy Ngim from the CABI Malaysia office. The presentations were given in English and translated into Khmer, which was a neat experience for all. We got the opportunity to talk with plant doctors and their supervisors about current issues with data management in Cambodia, and how harmonising, analysing, and sharing of data can work within Cambodia.


The General Directorate of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. ©CABI


One of the translators, Ho Chea, patiently getting materials ready for a harmonisation exercise. ©CABI


Participants listening enthusiastically to Claire presenting. ©CABI


Birds of Paradise at lunch break. ©CABI


Participants discussing ways issues and solutions with data flow in Cambodia. ©CABI


Claire working with one of the translators, Sarika, to facilitate a discussion in both English and Khmer! ©CABI


Emily, happy to be talking about data! ©CABI


Claire and Emily exploring Phnom Penh in a tuk-tuk. ©CABI


Delicious snacks at tea – can you name the fruits in this picture? ©CABI



Factsheet of the month: October – Preventing weeds in cassava

Preventing weeds in cassavaThis month sees the return of World Food Day which is celebrated annually on the 16th October, the day the Food and Agricultural Organisation was founded in 1945. This year’s theme, Family Farming, has been chosen to raise awareness of the role that family and smallholder farmers play in providing food security and achieving sustainable development. In the lead up to World Food Day, the World Development Movement is posting an A-Z of food sovereignty. The latest in this series was M for Mulching. Mulching is a widely-used technique amongst smallholder farmers who want to reduce soil erosion and water loss, and increase soil fertility. Another benefit of mulching is helping to reduce weed growth. This is is explained further in the Plantwise factsheet Preventing weeds in cassava. Cassava is a key staple crop in many countries so it is vital that yields are not affected by pests, including weeds. This factsheet was written in Sierra Leone by experts from the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI).

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (01 Oct 14)

Insect pests of cashew in Peru, where this fruit is consumed, have been identified © Joao Vicente CC BY

Insect pests of cashew in Peru, where this fruit is consumed, have been identified © Joao Vicente CC BY

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 record of the leaf beetle Callosobruchus nigritus found in Soybean in India, two new rust species on Fabaceae in Brazil and preliminary data on the major pests of cashew in the Peruvian Amazon. 

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Alternative to fungicides for the control of Pecan scab

Symptoms of pecan scab on pecan fruit © Charles J. Graham

Symptoms of pecan scab on pecan fruit © Charles J. Graham

Pecan scab, caused by the fungus Fusicladium effusum, is a major yield-limiting disease of pecan (Carya illinoinensis). Planting varieties with some resistance to the disease is the most practical way to avoid losses from pecan scab, but the scab fungus can change over time to overcome host resistance. The use of chemical fungicides is another widely used method of prevention and control. However, increasing resistance of the scab fungus to fungicides, coupled with greater awareness of the environmental impact of chemicals, is prompting farmers to consider other management options.

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