Agricultural innovation framework agreed in Rwanda

Contributed by Rachel Winks, CABI.

Agricultural innovation framework agreed in Rwanda

The partner organisations of the Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP) met in Kigali, Rwanda, on 19-21 January to agree a new concept for agricultural innovation: the common framework on capacity development for agricultural innovation systems. With growing global population and increased food demand, agricultural innovation can help improve food security, increase farmers’ incomes and protect use of natural resources. CABI has been a key contributor to the agricultural innovation framework, bringing valuable experience of its Plantwise food security programme to the platform.

The common framework includes concepts, methodologies, principles and tools to help people better understand and harness agricultural innovation. It emphasizes interconnectedness and the importance of bringing individuals and organisations together to co-create new knowledge.  Continue reading

Collaboration between Plantwise and the University of Queensland

Plantwise factsheet app
Plantwise Factsheet Library

In 2014, Holly alerted our blog followers to the Plantwise factsheet library app, aimed to provide country extension workers with a portable electronic library of pest management factsheets. Since then, there have been in excess of 65,000 sessions of the app by our global users. Continue reading

Tackling climate change and agriculture at COP21 – a look at the landscape approach

by Dr Trevor Nicholls, CEO, CABI

In the Fields in Sherpur, Himachal Pradesh, India
Photo credit: Michael Foley, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

At COP21 last week, the world’s leaders agreed on a way forward to manage climate change. Limiting global warming to less than two percent was undoubtedly a landmark decision and, for the first time, there was unanimous recognition that humans impact the climate and that humans must do something about it.

I was honoured to deliver an address to the UNFCCC on CABI’s work in agriculture and the environment, specifically highlighting our knowledge and science-based initiatives like Plantwise that help smallholder farmers living in rural communities grow more and lose less of their produce, and embrace climate smart agricultural processes.

Talking about these projects, it struck me how agriculture has been caught in the centre of the COP21 debate as both a cause and a victim of climate change, and how – as the foundation of food security – agriculture must be carefully managed. A perfect storm is brewing of increased global warming and growing global population, which places pressure on agriculture to produce more outputs using fewer resources like land and water. How we feed a world of 9 billion people by 2050, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the most important questions we must ask and answer. Continue reading

Plantwise Initiative Equips Farmers with Knowledge in Zambia

NAIS LogoArticle by Dorcas Kabuya Chaaba- NAIS

A small-scale farmer in Chilanga District, Moses Banda has seriously taken up vegetable production. Mr Banda commends Government for its continued support in assisting farmers in addressing crop problems and how best to control them organically.
“My vegetables always had holes due to Sefasefa (Diamond Back Moth) and all I could think of was spraying but little did I know that the chemicals were harmful not only to the soils but humans and the entire ecosystem. Through this interaction with the Plant Doctors, I have learnt insects are being resistant to chemicals and that we should consider treating these insects organically through the use of crop rotation and Neem tree, which is soaked in water and sprayed to infected plants,” he explained.
Plantwise addresses the constant struggle that small-scale farmers go through to produce food by providing affordable, locally available solutions to plant health problems.

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Plantwise-Farmer Field Schools; Synergies in Mozambique

Blog contributed by Martin Kimani (CABI) and Lito Malia (Plantwise National Coordinator, Mozambique)

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Farmer field schools (FFS) are essentially schools without walls that introduce new technological innovations while building on indigenous knowledge. In FFS, farmers are the experts. At a recently held FFS stakeholder and donor forum in Mozambique from 30th to 31st July 2015, CABI presented existing opportunities in linking FFS with Plantwise activities. The Forum brought together representatives from FAO, Agha Khan Foundation, IFAD, CARE, CABI, DNEA, DPA-Sofala, IAM, IIAM, DSV, and DINAS e SETSAN. This was a culmination of exploratory visits and meetings held earlier on in the year in Mozambique, Kenya and Rwanda.

“FFS builds farmers capacity to analyse their production systems, identify problems, test possible solutions and adopt practices most suitable to their production systems. It further, provides an opportunity for farmers to test and evaluate suitable land use technologies and introduce new technologies through comparing conventional ones and indigenous ones”, said Martin Kimani, the CABI Country Coordinator for Mozambique.

CABI presented opportunities for FFS and Plantwise linkages in Mozambique where both agricultural extension programmes can be jointly implemented. New farming technologies and approaches published in extension materials generated in the Plantwise programme will now benefit from existing testing and validation systems under FFS. This will result to a higher adoption and adaptation at farmer level leading top improved livelihoods. This was just one among many other potential benefits Martin highlighted at the meeting in linking the two programmes.

Some of the plant doctors in Mozambique are experienced FFS facilitators hence there is already an adequate potential and enthusiasm in linking FFS with Plantwise activities starting with Moamba district. FAO is currently running FFS in Manica, Vanduzi and Maomba districts.FFS-PW Mozambique

Ecological Engineering Approach for Rice Pest Management-Need to Popularise its Advantages

           Example of Ecological engineering in Vietnam (Photo credit: Dr HV Chien)

The rice ecosystems are inhabited by more than 100 species of insects. Twenty of them can cause potential economic losses. With the change in the climatic factors and modern cultural practices adopted for production a drastic change has been caused in the pest scenario in the recent past. Besides stem borer, gall midge, brown plant hopper and green leafhopper which were the major problems in past, several other relatively minor pests such as leaf folder, armyworms, cut worms etc. have gained importance. In a study conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), it was found that, on average, farmers lose 37% of their rice yield to pests and diseases, and that these losses can range between 24% and 41% depending on the production situation (http://irri.org). All the pests are generally kept under check by their natural enemies (parasitoids and predators) by feeding on them. The food web of their relationships prevents the explosion of their populations and keeps them under economic thresholds mimimising the pesticide use.

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