This week, CABI delegates attended the 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week and general assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The theme for this year’s FARA general assembly was ‘Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods’. The subject fitted well with CABI’s core objective of applying scientific knowledge and innovation to improve people’s livelihoods.
At the event, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda from 13-16 June, CABI in Africa showed how it helps bring scientific agricultural knowledge from the lab to the farmers who need it. A key part of this was setting up a Plantwise plant clinic. Plantwise is a global programme, led by CABI, which helps farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. At the clinic, Damien Nsabiyumva, a trained plant doctor was on hand to show how to diagnose sick plants and help smallholder farmers with practical plant health advice.
The plant clinic had several high level visitors including, His Excellency Anastase Murekezi Prime Minister of Republic of Rwanda, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, and Dr Martial de Paul Ikounga African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology.
CABI also hosted a side event led by Invasive Species Regional Coordinator, Dr Arne Witt. At this event Dr Witt talked about CABI’s invasive species strategy in Africa with stakeholders from national agricultural research institutions, ministries of environment and trade, private sector stakeholders and NGOs. Dr Witt previewed a guide to East Africa Invasive Alien Plants and shared CABI’s recent findings on how to tackle invasive species using biological control. The side event helped foster important links and synergies between CABI and relevant organisations working to improve food security, trade and the protection of agricultural and natural ecosystems.
At the side event, Dr Witt also discussed new research to investigate a possible link between invasive weeds and the incidence of malaria. Mosquitoes need, among other things, plant sugars to survive. It is possible that some invasive weeds, abundant on the African continent, could be attractive to Anopheles mosquitoes, potentially increasing the prevalence of malaria.
Talking about the event, Dr Witt said, “It has provided a great opportunity to raise awareness about the threat of invasive species to livelihoods. All around the world, invasive species threaten human, animal and plant life on land and in water. CABI is committed to tackling some of the worst ones in Africa to help farmers protect their crops and their livelihoods.”