Plantwise Blog

Invasive species specialist Dr Ivan Rwomushana is one of the Global Team Leaders for CABI’s new global PlantwisePlus programme. His role within the programme is to strengthen decision support systems for the detection and response to pest outbreaks and plant health threats.

detection and response
© CABI

Since joining CABI in 2017 as an Invasive Species Management Senior Scientist, Dr Rwomushana has been involved with the development and implementation of climate resilient invasive species management initiatives, with the goal of providing farmers with novel solutions that reduce the heavy reliance on chemical pesticides. Dr Rwomushana will now be working with countries to develop national pest monitoring systems and coordinated response to manage plant health threats. 

Crop losses

Pests can have a devastating effect on smallholder yields, accounting for nearly 40% of all crop losses. What’s more, climate change is worsening the risk as it changes the biology, distribution and outbreak potential of agricultural pests. 

Since its inception in 2011, CABI’s Plantwise programme has helped countries to identify and manage risks posed by pests and diseases through effective communication and deployment of sustainable agricultural technologies. Building on this success, CABI’s new global PlantwisePlus Programme will enable countries to predict, prepare for and prevent plant health threats so farmers can increase their incomes and grow safer, higher quality food. 

papaya mealy bug
Papaya mealy bug © CABI

Initial activities

Initial activities will test approaches to strengthening the capability of national systems to assess, prioritise, and monitor the economic threats of pests such as fall armyworm, papaya mealybug, parthenium and cassava brown streak disease, and to respond through implementing agreed risk management plans. 

Some of the activities being undertaken in 2021 include: 

– A surveillance for species prioritized during Horizon scanning and conducting targeted Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) using CABI’s PRA tool. This online portal helps identify, assess and manage the risks of plant pest introductions. It presents information in a way that helps decision makers take the most appropriate action to prevent pests crossing borders.

– Insight reporting service on emerging pests that could pose risks to specific countries.

– Response planning with partners to mitigate against new plant health threats at national level. 

– Experimental releases of the parasitic wasp Telenomus remus for the management of fall armyworm (FAW), and advancing this to widespread releases and insitu production at the farm level.

– Entomopathogenic Nematodes (EPNs) mass culture production, formulation improvements and field testing of EPN formulations, strains and applications for FAW.

– Exploring classical biological of FAW, papaya mealybug and parthenium weed for the sustainable management of these species.

– Mass extension campaigns for apple snail and cassava brown streak disease to provide information that will reduce further spread of these invasive species.

fall armyworm
Fall armyworm © CABI

Open-access tools

A number of systems and tools will be utilised to deliver data, information and evidence, that will shape the decision making, planning and response of countries to plant health threats. Some open-access tools are already in place, including, Invasive Species Compendium, Horizon Scanning Tool, and the previously mentioned Pest Risk Analysis Tool. 

Further tools and processes will also be developed to help reinforce pest management interventions. Data on pest distribution and severity will come from multiple sources, including general and specific surveillance, economic and environmental data, and will help inform decisions at country levels and on different time scales.  

About PlantwisePlus

PlantwisePlus is a global programme, led by CABI, to increase incomes and grow safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production.

Working in close partnership with relevant actors, PlantwisePlus strengthens national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more.

CABI gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS, Netherlands), the European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships (INTPA,EU), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), for the PlantwisePlus programme.

For more information visit: https://www.plantwise.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Plantwise
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CABI_Plantwise (@CABI_Plantwise)

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