Saturday 16th October marks World Food Day – a day designed to raise awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.
Around 805 million people go hungry every day. With 80% of food consumed in developing regions grown by small-scale farmers, finding a sustainable food system that works for smallholders is essential to solving the issues of food and nutritional security.
CABI’s new global PlantwisePlus programme is working to support low and lower-middle-income countries to predict, prepare themselves for and prevent plant health threats in a changing climate – reducing crop losses and empowering farmers to increase income, food security and food safety by producing more and higher quality food.
The production and supply of safer food are at the heart of the PlantwisePlus programme. In developing countries, crops essential for security and income generation suffer from frequent production constraints due to poor crop management, and increasingly, the impacts of climate change.
Additionally, our changing climate is increasing the threat posed by pests as it alters their biology, distribution and outbreak potential. This has led to a growth in pesticide use among smallholder farmers, with a prevalent tendency not to adhere to safety precautions.
Safer food and pesticides
The injudicious use of pesticides can have serious implications for the environment, human health and livestock. These negative impacts are felt by those that come into direct contact with pesticides and those on the periphery of agricultural industry, such as rural residents living next door to farms. In addition, pesticide residues found on, and in, our food can be harmful to consumers.
So, how is PlantwisePlus working to increase the supply of and demand for safer food?
Enhancing availability of safer plant protection products
Biological products often use living organisms, such as insects or pathogens, to control pest populations. They are generally of no, or low toxicity to humans and because they are often highly specific to a pest, or group of pests, they do not have unwanted effects on non-target organisms.
- PlantwisePlus is currently working to ensure safer plant protection products, such as biological products, are readily available so farmers can put them to use. This includes increasing the promotion of low-risk protection products by agro-input dealers and exploring how voluntary standards on integrated pest management and pesticide risk reduction can help.
- PlantwisePlus is working with local agricultural suppliers to make sure the safer plant products are not only available, but sold at a price farmers can afford.
- PlantwisePlus aims to help small-scale local businesses produce safer to use products for use in their communities. Assisting farmers and agri-businesses to build successful and viable businesses, will create sustainable incomes.
Increasing the supply of and demand for safer, higher quality and locally produced food in domestic markets
- Plantwise plus will raise awareness of the issues related to hazardous pesticide use in food production, among farmers, agro-input dealers and the end consumer. By understanding the benefits of more sustainable, safer farming methods, demand for safer, higher quality food will.
- This shift in demand will motivate farmers to change to using low-risk practices, such as Integrated Pest Management and the use of biological products, to meet higher value domestic market requirements.
- To help smallholder farmers produce higher quality, safer and more nutritious food, we will work with women and young people so they can run small agri-businesses that facilitate access to and use of low-risk products and practices.
Farmers need support and solutions if they are to turn to safer, more sustainable farming practices. We must raise awareness of the hazards of inappropriate pesticide use, not only among farmers but also advisory services providers and the end consumers. Raising awareness raises the demand for safer food. By responding to that demand, farmers can earn more for the crops they produce and consumers will have access to safer, locally produced food.
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.
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