CABI scientists shed light on factors affecting the use of biological control

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A parasitic wasp foraging for eggs on the underside of a leaf. Photo: CABI

Human health issues arising from the use of synthetic pesticides and concerns about their environmental toxicity are making lower-risk alternatives increasingly attractive. Biological control agents are living organisms which reduce harmful pest populations. Many people know of the common ladybird, whose larvae feed on aphids, but a wide range or biological control agents – e.g. predatory and parasitic insects, diseases of plant pests – are available. However, their use is still limited, in particular in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

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Removal of invasive shrub could be an easy way to help reduce malaria transmission

Prosopis juliflora
Prosopis juliflora. Photo:
Muller et al., Malaria Journal, 2017’

Removing the flowers of an invasive shrub from mosquito-prone areas might be a simple way to help reduce malaria transmission, according to a new study published in the open access Malaria Journal. Removing the flowers from villages in Mali decreased the local mosquito vector population by nearly 60%.

The study, carried out in the Bandiagra District in Mali, is the first of its kind to trial a direct environmental manipulation as a way to control mosquito vector populations in areas at risk of malaria transmission.

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Successful partnerships must start at the farm gate

The annual European Development Days, held in Brussels 7-8 June this year, showcase Europe’s commitment to building a sustainable and fairer world. The forum builds on the core belief that cooperation is key to achieve real change towards a poverty-free and sustainable world where everyone has the prospect for a decent life. At this year’s conference, CABI hosted a panel discussion which drew together a group of food security and agricultural experts to share their experiences of how partnerships supports smallholder farmers.

The panel included Dr Roberto Ridolfi from the European Commission’s DG DEVCO, representing the donor perspective; Maaike Groot from East-West Seed, representing the private sector; Henry Msatilomo from Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, representing the public sector; and Plantwise‘s Dr Washington Otieno, representing the non-profit and NGO sector. The discussion was moderated by CABI’s Nick Perkins, former director of SciDev.Net.

Listen to their discussion below (starting at 10:50), and read a summary after the break.

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E-plant clinics rolled out in Jammu, India

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Last year Plantwise launched in Jammu & Kashmir state, India, with the establishment of 15 plant clinics across 3 districts in the Jammu region. This year sees the launch of an exciting new development, with the roll-out of e-plant clinics to revolutionize the extension system and support the quick transfer of information and advice to farmers via text messages on their mobile phones. This process began with a series of training workshops last month, which were officially inaugurated by Jenab Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.

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Working with AgriMedia to address climate change in Vietnam

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(From left) Dr. Malvika Chaudhary, Regional Coordinator, Plantwise Asia; Dr. A Sivapragasam, Regional Director, CABI-SEA; Dr. Mai Quang Vin, Chairman of AgriMedia; and To Duc Hai, CEO of AgriMedia

In the busy streets of Hanoi, history was made last month. CABI Southeast Asia (CABI-SEA) signed a memorandum of understanding with Agricultural Multimedia Joint Stock Company (AgriMedia) – a private company working in the field of agriculture. As a pioneer in M2M applications in agriculture, AgriMedia was established in 2014 and aims to provide a wide range of effective agricultural solutions via agricultural information services on mobile phone and applications from smart agricultural technologies.

With 50 staff, advanced agricultural technologies and a broad network of leading agricultural experts in Vietnam, AgriMedia is committed to provide high-quality and timely agricultural information related to domestic and global commodity price and market, weather forecast advisory or expert advice on agriculture techniques, bringing benefits to farmers and agricultural enterprises in Vietnam. In fact, AgriMedia is the only private company to be given a licence by the government to provide weather forecast. It currently works with a Japanese company to provide services using smart weather stations installed in the central agro-ecological zones of Vietnam.

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Working with women farmers to make Cambodian communities “Plantwise”

A plant assistant of Plant Clinic in Rohal Suong is recently recruited as an agricultural extension worker for her commune. Women can help reach more sectors in the communities. Photo: Dyna Eam (WorldFish)

Greater involvement of women in plant clinics has improved the climate resilience of the farmers in Rohal Suong village, Cambodia. Women farmers play a critical role in agricultural production and food security, as well as household welfare in most Southeast Asian countries. According to a Census of Agriculture in Cambodia in 2013, of the 82% of Cambodians engaged in the agriculture sector, at least half of them were women.

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