Tackling crop losses at the root means sharing knowledge

Development Matters

Banner-gfd-web-ENBy Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, Executive Director Global Operations, CABI


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ACABIll farmers are affected by pests and diseases attacking their crops, but smallholder farmers and their dependents in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected. To put it in perspective, there are about 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide who feed about 70% of the world’s population. When you cultivate less than a hectare (2.5 acres) of land and rely on your crops for both sustenance and income, fighting pests can become a battle for life and death. International trade and climate change are exacerbating the problem by altering and accelerating the spread of crop pests.

Occasionally, when a particularly destructive pest surfaces, it can make headline news. Last year it was reported that the tomato leaf miner moth…

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Plantwise wins the 2017 Bond Development Award for Innovation

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CABI’s Paul Day and Marin Hirschfeld (2nd and 3rd from left) accepting the award on behalf of Plantwise (Photo: Bond)

Bond, a UK association promoting, supporting and representing the work of international development organisations, announced the CABI-led Plantwise programme as the joint winner of its 2017 Innovation Award. The award showcases organisations, coalitions or initiatives that are taking inventive approaches as they chart a course through a complex and changing external environment in international development.

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Smallholder farmers in Malawi are growing fertilizer trees on their farms to improve food production

Malawi farmer in his maize field intercropped with fertilizer trees. Photo: Mark Ndipita/ICRAF
Malawi farmer in his maize field intercropped with fertilizer trees. Photo: Mark Ndipita/ICRAF

The adoption of fertilizer trees on farms is a simple and effective way to improve soil fertility, food productivity and therefore contribute to food security. Yet, there is still little empirical research that documents the impact of fertilizer trees on food security among smallholder farmer households. Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre carried out a study in Malawi to analyze the impact of the adoption of fertilizer trees on food security among smallholder farmers

Reblogged from the Agroforestry World Blog. Read the full article here→

Women’s day: Challenges and Opportunities for Women Farmers in Nepal

Written by Léna Durocher-Granger and Kate Dey

Portraits of Basana Thakuri with tomato plants in Kathmandu, Nepal (©2013 Brian Sokol)

In developing countries, rural women play a significant role in agriculture, accounting for 60-80% of food production and selling food products at markets [1]. In Nepal, it’s been reported that up to 98% of women are employed in the agricultural sector, a percentage which is higher than that for men (91%) [1b]. Contribution by women is therefore critical in agriculture to achieve global food security. However, they generally don’t have the same access to land, water, seeds, training and credit than men. [2] As a consequence, in Nepal, women involvement is greater in minor and subsistence food production for crops such as millet, maize, and soybean while men are more involved in cash crops and commercial production of crops such as rice. Moreover, whilst men generally perform heavy physical labour women are involved in tedious and time-consuming work such as weeding, harvesting, threshing and milling[1].

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Can farms maintain productivity while reducing pesticide use?

Farming tractor plowing and spraying on field vertical
How would reducing pesticides affect productivity? (Photo: iStock Images)

A new UN report states that it is dangerously misleading to suggest that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security. Instead, the report recommends that farms reduce pesticide use and adopt sustainable practices that protect crops from pests by enhancing biodiversity and natural enemies. This agroecological approach eliminates reliance on, and exposure to, expensive and toxic chemical inputs, but would it really allow farmers to be just as productive?

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Changing farmer perceptions using radio campaigns in Malawi

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Cyrial Mangochi, Brighton Mzama, Isaac Banda and Everess Mzama from Choma radio listening group.

In Kalilangwe village in the Nkhotankota district of Malawi we meet Everess Chilchungu, Cyrial Mangochi, Brighton and Agness Mzama – farmers from the Choma radio group who have been listening to the ‘Cassava Plant doctor on air’ show. After a warm reception they share their experiences from listening to the Cassava radio programmes, highlighting challenges from pests and diseases, what they’ve learned and suggestions for improving the show. The meeting is part of an evaluation to understand farmers’ experiences and the impact of the radio show.  Continue reading