How can tomato farming be improved in Kenya? Study finds producers face a ‘myriad of constraints’

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In a recently published paper in Scientific African, CABI’s Willis Ochilo led on a study which captured a better understanding of tomato producers in Kenya, describing in detail the production practices in order to identify challenges and opportunities for increasing tomato productivity for the country’s smallholder communities.

Tomato is a good source of vitamins A and C, and lycopene making it an important crop in terms of food and nutritional security for families in Kenya, and is in fact eaten in nearly all households across the country.

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How bees can be a friend to smallholders

By Karoline Kingston

Bee with pollen on its legs drinking nectar from a flower

In an unprecedented study, honey bees have been found to be the world’s most important single species pollinator in natural ecosystems. Working alongside wild bees, they are also said to be responsible for every one in three bites of food. For the smallholder farmer, befriending bees – both honey and wild – could mean more efficient, high quality pollination of crops, as well as pollinating wild plants for cattle and other livestock to graze on. The sale of honey could also provide a vital additional source of income. But the bees need human help in return; the global bee population is in decline due to the use of harmful pesticides, climate change and habitat loss. Finding a productive partnership between these small creatures and smallholders could benefit both sides. Continue reading

Collaborative writeshop produces pest management decision guides for invasive species in Pakistan

The Invasives Blog

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Invasive alien species (IAS) have devastating impacts on native biota, causing the decline or even extinction of native species, negatively affecting ecosystems. Invasive plants, animals, insects and microorganisms enter and establish in environments outside of their natural habitat. They reproduce rapidly, out-compete native species for food, water and space, and are one of the main causes of global biodiversity loss. Species can be introduced deliberately, through for example, fish farming, pet trade, horticulture, bio-control or unintentionally, through such means as land and water transportation, travel, and scientific research.

CABI, under its Action on Invasives programme, is working to manage the already existing and potential invasive species in Pakistan. Pest Management Decision Guides (PMDGs), through the Plantwise Knowledge Bank are practical, step-by-step tools for plant doctors and extension agents to give advice following the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).

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CABI collaborates on innovative approach to tackling pesticide resistance evolution

Spodoptera eridania (southern armyworm); larva on tomato leaf.
Southern armyworm (Spodoptera eridania) – a pest which is prevalent in Brazil ©Lyle J. Buss/University of Florida

CABI is joining an international team of scientists, led by the University of Stirling, to take a ‘revolutionary approach’ in attempting to tackle resistance to pesticides in insects with a specific focus on crops pests in Brazil.

The £620,000 study will see UK-based Dr Belinda Luke working on the mass production of fungal biopesticides and formulation development from CABI’s laboratories in Egham, Surrey, while Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, and Natália Corniani – from CABI’s centre in São Paulo, Brazil, will disseminate a range of associated training activities.

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CABI-led £1.6 million collaboration helps reduce China’s reliance on harmful pesticides

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A CABI-led project involving an international team of remote sensing and plant protection experts is helping China reduce its reliance on harmful pesticides to fight crop pests and diseases including yellow rust fungal disease of wheat and locusts.

The £1.6 million STFC Newton Agri-Tech Fund-financed project is leaving a lasting legacy in helping the Chinese Government reach its goal of zero increase in pesticide use by 2020 – adopting more sustainable controls, where possible, instead.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (07 May 2019)

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This months pest alerts include a report on Phalenopsis (moth orchids) petal spot disease in Taiwan (© Pexels)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this month include the first report of Pratylenchus neglectus on maize in Hungary, the first report of Cecidochares connexa parasitism in West Africa and a report on Phalaenopsis petal spot disease in Taiwan. Continue reading

Artificial Intelligence in Africa: Google’s new AI centre in Ghana

Chinyunyu Plant Clinic in Rufunsa district, Zambia.
AI tools could potentially help farmers identify and target crop pests in the field using just a mobile device. Image: ©David Ng’ambi for CABI

Google’s first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Africa has opened in Accra, Ghana. The tech giant aims to support researchers with the tools and environment necessary to develop AI products to solve numerous problems faced across the continent within the agriculture sector.

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