Plantwise, a global programme led by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) which provides smallholder farmers across the world with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow to pests and diseases, has won this year’s St Andrews Prize for the Environment, worth $100,000 USD.
The Prize is a joint environmental initiative by the University of St Andrews and ConocoPhillips which recognises significant contributions to environmental conservation. Since its launch in 1998, the Prize has attracted 5,200 entries from around the world and donated $1.67 million to environmental initiatives on a wide range of diverse topics including biodiversity, sustainable development, urban re-generation, recycling, health, water and waste issues, renewable energy and community development.
Last year, one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded caused significant changes to weather patterns around the world. Southern and Eastern Africa were hit particularly hard and suffered some of the worst drought conditions for decades, with as little as a quarter of the expected rainfall in the last few months of the year1. Drought is still having devastating impacts on crop yields in Africa, and humanitarian crises have been declared in the worst hit countries.
New research announced today by scientists at CABI confirms that a recently introduced crop-destroying armyworm caterpillar is now spreading rapidly across Mainland Africa and could spread to tropical Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years, becoming a major threat to agricultural trade worldwide.
As climate change impacts the global ability to grow food, both in quality and quantity, researchers in agriculture have become an important asset for establishing long-term food security as the world’s population continues to increase.
Climate change has emerged as one of the most important environmental, social and economic issues today – especially for South Asia, which is highly impacted by these changes. In light of this, an international conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment and Impacts on Livelihood (ICBCL) was convened in Kathmandu from 10-12 January 2017. The conference was opened by Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the President of Nepal, and saw participation from eminent scientists, policy makers and development workers across the agriculture sector in South Asia.
Different doctors treat different types of diseases. When the villagers of Rohal Suong in Cambodia feel sick, they can consult a doctor. Now when their crops are sick, they can also go to another doctor, a plant health advisor, who can provide information on the best methods to treat crop pests and diseases.
Climate-smart agriculture calls for pest management that controls farm pests and diseases in a way that does not negatively affect ecosystem services and human health.
Climate change affects not only farming practices in that extreme events may flatten trees and crops. It also affects the distributions and life cycles of animals and insects such as pests, disease-causing organisms and crop-pollinating insects and animals. Farmers in Vietnam speculate that the increase in temperatures brought about by climate change might be favouring certain pests.
To further understand the behavior, control and management of pests and diseases in the light of climate change, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) Southeast Asia is conducting “Pest Smart”, a two-year initiative under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA) Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs) project.