In 2011, Noah Phiri was working with local farmers in Kenya to combat the fungal pathogen that causes coffee leaf rust when another virulent plant disease began wiping out maize in the country’s southwest corner. Infected plants developed pale streaks on their leaves, then wilted and died. Some farmers lost as much as 90 percent of their crop that year. Phiri, a plant pathologist at the U.K.-based Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), raced to identify the culprit. He and his colleagues collected samples of sick plants and sent them off to the plant clinic at the Food and Environment Research Agency (now Fera Science) in York, U.K. There, researchers sequenced RNA molecules expressed in the infected corn and identified two viruses that were at the root of the epidemic.
Crop diseases are an ever-increasing worldwide threat and estimated to be the cause of the 20-40% decrease in global agricultural productivity. With this boom in plant diseases affecting agricultural practices, there is therefore also an increased demand for research and the implementation of disease control and management schemes.
“Bananas, along with lots of crop plants are under threat from pests and diseases. The reason that bananas are particularly threatened is their lack of genetic diversity.”
Listen to CABI’s very own Rob Reeder talk to Greg Peterson on this podcast from The Urban Farm. Rob talks in detail about the increasing threat to the global banana crop industry but he also tells Greg all about Plantwise.
E-plant clinics have been successfully launched in Mozambique this November, following two trainings and official launches. The trainings took place in a village called Tenga, Moamba near the capital city of Maputo (around 80 km), and in Morrumbene District near the city of Inhambane.
Training was delivered in partnership with the National Directorate of Agricultural Extension (DNEA), an institution of the Ministry of Agriculture in Mozambique.
An adult male coconut rhinoceros beetle. Emmy Engasser, Hawaiian Scarab ID, USDA APHIS ITP, Bugwood.org
10 years ago the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle (CRB) was first discovered on the western Pacific island of Guam. Since then, these shoe-shine black, miniature invaders have spread to all parts of the island and are laying waste to the local coconut and oil palm population. The economy, culture and ecology of Guam and other Pacific islands are intrinsically linked to the native palm species such that the rhino beetle poses a major threat. The indigenous peoples of Guam have a long history of weaving palm fronds, an artistry that is now at risk due to the rhino beetle. These trees are a symbol of tropic paradise, a motif that drives Guam’s primary industry; tourism. Continue reading →
La agricultura en el Perú se ha expandido rápidamente desde el 2000. Según el Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informatica del Perú, el Producto Bruto Interno agrícola se ha más que duplicado entre 2000-2016. Este crecimiento estuvo relacionado a la ocupación de nuevas áreas agrícolas, pero aún por la diseminación de tecnología. El rápido acceso a insumos igualmente ha expuesto a los agricultores a intoxicación debido a una mala utilización de los mismos. Según el Ministerio de Salud, los casos anuales de notificación de intoxicación aguda por plaguicidas sobrepasa los 2000 indivíduos, siendo un 80% causado por exposición laboral. Este número no considera los casos de intoxicación crónica, por lo que el problema puede ser aún más grave.
In 2016 the fall armyworm, a major pest in the Americas, was found in Africa for the first time. Since then it has rapidly spread across much of sub-Saharan Africa. The caterpillar feeds on more than 80 different plants, but maize is its preferred host, the most widely grown crop in Africa and a staple for half the continent. In the context of Africa’s climate, the insect is now likely to build permanent and significant populations in West, Central and Southern Africa, and spread to other regions when temperatures are favourable, posing a major threat to food security.
CABI and AGRA are hosting a side event on fall armyworm at the African Green Revolution Forum 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. If you are not attending the conference, you can watch the livesteam below on September 7 at 14:00 (UTC). The video will also be available after the event.
[Update 14:20]: Due to poor internet connectivity, we are unable to run the livestream. A video will be made available on this page after the event.