Could perennial crops be an answer to climate change?

Planting rice in China (© CABI)

Reblogged from The Economic Times

BENGALURU: While India reaped the benefits of the Green Revolution in the 1960s, her neighbour China is now taking the lead in another area of sustainable agriculture — developing crops that meet the challenges posed by global warming.

Chinese agricultural scientists are working to convert seasonal crops into perennial crops that regrow after being harvested and deliver multiple yields before dying.

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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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CABI leads rapid identification of Fall Armyworm

Fall Armyworm larvae seen in Ghana (J. Crozier, CABI)

Identifying armyworms usually involves taking the larvae that have caused the damage, waiting for them to develop in to adults and then studying the body and markings of these adults to identify the species collected. This process causes delays to identification, and could therefore delay action for what are some of the most ravaging crop pests in the world. However, scientists from CABI and Ghana’s Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate have been able to speed up identification using molecular techniques to confirm the identity of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) from the larvae alone.

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Why a problem of plenty is hurting India’s farmers

Vegetable market stand, India. Image: Mohamed Shareef via Wikimedia Commons

By Soutik Biswas. Reblogged from BBC News.

Farmers are on the boil again in India. In western Maharashtra state, they have been on strike for a week in some seven districts now, spilling milk on the streets, shutting down markets, protesting on the roads and attacking vegetable trucks. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, curfew has been imposed after five farmers were killed in clashes with police on Tuesday. Last month, farmers in southern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh staged protests and burnt their red chilli crop.

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Kenya gets new production facility to control crop pest

Mango fruit fly (Bactrocera sp.) (© Ko Ko Maung, Bugwood.org)

By Sam Otieno. Reblogged from SciDevNet

A facility has been launched in Kenya to aid commercial production of a protein bait to control fruit flies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The US$250,000 facility, which resulted from public-private partnership involving the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and Kenya Biologics Ltd, will enable smallholders control fruit flies that devastate their fruits and vegetables.

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Plant Clinics and Farm Visits Diagnosing Fall Armyworm in Malawi

Margaret field visit
Mr. Guze Kampinga and CABI’s Dr Margaret Mulaa asses the damage caused by Fall armyworm

Mr. Guze Kampinga visits the plant clinic at Dowa Turn Off with his damaged maize samples and is received by Mrs Eluby Phiri a trained plant doctor.

“I have grown about 0.8 ha of rain-fed and 0.4ha irrigated maize (Ndimba). This year a strange pest has seriously damaged my maize and almost all people in this village are experiencing the same problem. The pest started damaging the crop a few weeks after germination and has continued damaging the crop up to now. I first noticed the tips of the maize funnel chewed and stunting yet I had applied fertilizer and there was sufficient moisture. When I checked the funnel I found small caterpillars inside, which were growing very fast. Later the leaves were chewed and holes seen in the cobs, they also feed on the kernels. I have tried to control the pest to no avail”, said Mr Guze.

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Pest Risk Information Service for sub-Saharan Africa

Field of maize (©Public Domain CC0)

The FAO estimates that up to 40% of global crop yields are reduced each year due to the damage caused by pests (FAO, 2015). Crop losses have a huge impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. They result in less food for them and their families and a lower income for spending on education and farming resources, including tools for the management and control of pests.

Accurate pest forecasting systems therefore need to be made available so that farmers can be warned of potential pest outbreaks that may severely damage crops. Pest forecasts enable farmers to implement prevention methods in time for them to be most effective.

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