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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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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Cabbage disease mystery in Ghana

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Cabbage © iStock images

Cabbage is an important crop in Ghana where it grows all year round, right across the country. It is mainly grown for commercial production in Southern Ghana, in Akwapim and Kwahu areas and in the moist high elevations around Tarkwa.

Growing cabbage in Ghana is challenging since it can be attacked by a variety of pests, such as cabbage aphids, caterpillars, cabbage webworm, diamondback moth, mole cricket, snails and rodents. Worldwide, aphids are a major concern because they commonly spread plant-infecting viruses. These are often diagnosed as turnip mosaic virus and cauliflower mosaic virus, particularly in Europe and the US, according to Dr John Carr, University of Cambridge, UK (Phys.org, 2017).

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Why the green peach aphid is such a successful pest

Myzus persicae (green peach aphid); an alate (winged) adult
Myzus persicae (green peach aphid); an alate (winged) adult

Recent research highlights why the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) is one of the most successful crop pests. These findings will help further the development of effective management and control measures which will ultimately reduce worldwide crop losses.

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New device can detect crop pathogens by smell

By Philippa Merry. Reblogged from The Courier.

The E-nose could smell the earliest signals of diseases such as potato blight long before they become visually apparent

Dubbed an E-Nose, the equipment has been developed by engineers and scientists to detect crop pathogens by smell weeks before any infection becomes outwardly apparent or evident on any visual basis.

“It’s an amazing tool for early detection,” commented Kit Franklin, a lecturer of agricultural engineering at Harper Adams University.

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Zambia Battles Armyworms That Are Decimating Corn Fields

By Matthew Hill and Taonga Clifford Mitimingi. Reblogged from Bloomberg Markets.

Zambia must intensify its fight against an outbreak of armyworms that’s wiping out fields of the staple corn crop, posing a threat to the southern African nation’s food security, Vice President Inonge Wina said.

An armyworm. Photographer: Tim Roske/AP Photo

“They are posing a big threat to food security in the country,” she said in remarks broadcast Monday on Hot FM radio in Lusaka, the capital. “They have come with such a force of mass destruction that has to be faced head on. We need to put more effort into eradicating the worms.”

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Tune in to the Cassava show

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Farmer listening group; photo David Onyango, CABI

Last week in the Nkhotakota region of Malawi a new radio show went on air. Not a news programme or a music show, but a show devoted to Cassava. Sounds pretty specific? Well, it’s even more focussed than that. The weekly 30 minute programme is actually focussed on managing one of Cassava’s most damaging diseases – Cassava mosaic disease.

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