Farmers in Malawi to benefit from space-age technology in fight against devastating crop pests

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Farmers await for plant health advice at a plant clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi

Farmers in Malawi are the latest to benefit from a CABI-led consortium, funded by the UK Space Agency, which is providing a Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) to fight pest outbreaks that could devastate crops and livelihoods across the country.

The service, which uses state-of-the-art technology to help inform farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – including Zambia, Ghana and Kenya where it is currently operating – gives farmers invaluable information to help them manage pests such as the fall armyworm that is already having a major impact in Africa and South East Asia.

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Plantwise helps with managing the invasive Fall Armyworm in Vietnam

A plant doctor inspects a farmer's damaged maize crop in Vietnam
A plant doctor inspects a farmer’s damaged maize at a recent plant clinic in Vietnam

During a recent visit to a plant clinic session in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, first-hand evidence of this devastating invasive pest was shown to visiting CABI staff. A 76-year-old farmer, Madam Nguyen Thi Nam brought along damaged maize plant to seek advice from the plant doctor, Mrs Dang Thi Quynh Nga.

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World Food Prize winner’s vision sown in CABI-led Plantwise programme in Myanmar

Phathril Akradejvichit
World Food Prize Laureate for 2019 Simon N. Groot, founder of East-West Seed, helped train CABI Plantwise plant doctors in Myanmar so farmers can grow more and lose less to pests and diseases (Photo: World Food Prize).

Simon N. Groot, the Dutch founder of East-West Seed, has won the World Food Prize 2019 for empowering millions of smallholder farmers in more than 60 countries earn greater incomes through enhanced vegetable production.

This includes his company – under the East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT) – working with the CABI-led Plantwise programme to train Myanmar’s first group of plant doctors who are helping farmers reduce their losses by diagnosing problems with their crops. East-West Seed also provided their expertise to CABI through a number of external factsheets provided for the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

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

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This month’s pest alerts include a report on Bursaphelenchus michalskii n. and its association with the large elm bark beetle and Dutch elm disease (© 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 a novel alphapartitivirus in Rhizoctonia oryzae-sativae, the causal agent of aggregate sheath spot disease of rice; a report on Bursaphelenchus rockyi sp. in peat moss in Russia and a report on Bursaphelenchus michalskii n. on large elm bark beetles and its association with Dutch elm disease. Continue reading

‘Green Super Rice’: Improving smallholder incomes and reducing hunger across Asia and Africa

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With increasing occurrences in unfavorable biotic and abiotic conditions, farmers are facing significant challenges with maintaining successful crop yields. With the development of GSR varieties, farmers across Asia and Africa can tailor their crops to regional-specific conditions and promote crop yields (© Pexels).

Scientists and crop breeders in China have produced new varieties of rice called ‘Green Super Rice’ (GSR) to help tackle the global burden of increasing populations, food production and farmer incomes with its 20% increase in yield across varying challenging growing conditions.

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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