At loggerheads over agroforestry

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Photo: pxhere

Everyone knows forests are home to a wealth of biodiversity, with the Amazon alone hosting a quarter of global biodiversity. It is also now well established that diversity in crop production increases a farmer’s resilience to environmental stresses and shocks – from extreme weather to pests.

In terms of ending poverty, food insecurity and environmental degradation, agroforestry was positioned today at CFS44 as playing a crucial role in helping many countries meet key national development objectives epitomised under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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PRISE: speaking to the end user – pest alerts for plant doctors in Africa

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Brian Siame shows plant health conversations between plant doctors in the Zambia Telegram group (Photo: David Onyango, CABI)

After 2 hours drive, we arrive in Rufunsa District located approximately 150 kilometres east of the Zambian Capital, Lusaka. After exchanging pleasantries we settle down with Brian Siame a trained plant doctor and one of the participants in our survey to find out more about plant doctor requirements for pest alert messages.

After a brief explanation of how PRISE will work Brian was taken through the survey and its relevance to his role. “The pest forecast messages will be sent to plant doctors like you so that you can provide farmers with timely advice and help them manage local pest outbreaks,” explained Abigail Rumsey from CABI. “The alerts will take the form of short text messages, advising on predicted pest life stage and risk level, with the possibility of including the pest image to help ease identification and diagnosis”.

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How ICTs are key to Plantwise’s sustainability

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Tablets being used at a Plantwise plant clinic in India. Photo: CABI

The Plantwise programme has expanded in terms of its plant clinic network, the number of countries involved and the number of farmers reached since its launch in 2011. This expansion has been facilitated to a significant extent by an ICT infrastructure, i.e. the Knowledge Bank and e-plant clinics (plant clinics equipped with tablets). Mozambique, Nepal, Malawi, Nicaragua and Jamaica are piloting e-plant clinics this year and more countries are showing increasing interest. The programme has overcome various obstacles and the advantages, both practical and data-based, are now being seen at a variety of locations.

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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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South-South collaboration helps in the fight against invasive pests

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Tuta absoluta on tomato (Photo credit: Elizabeth Maina)

Invasive species cause widespread devastation and huge economic losses to smallholder farmers across the world, especially in sub-Saharan in Africa. Invasive species not only directly undermine farmer’s ability to achieve food security, they also affect smallholder agribusiness making farmers unable to link to profitable food value chains and international agricultural trade networks.

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Plantwise wins the 2017 Bond Development Award for Innovation

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CABI’s Paul Day and Marin Hirschfeld (2nd and 3rd from left) accepting the award on behalf of Plantwise (Photo: Bond)

Bond, a UK association promoting, supporting and representing the work of international development organisations, announced the CABI-led Plantwise programme as the joint winner of its 2017 Innovation Award. The award showcases organisations, coalitions or initiatives that are taking inventive approaches as they chart a course through a complex and changing external environment in international development.

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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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