Bananas are eaten the world over but could they really become extinct if a strain of Panama disease takes hold?
Did you know that more than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product? You might also be surprised to learn that Uganda has the highest average per capita consumption in the world, where residents eat an average of 226kgs of bananas per person per year.
In short, bananas are big business – a $35billion global industry as a rough estimate. But all that could come to a crashing halt if the headline in the British Daily Mail newspaper, predicting the fruit’s extinction, is to be believed. The fears are that a strain of Panama disease could wipe out the humble banana putting the food security of millions in Developing World countries that depend upon it for nutrition at risk.
Plantwise plant doctors are at the heart of our plant clinic network providing advice and information to farmers, logging their data for the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, and always adapting to new outbreaks and technologies.
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a plant doctor? Take our online plant health quiz and find out! Continue reading →
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.
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 →
Invasive alien species (IAS) have devastating impacts on native biota, causing the decline or even extinction of native species, negatively affecting ecosystems. Invasive plants, animals, insects and microorganisms enter and establish in environments outside of their natural habitat. They reproduce rapidly, out-compete native species for food, water and space, and are one of the main causes of global biodiversity loss. Species can be introduced deliberately, through for example, fish farming, pet trade, horticulture, bio-control or unintentionally, through such means as land and water transportation, travel, and scientific research.
CABI, under its Action on Invasives programme, is working to manage the already existing and potential invasive species in Pakistan. Pest Management Decision Guides (PMDGs), through the Plantwise Knowledge Bank are practical, step-by-step tools for plant doctors and extension agents to give advice following the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).
CABI is joining an international team of scientists, led by the University of Stirling, to take a ‘revolutionary approach’ in attempting to tackle resistance to pesticides in insects with a specific focus on crops pests in Brazil.
The £620,000 study will see UK-based Dr Belinda Luke working on the mass production of fungal biopesticides and formulation development from CABI’s laboratories in Egham, Surrey, while Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, and Natália Corniani – from CABI’s centre in São Paulo, Brazil, will disseminate a range of associated training activities.
A CABI-led project involving an international team of remote sensing and plant protection experts is helping China reduce its reliance on harmful pesticides to fight crop pests and diseases including yellow rust fungal disease of wheat and locusts.
The £1.6 million STFC Newton Agri-Tech Fund-financed project is leaving a lasting legacy in helping the Chinese Government reach its goal of zero increase in pesticide use by 2020 – adopting more sustainable controls, where possible, instead.