A new program in Myanmar has just produced its first group of ‘plant doctors’ – experts who can help farmers reduce their losses by diagnosing problems with their crops.
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.
Seeds are the unsung heroes of agriculture, and modern varieties provide beneficial traits such as drought tolerance and cooking quality. Some varieties are even designed to provide a platform with which to provide other products, such as seed treatments conferring additional insect and disease protection.
The lack of modern varieties, particularly in developing countries, is a major constraint on smallholder productivity. A commonly quoted figure of 35% penetration of modern varieties in Africa is probably an overestimate and the real figure is closer to 20-25%. As an example there are no modern varieties used on 6 million hectares of sorghum in Mali and the situation is similar for groundnuts.