At the beginning of January, a new research centre opened in Benin, which aims to boost productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers, and create job opportunities. Researchers based at the Green Innovation Center, which has been funded by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), will develop tools for training and improve frameworks for collaboration and innovation with the ultimate goal of improving farmer livelihoods.
Initially, the centre will focus on pastoral agriculture, rice and soybeans, which are both important nutritional crops and key commodities in the area. Soybeans are particularly high in protein, a macronutrient which is still lacking in many diets in Subsaharan Africa. However, like all crops it is susceptible to numerous pests and diseases. This month’s factsheet of the month focuses on Purple Stain of soybean. This disease is caused by the fungus Cercospora kikuchii which causes seeds to turn purple and affects the price that they fetch on the market. Continue reading
Scientists from the University of Delaware, USA, have recently uncovered critical information about the effect that deadly rice blast fungus has on rice plants, which could lead to more effective effective control measures in the fight against this disease. The team found that Magnaporthe grisea, the fungus responsible for rice blast, causes an increase in the production of abscisic acid in the plant on infection. Abscisic acid is a stress hormone usually released during times of drought to prevent the plant from losing water through holes in its leaves. However, it has been found that this hormone also causes a reduction in the disease fighting mechanisms of the plant.
The first factsheet of the month for 2016 ‘Blast in Paddy‘ contains information on the current methods of control used to manage rice blast in rice, or paddy as it is sometimes known. This Pest Management Decision guide was written by Mr G. Sudhakar from the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), India.
Researchers at Queen’s University, Belfast, have developed a new method to control the parasitic nematodes that devastate banana crops and cause billions of dollars of crop losses annually. It is hoped that this new technology will reduce these losses, boosting the incomes of subsistence farmers in developing countries.
Nematodes are notoriously difficult to control, and the most effective management practices are preventative. Chemical control using nematicides is not recommended for the control of nematodes as these chemicals are often expensive and highly toxic to both humans and the environment. Continue reading
Last week, 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the new Sustainable Development Agenda to end poverty by 2030. This came at the beginning of a three-day Summit on Sustainable Development during which focussed on implanting changes that will see the Agenda achieve its ambitious aims. The Agenda, consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), will help countries to develop their policies over the next 15 years.
The second SDG on the list is to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” Globally, 1 in 9 people are undernourished, the majority of whom are in developing countries where food loss is an important factor. Food loss is the food that gets spilled or spoilt before it reaches its final product or retail stage, whereas food waste happens at the retailer or consumer stage. Continue reading
If you take a look at a Plantwise pest management decision guide (PMDG) on the Knowledge Bank, it probably won’t look much different to how it looked before. However, under the covers, this PDF has been created in a completely different way to before. This is because we are now storing each part of the PMDG factsheet in a database. This approach to storing content, previously implemented for Plantwise’s Factsheets for Farmers, is being extended for our other content types with the PMDGs being the latest significant addition. It has exciting implications for how pest management advice can be disseminated. Now we are not just limited to what can be provided on paper – the factsheets can be used in web or mobile applications (such as the Plantwise factsheets app), and could be mashed up with other content or data to add further value to the information. Continue reading
Black rot is considered the most important disease of crucifers across the world and can attack its host at any stage of growth. Cauliflower and cabbage are the most readily affected crucifer hosts and suffer significant yield loss as a result of the disease. On cabbage, black rot causes yellow to brown V-shaped lesions to develop on the edges of leaves and move inwards towards the midrib. As the disease progresses, the lesions turn darker, and leaves may wilt and fall from the plant. In the advanced stages of the disease, veins in the affected area will darken.
The disease is causes by a bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris, which can be spread via wild hosts, water or, most commonly, infected seed. Even symptomsless plants may produce infected seed so it is important to try to source certified disease-free seed before planting. For more information about how to control this disease, read September’s Factsheet of the Month, Control of Black Rot in Cabbage, which has been written by staff from the Ministry of Agriculture in Grenada.
In recent years, Tuta absoluta has gained a reputation for being one of the most destructive pests of tomato and can cause losses of 80-100% in the field if left unmanaged. Tanzania are feeling the effects of the yield reduction with a 375% increase in the cost of tomatoes in the past 6 months. A carton of tomatoes that cost Sh16,000 ($9.4) in January 2015 now costs around Sh60,000 ($35.3). Vivian Munisi, a trader at Tanzania’s Arusha central market, is just one of the people who are expecting the price of tomatoes to increase further in the coming months as a result of the shortfall caused by T. absoluta.
The larvae of T. absoluta, which is also known as the tomato leaf miner, bores into leaves and fruit and feeds below their surface, forming mines as they move along the plant. The network of mines produced as a result of this feeding can also serve as an entry point for disease, which can lead to further damage. Although tomato is the main host for the tomato leaf miner, it can also affect potato and other Solanaceae plants. The pest originated in Latin America but has spread to Europe, Asia and more recently, Africa where it has caught smallholder farmers unprepared.
There are a number of management options that will help to reduce the damage caused by the tomato leaf miner. These include disposing of infested fruit, setting pheromone traps and applying sprays of either biocontrol or a chemical pesticide. To find out more about tomato leaf miners and how these sprays can contribute to their control, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by an Agriculture Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFSC) in Tanzania. Tomato production in Tanzania has been badly affected by the tomato leaf miner. Continue reading