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

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

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This months pest alerts include a report on Phalenopsis (moth orchids) petal spot disease in Taiwan (© 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 Pratylenchus neglectus on maize in Hungary, the first report of Cecidochares connexa parasitism in West Africa and a report on Phalaenopsis petal spot disease in Taiwan. Continue reading

Artificial Intelligence in Africa: Google’s new AI centre in Ghana

Chinyunyu Plant Clinic in Rufunsa district, Zambia.
AI tools could potentially help farmers identify and target crop pests in the field using just a mobile device. Image: ©David Ng’ambi for CABI

Google’s first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Africa has opened in Accra, Ghana. The tech giant aims to support researchers with the tools and environment necessary to develop AI products to solve numerous problems faced across the continent within the agriculture sector.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (05 April 2019)

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This month’s pest alerts include a report of a new species of Momphidae moth (Mompha lacteela) in the Netherlands, which is commonly found egg-laying on willowherb with its larvae mining in the plant roots (© Delphine Menárd)

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 on North American poplar leaf rust fungus (Melampsora medusae) in China, reports on a new species of Momphidae identified in the Netherlands and a new relative of the Irish famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans in South America. Continue reading

Biopiracy: The misuse of patenting systems at the disadvantage of local communities

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Due to the increasing need for novel, untapped resources (biological and chemical), many research developments are looking at previously untouched and rural regions as a source for these new resources (© Pexels)

In the search for new bioresources in increasingly remote and rural regions, researchers will use the traditional knowledge of local communities to support their search for new, untapped plants, animals or chemical compounds. The ethical (and sometimes political) issues surrounding this come when this knowledge is used without permission, and exploits the local community’s assistance and culture for commercial gain. This is called biopiracy.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (05 March 2019)

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This month’s pest alerts contains the first report of the pest Urentius euonymus on Althea in Turkey (© 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 fortnight include a report on a new pest on Althea in Turkey, a new species of longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae) in Albania and the first report of Angarus as an egg parasitoid of the banana lacewing bug (Stephanitis typica). Continue reading

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (05 February 2019)

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This month’s pest alerts includes the first report of hop stunt viroid infecting strawberries in China (© 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 fortnight include the first report of grapevine yellow speckle viroid-2 infecting grapevines, the first report of hop stunt viroid infecting strawberries in China and the first report of bean yellow mosaic virus infecting Tropaeolum maius in Hawaii. Continue reading