CABI’s Dr Laura Doughty has highlighted the importance of the Global Burden of Crop Loss (GBCL) initiative at this year’s DevRes2021 conference whose theme was ‘Advancing Sustainable Transformation.’

Dr Doughty, Postdoctoral scientist working on the GBCL, told the online conference – organised by Umeå University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Swedish Research Council, Sida and Formas – that the ultimate aim of the GBCL project is to increase food security, protect the environment and secure livelihoods for millions of smallholder farmers around the world.

She told the Sustainable Food Systems track of the conference that the vision for the GBCL is the reduction and prevention of crop losses, achieved through the implementation of data-driven decision-making – thereby improving food security that leads to more resilient agricultural value chains.

Efforts to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals in food security, nutrition and livelihoods are being hindered by crop loss with up 40% of crop yields being lost to pests and disease but the data available to prove and show trends is limited.

The GBCL project will collect, validate, analyse and disseminate data on the extent and causes of crop loss, with the aim of gathering sufficient and reliable data that can act as evidence to enable prioritisation of research and policy in plant health, improving our ability to predict the impact of emerging diseases.

Dr Doughty said, “We need to reduce the quantity of crops lost before they reach the plate to provide more food for the growing world population.

“Actors at the highest levels of the plant health system need better evidence to set priorities and allocate resources but data are limited, inconsistent and unverified. This is unfortunately, undermining decision-making in global agricultural policy.

“The GBCL is seeking to gather improved statistics and indicators to answer very important questions that include how much of the world’s crops are lost to insects, disease, weeds or abiotic factors.”

In her presentation, Dr Doughty also highlighted how the GBCL project will seek to investigate discrepancies in data by crop and by geographical location. It will also attempt to estimate the economic cost of crop loss and see where in the world it is most damaging.

The initiative, which is currently funded by UKAid, is founding a research collaboration network responsible for developing a methodological protocol that will deliver proof-of-concept estimates for losses to maize crops globally. GBCL is currently looking for more collaborators to acquire the necessary data and develop the analytical methods and metrics that will drive the GBCL forward. They will also play a vital role in ensuring the policy uptake and dissemination of outputs.

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Additional information

Main image: Maize which is a favoured crop of the Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) pest (Credit: Pixabay).


You can see Dr Laura Doughty’s presentation to DevRes2021 in full here.


Cambria Finegold, CABI’s Global Director, Digital Development, presented the Global Burden of Crop Loss in the Livestock and One Health Seminar series host by Jonathan Rushton. You can see a recording of the webinar hosted on the Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) programme website here.

Project page

Find out more about the Global Burden of Crop Loss project from the dedicated webpage here.

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