Cotton harvest picture special


The power of the image paints a picture that speaks a thousand words and that is certainly the case with these fantastic images taken by photographer Asim Hafeez.

Asim was commissioned by CABI to document the process of harvesting cotton in Pakistan – the country’s largest industrial sector – where more than 500,000 farmers rely on the crop for their livelihoods.

CABI is helping the country’s cotton industry reduce losses of around $350m a year by training thousands of farmers and workers about better production, transport and storage practices as part of the Better Cotton Initiative.

These photographs tell the story of how cotton farmers at five districts (Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Umer Kot, Tando Allah Yar and Matiari, of Sindh, Pakistan are learning to grow more and lose less of what they sow, thereby maintaining their livelihoods through increased profitability.

Continue reading

The story of the rare book on plant diseases that returned ‘home’ to China after a 72 year absence


Photo: The 1942 text by Professor Wang Ming-Chih, returned to China after more than 70 years

Lesley Ragab thought she knew CABI’s stock of more than 24,000 books and 2,000 journals like the back of her hand after serving as librarian at the organisation’s Egham, UK, office for over 20 years. That was until she stumbled upon a rare book of plant diseases in Honan (Henan in modern Chinese Pinyin) Province, China, which had been donated to CABI’s Library more than 70 years ago.

Lesley, who keeps a close watch on a range of material – covering subjects as broad as mycology, entomology, nematology, microbiology and crop protection (to name but a few) – could hardly believe her eyes when the non-descript book with Chinese writing on the cover presented itself while answering a staff enquiry.

Continue reading

CABI board member pens Economist blog on US$80bn agricultural investment shortfall


CABI board member Dr Prem Warrior says we must plug a US$80bn global shortfall in agricultural innovation if the world is to be ‘smart’ to the demands of feeding 10 billion people by 2050 and meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Warrior writes in The Economist Intelligence Unit blog that the challenge is not so much a lack of technology but investing in understanding how we can bring technology to smallholder farmers in developing countries and focus our efforts there.

Read the full blog here.

Dr Rob Reeder goes ‘bananas’ about pests and diseases on the Urban Farm Podcast


Plant pathologist Dr Rob Reeder has this week spoken to Greg Peterson of the US-based Urban Farm Podcast about how the global supply of bananas (particularly the Cavendish variety) could be put at risk from a three-pronged attack of pests and diseases.

In the podcast, Dr Reeder reveals the reasons why the fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4), together with the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) and the Banana Skipper butterfly (Erionota spp), could destroy banana plantations across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

As part of the solution to the problem, which could cost the global banana industry $35 billion as highlighted by CABI in a story publicised in December, Dr Reeder underlines the work of the Plantwise programme including how it helps farmers in developing countries diagnose and manage pests and diseases at its plant clinics.

Continue reading

How Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Enter the Food Chain in non-GMO Producing Countries

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in livestock and crops, as well as trade and consumption of GMOs are highly controversial topics.

Proponents of genetic engineering argue that GMOs represent the only viable solution to food shortages in an ever-growing global population. They claim that the use of GMOs in agriculture and their consumption have caused no harm to livestock or humans so far. Heated debate also persists over GMO food labelling, with food manufacturers in the USA arguing that mandatory GMO labelling hinders the development of agricultural biotechnology, and may also “exacerbate the misconception” that GMOs endanger human health. Continue reading

Building capacity for greater food security in Pakistan


Around 30-40% of crops around the world are lost to insect pests thereby affecting the ability of the 500 million small-scale farmers around the world to contribute towards the goal of achieiving zero hunger and ending poverty. Reducing losses by just 1% could feed millions more people but many countries in the Developing World need support to implement biological control programmes to reduce food losses.

As part of CABI’s mission to help farmers grow more and lose less, we have been funded by USAID – via the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – to help Pakistan improve its sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) systems and therefore open up its fruit and vegetables to more high-end global markets that were previously untapped. Currently these products only contribute 13% of the country’s export but improvements to its SPS capabilities could see this number rise significantly.

Continue reading

CABI board member Paulus Vershuren explains how CABI is delivering on SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals


The world we live in today faces complex and interconnected challenges that individual organisations alone cannot easily resolve. When the scale of the challenge is global, organisations must find ways of strengthening their partnerships and coming together to find the best and most sustainable solutions.

This is why partnerships are at the heart of everything we do at CABI. We believe that real answers are found when individuals and organisations, countries and regions work together to solve problems and build sustainable futures.

Continue reading