World Food Day 2018 – Feeding our appetite for food security

Fresh fruits and vegetables
The fruit and veg ‘food basket’ of the world

By Dr Dennis Rangi – Director General, Development at CABI based in Nairobi, Kenya

On this World Food Day 2018 the issue of feeding the world has never been in sharper focus. By 2050, agriculture will need to produce almost 50 percent more food, feed and biofuel than it did in 2012 just to meet demand.

Our passion for food – beyond the need of it for our very survival – is engrained deeply in cultural practices and national identities around the world. The Americans are perhaps stereotypically renowned for wanting their food fast and lots of it, the Italians for pizza and pasta, the Chinese for rice and noodles, while the French are famous for their à la carte cuisine. To quench our thirst one could also add coffee from Ethiopia.

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Sowing the ‘seeds’ for the agricultural scientists of tomorrow

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Stella Agyemang, Professor Jozsef Kiss, Bulgan Andryei and Paul Chege (Photo: N. Nisha)

By Professor Jozsef Kiss, Szent István University

CABI has a long history of nurturing talented scientists who will one day join the bank of researchers with the shared interest of trying to help farmers lose less of what they grow to agricultural pests and diseases.

One only has to think of my colleague Dr Stefan Toepfer, an expert in biocontrol at CABI, who is currently supervising Szabolcs Toth – a PhD student at our Plant Protection Institute of the Szent István University in Gödöllő, Hungary (SZIE) trying to improve our understanding behind successes and failures in controlling western corn rootworm in Europe and North America.

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Kerala flooding: Agricultural impacts and environmental degradation

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Flooded streets and shops in Kerala, August 2018 (© Praveenp, Wikimedia Commons)

Last month, the south Indian state of Kerala experienced record level rainfall. A huge 310mm of rainfall in just 24 hours, resulted in devastating flooding, causing significant damage to infrastructure, agricultural systems and human life. With over 480 people confirmed to have been killed due to the flooding, experts are now identifying the causes of this incident, including dramatic human development, environmental degradation and a lack of sustainable development in the region.

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Loved and loathed: the bitter-sweet attraction of the world’s cacti in sharp focus

Cochineal on cactus
A biotype of the cochineal, Dactylopius opuntiae, feeds solely on Opuntia stricta

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, cacti, in all its various forms, are either loved or loathed as ornamental delights or prickly pests that can devastate ecosystems, wildlife, and livelihoods.

The issue was in the spotlight recently when an article published on the BBC News Science & Environment website ‘Prickly cactus species ‘under threat’ brought the issue of the cacti’s plight in sharp focus.

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Exciting imaginations: New media formats to reach women and young people with agricultural extension messages

Malawi women listening to radio
Women keep in touch through the power of radio

Campaigns create greater equality of access to information across farming households, but formats are as important as channels, argue Duncan Sones of the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) delivery team…

The ASHC campaign-based approach explored the use of a variety of channels to build multiple media campaigns. ASHC has been testing the hypothesis that the more varied the channels of information reaching a farming household – the more likely they’re to trial or adopt new technologies. For example, evidence collected from the outcome evaluation of the Scaling-up Improved Legumes Technologies (SILT) in Tanzania suggested this is the case.

What we’re doing is increasing the equality of access to information. Over the next 18 months we’ll be looking for evidence that greater access to information, especially by women and young people, changes the conversations in farming households.

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Developing a sustainable bamboo industry

By Zhu Zhaohua, formerly Chinese Academy of Forestry, China and Jin Wei, International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Beautiful natural background with bamboo troncs on sunny day
Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable, non-timber and non-herbal plant

Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable, non-timber and non-herbal plant. It has high biomass productivity, CO2 absorption and sequestration capacities, and high soil and water conservation capacity. In the lengthy history of its utilisation, its contributions to human beings are far beyond imagination.

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Boosting cocoa production through improved pest management

Reblogged from ACIAR

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PNG is benefiting from integrated pest and disease management strategies that are reducing incidences of cocoa pod borer and ensuring profitable cocoa crops.

More than 150,000 households in PNG depend on cocoa for their livelihoods. Families and communities rely on the income generated from their cocoa crops to buy food, making it an important industry for the nation’s food security.

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