‘Women can be good leaders and science managers’

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Segenet Kelemu, the Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). Copyright: Photo supplied by Sida

In the week that the UN Decade of Family Farming was launched, Segenet Kelemu, the Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), tells CABI’s sister organisation SciDev.Net that women can be good leaders and science managers.

In a candid interview, she reveals how she came from humble beginnings (having to run barefoot to school) to a position of power and influence in the field of agricultural science. Nominated by Bill Gates as one of five inspirational people around the world, Ms Kelemu goes onto describe her journey from rural Ethiopia to a position as head of one of the world’s leading agricultural research centres.

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“The warnings of impending doom are real but the timeframe is very much up for debate”

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Bananas are eaten the world over but could they really become extinct if a strain of Panama disease takes hold?

Did you know that more than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product? You might also be surprised to learn that Uganda has the highest average per capita consumption in the world, where residents eat an average of 226kgs of bananas per person per year.

In short, bananas are big business – a $35billion global industry as a rough estimate. But all that could come to a crashing halt if the headline in the British Daily Mail newspaper, predicting the fruit’s extinction, is to be believed. The fears are that a strain of Panama disease could wipe out the humble banana putting the food security of millions in Developing World countries that depend upon it for nutrition at risk.

CABI’s very own ‘banana man’ Dr Rob Reeder sheds expert light on the debate and argues that while the diseases is a concern it won’t spell the end of our beloved fruit just yet! Rob explains more…

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Climate-smart pest management holds the key to future global food security

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Forest-agriculture mosaic system in Amani in the Tanga Region of Tanzania – credit René Eschen (CABI).

CABI scientists Luca Heeb, Dr Emma Jenner and Dr Matthew Cock, have issued a stark reminder to the world – we must embrace climate-smart pest management (CSPM) if we are to ensure the food security of a global population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050.

In the paper ‘Climate-smart pest management: building resilience of farms and landscapes to changing pest threats’, published in the Journal of Pest Science, Heeb et al highlight that climate change is having a significant impact upon the biology, distribution and outbreak potential of crops pests around the world.

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What do bees ‘see’ and how does it inform our understanding of vision?

By Adrian Horridge, F.R.S.

Bees are familiar to all, and tests to discover what they see can be repeated in any temperate part of the world, requiring little basic science but lots of thought to grasp this anti-intuitive but wonderfully adapted newly described visual system. In advance of World Bee Day on the 20th May, I look here at the importance the visual system of the bee, and the journey to establish this understanding.

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CABI helps Pakistan Museum of Natural History showcase scourge of noxious parthenium weed

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CABI in Pakistan is helping the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) showcase the scourge of the noxious parthenium weed, otherwise known locally at ‘Gajar Booti’, to members of the public visiting its Bio Gallery exhibit.

Parthenium is regarded as one of the major threats to native species, environment and ecosystems in more than 48 countries around the world – including Pakistan where it is also considered as a risk to human health, biodiversity, agriculture, livestock, and food security.

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Guest blog: ‘Keeping in mind the real use of our research’

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Irrigating rice fields in Sirajganj, Bangladesh. Photo: Haseeb Md. Irfanullah.

In this guest blog, Dr Haseeb Md. Irfanullah discusses the findings of a recent workshop he was a rapporteur of in Bangladesh on the potential impact on policy and practice of agricultural research in the country.

A research system is basically made up of four components: accessing, conducting, communicating, and utilizing research. While we often talk about the first three, use of our research in policy and practice is less frequently discussed in developing countries. Discussions at a recent workshop in Bangladesh about recent agricultural and biological science research projects revealed opportunities to make connections between research and its usage.

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In the frame: fighting the scourge of parthenium weed in Pakistan

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CABI scientists get to grips with the ‘superior weed’ Parthenium which in India costs around USD 6.7 billion per annum to clear from pastoral land.

CABI has recently shared its expertise in a new parthenium evidence note which highlights a list of recommendations to fight the highly-invasive weed can cause severe allergic reactions in humans and livestock, may harbour malaria-carrying mosquitoes, displace native plant species and reduce pasture carrying capacities by as much as 80% to 90%.

In this picture special, we commissioned photographer Asim Hafeez to capture CABI scientists in the field as part of research which is investigating whether or not the parthenium leaf beetle (Zygogramma bicolorata) can act as an effective biological control for parthenium which is threatening food security and livelihoods in Pakistan.

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