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.

Continue reading

Sowing the ‘seeds’ for the agricultural scientists of tomorrow

BlogInternatStudentSZIEUniv_Oct2018photob
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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Breathe easy with biocontrol

The Invasives Blog

SneezeOne in four people in Europe suffer from hay fever, affecting the quality of life of millions. The average cost of hay fever related diseases amounts to around €600 per patient per year from treatment costs and lost time working.

One of the worst offending invasive plants for hay fever sufferers is the North American common ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia.

View original post 494 more words

The impact of invasive species on human health

By Giuseppe Mazza and Elena Tricarico, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

mosquito 1
Mosquitoes are often the first species we think of when it comes to human health

Invasive species are becoming a popular topic in newspapers: when articles appear, they mainly report the damages invasive species can cause to our ecosystems (e.g. reduction or disappearance of native species as well as habitat modification) or to our economic activities: fishing or boating can be halted by mats of the South American water hyacinth, several insects can affect our agricultural production or new diseases can be transmitted to reared species. However, these species can also heavily affect human health and wellbeing.

Continue reading

Boosting cocoa production through improved pest management

Reblogged from ACIAR

cover-1536553612

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.

Continue reading