Safer food in Pakistan through Aflatoxin control

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Aflatoxin poses a series threat to food security, contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products including cereal grains such as maize

By Dr Sabyan Faris Honey, CABI, and Deborah Hamilton, USDA

Aflatoxin, produced by a poisonous fungus, is a serious threat to food security by contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products, including cereal grains, chilies, dry fruits and nuts, and milk. Indeed, the average contamination in wheat and maize in Pakistan, for example, is five and sixty times, respectively, the level permitted in the US.

The fungus responsible, Aspergillus flavus, can contaminate crops before and after harvest as well as contaminate animal products if infected feeds are given to livestock. Consumption of these toxins in high concentrations can contribute to stunting growth in children and cause liver disease with fatal consequences. Estimates of deaths due to aflatoxin ingestion range up to 100,000 or more per year worldwide.

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Video special: Dr Babar Bajwa talks about CABI’s work in Pakistan

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CABI’s Central and West Asia office is working hard to help ensure greater food security and more prosperous livelihoods in Pakistan including helping farmers produce higher and more profitable cotton yields as part of the Better Cotton Initiative

In this video special Dr Babar Bajwa, CABI’s Regional Director – Central and West Asia, talks about CABI’s work towards helping partners achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals – including ‘Zero Hunger’ and ‘No Poverty’ –  in Pakistan. This includes reaching out to smallholder farmers with expert advice on integrated crop and pest management practices so they are better equipped to grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases. This is true not only for ‘cash crops’ such as cotton but also fruit and vegetable plantations as part of a wider need to strengthen links in the food value chain.

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Embracing change – how family farmers can face the future

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CABI CEO Dr Trevor Nicholls and Director General of CIMMYT Dr Martin Kropff share their expertise on family farming

This year opens the Decade of Family Farming, which aims to improve the life of family farmers around the world. In an earnest discussion, two leaders in the global agriculture community reflect on the challenges facing family farmers, the promises of high- and low-tech solutions, and their hopes for the future. A conversation between Dr Trevor Nicholls, CEO of CABI and Dr Martin Kropff, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), was published by Rural 21 – The International Journal for Rural Development on how family farmers can face the future. The men also propose six key investments needed to help family farmers thrive in the next decade as part of special report by the Economist magazine’s Food Sustainability Index.

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Scientists release new allies in the battle against invasive yellow toadflax in the Rocky Mountains

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Yellow toadflax in the field (credit Pixabay)

A team of international scientists are collaborating to fight the noxious weed yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) in Montana’s world-famous Rocky Mountains with the help of a tiny insect – the shoot-galling weevil Rhinusa pilosa.

Yellow toadflax, first introduced from Wales in the late 1600s as an ornamental and medicinal plant and to make textile dyes, is an aggressive invader listed as a noxious weed in more than 10 US states (including North and South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Idaho) – which suppresses desirable vegetation through intense competition for limited soil moisture.

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Engendering a more profitable cotton industry for Pakistan through female empowerment

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CABI is helping to engender a more productive and profitable cotton industry for Pakistan through the training of more than 57,000 farmers and farm workers – including these women picture above – as part of the Better Cotton Initiative.

The Pak Mission Society teamed up with CABI in the Tehsil Khipro, District Sanghar of Sindh province, to provide a training workshop to scores of women who are now better equipped to implement improved practices for cotton picking, handling and storage.

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CABI’s publishing business strengthens partnerships with China

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CABI’s publishing business has been busy strengthening partnerships in China by showcasing the benefits of its range of print and online products and services to Chinese clients and partners, and exploring opportunities of further collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) in Beijing.

Dr Andy Robinson, CABI’s Managing Director, Publishing, led a delegation from CABI who outlined the organisation’s new publishing strategies and development plans – including the forthcoming launch of the new CABI Agricultural and Bioscience open access journal – to members of the Agricultural Information Institute (AII) and Institute of Plant Protection (IPP) of CAAS as well as library staff from the China Agricultural University and China Farmer University.

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‘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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