Professors Ruth Oniang’o and Anne Glover: ‘Women need to understand power structures’

Ruth and Anne
Professors Ruth Oniang’o and Anne Glover also argue that role models – no matter what gender – can help women get ahead in science

To mark the forthcoming UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science  (11 February 2019), we look at a recent story covered by SciDev.Net in which CABI board members Professors Ruth Oniang’o and Anne Glover argue that women should challenge traditional power structures and ask for more transparency to get ahead in science and other fields in the workplace.

In this article, by Inga Vesper, Professors Oniang’o and Glover also reveal how to overcame barriers before achieving successful careers in male-dominated environments.

Prejudices are everywhere—yet most of us think that we, of course, are not subject to them. We believe we are better than that, we can look beyond a person’s skin colour, religion or gender.

Continue reading

There’s a new goal post for agriculture: it’s nutrition

By Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch

Agriculture is the single most important innovation in human history. Over the course of thousands of years, it has staved off hunger, allowed populations to leave their hunter-gatherer lives behind, and freed up time for other pursuits (like inventing writing and the wheel!) that have propelled societies forward. As recently as the 1970s the Green Revolution – a global push to improve and produce more wheat and rice – brought India back from the brink of mass famine. The Green Revolution improved the lives of one billion people around the world. This number is all the more impressive when considering that the world population was four billion at the time.

istock_000014700451cropped
A global push to produce more rice brought India back from the brink of famine in the 1970s.

Continue reading

Can a ‘diet’ of digital data really help feed the world?

data map

Last week (29 January 2019) CABI was awarded a $1.49 million grant from the Gates Foundation to work with them to help increase food security in India and Ethiopia through better access to data on soil health, agronomy and fertilizers.  In this blog Communications Manager Wayne Coles looks at whether or not the use of digital data in agriculture can have a real impact on our need to feed the world….

The facts are clear; if we’re to stand any chance of feeding a global population of around 9.1 billion by 2050 we must make better use of ‘digital data’ to unlock the potential of more than 570 million smallholder farmers around the world.

The complexity of Africa’s growing food problem, which is exacerbated by social and climatic factors, should not be underestimated. Its population, for example, will exceed 42 million a year over the next three decades while a rise in extreme weather events will wreak havoc on farming communities already grappling with threats to crop yields from a range of agricultural pests and diseases.

Continue reading

The demise of banana has been greatly exaggerated, but…

By David R Jones

The demise of the banana has been in the news regularly since a 2003 article in The New Scientist suggested that the crop may be extinct within 10 years. However, recent data indicate that between 2000 and 2017, global production of bananas grew at a compound annual rate of 3.2%, reaching a record of 114 million tonnes in 2017, up from around 67 million tonnes in 2000. Not bad for a crop that was supposedly on its death bed!

plate 2.1
Cavendish cultivar with no functional leaves in a plantation in Costa Rica after being left unprotected from Pseudocerscospora fijienis (photo: M. Sanchez and M Guzman, CORBANA)

Continue reading

Fighting the fungi

candida.16871credit

You aren’t from a farming family unless you’ve had ringworm. The distinctive red circular pattern which inches up your arm, its characteristic red flaky skin coupled with a burning itch, was probably caught from some four-legged friend. Catching this fungal skin infection is a rite of passage.

If you’ve ever had ringworm you’ll know there are several remedies. Our old housekeeper’s was to paint your rings in clear nail varnish, a bizarre manicure which seals in the fungal spores so they are unable to reproduce and spread.  Medically the best way to eliminate ringworm or Tinea corporis, if affecting the body, is to treat it pharmaceutically with antifungals. Normally slathering the effected spot in a cream containing clotrimazole does the trick. (1) Continue reading

Cabbage stem flea beetle and aphids are the curse of every farmer, but CABI and CHAP may have a solution

 

Psylliodes chrysocephala (cabbage stem flea beetle); adult.
Crop pest: The cabbage stem flea beetle – Psylliodes chrysocephalus

By 2050 there could be as many as 10 billion mouths to feed across the world. This is now a much-repeated fact, as is the growing demand for sustainable produce with reduced chemical inputs and environmental impact. In short, there is a need to produce more and more food, with fewer and fewer inputs to protect the environment, increase productivity and minimise costs.

This is where CHAP (Crop Health and Protection), based at Sand Hutton near York, one of the Government’s four Agri-Tech Centres, supported by Innovate UK, comes in. It has been charged with the task of finding scientific and technological solutions to the practical problems facing growers. Working with its 12 Partners, one of which is CABI working from its laboratories based in Egham in Surrey, its priority is to develop and trial solutions to transform crop production so that they can be brought to market on a large scale.

Continue reading