Plant Parasitic Nematodes – the world’s most important crop pathogen?

By Richard Sikora, Danny Coyne, Johannes Hallman and Patricia Timper

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Plant parasitic nematodes – overlooked, neglected, little known and mostly out of sight; surprising then that they cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage to global crop production annually.  In the tropics and subtropics they persistently undermine production, result in massive waste of disfigured and unmarketable produce, and literally plague some crops.

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Building capacity for greater food security in Pakistan

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Around 30-40% of crops around the world are lost to insect pests thereby affecting the ability of the 500 million small-scale farmers around the world to contribute towards the goal of achieiving zero hunger and ending poverty. Reducing losses by just 1% could feed millions more people but many countries in the Developing World need support to implement biological control programmes to reduce food losses.

As part of CABI’s mission to help farmers grow more and lose less, we have been funded by USAID – via the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – to help Pakistan improve its sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) systems and therefore open up its fruit and vegetables to more high-end global markets that were previously untapped. Currently these products only contribute 13% of the country’s export but improvements to its SPS capabilities could see this number rise significantly.

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World Soil Day 2017 – “Caring for the Planet from the Ground”

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“Caring for the Planet from the Ground” is the theme of this year’s World Soil Day (#worldsoilday).  World Soil Day (WSD) is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness of the critical importance of healthy soils and advocating for the sustainable management of global soil resources.  In June 2013, the FAO Conference endorsed WSD and requested for it to be officially adopted at the 68th UN General Assembly.  As a result, 5 December 2014 was designated as the first official WSD.  So why is soil so important and why should we care about the health of it?

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‘One Welfare’ complements ‘One Health’

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Image: Leroy Skalstad, Pixabay.com

One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day on November 3rd 2016

While ‘One Health’ is a well-established concept, a new term ‘One Welfare’ is also emerging, extending the One Health theme beyond physical health and recognising that animal welfare and human wellbeing are intrinsically connected. In an article in the Veterinary Record, Rebeca García Pinillos and other One Welfare advocates introduce this concept for debate, with an aim to “improve animal welfare and human wellbeing worldwide.”

A One Welfare approach will help to empower the animal welfare field to address the connections between science and policy more effectively in various areas of human society, including environmental science and sustainability, the authors say. “It could also help promote key global objectives such as supporting food security, reducing human suffering (e.g., abuse of vulnerable people) and improving productivity within the farming sector through a better understanding of the value of high welfare standards.”

While One Health initiatives have tended to focus on threats to human and animal health, particularly zoonoses, there is a growing body of research into the mental and physical health benefits of the human-animal bond. In addition, because poor animal welfare can often act as an indicator of poor human welfare (and vice versa), there is a need to understand the psychosocial impacts of human-animal interactions.

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Global food security equals national security?

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What motivates you to care for people and environments with whom you’re not in direct contact? That is the question I’ve been pondering today on the fourth International Day of Charity. The day was established by the United Nations to encourage people, NGOs and other stakeholders to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities. Such activities naturally mean different things to different people – essentially they are actions through which you express care for humanity and the planet. Perhaps you donate money for a cause, participate in a demonstration, or create new information on topics related to agriculture and global health.

Interestingly, President Obama recently made a distinction between charitable purposes and global development efforts. When announcing the signing of the Global Food Security Act of 2016 (GFSA) in late July, Obama said, “Development isn’t charity; it’s one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future, in our security and our prosperity.” Loosely summarised his message was that improving food security in developing countries is important not only because it improves the quality of peoples’ lives abroad – it also decreases conflicts and increases well-being globally, including in the United States.

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World Water Week 2016 kicks off in Stockholm

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Today marks the third day of the 26th World Water Week (28 August – 2 September), an annual event which is hosted and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).  It is aimed at addressing global water issues as well as concerns related to international development. Each year, the event focuses on a different theme, to generate discussion of a specific water-related topic. The theme for this year’s event is “Water for Sustainable Growth”.

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Forestry and farming can deliver food security, says new report

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A report published earlier this week by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggests that improving co-operation between the forestry and agricultural sectors could help to improve food security as well as reducing deforestation, highlighting the successful efforts of Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Ghana, Vietnam, Tunisia and the Gambia. According to the FAO, integrating land-use planning is vital to balancing land uses, supported by suitable policy instruments to promote both sustainable agriculture and forests.

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