By Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London
In recent months, there has been increasing academic and public discourse over the continued damage modern lifestyles are inflicting on our planet. The term ‘planetary health’ has emerged as a catch-all for addressing issues as diverse as climate change, plastic pollution, antibiotic resistance, increasing meat consumption and poorly-planned urban expansion as well as a call to action to address the challenges of the Anthropocene – the ‘Age of Man’ – which recognises that the challenges the Earth currently faces are, largely, inflicted by humans. There has never been a more pressing need to ensure the scientific community has a common platform from which to research, understand and influence action on the environmental damage inflicted by the modern lifestyles enjoyed in the developed countries of the Global North.
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…
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.
At times, engaging the agriculture sector to improve nutrition seems like an uphill battle. In many countries, agricultural policies tend to favor staple foods like wheat and rice, because these crops have traditionally staved off hunger and famine. Government officials overseeing agriculture and nutrition often work in isolation, with their funding, capacities, and even technical languages obstacles to close collaboration. Against this backdrop, it can be daunting for policymakers to contemplate formulating nutrition-driven agriculture policies and strategies that can be implemented at the national scale.
An entomologist from CABI’s Phytosanitary Risk Management (PRMP) team has participated in the International Conference on Environmental Toxicology and Health (ESCON 2019) held in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Muzammil Farooq, representing the PRMP team, participated in the event – organized by the Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS University (CUI), Vehari campus – by giving a presentation entitled ‘Environment Conservation and Next Generation Pest Management Model for Cydia pomenella(Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) – Pakistan (Balochistan province) Perspectives.’
By Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have launched a race to transform our world for the better little more than a decade from now. The goals are idealistic, setting a high bar for every aspect of quality of life, from health and education to gender equality and climate action. SDG2 seeks to eliminate global hunger by 2030. But as we move closer to that deadline, achieving SDG2 seems further away. Recent years have been particularly disheartening, with the number of undernourished people continuing to rise annually. In 2015, there were 784 million hungry people in the world; in 2016, 804 million; and in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available, that number reached 821 million people. Adult obesity also continues to worsen in rich and poor countries alike: More than 1 in 8 adults, or 672 million people around the world, are now considered obese.
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 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.