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.

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New report calls for urgent action to tackle climate change

industry
Photo credit: Hans via Pixabay

The world’s leading climate scientists have issued their most extensive warning yet on the risks associated with increasing global temperatures.  The authors of the new report, published yesterday in Incheon, South Korea, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), say that urgent, far-reaching and unprecedented actions are needed across society, in order to limit warming to a maximum of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  Exceeding this target by even half a degree significantly increases the risk of flooding, droughts, extreme heat and poverty for millions of people around the world.  However, the authors believe the changes needed are achievable, but only if we act now.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Overcoming cotton insect/pests through Natural Enemies Field Reservoir (NEFR) technology in Pakistan

Better Cotton
The CABI team at Mr Ahmad’s farm where he installed NEFR technology

Cotton is one cash crop of Pakistan which is attacked by a number of pests including sucking (aphid, jassid, white fly) piercing (mites), cutting (white ant) and chewing (boll worms). Izhar Nabi Sehto of Kurkuli village, district Sanghar of Sindh province, said the only option that comes readily to the farmer’s mind when looking for a control and management solution is pesticide.

But CABI in Pakistan, under the Better Cotton Initiative project, is providing training to farmers to help bring a change in their traditional approach to pest control and management. CABI recommends the use of more environment-friendly practices such as light traps, sticky traps and pheromone traps but above all is use of the Natural Enemies Field Reservoir NEFR technology.

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Back from the brink: how biocontrol saved St Helena’s national tree from extinction

Gumwoods of St Helena
The gumwoods of St Helena are flourishing again after facing extinction

By Wayne Coles

At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.

In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.

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