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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

CABI takes home NEF Award for Innovation for Plantwise food security programme

CABI takes home NEF Award for Innovation for Plantwise food security programme

5 December 2013 - CABI today received an Innovation Award at the 10th annual National Engineering Foundation (NEF) Innovisions Conference, in recognition for its landmark global food security programme, Plantwise.

Hosted by NEF and presenters from the BBC, the Innovation Awards were established to recognise and celebrate ‘game-changers’ proven to be the very best of innovation in public policy. They have been judged by a panel of industry experts, influencers and leaders, as well as past award recipients. Judges were looking for ideas which will not promote sustainable growth, but also inspire continued innovation for others. Plantwise was chosen to be the best example of government policy supporting innovation, with its unique approach to improving food security nutured by policy-level support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and other key public donors.

Currently up to 40% of crops worldwide are lost to pests, threatening local, national and global food security. Since its launch in 2010, Plantwise has been fostering agricultural development in over 31 countries to better manage plant health and support smallholder farmers in the fight against pests.  Plantwise works with governments to set up plant clinics, like those for human health, where trained plant doctors provide farmers with practical, science-based diagnosis and advice to prevent and manage crop loss. Supporting this network of clinics, the Plantwise knowledge bank ensures a global online and off-line gateway to diagnostic services, pest tracking, and best-practice farmer recommendations specific to every country.

Supported in large part by public donors, including the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Plantwise is part of a global mission to feed 9 billion people by 2050 by building sustainable, resilient national plant health systems in countries where agricultural development is crucial to millions of livelihoods.

Professor Sa’ad Medhat, CEO of the NEF, said, "Nominees were judged for their clarity of intended purpose, uniqueness of approach, potential impact, and whether they stimulated and galvanised others. The winners will contribute to a culture of generation innovation which will help promote sustainable growth in the UK."

CABI CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls, who accepted the prize from the BBC’s Maggie Philbin, said that the Innovation Award is an acknowledgement of the unique and powerful model Plantwise provides for transferring actionable information into the hands of farmers. “Early seed funding from DFID in the UK helped us pilot the plant clinic concept and fostered a spirit of innovation leading to development of the global Plantwise programme. This is already making a difference in the lives of rural farmers in over 30 countries and now has major funding from DFID and other investors worldwide. CABI is honoured by the recognition and support of our efforts.”

For more information on Plantwise, go to www.plantwise.org.