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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Tackling pests and diseases

Tackling pests and diseases

Crop pests and disease are a major constraint to higher agricultural productivity, accounting for close to 50% total crop losses. The losses are greatest in developing countries. Africa has the highest percentage losses at 49%, followed by Asia (47%), the former Soviet Union and Latin America (both at 41%). 

Improving pre- and post-harvest pest and disease management can clearly increase productivity and deliver greater impacts where food insecurity and poverty are greatest.

Yet, underinvestment in agriculture and a lack of knowledge and skills has meant that farmers, at the smallholder level, are often unable to diagnose crop problems sufficiently early or do not possess the technical know-how to manage them effectively.

Our work focuses on protecting crops so farmers lose less and grow more. As an impartial, not-for-profit, intergovernmental organization, we work to find the most appropriate, sustainable approaches to managing pests and diseases.

Our experts are involved in projects worldwide. Our scientists are developing and evaluating novel management techniques; helping to establish advanced pest surveillance and early warning systems; improving sanitary and phyto-sanitary compliance and pest quarantine; developing biopestides; and raising awareness and developing skills through training and knowledge transfer through initiatives such as Plantwise and our Crop Protection Compendium.

Professor Besnik Skenderasi checking his experiments

Albanian apples case study

Despite significant progress, agriculture in Albania is still underdeveloped. This case study shows how CABI helped overcome problems in the sector. CABI implemented a project on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) followed by a three-year institutional partnership project.

Using integrated pest management to help Albanian apple farmers increase their income (PDF)

Controlling the cabbage seedpod weevil in Canada

The cabbage seedpod weevil is a widely distributed pest of cruciferous crops in Europe and North America, causing substantial economic losses in canola crops in Canada. Current control measures still rely on applying broad-spectrum insecticides. We are collecting European distribution data for a parasitic wasp that is the weevil’s most effective... >>

Protecting leeks and onions from pests

The invasive leek moth poses a significant and immediate threat to producers of leeks, onions, garlic and chives in North America. The larvae mine the green tissues, reducing the marketability of crops. The pest’s distribution is expanding, with no signs of suppression by indigenous natural enemies. We are supporting an integrated pest management... >>

Biological control of brown marmorated stink bug

The brown marmorated stink bug is native to parts of East Asia and is invasive in the US, Canada and Switzerland. Here, it is a serious pest of many fruit trees, shrubs and other plants. Chemical control is often used but, with testing, parasitic wasps from China could be used in North America instead. So we want to determine what natural enemies... >>

Rehabilitating cocoa for improved livelihoods in the South Pacific

A decade of low cocoa prices has led smallholder farmers in the South Pacific Islands to neglect their cocoa trees, resulting in a decline in production. With market prices forecast to rise, the time is ripe for rehabilitation. Through farmer field schools we are explaining and demonstrating a range of integrated pest and disease management (IPDM)... >>

Controlling earwigs in the Falklands

The European earwig has become a considerable domestic and public nuisance in the Falkland Islands, causing significant problems for local horticulture by decimating many garden vegetable crops. This population explosion is due to the absence of natural enemies that would normally keep them under control. To try and find a solution to this... >>

Assessing the impacts of coffee green scale in Papua New Guinea

Almost 90% of Papua New Guinea’s coffee production is supplied by highland smallholder farmers who own less than half a hectare of land and have limited resources. Coffee green scale is a serious pest. Through undertaking regular surveys, this project will build a better understanding of the impact of the pest on the crop yields of smallholders... >>

Developing an early warning system for crop pest and disease outbreaks

Supporting farmers in their fight against pests is a global food security emergency, and the key is knowledge. Local data on the distribution of crops, pests and diseases are captured at Plantwise plant clinics which are run around the world, and stored in the Plantwise Knowledge Bank. This project is investigating the feasibility of using this... >>