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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)... >>

Transferring crop protection technology from China to Rwanda

Food crops represent one third of Rwanda’s GDP, but the supply remains fragile due to soil pests such as white grubs, cut worm and bean fly which damage vegetable and root crops. Options for control are limited. A team from China, Africa, the UK and Switzerland is working with the Rwandan Agricultural Board (RAB) to provide farmers with access to... >>

Biosecurity planning for the oil palm industry

The oils derived from oil palm, grown extensively in Southeast Asia, are a major ingredient in many food products. The genetic base of oil palm in the region is narrow. The exchange of germplasm from other areas is essential to enhance productivity and disease resistance, but elevates the risk of introducing invasive species. This project is... >>

Producing better cotton in Sindh

The Pakistani cotton industry is losing around 10–15 % of its value (around US$350m a year) through poor practices. Using Better Cotton Initiative production principles, we are encouraging farmers to implement good agricultural practices (GAP), and providing participatory training. We are also providing advisory services (including via mobile) and... >>