27 June 2016 – On 22-24 June 2016, CABI contributed to the Partnership Dialogue session at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Food Security Forum. This event, one of the major activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ADB, provided a platform to share knowledge, showcase innovations, and foster partnerships with relevant organisations and people working in food security. Around 500 government and industry leaders, development partners, practitioners, academics, farmers, and other experts participated in the event.

Taking place in Manila, Philippines, this yearÂ’s Forum theme was Safe, nutritious and affordable food for all. Many people in Asia and the Pacific do not have access to enough good food and nutrition. Part of the challenge is producing nutritious and safe food for growing middle class and urban populations. Changing demographics, climate change and infrastructure deficits are preventing food security and improved nutrition in the region. A strategy based on collaboration and partnership can help overcome these constraints.

The CABI team attending the Forum comprised Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang (CABI Memberships Director), Mr Phil Abrahams (CABI Strategic Business Development Director),  Dr Wai-Hong Loke (CABI SEA Regional Director), and Mrs Lina Yip (Sales Manager for Asia), who manned CABI’s stand at the associated Techno Show. At the Forum, Mr Abrahams shared examples of how CABI is helping to create innovative new approaches to food security. He commented on how cross-sectoral knowledge partnerships and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) can help take agricultural research from the lab to the field effectively. He talked about the importance of working with national plant health systems and the contribution that the CABI-led Plantwise plant health clinics have made to the livelihoods of millions of smallscale farmers, as well as to overall food production. CABI is looking to use Plantwise as a sentinel system to monitor and help tackle interconnected challenges like excessive use of pesticides and pest invasions.

Mr Abrahams also talked about the need to use new technologies to deliver science-based agricultural information to smallholder farmers, including nutrition information. CABI is part of an initiative – mNutrition – which aims to reach three million people with nutrition advice via mobile phone messaging services. The services focus on women and children, helping people in 12 developing countries increase their access to knowledge about agriculture, nutrition and health.

CABI has also created a suite of apps and serious gaming tools to aid the ‘training of trainers’ in crop and plant health. Geo-specific data collection and analysis help the rapid tracking and tackling of pests. Regional programmes also help to control and manage some of the most damaging invasive species affecting farmer livelihoods.

Talking about CABIÂ’s long-term partnership and interactions with ADB, Dr Zhang said, “The beginning of CABIÂ’s long-term partnership with ADB can be traced back to early 1990s when CABI started to implement ADBÂ’s Technical Assistance projects and carry out consultancy services for ADB. With 48 member countries, CABI shares many common member countries with ADB, particularly the less developed ones like Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The two organisations also share similar missions and values aiming for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty. CABIÂ’s goal is to improve people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. Our operations in the Asia-Pacific region through our four regional centres covering Southeast Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Central and West Asia, and East Asia, respectively, have mirrored well the endeavours of ADBÂ’s regional operations. Hopefully, the relaunch of ADBÂ’s Operational Plan for Agriculture and Natural Resources in September 2015 will provide further opportunities for the two organisations to work together more closely.”

In the final session of the Forum, the panel reviewed the deliberations of the previous sessions and re-emphasised the importance of high level technologies to support farmers, paying attention to value chain development, use of ICT,  harnessing of innovations, ‘connecting farmers forwards and backwards’ and increasing the efficiency of natural resource utilisation. It was recognised that endeavours to achieve safe, nutritious and affordable food security are ‘interlocking and yet differential’. A holistic approach is, therefore, needed to formulate and design projects, and engaging a wide spectrum of players is crucial. Dr Loke re-affirmed CABI’s interest and capability to help ADB in its aspirations to work towards safe, nutritious and affordable food for all drawing on its skills and successes in integrated crop management, plant health, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, value chain enhancement and innovative knowledge management.

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