CABI has demonstrated its commitment to helping to ensure global food security by sharing its expertise in crop health and invasive species at the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) International Symposium 2019 – which focused on tackling transboundary plant pests and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann and Dr Feng Zhang attended the event, which featured over 300 plant health experts, at the Tsukuba International Congress Center to highlight CABI’s contribution to global food security through its Plantwise and Action on Invasives programmes.
Dr Kuhlmann, Executive Director, Global Operations at CABI, was invited by the President of JIRCAS, Dr Masa Iwanaga, to be a keynote speaker and take part in a panel discussion where he emphasized the importance of advisory services to millions of smallholder farmers who battle crop pests and diseases on a daily basis.
“Five hundred (500) million smallholder farmers in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are at risk from environmental shocks, crop pests and other threats to food and nutrition security and food safety”, Dr Kuhlmann said. “There is continuous emergence and rapid spread of new invasive species – for example, fall armyworm, tomato leaf miner – and ongoing transboundary plant pest threats – such as banana fusarium wilt, citrus greening, Asian fruit fly – driven by climate change and global movement of goods.”
Dr Kuhlmann also told the symposium that while Plantwise aims to provide a data-driven rapid response network connecting farmers with advisors and other support services, enabling early detection, diagnosis and management of pest problems at farm level, Action on Invasives champions an environmentally sustainable, cross-sectoral and regional approach to dealing with transboundary plant pests.
Dr Kuhlmann added, “Over the past few years, Plantwise has built the resilience of smallholder farmers in coping with emerging plant health threats, enabling them to produce and earn more while being less dependent on high-risk pesticide-based plant protection practices. For example, in Rwanda, advisory service advice has led to a 5% reduction in the likelihood of a household falling below the poverty line of USD 1.25 per day.”
The delegates heard that a key focus of Plantwise is to put research into use, translating scientific knowledge into actionable best practice, delivered through simple, practical methodologies that are accessible at community levels.
“The efficiencies, delivered through digital development and the promotion of equity in accessing services, are additional factors that have helped to strengthen interactions between farmers and local advisory service providers,” Dr Kuhlmann said.
Dr Miyuki Iiyama, Director Research Strategy Office, JIRCAS, thanked Dr Kuhlmann and the other CABI scientists for their participation at the JIRCAS International Symposium 2019.
Dr Iiyama said, “While I have been somehow familiar with CABI during my years in Nairobi, I think it was a good opportunity for many JIRCAS and Japanese stakeholders to know great and relevant work of CABI for the first time.
“As JIRCAS is the only one (and small) among the Japanese NARIs specifically assigned to developing agricultural technologies targeting to contribute to SDGs, and especially these days asked/urged to be more impact-oriented, collaborating/sharing information with CABI for effective scale-up should be very important and strategic.
“Hopefully, CABI-JIRCAS can explore areas of collaboration in future.”