Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director, Global Operations, has revealed at the Annual Biocontrol Industry Meeting (ABIM) the next steps to launching CABI’s innovative BioProtection Portal to a worldwide market.

Dr Kuhlmann told delegates, at the Congress Center Basel in Switzerland, that CABI is in the process of securing partnerships with biocontrol manufacturers, agro-industries, and development cooperation agencies before the service is expected to launch with full functionality in January.

It is planned that the BioProtection Portal will first include features for Kenya, Spain, and Brazil before, by December 2019, covering a further 20 countries, which will be selected in collaboration with partners.

The BioProtection Portal is a free-to-use one-stop information shop for identifying and sourcing biopesticides to help in the fight against agricultural pests that threaten the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers and, ultimately, global food security.

It is primarily aimed at farmers and extension workers, government regulators, private sector decision makers and biological control manufacturers. It provides details on the active ingredient of the biocontrol agent, the manufacturer, the crops it can be used on and the target pest, as well as where it can be purchased and how it should be stored and applied.

Dr. Kuhlmann said, ‘CABI is in a unique position – being governed by 49 member countries and having multiple networks of partners for its research, international development and publishing around the world – to try and secure partnerships and sponsorships to get a fully functional BioProtection Portal off the ground.

‘The global market for biological control products is growing at an impressive rate and is predicted to reach $11bn by 2025. Through the improved knowledge and awareness of farmers and extension agents, the uptake of biological control products could grow even further.

‘We see the BioProtection Portal playing a key role in the promotion of and wider uptake of biological control products that could replace highly toxic synthetic pesticides – leading to the increased availability of agricultural produce with reduced synthetic chemical residues.’

The BioProtection Portal – which will be accessible on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers – will put information about biological control products at the fingertips of those who need it. Interest and feedback from the biocontrol industry have been very positive, with companies saying that this is just the tool that is needed to further support the uptake of biological control in both the developing and developed world.

An idea that originated from Plantwise is, therefore, showing potential to grow into something much bigger than anticipated, with the portal hoped to become a leading global source of biocontrol information both within and outside of the programme.

Plantwise is a global programme which helps farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. It works closely with national agricultural advisory services to establish and support sustainable networks of plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice.

Additional information

Find out more about the ABIM meeting held at the Congress Centre Basel, Switzerland here.

Dr. Kuhlmann unveiled the BioProtection Portal prototype at the Biocontrol Africa conference in March. Read the full story here.

Photographs courtesy of David Loughlin

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