By sharing science-based knowledge about crop health, CABI helps smallholder farmers to grow more and lose less, increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods
With global challenges like climate change making it increasingly difficult for smallholder farmers living in poor rural communities to grow and sell food, sharing knowledge about crop health has never been more important.
The world’s 800 million smallholder farmers produce most of the world’s food, but the majority live in poor and vulnerable rural communities where they often lack access to science-based information about crop health.
Working with our donors and partners, we help share knowledge about integrated crop management and plant health with smallholder farmers to help them grow more and lose less.
For example, the CABI-led Plantwise programme improves farmers’ yields and incomes while reducing the use of toxic pesticides. Through the programme, we also help countries improve their plant health systems, so that they can prevent and manage pest outbreaks more effectively.
We have successfully increased plant health knowledge and helped farmers across the world grow healthier crops using natural solutions such as biopesticides and biological control of crop pests, helping them to use fewer chemical pesticides and implement more agricultural best practice.
Our crop health expertise in more detail
The CABI-led Plantwise programme increases food security and improves rural livelihoods by reducing crop losses. Since its launch, Plantwise has supported over 30 million smallholder farmers around the world with crop and plant health knowledge.
We work with donors and partners to deliver projects in integrated crop management (ICM), combining a variety of practices in, for example, pest and soil health management, helping farmers to grow better crops.
Access to healthy seeds and soil is essential for smallholder farmers in developing countries. We help make high-quality seeds available and share information about organic fertilisers and good soil health practices or Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM).
Stories of impact
Read about the variety of work CABI delivers, and the difference we make
Explore our recent projects from around the world
Crop protection in Africa relies heavily on the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. They are perceived to be more effective than other methods but human health concerns and the resistance to them in pest populations is shifting the tide towards lower risk pest management methodologies. Biopesticides are considered a suitable alternative in fall armyworm (FAW) management as they are typically more specific than most synthetic pesticides and are a lower risk to health and the environment. However, those commercial biopesticide products that are available, from the Americas and Europe, to use against FAW in Africa are not available due to inadequate knowledge on their efficacy.
During 2017-18, the invasion of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) in Botswana posed a serious threat to food and nutrition security for vulnerable farming communities and households. Surveillance of pests, known as pest monitoring, will help mitigate the negative impacts of FAW in the country and will also promote the wider use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for sustainable management of the pest. This project will work towards strengthening the capacity of stakeholders in these two areas of management whilst supporting the development of a national strategy for the sustainable management of FAW in Botswana.
The agriculture sector in Myanmar is predominantly dominated by rice. It is a key commodity for domestic food security as well as a generator for export income, and in the future could have the potential to become a global rice supplier. However, Myanmar is susceptible to crop losses from pests, disease and insecticide misuse. CABI is working with scientists in Myanmar to promote green agriculture practices.
Certified organic cotton production contributes to less than 1% of global cotton cultivation. This is because access to organic cotton seed is so difficult. In Pakistan, the lack of policies, availability of non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seed and weak links with input suppliers and supply chains makes organic cotton farming demotivating and uninteresting for famers. This project will create a conducive ecosystem for organic cotton and contribute to the long-term availability of non-GM cotton seed and organic inputs for farmers with a self-sustaining approach.
Land in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is predominantly mountainous with a high proportion of upland slopes. Agroforestry methods help to maintain sloping land and over 200 established Sloping Land User Groups (SLUGs) already apply these methods. To mitigate associated environmental risks of sloping land, to increase food security of SLUGs and progress slope stabilisation, this project will focus on improving existing management practices of the SLUGs and county tree nurseries, and increasing their knowledge about pest control.
Efforts to reach Sustainable Development Goals in food security, nutrition and livelihoods are being hindered by crop loss. Up 40% of crop yields are lost to pests and disease but the data available to prove and show trends is limited. The Global Burden of Crop Loss project will collect, validate, analyse and disseminate data on the extent and causes of crop loss with the aim of gathering sufficient and reliable data that can act as evidence to enable prioritisation of research and policy in plant health, to improve our ability to predict the impact of emerging diseases.
There is limited knowledge on the agronomic potential of biodiversity-based ecosystem services such as natural pest control and pollination in smallholder systems. To sustainably intensify production, there is an urgent need to develop safe, sustainable and affordable methods to reduce pest burdens whilst increasing yields.
Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.
Many farmers in the northern Indian states of Haryana and Punjab still rely on inefficient agricultural practices that are ill adapted to climate change. Data can help them. Customised advice, based on localised weather and soil data, pests and diseases, as well as input availability, can improve management practices, productivity and profitability. In this project, farmers will provide images taken from their smartphones to strengthen this advice and help farmers make timely decisions.
Farmers face issues with insect pests that damage their crops. In Africa, cold storage facilities necessary for some biopesticides aren’t always available. As experts in this and crop management, we are working with Asymptote Ltd, a UK technology company, to develop an appropriate product for rural conditions in Africa, meaning African farmers will no longer have to rely on harmful chemical pesticides to protect their crops.
Papers and other publications that we hope you find enlightening