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Through the creation and application of digital technologies, CABI brings science-based agricultural knowledge to millions of smallholder farmers helping to increase their yields

The challenge

The vast majority of smallholder farmers have little access to agricultural information or public ‘extension’ farming experts. There are just two public extension agents per 10,000 farmers in India and four per 10,000 farmers in Tanzania.

Digital development can help bring practical agricultural knowledge to smallholder farmers and help them grow more healthy, nutritious and profitable crops. Technology also makes the agricultural sector more attractive to young farmers and helps us to target and reach more women farmers.

Plant doctor using tablet to diagnose plant disease

Providing solutions

Using its expertise in digital development, CABI helps transform smallholder farmers’ livelihoods turning data and science-based knowledge into practical information that addresses their real needs.

Our work in digital development includes the creation of knowledge portals such as the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and the Invasive Species Compendium, as well as apps and mobile phone services that bring agricultural knowledge to smallholder farmers.

Our data-driven development work includes the PRISE pest forecasting system, and the creation of tools such as digital data collection to support project work.

Our digital development expertise in more detail

Digital advisory tools: We develop tools and data-driven approaches. Our core strengths in developing digital advisory tools such as apps, mobile services, web portals and digital learning help stakeholders tackle complex problems by making it easy to understand the science behind challenges and offering best-practice solutions.

Data policy and practice: Our core strengths in data policy and practice help donors address problems related to data management. We offer a range of data policy and practice skills, starting with problem identification and moving through to project design, policy development and mainstreaming of good practices.

Data science and modelling: We develop research-led solutions to support sustainable development and the strengthening of food systems. Our strengths include alerting farmers about impending pest risks, mapping and monitoring the spread of invasive weeds, predicting the potential establishment of insects, and supporting the uptake of biological control.

An estimated 40% of crops are lost to pests. Our data-driven work provides innovative solutions to help farmers manage pests and increase their yields

Lead contact

For more information and enquiries about our expertise in digital development and knowledge management, please get in touch.

CABI In Wallingford

Cambria Finegold

Global Director, Digital Development

T: +44 (0)1491 829305 E:

Related Projects

Explore our recent projects from around the world

Coffee berry borer damage

Coffee berry borer modelling for Kenyan coffee production

The coffee berry borer is a major coffee pest worldwide, threatening farmers’ livelihoods and the production of coffee. In Kenya, the pest is a particular problem in low-altitude zones and can cause up to 80% losses. Erratic rainfall and other effects of climate change are making it hard to break the pest lifecycle. In this project, CABI is using its tried and tested PRISE model to compile a comprehensive risk assessment of the Kenyan coffee sector and create a model specific to the coffee berry borer in Kenya. With partners, the project aims to empower farmers and stakeholders within the coffee value chain with actionable advice derived from data and modelling.

Wheat Blast: Earth observation and climate forecasts for risk management

Wheat Blast (Magnaporthe oryzae Triticum or ‘MOT’) is a plant disease of global concern, threatening crop production and biosecurity. Known to favour humid, warmer climates, the disease is a severe problem in Bangladesh and South America. However, the consequences of climate change pose the risk of the disease infecting other wheat-growing areas. Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly through the air and seeds, Wheat Blast’s devastating effects and limited control options are leading to heavy yield losses and it is now a threat to global food security. This project brings together a project consortium, formed of experts in Earth observation, remote sensing, pest and disease modelling, datasets and information dissemination to produce Wheat Blast risk maps and actionable advice as part of a framework. The framework will be used by key stakeholders as part of a targeted management approach to the disease.

EU-China joint action to increase the development and adoption of IPM tools

The persistent threat of invasive agricultural pests and their chronic re-emergence underlines the importance of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools and their implementation. Pest management typically relies largely on chemical pesticides, increasing the risks to humans and wildlife. Despite European Union and Chinese policies promoting the use of IPM, widespread adoption by farmers is limited. This project will utilize existing knowledge and techniques to adapt and optimize future IPM tools and practices. The project will further develop high-potential IPM tools and design cost-effective, environmentally safe IPM packages for economically important crops. Together with partners, CABI will lead the development of a web-based IPM tool performance demonstrator. CABI will also make valuable contributions to the development and efficacy of IPM tools against fall armyworm and develop a biocontrol agent for common ragweed.

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