An estimated 40% of the world’s crops are lost to pests. This impacts the ability of smallholders living in poor rural communities to feed their families. But these farmers actually grow nearly 70% of the world’s food so, more broadly, it affects food supply chains, international trade and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. We must take action if we are to achieve those goals and feed a growing world population.
Much of the information needed by farmers in the developing world is already available but not accessible to them in a format that is practically useful. This presentation will review CABI’s experiences, and the lessons learned from them, in using a variety of communication tools to help smallholder farmers get the information they need. In particular it will look at the development of, and future plans for Plantwise, a global initiative led by CABI to strengthen plant health systems. The Plantwise network and data can be leveraged into this innovative new initiative using Earth observational data to predict pest outbreaks and reduce their impact by giving farmers early warning and more timely management advice.
However, bottom-up approaches to food security and plant health are not sufficient. It does not help a farmer to grow more only to find that it cannot be sold. Therefore we need to improve farmer’s access to local, national and international markets. This requires a top-down approach to building biosecurity capacity in the developing world, such as that implemented in partnership with PBCRC in Africa. This not only enables them to meet the international standards of developed countries but also to reduce the risk of importing produce and planting materials contaminated with chemicals or infested with an alien pest species.