Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms that include bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and microalgae, their structural elements, metabolites, signal molecules, mobile genetic elements and surrounding environmental conditions. They are essential for maintaining ecosystems and the health of plants, animals and humans. The EU-funded MICROBE project will cooperate with research infrastructures to create and develop methodologies and technologies to enable access to microbiome samples and associated data. The project objectives include technical solutions for microbiome preservation, propagation and functionality assessment, as well as data infrastructures. MICROBE will also address issues associated with standardization, ethical and legal requirements, and business opportunities.
Papaya mealybug invaded East Africa between 2015 to 2020. The pest causes 57%- 91% yield and £2,224/ha household economic losses annually and severely impacts the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. As a means of control, nearly 51% of farmers manage the pest using pesticides which harm insect biodiversity in addition to other non-target effects. Biological control is an ecologically friendlier approach that has controlled papaya mealybug elsewhere around the globe. This project aims to introduce Acerophagus papayae for classical biological control of papaya mealybug. Through this initiative, the project intends to improve the capacity of farmers and extension services to adopt climate-smart conservation biocontrol practices that interface with biodiversity conservation efforts and ultimately enhance food security.
The effects of soil acidity on agricultural soils in Africa are a major constraint to crop production and sustainable intensification of the African smallholder farming system. To cope, the existing method is to apply blanket or spatially undifferentiated approaches including the use of lime. This project aims to devise interventions to rehabilitate soils in East Africa by understanding and communicating the differences in soil acidity and how to cost-effectively correct them. Based on data, recommendations will guide investments into appropriate and targeted approaches from the public and private sector, ensuring a maximum return on investment for farmers, governments and the private sector. In this project, CABI’s focus is on enhancing access to, and use of, data related to acid soil management including soil and agronomy data which would lead to evidence-based decisions for investments.
The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has made great progress in the past ten 10 years in exploring new and innovative digital soil mapping technologies and national soil information systems (SIS) in Africa and South Asia to help organise new and existing soil information. However, constraints within countries stop the SIS from being sustainable and adaptable. The foundation is now looking for ways to make the SIS more responsive to local demand. CABI is working with partners to identify what intervention approaches have worked, and which have not, which solutions work best and where to take innovation to scale for SIS development. The process will involve engagement with key stakeholders and decision makers in various countries through an iterative process.