Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director Global Operations, has unveiled a prototype BioProtection Portal that facilitates the identification, sourcing and application of more environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and sustainable biological control products in the global fights against agricultural pests and diseases.
The CABI-led project was highlighted this week (20 March 2018) at the Biocontrol Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a presentation co-authored by Dr Steve Edgington, Dr Melanie Bateman and Dr Emma Jenner.
Pests and diseases, including the Fall Armyworm which has been reported in 28 African countries and could cut maize yields by up to 60 percent, account for a loss in global production of around a 50 percent equivalent to $1.4 trillion a year.
CABI conducted a recent study through the Plantwise programme, a worldwide initiative led by CABI that works to help farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems, to assess the contribution of extension services to the uptake of biological controls.
The research found that nationally registered biocontrol products are not always included in the extension material compiled by national experts in the Plantwise programme – although India and Nepal are better in this respect.
Dr Kuhlmann said, ‘Even if biological control products are mentioned in the extension material used in the Plantwise plant clinics they are only sometimes in certain countries recommended to farmers by extension workers.
‘We hope the Biopesticides Portal will help improve the uptake of biological control products by extension workers and farmers through increasing awareness of these non-chemical alternatives and supporting the selection, sourcing and application of the most appropriate biological control products for the pest problem being faced.’
Dr Kuhlmann explained to the conference that CABI is leading the prototype BioProtection Portal – available as a free to use mobile phone app and/or website – to put information (so far details of nationally-registered biological control products from 19 countries) at the fingertips of extension workers and farmers, both within and outside of the Plantwise programme.
Dr Kuhlmann added, ‘We believe that CABI is ideally placed, as an independent and not-for-profit intergovernmental organisation, to host this portal and to ensure that governmental authorities are willing to support it.’
CABI is now launching a 6-month pilot phase for the project which will involve working in partnership with biological control manufacturers for quality assurance and user-testing purposes. It is hoped that the first version of the portal will be launched towards the end of the year in two to three of the 19 countries where data on nationally-registered biological control products are already in the portal.
Find out more about the CABI-led Plantwise programme, including plant clinics, plant doctors and the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, by visiting www.plantwise.org
Read how CABI is working to find a biological control solution, using Asian or European natural enemies, to combat the brown marmorated stink bug here.