Skip to content

You are here: Home / What we do / Crop health

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

The challenge

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.

Farmer with plant doctor advising on apple crop
Family in field with plant doctor giving advice

Providing solutions

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).

The CABI-led Plantwise programme has reached over 30 million smallholder farmers across the world, sharing the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow to crop pests and diseases

Key contact

For more information and enquiries about our expertise in crop health, please get in touch.

CABI In Switzerland

Ulrich Kuhlmann

Executive Director, Global Operations

T: +41 (0) 32 4214882 E: u.kuhlmann@cabi.org

Related Projects

Explore our recent projects from around the world

Black cabbage trees

Managing the pathogens threatening St Helena’s biodiversity and food security

St Helena’s endemic trees and insects are under threat, possibly due to introduced pathogens or changes to the range of endemic pathogens due to climate change. This project will survey and identify pathogens associated with tree death (including nursery-raised stock), and insect populations. Additionally, crop diseases will be surveyed and their management assessed. Methods developed through CABI’s Plantwise initiative will build capacity in diagnostics and management across all sectors, supporting growers, conservationists, and foresters. This will prevent further deterioration of the endemic ecosystem, increase food production and reduce the necessity to import food.

PlantwisePlus

Farmers’ crops are increasingly at the mercy of climate change, pests and diseases. PlantwisePlus will work to help countries predict, prepare for and prevent potential threats and reduce crop losses. We will provide comprehensive support to countries and farmers so they meet the increasing global demand for quality food in a changing climate.

Development of farmer-friendly plant health digital content for smallholder farmers in Kenya

Digital technology has the potential to improve farmer livelihoods through access and utilization of agricultural digital platforms and digital online content across the agricultural value chain. However, despite the rapid global interest and growth of digital services, smallholder farmers face challenges that hinder them from realising the benefits of new and existing digital services, particularly in the areas of crop pests and disease management. Some of the challenges which farmers face include a lack of knowledge, poor mobile internet connectivity, limited finances and skills gaps, especially among women. In this project, CABI developed farmer-friendly, digital plant health content for six main crops with the aim of improving access and encouraging the use of digital resources to enable sustainable agriculture production and food security.

Strengthening pest and disease management in the SADC region

Transboundary plant pests and diseases threaten food and nutrition security and adversely affect trade and the agricultural sector’s competitiveness. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States, the five key priority pests include Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLN), Tomato leaf miner (Tuta (Phthorimaea) absoluta), Oriental Fruit Fly (Bactrocera dorsalis), Fall armyworm (FAW Spodoptera frugiperda), and Banana Fusarium Wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense Tropical race 4 (Foc TR4)). In this project, CABI is supporting the FAO-led Support towards operationalization of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (STOSAR) project to strengthen national and regional capacities to prevent entry, control spread and manage these priority plant pests and diseases. The project will seek to support Member States in reviewing and developing harmonized national strategies for the key pests while providing training on Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) and implementing applicable Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

Regulatory harmonization in Pakistan for maximum residue limits and biopesticides

Many less developed economies in Asia, including Pakistan, face challenges in conforming to international food standards and, in particular, pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs), either because these MRLs are not established or because the MRLs are too low for farmers to comply with. Subsequently, affecting Pakistan’s ability to trade. This project brings a new approach. Based on the strategic use of non-residue-producing biopesticides, following conventional pesticides, the approach aims to reduce residues at harvest and overcome trade barriers caused by MRL issues. CABI will work with partners and Pakistani farmers to increase their compliance with international standards, MRL regulations and enforcement.

Food safety and market access for peppercorn in Southeast Asia

Peppercorn is a key agricultural crop accounting for 20% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product and is a rising industry in Laos and Cambodia. However, non-compliance with Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) at the smallholder farmer level is threatening exports to high-value international markets due to concerns over food safety.

CABI and its partners aim to tackle these SPS issues and improve the quality and traceability in the production, post-harvest, processing, and peppercorn trade by identifying, developing and disseminating good agricultural and hygiene practices (GAP and GHP) that focus on peppercorn production in villages. By improving standards within these areas, the project will inevitably secure market access and enhance the peppercorn value chain.

Joint crop and livestock services for smallholder farmers

Crop and livestock health is crucial to agricultural productivity and farmer livelihoods. However, in low-income countries, smallholders are often left without sufficient support to deal with crop and animal problems due to existing agricultural extension services being understaffed and underfunded. CABI’s work in plant health and plant clinics over the last 15 years has revealed potential ‘One Health’ (OH) benefits of broadening the scope of plant clinics to better meet farmers’ need for advice. This project will develop integrated crop-livestock health advisory services that will enable male and female smallholder farmers in Uganda to address major health and production problems affecting crops, livestock, and food safety.

Ensuring resilience of maize production and quality in a changing climate

Climate change is impacting on the agricultural sector in DPR Korea, with extreme weather events becoming more common. This has led to increased damage to the main staple crops, rice and maize. Maize in particular is vulnerable to damage in the field and subsequent colonization by toxin producing fungi. These toxins are an immediate and long-term hazard to health, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children. CABI is working with the Ministry of Agriculture, and key local stakeholders, to increase the resilience of the maize value chain to the impacts of climate change, and in particular reducing contamination by these harmful fungal toxins.

Promoting biodiversity in grasslands of the Swiss Jura

Swiss landscapes would usually be rich in biodiversity. But due to highly concentrated agricultural practices, the number of regional insects and plants found is declining. The Federal Swiss government is taking action and has introduced a scheme to promote ecological compensation areas that will encourage naturally occurring species. As part of this, CABI is working on restoring regional biodiversity in the Swiss Jura through seed transfer methods.

The UK Crop Microbiome CryoBank

lant microbiomes are the microbial communities essential to the whole ecological area of a plant’s ‘phytobiome’ – a term used to describe a plant’s specific ecological area. Having a healthy phytobiome is critical to crop health, improved crop yields and quality food. However, crop microbiomes are relatively under-researched. The UK Crop Microbiome Cryobank project will develop a unique, exploitable and integrated resource that will provide the biological and bioinformatic tools to enable the development of solutions to improve soil and crop health. Six of the UK’s key crops will be the focus and usable outputs will underpin UK research activity in line with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategic priorities in agriculture and food security. The project will support three of the UN’s Sustainable-Development Goals: Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption, and Production and Life on Land.

Featured Publications

Papers and other publications that we hope you find enlightening