CABI’s unique expertise and global presence around the world allows us to communicate the agricultural knowledge that smallholders need to make lasting change and improve their livelihoods
Knowledge and information can help address global challenges like hunger and poverty, but a disconnect often exists between the solutions to global problems and the millions of people living in poor and vulnerable rural communities who need them most.
Development communication and extension (advisory services) are important instruments for encouraging dialogue about science-based farming solutions with communities, helping to stimulate agricultural production. However, they are often under resourced.
We use our on-the-ground expertise in development communications and agricultural extension to help smallholder farmers apply tried and tested agricultural practices that improve their yields. We work with a range of approaches – from SMS messaging to village-based video screenings and ‘demonstration’ plots to communicate in the most effective way.
We are in a unique position to link research outputs with community realities. We analyse and help remove the barriers that exist between knowledge and how farmers use it. We work closely with our donors and partners to understand and minimize the hurdles that hinder communication.
This requires a deep understanding of the science behind the technologies we are transferring to new users; the capacity to find, appraise and use evidence, and the skills to communicate with both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Our development communication and extension expertise in more detail
Approaches to communicating with smallholder farmers can be overly-simplistic. CABI specializes in curating and transforming content to make it more digestible and understandable to farmers, which, in turn, helps them make decisions about their farming practices.
We support agricultural extension services with programmes such as Plantwise and tools such as capacity building. Through this, we build engagement and ownership, which leads to long-term, positive change.
Technology is an important part of the uptake and adoption process. We combine our understanding of development communication and digital development to reach millions of farmers using mobile phones, radio and video.
Stories of Impact
Read about the variety of work CABI delivers, and the difference we make
Explore our recent projects from around the world
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.
Fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is an incredibly highly invasive pest that feeds on over 80 plant species. Favouring maize and wheat, this caterpillar devastates crops and consequently affects the food security of smallholder farmers and the country. In Bangladesh, maize is the second most important crop which is grown on over 500,000 hectares. With the FAW’s ability to spread quickly, if not managed early, it can damage up to 80% of crops. In this project, CABI provided essential support in increasing the resilience of livelihoods in Bangladesh against the threats and crises caused by the FAW invasion in the country.
Thirty-seven percent of Pakistan’s population is already vulnerable to food insecurity. This figure will soon exacerbate given the effect of recent external challenges including the rapid spread of Covid-19 and its subsequent Government restrictions, and Pakistan’s largest locust infestation in 25 years devasting large areas of agricultural land, including cotton, wheat, maize, and other crops. Adding to this turmoil is recent extreme weather events which have demonstrated that Pakistan’s food security and agriculture are critically exposed to the adverse impacts of climate change. In this project, CABI will support the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) and four provincial agriculture departments in adopting technologies and advanced practices to manage these impacts, disseminating technologies and practices to stakeholders and recommending measures for building long-term resilience and sustainable food security.
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Type Study brief
Published in Study Brief 45: Learning