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Through the creation and application of digital technologies, CABI brings science-based agricultural knowledge to millions of smallholder farmers helping to increase their yields

The challenge

The vast majority of smallholder farmers have little access to agricultural information or public ‘extension’ farming experts. There are just two public extension agents per 10,000 farmers in India and four per 10,000 farmers in Tanzania.

Digital development can help bring practical agricultural knowledge to smallholder farmers and help them grow more healthy, nutritious and profitable crops. Technology also makes the agricultural sector more attractive to young farmers and helps us to target and reach more women farmers.

Plant doctor using tablet to diagnose plant disease

Providing solutions

Using its expertise in digital development, CABI helps transform smallholder farmers’ livelihoods turning data and science-based knowledge into practical information that addresses their real needs.

Our work in digital development includes the creation of knowledge portals such as the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and the Invasive Species Compendium, as well as apps and mobile phone services that bring agricultural knowledge to smallholder farmers.

Our data-driven development work includes the PRISE pest forecasting system, and the creation of tools such as digital data collection to support project work.

Our digital development expertise in more detail

Information and evidence: We provide access to scientific information to farmers, practitioners, and policy makers, tailoring formats and channels for each audience. Access to information is no longer enough – we deliver data and add value and interactivity.

Data-driven development: We develop tools and research partnerships and data-driven approaches to sustainable development. Our core strengths are data-driven decision support tools, geospatial modelling, data policy and linkages to end users.

Tools for data collection and communication: We develop and deploy ICT tools for two-way communication among farmers, extension staff, experts and other relevant groups. We meet users where they are, on the platforms they use, automating our interactions as much as possible.

An estimated 40% of crops are lost to pests. Our data-driven work provides innovative solutions to help farmers manage pests and increase their yields

Lead contact

For more information and enquiries about our expertise in digital development and knowledge management, please get in touch.

CABI In Wallingford

Cambria Finegold

Global Director, Digital Development

T: +44 (0)1491 829305 E:

Related Projects

Explore our recent projects from around the world

Establishing a digital plant health service in Malawi

Pests and diseases contribute to 40% of food loss leading to food insecurity. Synthetic pesticides are the predominant control method but these are associated with negative environmental and health concerns. The extensive use of chemicals has sparked a renewed interest in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – an effective combination of control methods and the need for new innovative ways to manage pest and disease outbreaks. There are many digital systems that have been developed to identify, monitor, manage, control and predict outbreaks of a large number of pest and disease species. These systems provide useful information to aid decision-making and timing of integrated pest management strategies. By building on the successes of existing systems and data assets, this project aims to establish a digital agricultural plant health service for efficient pest and disease management in Malawi that will benefit over 100,000 farmers.

ACIAR research

Assessment of FAIR data principles across the ACIAR research portfolio

FAIR data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. Recent studies have estimated a huge opportunity cost of not applying FAIR data principles and the positive impact of FAIR on potential economic annual growth.  The project helped the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to consider the barriers of using and applying data and the application of FAIR principles in its investment portfolio and looked at opportunities to address them and ways to improve its grant-making processes. Through an extensive examination of data management and sharing within ACIAR and its investment projects, evidence was gathered on the perception, awareness and implementation of the FAIR data principles. Based on this evidence, CABI provided recommendations on how investment outcomes could benefit from improved data management and how the FAIR data principles could be implemented in ACIAR and across its investments to increase efficiencies and in-country benefits.

Strengthening food security systems in Pakistan

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.

Featured Publications

Papers and other publications that we hope you find enlightening

Assessment of the use and benefits of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank


Type Working paper

Published in Working Paper 30

Language English

Year 2022

PlantwisePlus Annual Report 2021

Type Annual review

Language English

Year 2022