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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Tackling pests and diseases

Tackling pests and diseases

Crop pests and disease are a major constraint to higher agricultural productivity, accounting for close to 50% total crop losses. The losses are greatest in developing countries. Africa has the highest percentage losses at 49%, followed by Asia (47%), the former Soviet Union and Latin America (both at 41%). 

Improving pre- and post-harvest pest and disease management can clearly increase productivity and deliver greater impacts where food insecurity and poverty are greatest.

Yet, underinvestment in agriculture and a lack of knowledge and skills has meant that farmers, at the smallholder level, are often unable to diagnose crop problems sufficiently early or do not possess the technical know-how to manage them effectively.

Our work focuses on protecting crops so farmers lose less and grow more. As an impartial, not-for-profit, intergovernmental organization, we work to find the most appropriate, sustainable approaches to managing pests and diseases.

Our experts are involved in projects worldwide. Our scientists are developing and evaluating novel management techniques; helping to establish advanced pest surveillance and early warning systems; improving sanitary and phyto-sanitary compliance and pest quarantine; developing biopestides; and raising awareness and developing skills through training and knowledge transfer through initiatives such as Plantwise and our Crop Protection Compendium.

Professor Besnik Skenderasi checking his experiments

Albanian apples case study

Despite significant progress, agriculture in Albania is still underdeveloped. This case study shows how CABI helped overcome problems in the sector. CABI implemented a project on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) followed by a three-year institutional partnership project.

Using integrated pest management to help Albanian apple farmers increase their income (PDF)

Improving the rational use of pesticides for locusts in China

Agriculture is very important to China and chemical pesticides are often used to control their associated pests. Biopesticides, which have a low impact on surrounding plants and the environment can be used instead and China wants to switch over to them. Using CABI’s expertise, this project uses Earth Observation (EO) and other data to build a... >>

Restoring grasslands of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Halting and reversing land degradation is one of the biggest challenges to meeting the targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals. This project aims to assess the effects of grassland degradation on soil functions on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau and determine whether manipulation of plant functional diversity can accelerate the restoration of... >>

Improving knowledge and understanding of beetle biodiversity in Laos

Global biodiversity is receiving increased attention as it becomes more and more threatened because of the growing human population and development. Beetles or coleopteran are no exception and CABI is running this project to increase knowledge and understanding of their biodiversity in Laos. >>

Developing biopesticides to remove the need for cold storage

Farmers face issues with insect pests that damage their crops. In Africa, cold storage facilities necessary for some biopesticides aren't always available. As experts in this and crop management, we are working with Asymptote Ltd, a UK technology company, to develop an appropriate product for rural conditions in Africa, meaning African farmers... >>

Biological control of diamondback moth in Canada

The diamondback moth is a global pest. Canadian farmers often have use chemicals to protect their crops. This is costly and the pest is becoming immune, meaning additional control options are needed. In Europe, Asia and Africa, Diadromus collaris, is a major parasitoid of the moth. It has been introduced to several countries or regions and has... >>

Sentinel nurseries as early warning system against alien tree pests

Many of the alien pests and diseases of woody plants were unknown before they were established in new countries. No policy or measures to avoid their introduction and spread were therefore implemented. Recently, monitoring sentinel plants in exporting countries has been proposed as a valuable tool to identify harmful organisms prior to their... >>

Promoting sustainable tea production in India

India is the second largest producer and exporter of tea in the world and it can be a powerful engine for development. However, tea crops here suffer from a range of pests and diseases. Pesticides are the main management solution but this results in increased production costs and potential risks to human health. So, we undertook a major scientific... >>