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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)

Controlling the cabbage seedpod weevil in Canada

The cabbage seedpod weevil is a widely distributed pest of cruciferous crops in Europe and North America, causing substantial economic losses in canola crops in Canada. Current control measures still rely on applying broad-spectrum insecticides. We are collecting European distribution data for a parasitic wasp that is the weevil’s most effective... >>

Protecting leeks and onions from pests

The invasive leek moth poses a significant and immediate threat to producers of leeks, onions, garlic and chives in North America. The larvae mine the green tissues, reducing the marketability of crops. The pest’s distribution is expanding, with no signs of suppression by indigenous natural enemies. We are supporting an integrated pest management... >>

Biological control of brown marmorated stink bug

International trade is a common way for insects to ‘hitch-hike’ their way to new countries. The brown marmorated stink bug, originally from East Asia, has become a harmful invasive pest of many fruit and vegetable crops in North America and Europe. Biological control using Asian or European natural enemies may be an environmentally friendly,... >>

Improved management strategies for cocoa in Papua New Guinea

Cocoa is a highly important export in Papua New Guinea, 80% of which comes from smallholders dependent on it for their livelihoods. But, production is threatened by the cocoa pod borer. Tricky to control, it is now one of the most serious threats to the global cocoa industry. We are developing effective ways to detect and predict infestations such... >>

Increasing rice production around the Mekong

Rice is the most important crop in southwestern China, Laos and Myanmar. Despite recent improvements, productivity is still low with millions of tons lost to pests, diseases and weeds. Intensive pesticide use has led to insecticide resistance, outbreaks of secondary pests and damage to farmers’ health. This project is introducing a biologically... >>

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... >>

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... >>