Benefits of the CABI BioProtection Portal highlighted at Global Minor Use Summit

16 February 2024, Spain: The benefits of the CABI BioProtection Portal have been highlighted at the Global Minor Use Summit in Madrid, Spain, aimed at raising awareness of the challenges facing minor crops such as avocado, passionfruit, kiwi fruit and pomegranate.

The Global Minor Use Summit was hosted by the Minor Use Foundation (MUF) and was convened under the theme of ‘Leveraging Agricultural Technology for a Growing World’ to address issues such as the lack of registered pesticides and registered alternative solutions and how this makes the cultivation of minor crops more difficult.

The CABI BioProtection Portal stands as an innovative open access tool for sustainable pest management. It helps advisory service providers and growers identify and correctly apply biocontrol and biopesticide products and, as such, is particularly useful for the cultivation of harder to produce minor crops.

Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director, Global Operations, spoke about the importance of the Portal in raising awareness of the registered biological control agents that smallholder farmers can use to fight a range of crop pests and diseases.

The Portal lists more than 4,000 bioprotection products, covering over 900 crops. It includes information on 2,200 pests across 40 featured countries. Moreover, the website has seen over a million visits since its launch in 2020 – indicating that more and more growers and plant health advisors are benefiting from the Portal.

Dr Kuhlmann was joined at the Summit by Dr Robert Malek, Pesticide Risk Reduction Expert, based at CABI’s Swiss centre in Delémont, to highlight CABI’s contribution to sustainable pest management and to strengthen connections and collaborations with various international organizations that are involved.

Specialized expertise

Producing ‘minor’ crops is labour intensive and requires specialized expertise. Often, Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are missing, which hampers trade and economic growth. The Foundation, together with its network of partners and collaborators tries to tackle some of these issues under regional and national contexts.

Dr Kuhlmann and Dr Malek attended the Summit to share CABI’s work in that field, to cooperate with stakeholders and to build partnerships that help mitigate the challenges faced by smallholder and minor crop farmers.

These include working with the IR-4 project in the United States – established in 1963 to conduct research to obtain registrations of pest control agents needed to grow minor crops – as well as the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, The Canadian Government’s Pest Management Centre and The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).

Dr Kuhlmann gave a presentation on the CABI BioProtection Portal under a panel discussion entitled ‘The Emergence of Biocontrols: Environmental Benefits and Regulatory Hurdles.’

“Innovative open access tool”

He positioned the portal as an “innovative open access tool” for sustainable pest management that can serve some of the purposes of the MUF and their stakeholders to help smallholder farmers grow healthier and more profitable minor crops.

Dr Kuhlmann said, “With growing interest in bioprotection and sustainable agriculture, we’re committed to equipping growers and advisors with the tools they need. Our goal is to support them in making informed decisions through innovative open access tools including the CABI BioProtection Portal.

“We are happy to share our expertise in sustainable crop pest and disease management with partners and collaborators at the Global Minor Use Summit as part of CABI’s mission to help smallholder farmers grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases.”

The CABI BioProtection Portal is available in the local language and English, online and offline, and on smartphones, tablets, and desktop, and also promotes the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by providing biocontrol solutions that fit within IPM programmes.

It also includes a range of resources including self-study courses ‘Introduction to Bioprotection Products,’ ‘Crop Pest Management,’ and ‘Crop Pest Diagnosis.’

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