07 August 2023, US: The CABI Academy is launching a free course giving practical guidance on choosing, using and interpreting the results of bioprotection products in the field.
The course is aimed at extension workers and agro-input dealers, building skills in advising smallholder farmers about using nature-based solutions to manage crop pests and diseases which threaten food security and their livelihoods.
The 8-10-hour self-paced online course includes three core sections which explore what bioprotection products are and how they work.
Learners are given opportunities to connect with others in similar roles and practice using digital tools that help in choosing and accessing bioprotection products.
The course accompanies CABI’s new Foundation and Practitioner level certifications in Bioprotection Products.
It is estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations that up to 40 percent of crop production is lost to pests. Each year, plant diseases cost the global economy over $220 billion, and invasive insects at least $70 billion.
However, a range of safer-to-use and environmentally friendly biocontrol and biopesticide products are available as an alternative to chemical pesticides which pose a greater risk to human health and sustainable agriculture already impacted by climate change.
This new introductory course is powered by the global CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme and links with the CABI BioProtection Portal. As well as input dealers and extension workers, the new course is for anyone wanting to learn more about using and applying bioprotection products, as well as teachers and trainers in agricultural education institutions and in the workplace.
PlantwisePlus is working to ensure farmers have access to affordable, more sustainable plant protection products to fight devastating crop pests such as the fall armyworm and tomato pinworm.
Meanwhile, the CABI BioProtection Portal is a free tool to enhance the awareness and uptake of biocontrol and biopesticide products by growers and advisors. It is available on smartphones, tablets and desktops.
The Introduction to Bioprotection Products course is available in addition to two courses already available on the CABI Academy – Crop Pest Diagnosis and Crop Pest Management.
Students will be able to gain CABI Academy certificates at two levels. These are Foundation for those new to the subject area and work under supervision, and Practitioner for those with some experience in the subject area, who wish to demonstrate they are able to work with minimal supervision.
Dr Ullrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director, Global Operations, said, “The world is facing a food crisis – exacerbated by economic, societal, political and environmental challenges – where we need to find more sustainable ways to feed an estimated 10 billion people by 2050.
“There is a knowledge and skills gap for how growers should correctly apply bioprotection products to crops. This is essential to tackle a range of devastating crop pests and diseases which can severely impact food security efforts and, in turn, the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.
“The Bioprotection Course will serve to provide impartial information to help growers evaluate the effectiveness of the bioprotection products available. It will also improve the skills required by learners to use bioprotection products; to help them understand how they work and how to evaluate their effectiveness.”
Dr Kuhlmann added that it is hoped more than 2,000 active learners will partake in the Bioprotection Course by early 2024.
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