24 November 2023, Africa: CABI’s expertise in helping the world’s smallholder farmers sustainably control potentially devastating crop pests and diseases has been highlighted at the Global Food Security Summit held to galvanize action to tackle hunger and malnutrition.
Nearly one billion people worldwide do not have enough to eat and 345 million face acute hunger and starvation. Much of the burden of feeding the planet falls on the 500 million smallholder farmers who produce around one third of the world’s food.
The problem is exacerbated by the impact of crop pests and diseases, which account for yield losses of up to 40%, as well as climate change and conflict.
Dr Daniel Elger, CABI CEO, was invited to speak at a session on “Science and technology to accelerate progress towards food security and nutrition” as part of the Summit hosted by the UK Government with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).
Dr Elger highlighted how the CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme – which is part-funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) – has reached over 60 million smallholder farmers across 34 countries with evidence-based solutions to crop problems, tackling issues such as the fall armyworm pest on maize.
His involvement in the Summit came as the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, announced the launch of the new UK-CGIAR Centre which is funded by the FCDO and hosted by CABI. The Centre will forge dynamic, new collaborations between CGIAR, UK science institutes and research centres in the Global South, as well as galvanising existing partnerships.
The Centre has already commissioned research and has started forging partnerships that will work on four areas. These are ‘confronting climate change and environmental degradation through sustainable crop management and climate-smart agronomic practices,’ ‘crop genetic improvement for future climate resilience,’ ‘enhancing nutrition,’ and ‘livestock improvement, animal health, nutrition and welfare.’
The Global Food Security Summit in London explored how partnerships and the latest technological advances can ensure long-term food security and improved nutrition for people in the hardest-hit countries.
It also focused on new approaches to tackling preventable deaths of children, building a climate-resilient and sustainable food system, supporting early action to prevent and reduce the impact of humanitarian crises and using science and technology to boost food security.
At the Summit, Dr Elger said, “We are working with our Member Countries worldwide to address the high levels of crop loss that contribute to food insecurity. Technology and innovation are vital elements of this work, as is working with diverse partners to translate science and evidence into practical and inclusive impact at scale.
“We are delighted to be hosting the UK-CGIAR Centre, which is forging new and enhanced research partnerships in support of food systems transformation and resilience.”
Ahead of the Summit, CABI welcomed Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, to its laboratories in Egham, UK, where he saw how CABI is working on sustainable nature-based solutions to tackle pests, including the fall armyworm, which has blighted smallholder farmers in Africa and part of Asia.
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