Global agriculture faces a myriad of threats, of which one of the greatest is invasive species. With no native organisms to control them, invasive species such as plant pests and diseases spread out of control, damaging crops and risking the food security of developing countries.
Latest book in the CABI Invasive Series: Parthenium Weed
Parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus) is considered one of the worst weeds in the world. It has invaded and is widespread in about 48 countries in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, and has the potential to spread to new countries in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe. In the countries it has invaded, it has devastating effects on the livelihoods of millions of people causing significant economic, health and environmental loss. In order to effectively manage parthenium weed and mitigate the impacts it has, one needs a good understanding of the biology and ecology of the weed as well as effective management strategies already utilised. As the editors of CABI’s new book on Parthenium so candidly put, ‘know your enemy’ is the first step in effective management.
Take a quick look at the map of the fall armyworm invasion. It gives you a good feel for the number of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa directly affected by a small caterpillar eating their staple crop – maize – at a rapid rate. As a communication professional working in agriculture, it has been the first time I have found it so easy to explain my work – “ah yes, you are working on this ‘worm’… it is causing so many problems for farmers here” is the response I now get.
Plantix is a diagnostic app that uses image recognition software and AI. It is being used to halt the advance of the fall armyworm pest.
An app that uses artificial intelligence to identify plant disease is being deployed in India as an early-warning system to stop the advance of a crop-destroying caterpillar that is having a devastating impact on maize crops in Africa.
CABI’s experts in the biological control of agricultural pests and diseases have conducted the first major study of potential biological controls that could be used in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm which recently arrived in Africa.
In Pakistan, it has been reported that this weed is present almost everywhere, but the dilemma is that the general public have little to no knowledge about its harmful impacts. Keeping in view these facts, CABI in Pakistan under the Action on Invasives programme, recently launched an awareness drive in the rural areas of the Sheikhupura district to spread information on the negative impacts of this alien weed among more remote communities.