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.
After years of effort, the invasive African big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) has successfully been eradicated from Lord Howe Island, an island off the coast of Australia, helping to protect this World Heritage site and its unique diversity of plants and animals. Continue reading →
Last week, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s Thematic Network on Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems hosted an e-conference on the fall armyworm outbreak in Africa which brought together experts, stakeholders and other interested parties to discuss the challenges posed by fall armyworm and to evaluate the possible solutions.
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.
A major new report published by CABI has today revealed that losses due to fall armyworm are lower than projected in 2017 and the pest is still primarily focussed on maize rather than any other potential host crops. Better monitoring, swift responses by governments and farmers and an increase of natural enemies attacking the pest all help in mitigating the devastating crop losses it can cause.
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.
Invasive alien weed species have been a global environmental and human health issue for decades. In 1969, CABI organised the first International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds (ISBCW) in Delémont, Switzerland. Weed biocontrol research was then in its early stages and 20 scientists attended.