PlantwisePlus holds high-level stakeholders meeting to help curb food insecurity in Kenya

The global CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme is holding a high-level stakeholder, bringing together key partners to expand collaboration in Kenya to deliver the PlantwisePlus initiative.

PlantwisePlus is at the forefront of transforming agriculture by helping countries predict, prevent, and prepare for plant health threats. The goal is to support 75 million small holder farmers globally to not only boost their food production but also elevate its quality. Kenya is a focal country for the programme, playing a crucial role in achieving this goal.

According to Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI’s Director General, Development, among the initiatives the programme advocates for is biological control against invasive species. This involves the use of living organisms, such as insects or pathogens, to control pest populations.

“As a natural method, biocontrol doesn’t require the use of chemicals and machinery which can have a negative impact on the environment. It’s also economically efficient and sustainable, as once self-replicating and co-evolved natural enemies are established, they should provide control indefinitely without further cost or intervention, “said Dr Rangi.

CABI has also developed a BioProtection Portal – a free tool to enhance the awareness and
uptake of biocontrol and biopesticide products by growers and advisors – and
the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and the Plantwise Factsheet Library app.

Dr. Rangi added that 60 million smallholder farmers have already reaped the benefits of the initiative on a global scale. Furthermore, an additional 75 million smallholder farmers are slated to benefit over the course of the next seven years as PlantwisePlus continues its impactful mission.

“PlantwisePlus builds upon CABI’s Plantwise and Action on Invasives programmes which have helped millions of farmers in over 30 countries diagnose and treat pest threats. We will work in partnership with various actors to help countries to predict, prepare themselves for and prevent plant health threats in a changing climate”, he said.

Director Crop Systems at Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Headquarters Secretariat Dr, Lusike Wasilwa who was in attendance said, “Biological control will improve the safety of food and protect farmers, community members, animals, and environmental health”.

PlantwisePlus is helping in the fight against the papaya mealybug in Kenya.
CABI, together with colleagues from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), the National Museums of Kenya and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), are preparing to unleash Acerophagus papayae against the papaya pest in Machakos, Makueni, Tharaka Nthi and Embu.

The program also seeks to help Kenyan smallholder farmers to meet the requirements of the KS1758-Horticultural Code of Practice. The Standard was developed in line with domestic and international protocols on food safety, workers health and safety, environmental sustainability, and crop protection.

This code intended to enhance farm assurance systems, compliance to relevant laws of Kenya and strict adherence to the safe use of chemicals as part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans that also utilize safer-to-use and more environmentally friendly biological control agents (BCAs).

Dr Morris Akiri,CABI’s Senior Regional Director, Africa, said, “PlantwisePlus bridges the
gap, where at the national and regional level there is no consistent or coordinated
mechanism for detection of and response to pest outbreaks, or for providing the
technical support needed to identify plant health problems.

“As CABI continues to work in partnership, it is hoped that this high-level stakeholder.
meeting will raise greater awareness and opportunities for collaboration to further
scale-up the PlantwisePlus programme in Kenya, “he said.

The PlantwisePlus programme was launched in 2021 to help support low and lower-middle income countries to predict, prepare themselves for and prevent plant health threats in a changing climate.

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