Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) has launched a new bioprotection portal to boost plant health needs and pave way for a safer and healthier food system.
The CABI BioProtection Portal will help farmers-who have been battling pesticide resistance, practice sustainable and environmentally friendly crop production.
“This portal will build on bioprotection knowledge from our Plantwise program and will provide extension workers, agronomists, and growers with information on biological control and biological pesticide products,” said Dr Dennis Rangi Director General, development at CABI speaking during the launch in Nairobi.
He further used an analogy to demonstrate just how unsafe the foods we consume have become. He said, “The other day I went to buy chicken from my favourite supplier. He told me point blank, he can’t sell it to me because it was the ‘injected one’. My supplier further told me that he doesn’t consume those chickens.”
“I realised, as consumers, we are really poisoning ourselves. We are eating bad foods and we need to support farmers to produce healthy foods,” he added.
Dr Morris Akiri, Regional Director for CABI Africa said, “The portal, brings together the various safer and more environmentally friendly biocontrol and biopesticide products, that growers can add to their ‘arsenal’ against crop pests as part of an integrated pest management plan.”
Biopesticides use among farmers in Africa and Kenya in particular is still low. Only 3 per cent of farmers are using them.
The portal, experts believe, will be an invaluable tool for increasing awareness to boost demand for bioprotectants.
How the portal works
Users will be able to enter their country and crop-pest problem query in the system and generate key information on biocontrol and biopesticide products that are authorised by national regulators for that specific search.
The CABI BioProtection Portal will be available initially as an online website that can be used on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. An offline version will follow within the next weeks to enable growers in areas without reliable internet access to also benefit from the tool.
Up to 95 biopesticides in Kenya have been registered and the number is set to grow.
“Biopesticides play a critical role in production of healthier foods. This portal is user friendly and will make uptake of information easier for our extension officers and will lead to production of healthier foods, ” said Dr Peter Opiyo, Chief Executive Officer, Pest Control Products Board Kenya
For Mr John Kamanja an extension Officer, Dondori Ward Bahati Constituency, Nakuru County, the launch of the portal is a timely stepping stone in his work.
“Many counties across the nation many farmers have never heard about biocontrol methods and this will be an opportunity,” he said
Professor Hamadi Boga, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture lauded the initiative noting it is poised to strengthen the country’s role in plant bioprotection. “We are proud as a country to be the first to launch this groundbreaking portal; this clearly underscores our role in plant bioprotection” said Boga adding it has come at the right time of the inaugural International Year of Plant Health.
The Principal Secretary noted that his ministry, which is already running a robust e-extension service across the country, will leverage on the portal information, to create plant health awareness increase farmers’ productivity.
The portal will also be rolled out, in multiple languages, to a further 10-15 countries in 2020, including Spain, Brazil, Uganda, and Bangladesh, and, with further countries to follow in 2021.
The innovative tool, has been made available by CABI in collaboration with its network of partner biocontrol manufacturers (Koppert Biological Systems, Syngenta and e-nema) and donors the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, African Development Bank and the UK Department for International Development.