Farmers top image

Lobby launches portal to help farmers reduce reliance on pesticides

By Joe Ombuor

The Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI) has launched a biotechnology portal in Kenya to help farmers reduce reliance on chemical pesticides.

Farmers and pest management experts will access the portal on their smart phones, tablets, laptop and desk top computers via an online website in a move aimed at producing healthier and safer food.

Agriculture, Livestock, fisheries and Cooperatives Principal Secretary Prof Hamadi Boga said during the launch of the portal in Nairobi that an offline version was envisioned in the near future for the sake of farmers in areas without reliable internet reach.

Free to use resource

Prof Boga said the facility was a free to use resource aimed at raising awareness of environmentally friendly bio-control and bio-practice products.

Citing the 2018 annual report by Kenya Plant Health inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) that detected pesticide residues in vegetable samples collected from various outlets and markets across Kenya, Prof Boga regretted the increasing negative health and environmental effects resulting from certain kinds of pesticides.

CABI Executive Director for global operations Utrich Kuhlman said an estimated 40 per cent of crops are lost to pests globally, among which fall army worms in maize and the tomato leaf miner are well known for their devastation.

“CABI is helping growers adapt to this major challenge through projects like the Bio Protection Portal that apply expertise in digital development and crop health to promote sustainable approaches to pest control and management,” said Dr Kuhlman.

He explained that once the technology spreads to other countries, users of the CABI Bio protection portal would be able to enter their country and crop-pest problem query in the system and generate key information on bio-control and bio-pesticide products authorised by national regulators for a specific search.

“Insights will be sourced directly from national governments’ list of registered pesticides and from partner bio-control manufacturers,” he said.

Regional Director for CABI Africa Dr Morris Akiri said the Bio Protection Portal brought together in one place the various safer and more environmentally friendly bio-control and bio-pesticide products that growers can add to their ‘arsenal’ against crop pests as part of an integrated pest management plan.

He said the portal would be rolled out in multiple languages to further 10 to 15 countries in 2020, including Spain, Brazil, Uganda and Bangladesh, with more countries to follow in 2021.

Dr Akiri said the innovative tool had been made available by CABI in collaboration with its network of partner bio-control manufacturers, among them Koppert Biological Systems, Syngenta and e-nema.

He thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, African Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development and other donors who provide invaluable support in the form of technical inputs, strategic guidance and funding.

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