CABI has worked in Africa for many years, but in 1995 it formally established a regional centre in Nairobi. In Africa over 80% of people living in rural areas rely on the crops they grow for food and for income. They face many challenges in growing sufficient good quality produce, such as changing climatic conditions, threats from pests and diseases, lack of access to markets, and limited access to current agricultural information. Agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth and yet average crop yields in Africa are among the lowest in the world.
CABI’s centre in Kenya strives to improve livelihoods, working with the communities that it serves to address the problems they face using sustainable approaches.
A key element of the centre’s work is helping smallholder commodity growers to produce for and compete in local and global markets. The centre also encourages rural innovation and helps local users access global information and knowledge. Plant health is safeguarded through a range of initiatives, which include the management of invasive species, work to reduce the transmission of harmful pests and diseases through traded goods, the development of safe and effective biological controls, and Plantwise, CABI’s global project to reduce crop losses. CABI’s Good Seed Initiative, which seeks to improve the quality of seed that farmers plant, and thus improve crop yields, is also championed.
The centre works in partnership with many organizations in both the public and private sector, to enable work to be achieved in the most effective and cost efficient way. It collaborates on a national and regional level, working with agricultural extension departments, research centres, producer organisations, NGOs and regulatory agencies. International partners include international research organisations and private sector institutions such as the Rabobank and Illycafè.
The centre’s work has significant social and economic impact. Improved productivity, improved quality, and conformity to market standards enable the region’s farmers to achieve a better income from their produce. The centre also positively impacts the environment, through its promotion of sustainable agriculture, its work to reduce pesticide use and its management of invasive species.
Looking to the future the centre will continue its work in support of CABI’s overarching strategy, and plans to improve its monitoring and evaluation systems, in order to more clearly document its learning and impact.
Plantwise Programme Support Manager
Theme Officer - Development, Communications and Extension
Senior Scientist, Invasive Species Management
Manager, Digital Development
Communication and Extension Scientist
Crop protection in Africa relies heavily on the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. They are perceived to be more effective than other methods but human health concerns and the resistance to them in pest populations is shifting the tide towards lower risk pest management methodologies. Biopesticides are considered a suitable alternative in fall armyworm (FAW) management as they are typically more specific than most synthetic pesticides and are a lower risk to health and the environment. However, those commercial biopesticide products that are available, from the Americas and Europe, to use against FAW in Africa are not available due to inadequate knowledge on their efficacy.