Plant Health and Rapid Response to Protect Food Security and Livelihoods


Effective plant health management is critical for improving the productivity, sustainability, and resilience of agrifood systems. Yet, smallholder farmers, especially in low- and middle-income countries, continue to struggle against plant pests and diseases. Each year, these threats cost the global economy US$220 billion. Recent analyses show that the highest losses due to pests and diseases are associated with food-deficit regions with fast-growing populations.

Moreover, mycotoxin contamination of crop produce is significantly impacting food safety, public health, and trade. Increasing trade and travel, coupled with weak phytosanitary systems, are accelerating the global spread of devastating pests and diseases. The situation is exacerbated by climate change, driving the emergence of new threats. These burdens fall disproportionately on women and poorly resourced communities.

Diagnostic capacity, global-scale surveillance data and risk forecasting for major pests and diseases are still lacking, alongside rapid response and management systems. Inadequate knowledge and access to climate-smart control options often leaves smallholders and marginalized communities poorly equipped to respond to biotic threats. Environmental effects of toxic pesticides, mycotoxin exposure, and acute unintentional pesticide poisoning are major concerns globally. And despite scientifically sound principles, integrated disease and pest management continues to have low adoption rates worldwide.


This Initiative aims to protect agriculture-based economies of low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America from devastating pest incursions and disease outbreaks, by leveraging and building viable networks across an array of national, regional, and global institutions.

This will be achieved by:

  • Enabling critical research-for-development for rapid and accurate identification, characterization, and assessment of plant health risks through coordinated and strengthened surveillance and diagnostics networks in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Developing, validating, and deploying conventional and novel integrated disease and pest management packages for mitigation of the impacts of plant health threats (both existing and emerging) in target regions through public-private partnerships.
  • Scaling of gender-responsive and socially inclusive plant health innovations through novel partnerships, effective communications and outreach, and capacity development of local institutions.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. National plant diagnostic laboratories in 20 target low- and middle-income countries are well connected to regional/global diagnostic networks; are capable of predicting, detecting, and managing existing and emerging pests and diseases; and prevent their transboundary spread.
  2. Stakeholders, including policymakers, in target low- and middle-income countries access plant health databases and risk assessment analyses to make informed decisions on strategies to mitigate the impacts of at least five devastating transboundary pests or diseases in target geographies.
  3. Increased yield stability and reduced food security shocks due to containment of pest- and disease-induced crop losses at farmer- and landscape-levels, through deployment of gender-responsive and climate-smart integrated disease and pest management packages against six prioritized plant health threats.
  4. Mycotoxin contamination significantly reduced in at least two major crop value chains in three target countries in Africa, resulting in safer and healthier diets, and increased market access.



Improved livelihoods of smallholders due to increased yield stability and containment of pest- and disease-induced crop and food losses at the field- and landscape-levels.


Reduced risks to human health due to increased deployment of eco-friendly solutions in place of toxic pesticides. Safer diets through lowered incidence of mycotoxin contamination along the food chain. Improved food security due to increased protection of crop yields, and yield stability.


Women and vulnerable social groups have increased access to and benefits from plant health innovations. Inclusive approaches foster co-ownership and resilience of farming communities. Increased youth involvement in developing innovative plant health solutions.


Improved capacity of development partners in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America to predict climate-induced changes in pest and disease spectrum and intensity, and to prepare/respond with effective management options.


Reduction in use of toxic pesticides and associated safety hazards, including pesticide residues in the environment, due to integrated disease and pest management. Protection of natural biodiversity and ecologies from devastating invasive pests and pathogens and toxic pesticides. Effective use of microbial or insect biodiversity as biocontrol agents by local partners to protect crops.


For more details, view the full preliminary outline


Header photo: Sprayers using pesticides against fall armyworm, Nigeria. Photo by C. de Bode/CGIAR.