Plantwise Uganda to add thirty plant doctors to their pool

 Contributed by Jane Frances Asaba and Joseph Mulema, both CABI Africa, and Phil Taylor, CABI Egham-UKImage  Plantwise has been operating in Uganda for 8 years, throughout which progress in setting up plant clinics with partners has been slow but steady.  Recently, things are really taking off; extension workers being instructed to attend courses by their superiors, and their role as plant doctors is becoming part of their expected duties. Read more of this post

Genetic Engineering in Barbados

Agrobacterium on Sorrel


The Sorrel plant (left) was one of those found by the trainees during the recent training in Module 1 of how to be a plant doctor. The plant doctor training uses live plant material as well we photographs to lead the trainees through the process of field diagnosis.

The large and hard beige lump at the base of the stem is a gall caused by the bacterium  Agrobacterium tumefaciens.  The unique thing about this host/ pathogen interaction is the fact that DNA from the bacterium is inserted into the plant where it remains even long after the bacteria have been removed. This is the only natural example of DNA transfer of this kind; a natural genetic engineer.

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Plantwise heads west (in Uganda)

Top officials in Fort Portal receiving details of Plantwise

Top officials in Fort Portal receiving details of Plantwise

The recent awareness raising exercise that took place in Fort Portal in the west of Uganda was a roaring success.  The key to extending Plantwise in Uganda was to involve the Chief Administrative officers, District Agricultural officers and the NAADS coordinator of each of the districts.  The extension service in Uganda is mostly decentralised with the local government officials having a great say in both the budget and the implementation of extension.

Jane Asaba and Joseph Mulema (CABI Uganda) together with Phil Taylor (CABI UK) set off to the west of the country to promote Plantwise to districts of the Western region.   They were accompanied by Kanakulya  Luswata and Steven Mabira experienced plant doctors from Buikwe and Mukono  The ministry (MAAIF) was represented by Benius Tukahirwa. Read more of this post

Local trainers trained in Uganda

Trainers of Plant doctors examining plant material in Uganda

Trainers of Plant doctors examining plant material in Uganda

Plantwise is expanding rapidly and it is difficult to keep up with the demand (see Plantwise heads west) in some parts of Africa.  Uganda was one of the first countries that took up the concept of Plant clinics and thus it is one of the most advanced in clinic numbers and in the integration of Plantwise into the infrastructure of the country’s extension service.

Up until now training was provided by staff from the UK, originally, Rob Reeder and more recently Phil Taylor, with support from the local CABI staff in Uganda. However the demand for Plantwise is growing at such a pace and the level of experience of local people has grown such that now is the time for local people to begin training plant doctors. Read more of this post

More Plant Doctors for Uganda

More Plant Doctors for Uganda

More Plant Doctors for Uganda

Module 1 of the How to be a Plant Doctor has recently taken place at the Makerere University Agricultural research institute.  The training over 3 days (12th –14th Nov) was opened by Dr Robert Karyeija,  the assistant commissioner for crop protection, and was led by CABI trainers Phil Taylor from CABI UK and Joseph Mulema CABI Africa.  The training was in association with Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).  The trainees were from 8 districts that already have Plant Clinics  (but are intending to  increase the number) and an additional 6 districts that are intending to start clinics shortly Iganga,Luwero,Kabarole, Mityana, Wakiso and  Kibale. Morris Akiri the Regional Director of CABI Africa closed the training. Read more of this post

MoU Signed in Grenada

Lizz Johnson and Michael Lett holding the MoU that outlines how the Ministry of Agriculture and CABI will work together to bring Plant health system to Grenada and provide information to the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

Plant clinics are now a reality in Grenada.  Phil Taylor and Lizz Johnson recently travelled to Grenada to give Module 2 of the Plantwise “How to be a Plant doctor” training and additional  exercises in data management.  The week-long course involved a brief recap of what was learned in Module 1 (symptom recognition and description) and then moved onto how to make recommendations in response to farmers’ pest and disease problems. CABI courses encourage non-chemical control of pests and diseases but also acknowledges the importance of chemical inputs in food production. Module 2 studies cultural control measures as well as the use and the modes of action of various chemicals so that they can be used judiciously and minimise the likelihood of resistance.  The course involves a visit to local agro-chemical suppliers in the area to alert them of the Plantwise initiative and to begin dialogue with them and to incorporate them into a true plant health system. In each case the trainees were well received and the dealers were keen to learn more and become involved in the initiative. Read more of this post

Plantwise launched in Uganda

SANY0098Plantwise has officially been launched in Uganda as of 16th April 2012. The ceremony was held at Nkokonjeru in Buikwe district central Uganda and was attended by over 300 people made up of Plantwise plant doctors local dignitaries and farmers who have been helped by the local plant clinic. The honoured guests were the local MP (himself a part-time farmer) Mr Komayombi and Dr Karyeija the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of crop protection within MAAIF (Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries). Read more of this post

Plantwise launched in Barbados


The Plantwise program was launched at the Bajan Agrofest that took place at the end of February near Bridgetown. The agrofest is an annual event that this year attracted over 60,000 people, this is approximately 25% of the island population.  Working with the Dept of Crop Protection (Ministry of Agriculture) a plant clinic was run jointly at the agrofest by CABI staff and extension staff from the Ministry. Read more of this post

Plant clinics begin in Cambodia

DSCN0223 Plant clinics are being established in Cambodia for the first time.  Phil Taylor from CABI UK met up with YC Low and Mei-Jean Sue from the CABI Malaysian office to train Cambodia’s first Plant doctors at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh. They were joined by Vietnamese Plant doctors from the Southern Horticultural Fruit Research Institute (SOFRI) who have been running clinics for several years.

Training took place at the Royal University of Agriculture and involved trainees from that institute as well as from General Directive of Agriculture, another institute involved in extension work and also  visitors from Hanoi who are keen to host Plant clinics at their institutes.

The training took its usual course of leading the students through the process of developing a idea as to what is causing the problem on the plant. On the Wednesday the newly trained plant doctors were encouraged to go out to a venue and meet with real farmers. They rose to the challenge and were able to correctly identify the causes of the plant health issues that were brought to them.

Following the training, preparations were made to provide RUA with a small computer and scanner so that the data generated from the clinics can be returned rapidly to a central office for collating.  CABI also supplied cameras and a USB microscope so that high resolution images of plant material can be sent via the internet.

In addition to the exciting development of Plant Clinics in Cambodia,  RUA is intending to set up a diagnostic lab on site so that the material brought to the plant clinics which cannot be diagnosed immediately can be investigated further in the laboratory.

On the evening before departure Phil and Low made contact with other NGOs which are operating within extension services of Cambodia.  They have offered support for the fledgling service CABI is offering by providing additional extension material and assistance in the field.

The trainers intend to return in February 2012 to provide the second Module of “How to be a Plant Doctor”.

Plant clinic planning underway

Putting Plant Clinics to work

group snow edit

Delegates enjoying the (May) snow in Engelberg.

Plantwise is already looking towards 2012 and is organising its resources in preparation to expand the numbers of plant clinics and countries in which they operate.  Delegates made up of CABI staff from all over the globe met up at the Swiss ski resort of Engelberg (23rd-28th May) to discuss how the planned expansion of plant clinic activities is to proceed.

We heard reports on progress from existing schemes in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Bangladesh and India as well as information from previous IPM projects and related activities. It is clear from the presentations that low-income farmers are benefitting from the advice that CABI and Plant Doctors give out.

Although successful throughout the world the Plant Clinic model has been evolving since its inception in 2003. Engelberg allowed us to take stock of the progress and discuss what the salient features of the Plant Clinic model are and how they should be preserved and reproduced in new countries. However Plantwise is not just about helping farmers on the ground with immediate issues, it is also about stepping back and taking a much broader view of the plant pest distribution around the world and this is where the Plantwise Knowledge bank comes into its own.

Delegates were shown a preview of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, a vast repository of plant health information. The disease management section was demonstrated in detail, including pest and disease mapping facilities. Individual incidents of each disease are being plotted on country maps on a scale never seen before and will give excellent resolution of disease occurrence. In its final form the knowledge bank will include the ability to superimpose maps of weather patterns and soil type over the high resolution disease maps and links to fact sheets will provide advice on how to manage the disease in question. This is to be achieved by scanning and sending (electronically) the diagnosis and recommendation given to the farmer by the plant doctor to a central hub. At the hub the prescription will be read by computer and after validation uploaded onto the database increasing the resolution of the maps. 


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