Seeking help for her amaranthus crop in India, Sarathambal finds a local plant clinic

A Plantwise experience from Tamil Nadu. Writing and reporting by Kavya Dashora, CABI India


Amaranthus Photo:

50-year-old Sarathambal lives with her husband and son, in Pooncheri village near Iluppakkorai, in Thanjavur district. The family engages in diversified cropping systems in their 2 acre land, to expand the source of subsistence and income, to increase yield, and to minimize pests and diseases commonly found in monoculture.

Sarathambal shoulders the responsibility of cultivating amaranthus, a traditional vegetable for Indian cooking, in different plots of 30 cents, earning a regular income of Rs.3000 (£30) per month.

The family frequently encountered pest and disease problems in their crops. It was par for the course that farmers sought and implemented ad hoc suggestions from peer farmers, suppliers, and fertilizer shops. In this manner, Sarathambal utilized blanket recommendations of chemicals for all crops without scientific diagnosis of the disease.

As a result, over a period of 30 days, the amaranthus crop yield reduced in quantity and quality, fetching lower prices in the market. Sarathambal was anxious as a substantial portion of their family income was depleted due to deteriorating plant health.

Fortunately, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation runs plant clinics, in collaboration with the CABI-led Plantwise programme, to provide precise diagnostic, and advisory services for plant diseases, helping create durable plant health systems for smallholder farmers, in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Maharashtra.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (15 Oct 14)

Diaporthe citri, seen here affecting Tangelo, has been identified on lemon in India © Scot Nelson (CC BY-SA)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include a pathogen that’s causing fruit rot of tomato, orange, and apple in Pakistan, the first report of Phomopsis citri associated with dieback of lemon in India and the  first report of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne hapla parasitizing roses in Ethiopia. 

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Plantwise Data Management Training in Mozambique

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Since its launch early this year, the partnership between the Plantwise Initiative and the Ministry of Agriculture in Mozambique (MINAG) continues to grow. The National Directorate of Agrarian Services (DNSA) that falls under MINAG is the Plantwise implementing institution in Mozambique. There are currently 5 plant clinics established and running in Maputo and Manica provinces. Read more of this post

Update: Plant Health News (08 Oct 14)

Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags keep grain pest free © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags keep grain free of pests © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the promotion of grain storage bags to prevent pest damage in Kenya, the fight against herbicide-resistant weeds and managing Fusarium wilt disease in watermelon.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Invasive myrtle rust impacts discussed at international forestry congress

Abigail Rumsey:

The rust species, Puccinia psidii, affects several crop trees including guava and allspice.

Originally posted on CABI Invasives Blog:

CABI has recently published a comprehensive review and update of its ISC datasheet on the globally important pathogen Puccinia psidii, commonly known as myrtle rust or guava rust. This problematic fungus is of worldwide importance and is capable of infecting a wide range of hosts. To date it has over 440 host species; affecting many plants in the Myrtaceae family, including threatened and endangered species (see IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). Severe impacts have been recorded in amenity plantings, commercial plantations and the native environment.

Once established in a new country myrtle rust can spread quickly and this has been the case in many countries including Jamaica, Hawaii, Australia and New Caledonia. Its successful global and local dispersal through urediniospores and human-aided movement of diseased plants, combined with its massive host range make myrtle rust an effective and devastating invasive. It was first identified as an invasive…

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Checking in on the MDGs: how have we scored so far?

Corn fingers

Established in 2000 by the UN, the eight Millennium Development Goals provide a priority blueprint for ending poverty and meeting the needs of the world’s poorest- and they will hit their deadline in a little over a year’s time. The two questions which are on the minds of many policy leaders and international development institutions: how have we done in the past 14 years, and crucially, what comes next? Tomorrow evening the World Bank will launch its Global Monitoring Report 2014 which takes a look at progress so far in achieving results from development policies, including the Millennium Development Goals (go to the World Bank website to follow the event or #endpoverty on twitter). In terms of global food security, Millennium Development Goal 1 aims to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015, a goal shared by CABI and its work empowering farmers to lose less and feed more through the Plantwise initiative. Prior to this year’s report, it was already announced that there has been substantial progress towards reaching MDG 1, with malnourishment now afflicting an estimated 805 million people- something that could not be reported in 2006 when the spread of global hunger was still on the rise. Though this means 1 in every 8 people remains without sufficient supply of nutritious food to eat, this is also a sign that keeping food security at the top of the international development agenda is making a critical difference. “Political commitment of governments is increasingly being translated into comprehensive and effective action, with strengthened engagement of non-state actors,” commented José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. “These efforts are bringing the goal of achieving food security in our lifetime closer to reality.”

The Global Monitoring Report will outline MDG progress, analyzing efforts to reduce poverty, improve schooling, reduce maternal and child mortality, and ensure safe water and sanitation. The WB-IMF report also introduces the Twin Goals of ending poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity. Next week on October 13th in London, the Global Hunger Index 2014 will also be launched to weigh in on progress and room for improvement towards reaching global food security.

Backstopping visit to Bangkok, Thailand

As the last part of our data management trip, Claire and I headed to Bangkok for the 11th and 12th of September. We joined a group of plant doctors and farmers at the plant clinic/rally in Nong Kung village, Suppaya district, Chainat province. We saw a demonstration on biocontrol, looked through pamphlets and information available to farmers about crop problems, and discussed the rice harvest which was currently taking place. In the backstopping training at the Rice Department, the participants shared their concerns and plans for future data management in Thailand.


Participants of the data management backstopping in Bangkok. ©CABI


Farmers attending the clinic to listen to advice about crop protection. ©CABI


Emily, Claire, Fook Wing, and Siva observing how plant clinics operate in Chainat province. ©CABI


Discussing data management in Thailand. ©CABI


Looking forward to a delicious meal in Nong Kung village! ©CABI


Farmers learning about biocontrol products using fungal spores grown on a culture of cooked rice. ©CABI


A farmer and plant doctor discussing issues with food crops. ©CABI


Preserved samples and specimens for comparison purposes when diagnosing crop problems. ©CABI


View from the plant clinic into part of the village – it was a beautiful, sunny day. ©CABI


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