International Day of Rural Women

Tea pickers in Sri Lanka. (Photo: Katherine Cameron, CABI)

Tea pickers in Sri Lanka. (Photo: Katherine Cameron, CABI)

Today, 15 October, is the International Day of Rural Women. The majority of rural women depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods. In developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43% of the agricultural labour force, and produce, process and prepare much of the food available, thereby giving them primary responsibility for food security.

Ensuring rural women’s access to reliable agricultural advice can make the difference between their crop succeeding or failing. CABI works alongside national extension services to deliver information to farmers in the field, through face to face plant clinics, voicemail/SMS messages, radio and magazines, through projects such as Plantwise (, Direct2Farm ( and the Africa Soil Health Consortium (

The three women pictured above are tea pickers in Sri Lanka. Anyone who has visited tea growing countries will notice the large commercial tea farms, and women in the fields picking the tea leaves. Smallholders also contribute to tea production in Sri Lanka. Regulated by the Tea Smallholding Authority, they sell tea leaves from their 0.5-2 acre plots to the big tea companies. Tea blister blight is the main problem for tea farmers in Sri Lanka. In June, farmer Punchi brought a diseased tea leaf into the plant clinic in Nuwara Eliya. The plant doctor was able to diagnose blister blight and recommend how to manage the problem. Punchi left the clinic with a new hope that she could stop the disease from spreading and save the rest of her tea crop for selling to the tea companies.

You can find out more about blister blight by reading the Plantwise technical factsheet on tea blister blight.
Find out more about the International Day of Rural Women at

Rice pests are no longer winning: the Khmer Smile is back

Hy Broey, rice farmer in Cambodia

Hy Broey, rice farmer in Cambodia © CABI

Contributed by Heng Chunn Hy and Ho Chea, General Department of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Hy Broey, a farmer from Choeung Tik Khor village in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia, came with her problem to the plant clinic. She had many problems in rice planting and production, especially during the tillering stage. By attending plant clinics in her village she has learned how to solve her agricultural problems.

Mr Tep Say, the plant doctor, had identified the problem and told her that it was caused by stem borer. He showed her the affected part: dead hearts or dead tillers that can be easily pulled from the base during the vegetative stages. Also, during the reproductive stage, the plants were showing whiteheads: emerging panicles were whitish and unfilled or empty. He showed her tiny holes on the stems and tillers. He told her that she should synchronize planting, and use a recommended resistant variety. During the harvesting she should cut rice near the stem base in order to remove and kill all larvae and pupae. She should also try to conserve predators and try to catch the adult stem borer moths. If she removes all the affected plants, and only if the insect still persists, she can spray a named insecticide in order to kill the insect.

Later the plant doctor also visited the farmer’s field and gave her IPM recommendations. He told her and her husband not only to rely on chemical control but also include cultural practice to improve crop yields, and to protect the environment, thus allowing the natural enemies like dragonflies to breed and help control the adult stem borer moth.

The plant doctor had a follow-up visit to the farmer to see the implementation of his advice. After attending the plant clinic, Hy Borey and her husband changed their habit of only relying on chemical sprays and practised with IPM technique as provided by the plant doctor. They got good results and harvested a good crop. At the harvesting time the farmer was very happy since she got a better yield. Before visiting the plant clinic she got only 2.5 ton/ha but this year after visiting the plant clinic the yield had increased to 3.7 ton/ha. Before visiting plant clinics, she sprayed pesticide 3 times per season for management of pests but after visiting the plant clinic she learnt to apply the IPM method to control insects and diseases, and no more spraying of chemicals was required in this season. She was very happy and thanked CABI’s Plantwise plant clinic program for the support to help farmers in Prey Veng, and other provinces as well.

Plantwise Initiative Equips Farmers with Knowledge in Zambia

NAIS LogoArticle by Dorcas Kabuya Chaaba- NAIS

A small-scale farmer in Chilanga District, Moses Banda has seriously taken up vegetable production. Mr Banda commends Government for its continued support in assisting farmers in addressing crop problems and how best to control them organically.
“My vegetables always had holes due to Sefasefa (Diamond Back Moth) and all I could think of was spraying but little did I know that the chemicals were harmful not only to the soils but humans and the entire ecosystem. Through this interaction with the Plant Doctors, I have learnt insects are being resistant to chemicals and that we should consider treating these insects organically through the use of crop rotation and Neem tree, which is soaked in water and sprayed to infected plants,” he explained.
Plantwise addresses the constant struggle that small-scale farmers go through to produce food by providing affordable, locally available solutions to plant health problems.

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Plantwise-Farmer Field Schools; Synergies in Mozambique

Blog contributed by Martin Kimani (CABI) and Lito Malia (Plantwise National Coordinator, Mozambique)

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Farmer field schools (FFS) are essentially schools without walls that introduce new technological innovations while building on indigenous knowledge. In FFS, farmers are the experts. At a recently held FFS stakeholder and donor forum in Mozambique from 30th to 31st July 2015, CABI presented existing opportunities in linking FFS with Plantwise activities. The Forum brought together representatives from FAO, Agha Khan Foundation, IFAD, CARE, CABI, DNEA, DPA-Sofala, IAM, IIAM, DSV, and DINAS e SETSAN. This was a culmination of exploratory visits and meetings held earlier on in the year in Mozambique, Kenya and Rwanda.

“FFS builds farmers capacity to analyse their production systems, identify problems, test possible solutions and adopt practices most suitable to their production systems. It further, provides an opportunity for farmers to test and evaluate suitable land use technologies and introduce new technologies through comparing conventional ones and indigenous ones”, said Martin Kimani, the CABI Country Coordinator for Mozambique.

CABI presented opportunities for FFS and Plantwise linkages in Mozambique where both agricultural extension programmes can be jointly implemented. New farming technologies and approaches published in extension materials generated in the Plantwise programme will now benefit from existing testing and validation systems under FFS. This will result to a higher adoption and adaptation at farmer level leading top improved livelihoods. This was just one among many other potential benefits Martin highlighted at the meeting in linking the two programmes.

Some of the plant doctors in Mozambique are experienced FFS facilitators hence there is already an adequate potential and enthusiasm in linking FFS with Plantwise activities starting with Moamba district. FAO is currently running FFS in Manica, Vanduzi and Maomba districts.FFS-PW Mozambique

Bolivia: caso confirmado de la Moniliasis del cacao

Frutos con varios síntomas (CABI)

Frutos con varios síntomas (CABI)

En junio 2015, se confirmó la presencia del hongo de la Moniliasis del cacao en Alto Beni, Departamento de La Paz a donde 85% de la producción de cacao es producida por aproximadamente 3000 pequeños y pequeñas agricultores. Este hongo (Moniliophthora roreri) es limitado en 13 países de América Latina y causa pérdidas importantes por los productores y productoras. Los síntomas característicos del hongo en los frutos incluyen madurez prematura, deformación, lesiones largas de color marrón y necrosis interna de los tejidos.

Para mantener un cultivo sano y prevenir la dispersión del hongo, revise la Lista Verde sobre la Moniliasis del cacao o para más detalles técnicos revise la Hoja técnica de Plantwise. Si se detecta los síntomas en regiones libres de la enfermedad, contacte el Ministerio de Agricultura de su país para recomendaciones de control locales.

Lista Verde: Moniliasis del cacao

Lista Verde: Moniliasis del cacao

Bridging the Agricultural Extension gap through Plant Health Rallies in Uganda

Article published in the Agribusiness Digest, UgandaUG_Plantwise bridging agric extension through PHRs

Plantwise publishes its 1000th Factsheet for Farmers!

The 100th Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers, written by a Senior Agricultural Officer from Zambia's Department of Agriculture

The 1000th Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers, written by a Senior Agricultural Officer from Zambia’s Department of Agriculture

Today, we are celebrating the publication of the 1000th Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers (PFFFs) on the Plantwise knowledge bank!

PFFFs are written by trained partners in Plantwise countries around the world. Each factsheet provides information on how to recognise the problem, some background details about the problem and offers effective management advice to enable the problem to be controlled. After peer review, the factsheets go through technical validation to ensure that the factsheets offer management advice that is scientifically sound, and safe and practical for a farmer to implement. Once finalised, PFFFs are distributed to plant clinics where they are used to support extension workers in providing farmers with the best possible crop protection recommendations. This makes PFFFs a key resource in preventing crop losses to pests and diseases, boosting food security and improving livelihoods. 

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