Plant clinics help improve yields in Machakos, Kenya

Plant doctor John Mutisya examining a potato sample at the Katoloni plant clinic Credit: David Onyango © CABI

John Mutisya, a plant doctor at the Katoloni plant clinic examines a potato sample
Credit: David Onyango © CABI

“Approximately 300 farmer-self help groups from Machakos County and its environs under the Katoloni community-based organization have registered improved crop yields in the last one year due to high levels of sensitization on crop pest and diseases at plant clinics in the region,” writes Maugo Owiti of HiviSasa.com.

In the article, Pius Ndaka, a farmer from Iluvya village shares the benefits he has experienced from the Katoloni plant clinic.

Click here to read the full story

Infographic: Plantwise progress in Kenya so far

PW Kenya Infographic

Plantwise connecting smallholders to knowledge through ICT Interventions

The emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the last decade has opened new avenues in knowledge management that could play important roles in meeting the prevailing challenges related to sharing, exchanging and disseminating knowledge and technologies. The types of ICT-enabled services are capable of improving the capacity and livelihoods of poor smallholders are growing quickly. One of the best examples of these services is the use of mobile phones as a platform for exchanging information through short messaging services (SMS), use of broadband services and other android applications. According to a report of Swedish mobile network equipment maker Ericsson, India is the world’s second-largest telecommunications market, with 933 million subscribers and the subscriptions are adding year by year. The growing market of mobile phones in the country is due to the falling cost of handsets which is coupled with improved usability and increasing network coverage. (www.ibef.org).

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Combatting the “black spot” on citrus production in Ghana

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI in Switzerland

Citrus fruits with angular leaf spot (M. Bateman)

Citrus fruits with angular leaf spot (M. Bateman)

Not long ago, farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana had seen citrus as a potential money-maker but now many are now giving up in despair as pathogens such as citrus angular leaf spot (Pseudocercospora angolensis) and citrus black spot (Guignarida citricarpa) diminish yields and make the fruits unmarketable. Many farmers have even gone as far as cutting down their orange trees and replacing them with cocoa.

Recently, a team of plant doctors, Ministry of Agriculture extension staff, researchers and other experts led a series of plant health rallies to help equip farmers with information on how to manage citrus angular leaf spot and other plant health problems constraining citrus production. The rallies were presented to unsuspecting members of the public – ‘spontaneous’ rather than regimented extension. The plant health rally approach enabled the team to reach many farmers in the affected area in a short period of time. It also served as a means for the team of experts to gather information from farmers’ on their problems and experiences.

During a plant health rally, an expert gives citrus growers some advice on how to manage some key plant health problems (M Bateman)

During a plant health rally, an expert gives citrus growers some advice on how to manage some key plant health problems (M Bateman)

For example, the discussions with the farmers uncovered another major challenge for the citrus producers: because of a lack of a market, farmers are unable to sell the oranges that they do produce. This is another factor contributing to the decision taken by some to replace citrus with cocoa. This feedback loop will help to strengthen the support provided to farmers. Ultimately, it is hoped that the support provided through plant health rallies, plant clinics and other extension activities will help farmers to respond to and begin to remove the “black spot” on Ghana’s citrus.

Pesticides-L mailing list: creating a global conversation on pesticides issues

Written by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI Switzerland

plant clinicAs has been mentioned before in this blog, there are a staggering number of chemicals in the world – estimates go as high as 2 million different preparations for sale. This is a lot for regulators in any given country to assess and monitor for safety concerns, especially given the nature of many of the problems associated with pesticides. While symptoms of acute pesticide poisoning become apparent relatively rapidly after exposure, chronic effects such as cancer can be caused by repeated, low level exposure over extended periods of time. For these chronic problems, it is much more difficult to uncover the connections between the chemical and the disease.

International agreements such as the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions provide formal channels for information sharing on these issues between countries.

At a recent workshop on pest management and pesticide risk reduction, Mr David Kamangira, Senior Deputy Director in Zambia’s Department of Agricultural Research Services, offered up a suggestion for a grassroots approach for sharing information and staying informed about pesticides. He shared his experience with the “Pesticides-L” mailing list, an online forum for discussions regarding pesticides management issues. Moderated by Dr Andrea Rother of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine of the University of Cape Town, Pesticides-L is open to anyone with an interest in issues related to pesticides. Posts to the list cover topics ranging from research results on human health and environmental effects to policy debates to meeting announcements. The Pesticide-L mailing list is a rich information source and a valuable tool for linking together a global community of stakeholders such as researchers, NGO’s, chemical companies, policy makers, affected individuals, unions, farmers, community groups and government representatives. To subscribe to this list, email ‘pesticides-l-owner@lists.uct.ac.za’.

Behind the scenes of Plantwise plant clinics in Uganda

PhD student, Andrew Tock, of the Warwick Crop Centre, has spent three months monitoring Plantwise plant clinic success in Uganda as part of a BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership. During this time, he kept a research diary (video above), describing his experiences in Uganda and the day-to-day work of plant doctors in the field.

To read an interview with Andrew, visit the BBSRC website: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/141029-f-plant-clinics-in-uganda.aspx

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

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