Data management training in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – looking back on a successful trip!

In the first week of September, 2014, Claire Beverley and I went to Cambodia for three days to run data management training and a cluster meeting, along with our colleague Jeremy Ngim from the CABI Malaysia office. The presentations were given in English and translated into Khmer, which was a neat experience for all. We got the opportunity to talk with plant doctors and their supervisors about current issues with data management in Cambodia, and how harmonising, analysing, and sharing of data can work within Cambodia.

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The General Directorate of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. ©CABI

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One of the translators, Ho Chea, patiently getting materials ready for a harmonisation exercise. ©CABI

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Participants listening enthusiastically to Claire presenting. ©CABI

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Birds of Paradise at lunch break. ©CABI

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Participants discussing ways issues and solutions with data flow in Cambodia. ©CABI

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Claire working with one of the translators, Sarika, to facilitate a discussion in both English and Khmer! ©CABI

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Emily, happy to be talking about data! ©CABI

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Claire and Emily exploring Phnom Penh in a tuk-tuk. ©CABI

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Delicious snacks at tea – can you name the fruits in this picture? ©CABI

 

 

Alternative to fungicides for the control of Pecan scab

Symptoms of pecan scab on pecan fruit © Charles J. Graham

Symptoms of pecan scab on pecan fruit © Charles J. Graham

Pecan scab, caused by the fungus Fusicladium effusum, is a major yield-limiting disease of pecan (Carya illinoinensis). Planting varieties with some resistance to the disease is the most practical way to avoid losses from pecan scab, but the scab fungus can change over time to overcome host resistance. The use of chemical fungicides is another widely used method of prevention and control. However, increasing resistance of the scab fungus to fungicides, coupled with greater awareness of the environmental impact of chemicals, is prompting farmers to consider other management options.

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Update: Plant Health News (30 Jul 14)

Farmers in California are diverting water away from vegetable crops to rescue their almond crops from drought © Luigi Chiesa (CC BY-SA)

Californian farmers are diverting water from vegetable crops to save almonds from drought © Luigi Chiesa (CC BY-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the effects of typhoons in Taiwan and China, a new strategy for almond irrigation in California and a crackdown on fake seed sellers in Kenya.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Managing plant pathogens by enhancing ecosystem services

 

Pollination, an example of an ecosystem service  © Reinhold Stansich

Pollination, an example of an ecosystem service © Reinhold Stansich

From the 8th-12th April experts met in Bellagio, Italy to develop a strategy to mitigate the effects emerging plant diseases are having on crops in sub-Saharan Africa. Among these experts were Plantwise staff. A major theme throughout the conference was ecosystem services and how agricultural biodiversity can enhance the provision of these services, creating resilient agro-ecosystems.

Click on the link below to read more about the conference:

Bellagio Center conference on dangerous plant pathogens

The world’s last meal- what does a homogenous global diet mean for food security?

CAB Abstracts Globe_plusDietApple

You’d think, from the vast variety of international cuisines that line our high streets and supermarket shelves, that globalisation was widening the global palate. Recent evidence suggests it’s just not the case. As the global diet narrows, concerns are growing for the world’s food security and the ecological implications of setting up a ‘global monoculture’.

A recent PNAS study found that the variety of crops we are eating is narrowing. It found that in the last 50 years the global diet has homogenised on average by 16.7%. The highest rates of homogenisation are being seen in East and Southeast Asian and sub-Saharan countries. Diets are tending to ‘westernise’ with wheat, rice and oils becoming much more popular. More traditional local foods like sorghum, cassava and millet are contributing less to the global diet. Read more of this post

Tackling food insecurity with mobile technologies

It is important for farmers in developing countries  to have access to the best agricultural information available to prevent crop losses and boost food security and wider livelihoods. Under the Plantwise programme, CABI helps local governments and extension workers set up plant clinics where farmers can come for unbiased and practical agricultural advice helping them to “lose less and feed more”. Farmers come with their crops and the trained plant doctors diagnose plant pest and disease problems and give them tailored recommendations. These clinics have a range of hard copy resources to help the plant doctors make diagnoses and recommendations. Data on the problems are also collected via paper prescription forms- the analysis of these data could allow countries to map the spread of pests and diseases and feed back critical advice. This model has been working well for a number of years but as technologies have evolved they are opening up new opportunities for getting even more resources to farmers and ensuring data is collected and fed back even more quickly potentially making it far more useful.

In response to the new opportunities Plantwise are introducing mobile technologies (tablet computers and SMS messaging) into clinics through a number of pilots. These pilots will test how and in what ways mobile technologies might place plant doctors in the best possible  position to help farmers prevent crop losses and boost food security.

Mobile training workshop: teaching plant doctors to use tablets, the Factsheet app and how to fill in 'e-rescription forms'.

Mobile training workshop: teaching plant doctors to use tablets, the Factsheet app and how to fill in ‘e-rescription forms’.

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Finding ‘a way forward’ at Sri Lanka’s national Plantwise forum

Over 60 stakeholders from Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector came together in the hilltops over Kandy in Sri Lanka recently to exchange experiences and discover strategies for implementing the Plantwise model on the ground. Video also available on Vimeo here.

Coming from extension, research, private enterprise, academia and policy-making, attendees at this national forum represented the top tiers of the plant health system, and were led by guest of honour Dr. D. B T Wijeratne , the Additional Secretary (Agriculture Technology) of the Ministry of Agriculture. The ‘Review and Way Forward Workshop’ was aimed at all those who are directly responsible for agricultural development, encouraging them to create concrete ideas for to ensure sustainability for plant clinics, or ‘crop clinics’ as they are known in the country.

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