Plantwise knowledge bank wins Open Data Award for Social Impact

Plant doctors in Kenya help advise farmers about sick crops at a local plant clinic with the help of the Plantwise knowledge bank Factsheet Library app. (Photo Wright/CABI)

Plant doctors in Kenya help advise farmers about sick crops at a local plant clinic with the help of the Plantwise knowledge bank Factsheet Library app. (Photo Wright/CABI)

On 4 November, the CABI-led Plantwise programme was announced as the winner of the Open Data Award for Social Impact. This is the latest accolade for this innovative open access platform for knowledge to help farmers lose less of what they grow to crop pests and diseases. Plantwise knowledge bank Global Director Shaun Hobbs accepted the award from Open Data Institute Chairman and Co-founder Sir Nigel Shadbolt at the ODI Summit gala dinner at the Museum of London.

Also nominated for the Social Impact award category were communications development consultancy Internews and the UNHCR Data Portal.

With this award, the Open Data Institute celebrates ‘innovation and excellence in the ways open data are used and published,’ as judged by a panel of industry experts, influencers and leaders in the field of open-access technology. It is hoped that recognition of Plantwise knowledge bank will continue to drive other public and private organisations to collaborate for the benefit of rural communities and global food security.

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Mexico eradicates Mediterranean fruit fly

Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata)

Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata). ©Daniel Feliciano – CC BY-SA 3.0

Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) has declared the country free of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, in a development that is expected to ease trade restrictions and boost the produce industry.

The declaration will positively impact on 1.8 million hectares of growing land for some key agricultural crops – including tomatoes, mangoes and avocados – with an annual production of 17.6 million metric tons (MT). The total value of the affected produce is estimated to be around 86 billion pesos (US$6.4 billion).

SAGARPA said the fruit fly’s eradication was a result of phytosanitary measures that had been in place for 35 years.

Fruit flies are a menacing pest across the world, causing damage to fruits and other agricultural crops with large financial consequences for international trade when export bans are imposed. For example, Pakistani mango imports were at risk of being banned by the EU earlier this year due to fruit fly infestations (http://www.newspakistan.pk/2014/06/23/eu-ban-import-pakistani-mangoes-due-infestation/), and in May this year the EU controversially banned all imports of Indian mangoes due to the discovery of tropical pests in the imported produce (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27238239).

Do you have a problem with fruit flies in your crop? Find out how to manage fruit flies at a local level by reading pest management factsheets on the Plantwise knowledge bank: http://www.plantwise.org/KnowledgeBank/SearchResults.aspx?q=”fruit fly”.

Find out more about the distribution of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, by clicking on the image below. Distribution records in CABI’s products (Plantwise knowledge bank and CPC) will be updated shortly.

Ceratitis capitata global distribution

Global distribution of Ceratitis capitata, compiled by the Plantwise knowledge bank based on published reports in the scientific literature. ©CABI 2014. http://www.plantwise.org/KnowledgeBank.

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.

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

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