Plantwise Factsheets App gets the attention of BBC radio

Plantwise and White October met up for an interview on BBC Radio Oxford’s Kat Orman show to talk about how the new Plantwise Factsheets Library app will help get good crop information out to local extension workers, helping them to help farmers.

 

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2013 Global Food Policy Report: Nutrition in the spotlight

The development community has increased its focus on improving nutrition © Steve Evans (CC BY)

The development community has increased its focus on improving nutrition © Steve Evans (CC BY)

Last month, the International Food Policy Research Institute released its 2013 Global Food Policy Report. This report is the third annual report in this series which aims to give an overview of the food policy developments that have affected food security that year. This includes a review of the key highlights of the previous 12 months, the challenges faced and the possible opportunities for food policy in the coming year.

In 2013, the focus of discussion on food policy moved further towards nutrition. With the Nutrition for Growth summit in June, the effort committed to tackling undernutrition gained momentum with more than US$23 billion being pledged by development partners.

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Who benefits from Plantwise?

Plant doctor, Agnes Kariuki, helping a female farmer diagnose her crops in Embu Town clinic, Kenya ©CABI (photo credit Holly Wright)

Plant doctor, Agnes Kariuki, helping a female farmer diagnose her crops in Embu Town clinic, Kenya ©CABI (photo credit Holly Wright)

As part of our Monitoring and Evaluation within Plantwise, we are identifying indicators both to help us improve the way we operate and also increase accountability to our participants, partners, and donors. As a follow-up to our blog post on International Women’s Day, one of the ways we can improve our current work and set the stage for more effective project design in future is by collecting sex-disaggregated data. 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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International Women’s Day 2014: Women in agriculture

A female pearl millet farmer with part of her harvest © ICRISAT

A female pearl millet farmer with part of her harvest © ICRISAT

I would like to acknowledge Abigail Rumsey, Claire Curry, Emily Palmer and Léna Durocher-Granger for their contributions to this blog post.

For over a century countries globally have celebrated International Women’s Day as a day to reflect on the role of women in society. In honor of International Women’s Day 2014 we are giving a special focus to women in agriculture. Read more of this post

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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Plantwise 2013 Highlights

PW collage

As we move into the New Year and all that 2014 has to offer it seems like a good time to review some of the achievements of 2013. Here are a few of the Plantwise highlights of 2013!

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UK Needs Increase In Agriculture Graduates To Tackle Global Food Security

Giving children the opportunity to learn more about insects at a young age may create the interest and enthusiasm required for a subsequent career in entomology. Photo taken at Penn State's Great Insect Fair, 2012 hosted by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences' Entomology Department © Penn State (CC-BY-NC 2.0)

Giving children the opportunity to learn more about insects at a young age may create the interest and enthusiasm required for a subsequent career in entomology. Photo taken at Penn State’s Great Insect Fair, 2012 hosted by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences’ Entomology Department © Penn State (CC-BY-NC 2.0)

Increasing the production of food in an environmentally sustainable way is a major global issue. A report produced by the UK Cabinet Office in 2008 predicted that the global population will rise to 9 billion by 2050 from a current 6.8 billion. This increase in population will substantially increase demand for food, with food production needing to increase by 70% in the next 40 years whilst using the same agricultural footprint and without depleting natural resources. This challenge will require collaboration between universities, research institutes and industry in order to make the considerable advances in technology required to feed a growing population. There is now increasing concern that there are too few specialist graduates in the UK with the expert knowledge and skills required to tackle the issues surrounding global food security.

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Typhoon Haiyan Devastates Agriculture in the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan  ©NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Typhoon Haiyan ©NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record tore through the Philippines on 8th November. With a confirmed death toll of 4,460, 4 million people displaced and 13 million people affected, the typhoon has undoubtedly caused widespread destruction and devastation. The destruction to the country’s agricultural sectors is becoming increasingly evident. An estimated 153,495 ha of crops have been damaged causing losses of $225 million and the livelihoods of over 1 million farmers adversely affected.

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Plantwise Afghanistan and the Knowledge Bank join Global Food Security Conference in the Netherlands

Contributed with Julia Dennis

This month, academics, researchers, government agencies, NGOs and corporations convened in the Netherlands to talk about the future of food. The question of how we will feed 9 billion people by 2050 was the major issue on the table, but much of the discussion also called for a careful focus on the imbalance occurring today between the nearly 2 billion undernourished and 1.5 billion over-nourished people on the planet.

Radio interview with Shaun Hobbs

Knowledge Bank Global Director Shaun Hobbs interviewed on Deustche Welle

The First International Conference on Global Food Security, hosted by the University of Wageningen, brought over 800 experts together for oral and poster presentations, in addition to key-note addresses and panel debates on all variety of topics pertaining to food security. The large turnout and eagerness of individuals in attendance demonstrated that the time is right to exchange knowledge from across disciplines. More to the point, with the evolution from the Millienium Development Goals to objectives of sustainable development set to take over in 2015, there is an urgent need for research to inform policy for future action.
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