It is evident that the development in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and digital applications plays pivotal role in present knowledge based economies. Recently, I attended an ICT focussed international conference with my colleague from D2F in Bengaluru which was organised by UAS Bengaluru and GCRA, Australia from 5th-7th January, 2016 on “Innovative Digital Applications for Sustainable Development” at UAS Bengaluru. University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bengaluru has played a major role in developing technologies and extension methodologies and for the sustainable development of the rural communities in Karnataka. The Global Communication Research Association (GCRA), Australia has been providing an academic forum for the past 14 years and also encouraging development of research in underrepresented geographical areas of the globe by focusing their areas of interest.
The conference aimed to facilitate effective dialogue among the researchers, communication specialists, extension professionals and young students in these disciplines for consolidating the strategies to achieve sustainable development through digital applications.
Excerpt from The New Times article, published 22 January 2016
It is a Monday evening and Dominique Nkundukozera, a farmer in Rusatira Sector in Huye District, is seated on a chair at Kinkanga market, with several cassava stems. He had brought the stems for examination by experts at a ‘Plant Health Clinic’ at the market.
“Before the Plant Clinic initiative, I was losing about 60 per cent of my produce each season. It was unbearable because I could not even recoup the investment on the farm; however, since I started getting advice on disease management, losses have declined to 20 per cent” Continue reading on The New Times website→
The software application WhatsApp is being used by plant doctors in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to provide and receive plant diagnostic support. WhatsApp has proven to be popular in many countries, because it is a free communication tool for sending and receiving SMS messages. Continue reading →
Report by Dr Sivapragasam Annamalai, CABI Country Coordinator for Plantwise Vietnam
Mr. Philip Walters, the Chairman of the Governing Board, CABI visited a plant clinic in Tan My Chanh Village, My Tho City, Tien Giang Province, south Vietnam on the 2nd November, 2015. It was his first ever visit to a plant clinic in operation. During the visit, he was accompanied by Dr. Nguyen Van Tuat, the Vice President of VAAS and National Coordinator of Plantwise Vietnam; Dr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Director General of the Southern Fruits Research Institute (SOFRI), a local Implementing Organization of Plantwise, Vietnam and Dr. Siva Annamalai, the CABI Country Coordinator for Plantwise in Vietnam. During the visit, he was able to see the plant doctors in action diagnosing disease samples and giving appropriate recommendations for the problems faced by mainly citrus farmers in the area. He also interviewed some farmers and a Vice Chairman of the commune to get a feel of their perception on plant clinics and their future needs.
After the visit to the plant clinic, Mr Philip visited SOFRI and was briefed on the overall Plantwise operations in Vietnam by Dr. Tuat and Dr. Hoa. He addressed the questions raised by the Plantwise Team in Vietnam, assisted by Dr. Siva. Mr. Philip also visited the diagnostic laboratory and other Plantwise-related facilities in SOFRI. Overall, the trip was a successful one and in the words of Mr. Philip: “impressed with the Plantwise developments going on in Vietnam”.
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 (www.plantwise.org), Direct2Farm (www.cabi.org/direct2farm) and the Africa Soil Health Consortium (www.africasoilhealth.cabi.org).
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.
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.