Looking back on 2013: Plantwise brainstorm

2013 Plantwise knowledge bank infographic

©CABI

Last year, 2013, was a productive year for Plantwise. There were over 120,000 visits to the online knowledge bank, with over 250,000 page views. This is great news because there were over 15,000 views per month, with people exploring distribution maps, browsing the image-led diagnostic tool, and looking at factsheets on treatment of pests and diseases. Of the views, about a quarter were from PW countries, where use has doubled since the same time in 2012.

We’re excited to share that at the end of last year, there were more than 7,500 factsheets publicly available on the knowledge bank, with 550 Factsheets for Farmers, 100 Pest Management Decision Guides, 3,400 Technical Factsheets and links to 3,500 External factsheets. The Technical Factsheets included 2,500 pests that affect over 4,000 different agriculturally significant hosts.

Mobile is progressing well, with over 450 Factsheets for Farmers having been repurposed and available via tablet or smartphone. This means that plant doctors on the e-clinics pilot initiative have access to factsheet information in real-time as they fill out prescription forms, making diagnoses and recommendations more accurate. Using mobile technology also increases the number of people that Plantwise reaches, especially since the app works with intermittent internet, and can be viewed offline.

The Pest Alert service had 545 sign-ups from 200 countries, including 169 contacts from the National Plant Protection Organizations.

As of the end of December 2013, plant clinics were regularly collecting data in 14 countries, with over 18,000 records of visits by farmers. Local and national engagement continues to increase in 2014, with the current numbers in July being over 50 000 records collected from 23 countries.

It’s been a busy first half of 2014, and we’re already making good progress on figures for this year. Check out the knowledge bank site to see the content we’ve added recently!

 

Yours in losing less and feeding more,

The Plantwise knowledge bank

 

Plantwise going strong in Democratic Republic of Congo

Plantwise has been active in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2006. It has been doing admirable work with the cocoa growers of ESCO Kivu and the “Universite Catholique du Graben” in North Kivu province in the last 5 years. However, since November 2013, the focus has been on getting the central government figures of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Livestock (“Ministere de l’Agriculture, Peche et Elevage”) on board in order to develop a sustainable plant clinic structure in the country.

In December 2013, Plantwise trained 20 staff from the Crop Protection department (Direction pour la Production et Protection des Vegetaux), and 3 staff from the Extension Department (Service National de Vulgarisation) as plant doctors that will operate plant clinics. These plant clinics are designed to give the best recommendation for a given crop problem.

On the 24th May 2014, the Plantwise DRC clinic programme was officially launched in CECOMAF, the central commune of the Kinshasa province, by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hubert Ali Ramazani, alongside the Crop Protection, Extension and Quarantine deputies. Representatives from other donors, such as the FAO, the World Bank and the Fonds Belge de Sécurité Alimentaire, all the trained plant doctors (shown below in their white blouses), as well as Radio television Nationale du Congo (the national News Network) and Radio Okapi (UN sponsored radio station) were also in attendance for this momentous occasion. Click here to listen to radio coverage of the event (French language).

Crop Protection and Extension department plant doctors at the official launch of Plantwise in DRC (photo: Julien Lamontagne-Godwin

Crop Protection and Extension department plant doctors at the official launch of Plantwise in DRC (photo: Julien Lamontagne-Godwin)

Five weekly clinics are scheduled to take place in the Province of Kinshasa and will remain in place till the end of 2014. Read more of this post

Plantwise in Suriname

Blog post by Shamela Rambadan and Abigail Rumsey

In May last year, discussions began with the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (LVV) to start up a Plantwise programme in Suriname. By December, 22 plant doctors had completed Module 1 of the Plantwise ‘How to Become a Plant Doctor’ training course. In January 2014, a Partnership Statement and Partnership Agreement was signed by the Permanent Secretary Mr Gerrit Breinburg. Read more of this post

Photostory: SDC visits Plantwise Sri Lanka

The story of support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for the Plantwise food security programme goes back to its inception in 2011. Since the start, SDC has been a major supporter of both in-country programme activities as well as global resources such as the Plantwise knowledge bank. Sri Lanka is one example of a Plantwise country that has shown particularly strong uptake of the plant clinic concept. This prompted Dr Carmen Thoennissen, an SDC senior advisor for the Global Programme Food Security, to join CABI staff and partners in Sri Lanka for 3 days to discover how the programme is unfolding on the ground and understand what makes it a success. Check out the photo story and read more after the jump

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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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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

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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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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