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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Plant health system developing well in Zambia

Farmers' validation of factsheets during Plantwise training in Lusaka, Zambia

Farmers’ validation of factsheets during Plantwise training in Lusaka, Zambia. Credit: Stefan Toepfer © CABI

Since the launch of Plantwise in Zambia last year, much progress has been made to build capacity within the national plant health system. In collaboration with the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), CABI staff have successfully trained crop officers and extension staff from the Department of Agriculture, ZARI, and Self Help Africa on ‘how to be a plant doctor’. In addition to this, training on development of pest management decision guides and factsheets has produced content that will be made available on the Plantwise knowledge bank for other plant doctors to use. A workshop on data management has also been run, training plant health experts in recording data at plant clinics, data harmonization, validation, analysis and sharing. Read more of this post

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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Photo of the Month, October 2013 – Idyllic location for training in Malawi

Data management training participants at Lake Malawi

Participants during the plant clinic data management training held at the Mpatsa Lodge Salima by Lake Malawi from 16th to 17th September, 2013 © CABI

Plantwise was launched in Malawi in May 2013 after vigorous training of plant doctors in crop pest identification and how to give recommendations based on the identified pest problem. In the 14 plant clinics widespread in Lilongwe and Mzimba, there was need to understand the role that the plant clinic data will play in the national Plant Health System. Plant clinic data management training was carried out for the eight participants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Extension and Crop Development departments and World Vision who are directly involved in the supervision of plant clinic data collection and use. Read more of this post

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