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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Update: Plant Health News (12 Mar 14)

Brown marmorated stink bugs are a major pest © David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ (CC BY)

Brown marmorated stink bugs are a major pest © David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ (CC BY)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the use of Stink Bug saliva in pest control, FAO’s article on empowering women in agriculture and new research into the delayed resistance of pests to Bt crops.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (06 Mar 14)

Black rot of sugarcane, caused by Ceratocystis paradoxa, but C. adiposa has also been found to be responsible (Courtesy EcoPort: Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Queensland)

Black rot of sugarcane (Courtesy EcoPort: Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Queensland)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of Fusarium maize ear rot caused by Fusarium kyushuense in China, the first report of Tobacco streak virus infecting pigeon pea in India and the identification of the pathogen causing black rot in sugarcane.

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Crop diversification finds home for ‘orphan crops’

Farmer from Teso. Knowledge of orphan crops should conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

Farmer from Teso, Kenya. Indigenous knowledge of orphan crops should be conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

The term ‘orphan crops’ refers to plant species and varieties that of recent decades have been ignored by governments, seed companies and scientists due to their limited importance in global markets. Instead, only a few major staples have been of interest. From fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts, many orphan crops are highly nutritious, resilient to climate extremes and are well adapted to marginal soils. They are therefore of great significance for food security and the generation of income to the world’s poorest communities.

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Update: Plant Health News (26 Feb 14)

Two- wheel tractors are more affordable for small-scale farmers who wish to benefit from the mechanisation of agriculture in South Asia © werktuigendagen (CC BY-SA)

Two-wheel tractors are more affordable for small-scale farmers who want to benefit from the mechanisation of agriculture in South Asia © werktuigendagen (CC BY-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including drought affecting coffee in Brazil, new biodegradable mulches that could be used as an alternative to polyethylene and innovative farm machinery used in Bangladesh.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (19 Feb 14)

Pear psyllas deposit honeydew on leaves and cause wilting and defoliation © Whitney Cranshaw (CC-BY)

Pear psyllas deposit honeydew on leaves and cause wilting and defoliation © Whitney Cranshaw (CC-BY)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include a new psylla pest reported on pear trees in Egypt,  the first report of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum‘ on pepper in Honduras and the first report of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum causing sclerotinia blight on peanut in northeastern China. 

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Update: Plant Health News (12 Feb 14)

Rhinoceros beetles are a major pest of coconut © John_Amend (via Flickr)

Rhinoceros beetles are a major pest of coconut © John_Amend (via Flickr)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a new biocontrol treatment to control Rhinoceros beetles on coconut,  research to show GM Bt crops don’t harm non-target insects  and research into the use of insects to control invasive weeds.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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