Update: Plant Health News (02 Jul 14)

The European Food Safety Authority have announced their opinion on biotech oilseed rape © Carron Brown (CC BY- NC)

The European Food Safety Authority have given their verdict on biotech oilseed rape © Carron Brown (CC BY- NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the release of EFSA’s scientific opinion on biotech oilseed rape, why using too much fertilizer is bad for crops and bad for climate and how the El Niño is already impacting Peruvian fruit crops.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Factsheet of the month: July – Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease

20137804184-page-0On Friday, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) released an official pest report, submitted by KEPHIS, for the presence of Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND) in Kenya. This disease is caused by a co-infection of Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus and another cereal potyvirus, such as Sugarcane Mosaic Virus, Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus or Maize Dwarf Mosaic Virus. This co-infection causes more severe symptoms that either of the viruses causes alone. Symptoms include mottling, stunting, necrosis and malformed ears.

MLND can devastate maize crops, impacting farmers’ incomes and the food security of the area. To find out how to recognise and control MLND, read the Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers created by employees from the Ministry of Agriculture and CABI.

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Plant Health Rallies to help control West Indian fruit fly in Grenada

Paul Graham, Pest Management Officer, demonstrates how to prepare the trap (Photo courtesy of Paul Graham)

Paul Graham, Pest Management Officer, demonstrates how to prepare the trap (Photo courtesy of Paul Graham)

Two Plant Health Rallies have recently been held in Grenada to raise awareness of the West Indian Fruit fly and promote the control of this pest using fruit fly bait stations. The rallies, which were organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, were aimed at local farmers with the first attracting 25 attendees and the second around 12. The farmers were given practical advice on how to make and use bait stations which they were able to take away with them afterwards. Thaddeus Peters (MoA) presented at one of the rallies explaining what damage the West Indian fruit fly causes and how the MoA and farmers can both play a part in controlling the pest.  Read more of this post

Ghanaian droughts foreseen and Nepali floods that have been

Article by Sebastian Avery.

Hope leaves Ghanaian farmers as another expected late rainfall leads to the possibility of drought. We can only pray that history does not repeat itself. As some of you may know 2007 was disastrous for Ghanaian farmers especially those living in the White Volta Basin.

Lake Volta, Ghana © Sandister Tei (CC-BY-SA)

LakeVolta, Ghana © Sandister Tei (CC-BY-SA)

This is because a very similar drought happened that year, causing farmers to cultivate their crops later in the year, and that is when the torrential rains appeared. This was not the worst of it. Because of the massive rainfall, it was announced that the Bagra Dam was full to the brim and had to be spilled. This made the flooding around the White Volta incredibly serious; farmers lucky enough to survive lost their belongings, livestock and crops. The weather is currently very unpredictable leaving all of us hoping that this will be a safe year for the farmers of Ghana.
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Plantwise in Pakistan and its opportunities to share knowledge

The group of participants for the data sharing and use workshop held by Plantwise at the CABI CWA office in Islamabad

The group of participants for the data sharing and use workshop held by Plantwise at the CABI CWA office in Islamabad


In June 2014, Dr Aamir H Malik, CABI Country Coordinator for Pakistan, Cambria Finegold, Head of Project Development for the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin, Plantwise scientific officer, organised a workshop in Islamabad that united major stakeholders in the Pakistani plant health system. These included the departments of Extension and Adaptive Research, Pest Warning and Quality Control of Pesticides, Agricultural Information, the National Agricultural Research Centre, the Punjab Seed Corporation and the Horticultural Development and Export Company.

The objective was to demonstrate the power and possible use of the data being generated by the rising number of plant clinics in the country. The participants felt that it is crucial that the data, owned by the Directorate General of Extension and Adaptive Research, is shared to a maximum amount of actors in the plant health system.  This will enable them to work more efficiently in the agricultural domain, depending on their mandates: develop updated and topical research strategies, conduct more targeted extension campaigns, understand the health of various crops in a region and develop better seeds or resistant varieties. Indeed, this is one of the core objectives of Plantwise.

Overall, the workshop was an unqualified success, as many partners are now keen to be linked to the data sharing platform that is the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, and receive topical and interesting data from the Directorate General of Extension and Adaptive Research plant clinics.

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (25 Jun 14)

Phomopsis blight of eggplant has been identified in Egypt © David B. Langston, University of Georgia (CC BY)

Phomopsis blight of eggplant has been identified in Egypt © David B. Langston, University of Georgia (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 the first report of bacterial leaf blight of jute caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. capsularii in India, the molecular characterization of a novel victorivirus from the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana and the first report of phomopsis blight of eggplants in Egypt. 

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A plant doctor’s fight against rice blast in Tamil Nadu, India

Story by Malvika Chaudhary, CABI in India

Photo: Saurav Paul

DSC_4249Vargur is a small village in the Tamil Nadu state of India where paddy is grown on a large scale. The plant clinics in this region are very popular with farmers. For plant doctor Sarangpani it was a usual day, anticipating the regular crowd of paddy farmers in his plant clinic. He enjoyed this interaction with them, especially after improving his pest diagnostic and advisory skills through training provided by Plantwise and research non-profit M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).  His rich experience as a farmer in the past had now translated into service for his community through these regular plant clinics.

Though ‘samba,’ or long grain rice season was usually quiet, this time Balchander and many farmers like him had a different story. The farmers had been seeing white spots on the young leaves of their paddy plant, which began to turn to grey-green in couple of days, bringing them increasing worry. It was time for plant doctors like Sarangpani to take immediate action to try and help Balchander and his neighboring paddy farmers.

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