Plantwise linking policy to practice

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, CABI Switzerland

Quarantine, then and now

quarantine 1 During the 1400s, it is estimated that one third of Europe’s population died of the plague. In order to slow its spread, some cities adopted radical measures. For example, the Viscount of Reggio, Italy, decreed that anyone sick with the plague should be moved to fields outside the city to either recover or die. The word “quarantine” derives from the Italian word “quarantino”, referring to the 40 day isolation period that ships coming from plague areas had to undergo before entering the Mediterranean port of Ragusa[1].

While the movement of goods and people remains a pathway for the spread of pests and diseases, modern frameworks such as the International Plant Protection Convention have been established in order to promote international cooperation to prevent the spread of pests which cause crop losses and do harm to natural ecosystems. Member countries work together, for example, by identifying potential means for pests to move to new areas (such sea containers or internet sales), and then the member countries agree on approaches to address these issues. For example, International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) have been adopted which provide guidance on surveillance, pest eradication and the establishment of pest free areas.

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Myanmar newspaper covers plant clinic opening

Ag myanmar

Click here to download: Agr Dep opens plant clinic in Myanmar-The Global New Light of Myanmar

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (18 Feb 15)

Xylella fastidiosa has been isolated from grapes in Iran © ENSA-Montpellier Archive, Ecole nationale supérieure agronomique de Montpellier (CC BY-NC)

Symptoms of X. fastidiosa on grape © ENSA-Montpellier (CC BY-NC)

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 passiflora root-rot of passion fruit caused by two species of Globisporangium in Japan, a study into grey mold and sclerotinia rot of okra plants and the isolation and pathogenicity of Xylella fastidiosa from grapevine and almond in Iran. 

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Update: Plant Health News (11 Feb 15)

Maize plants infested by Striga © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Maize plants infested by Striga © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Striga resistant maize yielding well in Kenya, scientists in the UK  finding a potential way to control leaf blotch disease in wheat and a grant under the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) to help small scale rice producers by creating better linkages in the rice value chain.

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

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TOMORROW: CABI joins line-up at The Economist FTW 2015

FTWHow do we feed 9 billion people by 2050? And why aren’t we feeding 7 billion people in 2015? These are the headline questions to be delved into at The Economist’s Feeding the World annual event, this time hosted in the Netherlands and welcoming industry experts from policy, research, corporate and non-government organizations centred around food security. CABI’s Dr Arne Witt will join a panel discussion on strategies for the reduction of food loss and food waste, pre- and post- harvest.

Read the full story on and follow the event on twitter @economist_ftw and @cabi_news throughout the day #feedthefuture #Plantwise

Infographic: Plantwise progress in Kenya so far

PW Kenya Infographic

Plant clinics helped improve my yield

Rose Wanjiru displaying healthy mango fruits in her farm  Credit: David Onyango © CABI

Rose Wanjiru displaying healthy mango fruits in her farm
Credit: David Onyango © CABI

I meet Rose Wanjiru Ireri in her 2.5 acre farm in Mbeere inspecting her crops. From the smile on her face, it is apparent that her plants are healthy.

“I grow oranges, mangoes, cassava and vegetables on my farm. I also produce a lot of bananas for sale.” She currently has over 100 banana plants in her farm. Times are better now, but it has not always been smooth sailing for her. Crop pests and diseases were a major cause of crop losses in her farm until she sought help from her local plant clinic at Kathiga Gaceru irrigation scheme.

“When the leaves of the orange plants became black in colour, I went to the plant clinic with a specimen of the sick leaves. The plant doctors recommended an insecticide to control aphids. I sprayed it on my oranges and now my harvest has greatly improved.”

Rose is one of the many farmers benefiting from the advice provided for free at plant clinics since 2012. “I have been attending the plant clinic at Kathiga Gaceru irrigation scheme for the last one year and I clearly see the benefits. My banana harvest has increased significantly. I have managed to buy more land and construct a poultry house. The best part of this is that the plant clinics offer the services free of charge. ” She sells each bunch of banana at a farm gate price of Kshs 800 each.

CABI is working with The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF), Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO), University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK) and Small Scale Horticultural Development Project (SHDP) to set up and run the plant clinics. A total of 89 plant clinics are currently running across 13 counties in Kenya.


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