In Expo Milano debate, IPPC argues for the crucial need for international cooperation on plant health

Contributed my Melanie Bateman, CABI Switzerland

The universal Expo Milano’s theme is ‘Feeding the planet, Energy for Life’. Plant health’s important contribution to food security has already featured prominently in Expo events which Plantwise has participated in such as recent ones hosted by the Swiss Pavilion and the UK Pavilion. This message was reiterated and reinforced in a debate at the EU Pavilion on Climate change and food security: challenges for plant health, plant breeding and genetic resources held on July 14 and organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety at the Conference Center. During the morning session on plant health, Mr Craig Fedchock, Coordinator of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), intervened on the “impact of climate change, emerging risks and plant diseases on food security”. The IPPC Coordinator noted that pests are nowadays unfortunately in the news due to the challenges posed to plant health, while more attention should be given to international regulations and good practices to address these challenges. Mr Fedchock noted how pests of plants have negative impacts on food security, environment and trade. Climate change will allow the establishment of pests in areas where they were not present before and according to recent studies, pests can extend their range with climate change. Additionally, it has been demonstrated in the case of the Emerald Ash Borer that pests have direct relations to human health. Find a complete summary of Mr Fedchock’s speech here.

Mr Craig Fedchock, Coordinator of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) was talking at the EU Pavilion on

Mr Craig Fedchock, Coordinator of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) was talking at the EU Pavilion on “Climate change and food security: challenges for plant health, plant breeding and genetic resources” and argued for the crucial need for international cooperation to safeguard plant health.

Update: Plant Health News (15 Jul 15)

John Pennycuick Farmers’ Trust has improved the way that Theni bananas are traded © Σπύρος Βάθης

John Pennycuick Farmers’ Trust has improved the way that Theni bananas are traded © Σπύρος Βάθης

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Theni banana farmers in Tamil Nadu adopting more efficient production techniques,  why GM crops have been slow to take hold in Africa and the bio slurry pellet method of rice cultivation that could save farmers time and money.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Infographic: Plantwise progress in Africa

Plantwise_Africa_Infographic

Sri Lankan plant doctors launch e-plant clinics

Farmers listen to the plant doctors whilst they wait their turn. Ginigathhena crop clinic. Photo: Katherine Cameron ©CABI

Farmers listen to the plant doctors whilst they wait their turn. Ginigathhena crop clinic. Photo: Katherine Cameron ©CABI

24 June marked the launch of the first e-plant clinics pilot in Sri Lanka. Experienced plant doctors from ten plant clinics in Nuwara Eliya district came together to learn how tablet computers could enhance the current Permanent Crop Clinic Programme (PCCP) led by the Plant Protection Service, Department of Agriculture. Plant doctors learnt:

  • how electronic data collection and submission could make it easier to collect data about crops and pests in the area
  • how to use the Plantwise factsheets library app, ebooks library, and internet to access information resources during their clinics
  • how to communicate with other plant doctors and local diagnostic experts using a chat app
  • how to ensure that farmers receive good advice in a written recommendation, in the language and format (either SMS or paper) chosen by the farmer

All of this means that the plant doctors’ job should be a little easier in future and they have access to more support for diagnosing pests and providing management advice.

Plant doctor M.N. Sagarika uses her tablet to record data about A. Weerasooriya's bean anthracnose problem. Photo: Abdul Rehman ©CABI

Plant doctor M.N. Sagarika uses her tablet to record data about A. Weerasooriya’s bean anthracnose problem. Photo: Abdul Rehman ©CABI

“It’s easy to carry [the tablet] to the field or any other place with lots of information inside it… The Plantwise factsheet app is easy to use and no need to carry lots of heavy books. Copy paste is more easy, accurate, comprehensive and detailed.” – NMM Chandana Kumara, plant doctor, Bulugahapitiya plant clinic.

It also means that new data can be submitted, collated and analysed quickly after the plant clinics so that stakeholders in the plant health system can use it to track distribution of pests, monitor quality of advice given to farmers, and feed back information to improve the service in future.

“For sharing and using the data e-crop clinics are very good because the data will come quicker. Previously it took a long time to process data – we would see it maybe the next season, not the same season.” – PT Bandara, previous National Coordinator, PCCP.

“Making the data available quicker will help me to monitor the crop clinics in Nuwara Eliya more easily. I can’t visit every clinic in the field but seeing the data will let me know what is going on.” – Ms PK Senevirathne, Deputy Director Extension, Nuwara Eliya district.

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Farmer Field Day training in Malawi

Salima Rice Field Day 021On Tuesday, June 3rd, Land O’Lakes held another in a series of Farmer Field Day training events at one of their signature Answer Plot® sites, known locally as Yankho Plot™ sites in Malawi.  This farmer training event was held in Salima district, Malawi, on a plot planted with several varieties of rice.  On this day, farmers got to see Kilombero and Funwe rice plants right before harvest and to hear from Lead Farmers (who had been trained by Land O’Lakes staff) and Ministry of Agriculture field extension agents, all about the characteristics of these two new strains of these two rice varieties.  In addition, farmers were taken through rice trials done on site in collaboration with the GOM Ministry of Agriculture, the CCARDESA (Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for South Africa) and the World Bank.  Under this USDA-funded Food for progress project, Land O’Lakes uses the Yankho Plot™ sites as learning platforms where complementary information is given out about goat production, animal welfare, best animal feed practices and animal health.  In addition, Land O’Lakes nutrition staff work hand-in-hand with MOA Nutritionists and staff from the GOM Ministry of Health to share nutritional information and to conduct cooking demonstrations for all farmer field day participants.  At this special field day event, more than 150 USDA-funded Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) handbooks were distributed by Land O’Lakes to the female heads of community-based Nutrition Groups in order to assist with their community education efforts.  Land O’Lakes also invited many agricultural suppliers and service organizations in order to facilitate farmers networking with other sources of information, services and products.  For example, Demeter Agriculture Limited and CABI Plantwise had tables on which they displayed their helpful information and where staff were ready to talk about their services for helping farmers be better producers.  More than 350 male and female farmers from Salima District participated in the Farmer Field Day training event.

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (08 Jul 15)

Symptoms of "crinkling" caused by RSNV in rice (A) Yellow stripes on leaves  (B) Crinkling (G.Prado, Rice Pathology Laboratory, CIAT, Cali, Colombia).

Symptoms of “crinkling” caused by RSNV in rice (A) Yellow stripes on leaves (B) Crinkling (G.Prado, Rice Pathology Laboratory, CIAT, Cali, Colombia).

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 Rice stripe necrosis virus infecting rice in Benin, the occurrence of Tomato zonate spot virus on potato in China and the first report of Cassava common mosaic virus and cassava frogskin-associated virus infecting cassava in Argentina.

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A Leap from an ‘Analogue’ to a Digital Platform: The Story of Kenyan Plant Doctors

A blog written by Willis Ochilo

The stage is set and all the participants are sitting. Beneath the veneer of silence that pervades the workshop room are deep-seated fears. And it does not take long for the same to come out to the fore.

Plant doctor - farmer role play during the training workshop

Plant doctor – farmer role play during the training workshop

The setting is in Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County. Here, the plant doctors have gathered to be trained in the use of tablet computers.

The participants, 17 in number, come from 8 different counties. They are the second of the two groups being trained this week. Unlike the first group, this group has 8 female plant doctors while the previous one had 3 female out of 14 plant doctors.

Finally! The ice is broken and the first salvo thrown. Lucy Njiru, a plant doctor from Embu County masters the courage to voice her fear. Her fear revolves around the fact; it will be her first time to handle a tablet. “Will I be able to handle the device?” she asks in a subdued voice. And to that, almost in sync, the others start to whizz suggesting they are all grappling with the same fear.

Many before them had raised similar concerns at the start of such workshops. In fact, so accustomed were the facilitators to that question, that it did not take much reflection for them to assure her. “At the end of the two days, you will be a pro,” said one of the facilitators to Lucy.  Read more of this post

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