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.

Combatting the “black spot” on citrus production in Ghana

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, Integrated Crop Management Adviser, CABI in Switzerland

Citrus fruits with angular leaf spot (M. Bateman)

Citrus fruits with angular leaf spot (M. Bateman)

Not long ago, farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana had seen citrus as a potential money-maker but now many are now giving up in despair as pathogens such as citrus angular leaf spot (Pseudocercospora angolensis) and citrus black spot (Guignarida citricarpa) diminish yields and make the fruits unmarketable. Many farmers have even gone as far as cutting down their orange trees and replacing them with cocoa.

Recently, a team of plant doctors, Ministry of Agriculture extension staff, researchers and other experts led a series of plant health rallies to help equip farmers with information on how to manage citrus angular leaf spot and other plant health problems constraining citrus production. The rallies were presented to unsuspecting members of the public – ‘spontaneous’ rather than regimented extension. The plant health rally approach enabled the team to reach many farmers in the affected area in a short period of time. It also served as a means for the team of experts to gather information from farmers’ on their problems and experiences.

During a plant health rally, an expert gives citrus growers some advice on how to manage some key plant health problems (M Bateman)

During a plant health rally, an expert gives citrus growers some advice on how to manage some key plant health problems (M Bateman)

For example, the discussions with the farmers uncovered another major challenge for the citrus producers: because of a lack of a market, farmers are unable to sell the oranges that they do produce. This is another factor contributing to the decision taken by some to replace citrus with cocoa. This feedback loop will help to strengthen the support provided to farmers. Ultimately, it is hoped that the support provided through plant health rallies, plant clinics and other extension activities will help farmers to respond to and begin to remove the “black spot” on Ghana’s citrus.

Plantwise Data Management Training in Mozambique

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Since its launch early this year, the partnership between the Plantwise Initiative and the Ministry of Agriculture in Mozambique (MINAG) continues to grow. The National Directorate of Agrarian Services (DNSA) that falls under MINAG is the Plantwise implementing institution in Mozambique. There are currently 5 plant clinics established and running in Maputo and Manica provinces. Read more of this post

CABI shares knowledge with African universities

RUFORUM eventEach year, top university representatives from across Africa gather at the RUFORUM conference to learn about new developments in education and exchange ideas for collaboration. This year’s event, held in Maputo, Mozambique, from 21 July – 25 July, was an opportunity for CABI to increase awareness of its knowledge and training resources, especially those made available for the first time through its Plantwise programme. Read more of this post

New strategy required for delaying insect resistance to Bt crops

Kenyan farmer Mary Ngare in her maize field damaged by stem borers © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Kenyan farmer Mary Ngare in her maize field damaged by stem borers © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Transgenic Bt crops have been grown around the world since the 1990s and have contributed to increased yields by controlling agricultural pests. Due to the importance of this technology, there has been continuous study into the development of resistance to Bt crops and how best to avoid this happening. A recent investigation into the rapid spread of Bt resistance in South Africa has revealed one of the more surprising discoveries to date, that the maize stalk borer (Busseola fusca) has evolved Bt maize resistance inherited as a dominant trait for the first time. This has significant impacts on the management of Bt crops, as current methods for sustaining susceptibility rely on the recessive inheritance of Bt resistance.

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Could Food Insecure Africa Have Found a Saviour in Farming God’s Way?

Proponents term it the long awaited messiah that food-insecure Africa has been yearning for! ‘Farming God’s way’ promises to end fertilizer woes of resource-poor farmers in the continent by providing a cheaper and less labour intensive farming method.

Elizabeth showing how high and dense her "Farming God's Way" - farmed maize has got (A Rocha Kenya)

Elizabeth showing how high and dense her “Farming God’s Way” – farmed maize has got
(A Rocha Kenya)

Food security remains the number one major challenge that citizens across the African continent contend with. While the Green Revolution of the 1960s allowed erstwhile food deficient regions of Asia and Latin America to triple crop yields, food production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has remained stagnant and in many instances it has even declined. According to IFPRI, among the factors fuelling the continent’s low agricultural outputs include poor resource endowments, minimal use of inputs (fertilizer, improved seeds and irrigation) and adverse policies undermining agriculture. Additionally, continuing environmental degradation, crop pests, high population growth and low levels of investment in agricultural infrastructure has further aggravated the resource limitations of agriculture in Africa.

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