Plantwise launches in Ghana

Workshop opening ceremony included words from (l-r): Dr Victor Clottey, Dr Entsua-Mensah, Dr Samuel Kojo Dapaah and Morris Akiri © CABI

Workshop opening ceremony included words from (l-r) Dr Victor Clottey, Dr Entsua-Mensah, Dr Samuel Kojo Dapaah and Morris Akiri © CABI

Plantwise, a global initiative run by CABI, was launched in Accra, Ghana last week. The initiative involves establishing plant clinics, which farmers can attend to get advice on plant health from trained plant doctors. In addition to the knowledge they acquire through the training programmes, these plant doctors can make use of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank which provides up-to-date information to best advise the farmer.

Following the launch, a review and planning workshop took place for stakeholders in the agricultural sector.  The event attracted policy makers, extension workers, plant protection officers and researchers as well as private sector and non-governmental agencies who were all keen to share their knowledge and ideas on how to develop Plantwise activities in the country. Read more of this post

Monitoring and Management of Desert Locusts in Africa

An adult Desert Locust © AtelierMonpli via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA-3.0)

An adult Desert Locust © AtelierMonpli via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has this month warned that Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) swarms are invading cropping areas of northern Sudan. The swarms originated from winter breeding areas on the Red Sea coastal plains and subcoastal areas in northeast Sudan and southeast Egypt. The situation requires close monitoring as more swarms are expected to form in the coming weeks that could move into parts of  Sudan and southern Egypt. If no further rains fall and the vegetation dries out, some of these swarms could move into the interior of both countries and also cross the Red Sea to the coast of Saudi Arabia.

Locusts belong to the Acrididae family (in the order Orthoptera which includes grasshoppers and crickets) and when triggered by certain cues such as increased crowding with other locusts have the ability to change their morphology, behaviour and physiology over several generations. This phase change occurs from a solitary to a gregarious phase, eventually causing the locusts to form dense hopper bands and swarms. One of the most serious locust pests is the Desert Locust.

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New Type of Invasive Whitefly Recorded In South Africa

The whitefly Bemisia tabaci (USDA image PD USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons)

The whitefly Bemisia tabaci (USDA image PD USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons)

A species of whitefly that transmits cassava mosaic virus has been detected in South Africa for the first time. The whitefly, Bemisia tabaci is a cryptic species complex containing some important agricultural pests and virus vectors. The term ‘cryptic species complex’ means that Bemisia tabaci is considered to be a complex of at least 24 different species that look almost identical but are in fact genetically different.  Researchers from a range of organisations including the University of Johannesburg, the University of Witwatersrand and ARC-Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute conducted surveys to investigate the diversity and distribution of Bemisia tabaci species in 8 provinces in South Africa. The study aimed to update the information regarding the different Bemisia tabaci types present in the country.

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Parasitic Witchweed defeated in Kenya

Striga Weed in a rice field © AfricaRice (License CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Striga Weed in a rice field © AfricaRice (License CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Striga, a parasitic weed (also known as Witchweed,) has long been a problem in African nations; causing farmers to lose billions of dollars’ worth of crops annually. To make matters worse, the weed flourishes in conditions that characterise that of poor farming communities (small plots, mono-cropping, lack of oxen and natural manure and lack of agricultural inputs.)

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What CABI Is Doing To Tackle Major Coffee Rust Outbreaks In Central America

Guatemala has declared a state of agricultural emergency after coffee rust fungus has affected approximately 193,000ha of coffee, equating to 70% of the national crop. As a result of the outbreak, Guatemala is releasing $13.7m (£8.7m) in emergency aid to help farmers buy pesticides and to inform farmers on ways to manage the disease. Honduras and Costa Rica have already declared national emergency and El Salvador and Panama are also affected.

Coffee is a major export crop in many Central American countries and it is thought that this disease outbreak, which has been called “the worst seen in Central America and Mexico” by John Vandermeer, ecologist at the University of Michigan, will lead to big job losses. The Institute of Coffee in Costa Rica has estimated that the latest coffee rust outbreak may reduce the 2013-2014 harvest by 50% or more in the worst affected areas.

To find out more information about coffee rust view our Plantwise Knowledge Bank- Coffee Leaf Rust PDF booklet.

Symptoms of Coffee Rust (Hemileia vastatrix) © Carlos Roberto Carvalho, Ronaldo C. Fernandes, Guilherme Mendes Almeida Carvalho, Robert W. Barreto, Harry C. Evans (2011): Cryptosexuality and the Genetic Diversity Paradox in Coffee Rust, Hemileia vastatrix. PLoS ONE 6(11): e26387. {{doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026387}} (CC-BY 2.5)

Symptoms of Coffee Rust (Hemileia vastatrix) © Carlos Roberto Carvalho, Ronaldo C. Fernandes, Guilherme Mendes Almeida Carvalho, Robert W. Barreto, Harry C. Evans (2011): Cryptosexuality and the Genetic Diversity Paradox in Coffee Rust, Hemileia vastatrix. PLoS ONE 6(11): e26387. {{doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026387}} (CC-BY 2.5)

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Plantwise Photo Of The Month – February

A farmer getting advice at a plant clinic in Nepal  © Dannie Romney/CABI UK

A farmer getting advice at a plant clinic in Nepal © Dannie Romney/CABI UK

To read more about plant clinics in Nepal and to watch a video of a plant clinic in action, click here.

To find out more about plant pests and diseases in Nepal visit the Plantwise Pest Distribution map 

How mobile technology could improve agriculture

A farmer looking at symptoms of cocoa black pod on a tablet device © CABI

A farmer looking at symptoms of cocoa black pod on a tablet device © CABI

Technological innovation is becoming increasingly important in agricultural development and productivity. The use of mobile ICT (information and communication technology) in agriculture provides a more efficient and cost-effective method for sharing and exchanging knowledge more widely. Farmers are benefiting  as they can access key information such as pest and disease reports, weather conditions and market prices. It can also improve communication between farmers and extensions workers, who are unable to visit farmers as often as both parties would like. Enhancing communication between farmers, extension workers, researchers and policy makers is essential to the improvement of agricultural efficiency.

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