Factsheet of the month: February 2015 – Sugarcane Woolly Aphids

sugarcane woolly aphid factsheet

India is one of the world’s largest producers of sugarcane which is used in many food and drink products. Sugarcane is vulnerable to a variety of pests, including sugarcane woolly aphids which caused a 30% yield loss in the outbreak of 2002. This pest is constrained to south and east Asia, (see the Plantwise distribution map).  The aphids are covered in a woolly coating and are often mistaken for mealybugs. They deposit honeydew on the leaves which allows sooty mould to develop. This interrupts the plant’s ability to photosynthesise and so results in a weaker plant with a reduced yield.

To find out more about sugarcane woolly aphids and their management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by a senior scientist from M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in India. This factsheet is also available in Tamil. 

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Update: Plant Health News (28 Jan 15)

Ants seen on an Indonesian cocoa pod © Sanjit Das/CABI

Ants seen on an Indonesian cocoa pod © Sanjit Das/CABI

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including native ants helping to improve cocoa yields in Indonesia, unseasonal rains affecting crops in India and local mangoes in the Philippines declared free from mango seed weevil.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Plantwise connecting smallholders to knowledge through ICT Interventions

The emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the last decade has opened new avenues in knowledge management that could play important roles in meeting the prevailing challenges related to sharing, exchanging and disseminating knowledge and technologies. The types of ICT-enabled services are capable of improving the capacity and livelihoods of poor smallholders are growing quickly. One of the best examples of these services is the use of mobile phones as a platform for exchanging information through short messaging services (SMS), use of broadband services and other android applications. According to a report of Swedish mobile network equipment maker Ericsson, India is the world’s second-largest telecommunications market, with 933 million subscribers and the subscriptions are adding year by year. The growing market of mobile phones in the country is due to the falling cost of handsets which is coupled with improved usability and increasing network coverage. (www.ibef.org).

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Mobile data collection – can it work in Tamil Nadu, India?

Plant doctor using tablet

Credit: Holly Wright © CABI

Over the past year, the Plantwise Knowledge Bank team has been conducting an e-plant clinic pilot in Kenya. Following the success of this pilot, we are now seeing if we can apply the lessons learnt in Kenya to other Plantwise countries. In December, we travelled to Thanjavur city, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, to work with our in-country partners, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), on a mobile scoping workshop to better understand the requirements of such a pilot in India.

For a summary of our e-plant clinic scoping mission, see the picture story below. Click here to jump down the page. Read more of this post

Update: Plant Health News (15 Jan 15)

Maize is a staple crop in Malawi but farmers have been told to diversify © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Maize is a staple crop in Malawi but farmers have been advised to diversify © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Crops in Brazil still suffering after last year’s drought, the Malawi farmers advised to diversify their crops and the gene that affects nitrogen fixation and yield of soybean.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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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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Roundtable brings high-tech farming ideas to India’s risk-prone ecologies

David J. Spielman joined the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 2004, and is currently a senior research fellow based in Washington, DC. His research agenda covers a range of topics including agricultural science, technology and innovation policy; seed systems and input markets; and community-driven rural development. His work maintains a regional emphasis on East Africa and South Asia.

This post is re-blogged from the IFPRI blog.

Rice field in Bihar, India

Rice field in Bihar, India. Credit: Jim (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Imagine agriculture in India as a high-tech, highly mechanized venture. Picture a rice farmer taking soil samples with a handheld meter to gauge nutrient and moisture needs, calibrating planting along plot contours with GPS-guided tools, placing rice in precise rows using a mechanical transplanter, and doing this with the backing of reliable, customized financing. Now picture this farmer as a woman—because most of the men in her village have migrated to the cities in search of better opportunities.

It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t correspond with our image of poor rice farmers toiling in knee-deep water under the hot sun and monsoon rains, prey to the local moneylender.

But this future is nearer than we realize, and it was the focus of a roundtable on “Sustainable Intensification in South Asia’s Cereal Systems: Investment Strategies for Productivity Growth, Resource Conservation, and Climate Risk Management” held on May 19 in New Delhi. Read more of this post

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