Update: Plant Health News (26 Mar 14)

The Plant Protection Code aims to ensure sustainable tea production in India © oldandsolo via Flickr (CC BY)

The PPC aims to ensure sustainable tea production in India © oldandsolo (CC BY)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including research into the benefits of cover crops, the release of the 2013 Global Food Policy Report and the launch of the Plant Protection Code for India’s tea industry.

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Crop diversification finds home for ‘orphan crops’

Farmer from Teso. Knowledge of orphan crops should conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

Farmer from Teso, Kenya. Indigenous knowledge of orphan crops should be conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

The term ‘orphan crops’ refers to plant species and varieties that of recent decades have been ignored by governments, seed companies and scientists due to their limited importance in global markets. Instead, only a few major staples have been of interest. From fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts, many orphan crops are highly nutritious, resilient to climate extremes and are well adapted to marginal soils. They are therefore of great significance for food security and the generation of income to the world’s poorest communities.

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Direct2Farm reaches 4 million farmers in India

D2F mobile services have reached 4 million farmers in India. Credit: Sharbendu Banerjee © CABI

D2F mobile services have reached 4 million farmers in India. Credit: Sharbendu Banerjee © CABI

The Direct2Farm (D2F) project, run by CABI, provides mobile information services to farmers in India. Two D2F initiatives in India that use voice-based systems to communicate with farmers, mKisan and IKSL, have now cumulatively reached over 4 million farmers. The use of mobile technology allows extension messages to reach isolated communities that have few means of accessing such information. Read more of this post

The Hindu covers Plantwise India

 

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National newspaper The Hindu publishes article discussing the positive impact of Plantwise activities in the country. With support of the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation,  ‘plant doctors are coming to the rescue’ of farmers in India. Read full article here.

How plant clinics are helping farmers in Puducherry, India

Plant clinic in Pondicherry, India

Plant doctors inspect a diseased rice sample at a plant clinic in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Sanjit Das/Panos

Plantwise plant clinics are currently operating in 31 countries in Asia, Africa and Central & Latin America. Thousands of farmers come to these clinics for advice on managing their crops, particularly crops that are being affected by pests or disease. The video below gives the story of a farmer in Puducherry, India, who got advice on how to manage the rice in her paddy field that had turned yellow during a cyclone.

For information on plant diseases in India, visit the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

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To revitalise agricultural growth in India, top officials look to Plantwise

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With over 1.2 billion people living in India, 70 percent of which are reliant on agriculture for food and income, steady development in this sector will be a key determinant of global food security in years to come. To revitalise agricultural growth for the Indian small holder farmer- sharply declining in recent years- leaders of the national Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) joined CABI representatives in New Dehli to outline critical measures for expanding the Plantwise food security programme in the country.

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Crowdsourcing: citizen farmers help in the fight against climate change

Wheat is susceptible to the effects of climate change © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA licence)

Wheat is susceptible to the effects of climate change © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA licence)

Farmers in India are helping in to fight the effects of climate change by lending their data collection skills for research into wheat. Biodiversity International is working with partners such as the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and the IFFCO Foundation as part of an initiative called Seeds4Needs. This initiative aims to identify the crop varieties that are likely to perform best under future climatic conditions, via a number of different projects. One such project is currently being run in Vaishali, in India’s Bihar state. Seeds4Needs are using a method called ‘crowdsourcing’ to collect vital data on crop varieties, while farmers benefit by gaining access to more crop varieties. These farmers have been dubbed “citizen scientists” to reflect the time, effort and expertise they contribute to the project. As part of the work, each farmer is provided with seeds from 3 of the 10 wheat varieties being tested. The farmer grows all 3 varieties, then ranks them on characteristics such as yield and quality of grain.
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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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Plantwise 2012 Highlights

Plantwise 2012 Logo

As we move into the New Year and all that 2013 has to offer it seems like a good time to review some of the achievements of 2012 . Here are a few of the Plantwise highlights of 2012!

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Floods in Haiti and India devastate crops

Hurricane Sandy has left fields in the south of Haiti under water, causing crop losses of up to 40%. This follows damage from a drought and the effects of Hurricane Isaac earlier this year.

Meanwhile, 9000 miles away in Andhra Pradesh, India, rice farmers are also suffering with their crops waist-deep in floodwater following several days of rain from Cyclone Nilam.

There are now serious worries in both countries of food shortages and waterborne diseases.

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