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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Photostory: SDC visits Plantwise Sri Lanka

The story of support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for the Plantwise food security programme goes back to its inception in 2011. Since the start, SDC has been a major supporter of both in-country programme activities as well as global resources such as the Plantwise knowledge bank. Sri Lanka is one example of a Plantwise country that has shown particularly strong uptake of the plant clinic concept. This prompted Dr Carmen Thoennissen, an SDC senior advisor for the Global Programme Food Security, to join CABI staff and partners in Sri Lanka for 3 days to discover how the programme is unfolding on the ground and understand what makes it a success. Check out the photo story and read more after the jump

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Plantwise joins IPPC in Rome to discuss building linkages for NPPOs

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IPPC’s Dave Nowell addresses the side event audience from the panel at FAO headquarters

 

 

Delegates from over twenty-six countries attended last Thursday’s side event jointly-hosted by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat and the CABI-led Plantwise programme which served the goals common to both organizations: empowering countries to protect crops, thereby increasing food security.

The event on the evening of April 2ndat Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN headquarters brought together key plant health stakeholders of the IPPC there to attend the 9th Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM).

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Eunice Kagendo Lingeera of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) shares her experience as a Plantwise National Data Validation Team member   (Photo: D.Nowell, IPPC)

Agricultural officials from the governments of Sri Lanka, Uganda and Kenya stood and presented their own experiences of establishing and tapping into Plantwise resources to support their daily roles in National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs). Back home, these presenters’ all work for the NPPOs whose activities cover a range of different plant health roles, including extension, research and phytosanitary quarantine. Read more of this post

Who benefits from Plantwise?

Plant doctor, Agnes Kariuki, helping a female farmer diagnose her crops in Embu Town clinic, Kenya ©CABI (photo credit Holly Wright)

Plant doctor, Agnes Kariuki, helping a female farmer diagnose her crops in Embu Town clinic, Kenya ©CABI (photo credit Holly Wright)

As part of our Monitoring and Evaluation within Plantwise, we are identifying indicators both to help us improve the way we operate and also increase accountability to our participants, partners, and donors. As a follow-up to our blog post on International Women’s Day, one of the ways we can improve our current work and set the stage for more effective project design in future is by collecting sex-disaggregated data. Read more of this post

Plant health system developing well in Zambia

Farmers' validation of factsheets during Plantwise training in Lusaka, Zambia

Farmers’ validation of factsheets during Plantwise training in Lusaka, Zambia. Credit: Stefan Toepfer © CABI

Since the launch of Plantwise in Zambia last year, much progress has been made to build capacity within the national plant health system. In collaboration with the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), CABI staff have successfully trained crop officers and extension staff from the Department of Agriculture, ZARI, and Self Help Africa on ‘how to be a plant doctor’. In addition to this, training on development of pest management decision guides and factsheets has produced content that will be made available on the Plantwise knowledge bank for other plant doctors to use. A workshop on data management has also been run, training plant health experts in recording data at plant clinics, data harmonization, validation, analysis and sharing. Read more of this post

Photo of the Month, October 2013 – Idyllic location for training in Malawi

Data management training participants at Lake Malawi

Participants during the plant clinic data management training held at the Mpatsa Lodge Salima by Lake Malawi from 16th to 17th September, 2013 © CABI

Plantwise was launched in Malawi in May 2013 after vigorous training of plant doctors in crop pest identification and how to give recommendations based on the identified pest problem. In the 14 plant clinics widespread in Lilongwe and Mzimba, there was need to understand the role that the plant clinic data will play in the national Plant Health System. Plant clinic data management training was carried out for the eight participants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Extension and Crop Development departments and World Vision who are directly involved in the supervision of plant clinic data collection and use. Read more of this post

Days are numbered for pests in Kenya’s irrigation schemes

Plant clinic launch in Mbeere, Kenya

Plant clinic launch at Mbeere Sub-county SHDP, Kenya © Rose Kamau

Report by Peter Karanja and Abigail Rumsey

Between May and July this year, 22 new plant clinics were established in Kenya. Nine of these clinics were launched by the Smallscale Horticulture Development Project (SHDP), which has been funded by the African Development Bank to help smallholder farmers increase the amount that they produce and earn through irrigation and enhanced marketing. The new clinics have been initiated by the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in irrigation schemes in nine districts.

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Record crop losses cost the United States $17.3B last year

iStock_000007228944LargeOver $17 billion was spent in 2012 on farm insurance claims for destroyed crops in the U.S., up from an average of $4.1 billion per year from 2001 until 2011. This record-breaking jump in insurance pay-outs was in large part due to extreme weather conditions over the past growing season. Drought, heat and hot wind accounted for 97 percent of destruction in Iowa alone, with the third largest agricultural GDP in the U.S. These figure come from a report published by the National Research Defense Council (NRDC) which argues that destructive conditions such as these are expected to become only more common, and action will have to be taken to restructure the insurance and pay-out system within the U.S. The question is whether these decisions will echo through emerging farm insurance markets abroad.

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A Happy Brinjal Farmer in the North of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka plant doctor

The farmer studies the mites on his crop © CABI

In Sri Lanka many plant clinics are running to provide free advice to farmers. One such plant clinic at Mallavi vegetable market, received a desperate farmer with an unknown problem in his brinjal crop in the beginning of May 2013. He was fed up of using different pesticides suggested by the local agro-chemical dealer and spending lots of money for nothing so wanted to quit brinjal farming. Find out how the plant clinic team helped him and saved his crop by reading the full case study at http://www.plantwise.org/default.aspx?site=234&page=4321

Video Interview with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture

 

Recently Melanie Bateman of CABI Switzerland and Dr IMO Shamie, Sierra Leone’s Director of Crops and Plantwise National Coordinator, had the unique opporunity to sit down for a meeting with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr Joseph Sam Sesay. During the meeting, Dr Sesay told his story of being the first customer at a plant clinic in Sierra Leone, and he gave some strong words of support for the Plantwise programme. Take a look

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