This Earth Day, think agriculture

Corn fingers

On April 22nd, 1970- the date of the first Earth Day– 20 million people marched for clean air, clean water and improved environmental protections. These actions were designed to draw public attention to the environmental agenda and move environmental issues up the priority list of policy makers. The question is: What will unite us this Earth Day? Today we are well aware of the pressures placed on the environment, and we have perhaps more data and more tools to communicate data than ever before. Launched this week, a new awareness tool, the Plant Doctor Game, aims to reach more people with information about one critical environmental movement- sustainable agriculture– and resources here to help.

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Plantwise Bangladesh in a new era of partnership: National Extension Officers trained as Plant Doctors

Newly trained plant doctors in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Newly trained plant doctors in Dhaka, Bangladesh © CABI

The Plantwise programme in Bangladesh was launched with the training for module 1 (Field Diagnosis and Plant Clinic Operation) and module 2 (Introduction to Plant Healthcare) for 32 extension officers in Dhaka early this March. The training followed the signing of a tripartite agreement between the Economic relation division, Ministry of Agriculture and CABI on the 20th January this year. This was followed by signing of a work and funding contract that marked initiation of activities with the national partner to implement the program in the country.  Though Plantwise was being implemented by a few NGOs in Bangladesh from 2011, the partnership with Department of Agricultural Extension has opened a new era for the program which has a strong possibility of driving the program to sustainability in the nation. Ten Upojillas (unions) have been selected to conduct ten regular plant clinics in five districts of the country. Dr. Steve Edgington was the CABI trainer who meticulously and consistently captured the attention of 32 trainees as they understood how the symptoms can be easily recognised at field level. The clinic concept is quite new to the country and, although the Farmers Information and Advice Centre is already established by the World Bank as advisory centres to farmers, many farmers could get additional synergies with PW operations as suggested by some newly trained Plantwise doctors.

It was very encouraging to see the complete and punctual attendance of the trainees for all the four days. Their rapt attention during the presentations and active participation in the field as well as in class room exercises was noticeable. Prior to the training the workshop opening session was presided by the Director-General DAE, Director PPW and other eminent staff of the department. This event was captured by the national television media and broadcasted in prime hour throughout the nation.  Click this link to see a clip of the television coverage: https://www.dropbox.com/l/sGSepN8iCMnEbAcx1b5khr

Though the women constituted around only 20% of the participating trainees, their enthusiasm and passion to execute the clinics was evident.  The commitment of these officers to support farmers to guide them with timely diagnosis in order to reduce the use of pesticide was appreciable. This was also evident by their earlier efforts to bring out certain tools in this focal area. The newly trained plant doctors proudly wore their badges at the end of the training while receiving their certificates. They are now looking forward to April when they will witness a model clinic first-hand. Later in April the plant doctors plan to conduct the first plant clinics in their respective unions and start to provide their farming communities with practical advice in plant health.

Perú: Una visita al campo con los Doctores de Plantas en Huamanga-Ayacucho

Texto escribido por los doctores de planta de la Estación Experimental Agraria Canaán (INIA): Victoriano Eduardo Núñez Cuba, Melancio Huamani García y Aníbal N. Huarancca, y editando por Léna Durocher-Granger (CABI-UK).

English summary follows

Melancio explica a la agricultora sobre el diagnóstico y el control de la enfermedad del Peronospora farinosa (Fr) “Mildiu” que ataca al cultivo de Quinua.

Melancio explica a la agricultora sobre el diagnóstico y el control de la enfermedad del Peronospora farinosa (Fr) “Mildiu” que ataca al cultivo de Quinua.

El Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria (INIA), organismo público adscrito al Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego, a través de la Estación Experimental Agraria (EEA) Canaán-Ayacucho, brinda Asistencia Técnica de Capacitación con el Modulo de Clínica de Plantas a los pequeños productores agrarios de la Comunidad “La Colpa”, del distrito de ACOS VINCHOS y de la Comunidad “Moya”, del distrito de QUINUA, provincia de Huamanga – Ayacucho.

Victoriano Eduardo Núñez Cuba, Melancio Huamani García y Aníbal N. Huarancca son tres Doctores de Plantas de la EEA Canaán. Parte del trabajo de un Doctor de Planta es de visitar a los pequeños agricultores y agricultoras en su finca para proporcionar información sobre el diagnóstico, agente causal, tratamiento, control, prevención e importancia económica del ataque de plagas y enfermedades en los cultivos alimenticios, además de brindar Charla Técnica de Capacitación a los pequeños productores agrarios. El objetivo es brindarlos asistencia técnica oportunamente para el incremento de la producción y el mejoramiento del ingreso económico familiar.

Victoriano, Melancio y Aníbal tienen roles fundamentales en Plantwise que impactan directamente a la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional de los pequeños agricultores y sus familias, además de contribuir a mejorar el sistema fitosanitario del país.

Sigamos Victoriano, Melancio y Aníbal a través de unas de las actividades a cargo de la Unidad de Extensión Agraria (UEA) de la EEA Canaán (INIA), desarrolladas junto a los Coordinadores Nacionales Luis Torres (EEA-La Molina) y Luis Navarrete (EEA-La Molina) y al Programa Plantwise.

Victoriano Eduardo Núñez Cuba, Melancio Huamani García and Aníbal N. Huarancca are three Plant Doctors from the Experimental Station Canaán (INIA) in Ayacucho-Peru. Part of a Plant Doctor’s work is to visit farmers to provide information related to the diagnosis, prevention, control, management and economic importance of the pests and diseases affecting various crops in the region. The Plant Doctors also provide technical training to farmers. The objective is to support smallholder farmers by providing appropriate technical assistance aimed at increasing crop yields and improving family income. By improving the plant health system in their country, Victoriano, Melancio and Aníbal play a key role in Plantwise that directly impacts food security and nutrition of smallholder farmers and their families. Let’s follow them for a day!

 

 

Behind the scenes of Plantwise plant clinics in Uganda

PhD student, Andrew Tock, of the Warwick Crop Centre, has spent three months monitoring Plantwise plant clinic success in Uganda as part of a BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership. During this time, he kept a research diary (video above), describing his experiences in Uganda and the day-to-day work of plant doctors in the field.

To read an interview with Andrew, visit the BBSRC website: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/141029-f-plant-clinics-in-uganda.aspx

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

Plantwise going strong in Democratic Republic of Congo

Plantwise has been active in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2006. It has been doing admirable work with the cocoa growers of ESCO Kivu and the “Universite Catholique du Graben” in North Kivu province in the last 5 years. However, since November 2013, the focus has been on getting the central government figures of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Livestock (“Ministere de l’Agriculture, Peche et Elevage”) on board in order to develop a sustainable plant clinic structure in the country.

In December 2013, Plantwise trained 20 staff from the Crop Protection department (Direction pour la Production et Protection des Vegetaux), and 3 staff from the Extension Department (Service National de Vulgarisation) as plant doctors that will operate plant clinics. These plant clinics are designed to give the best recommendation for a given crop problem.

On the 24th May 2014, the Plantwise DRC clinic programme was officially launched in CECOMAF, the central commune of the Kinshasa province, by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hubert Ali Ramazani, alongside the Crop Protection, Extension and Quarantine deputies. Representatives from other donors, such as the FAO, the World Bank and the Fonds Belge de Sécurité Alimentaire, all the trained plant doctors (shown below in their white blouses), as well as Radio television Nationale du Congo (the national News Network) and Radio Okapi (UN sponsored radio station) were also in attendance for this momentous occasion. Click here to listen to radio coverage of the event (French language).

Crop Protection and Extension department plant doctors at the official launch of Plantwise in DRC (photo: Julien Lamontagne-Godwin

Crop Protection and Extension department plant doctors at the official launch of Plantwise in DRC (photo: Julien Lamontagne-Godwin)

Five weekly clinics are scheduled to take place in the Province of Kinshasa and will remain in place till the end of 2014. Read more of this post

Plantwise in Suriname

Blog post by Shamela Rambadan and Abigail Rumsey

In May last year, discussions began with the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (LVV) to start up a Plantwise programme in Suriname. By December, 22 plant doctors had completed Module 1 of the Plantwise ‘How to Become a Plant Doctor’ training course. In January 2014, a Partnership Statement and Partnership Agreement was signed by the Permanent Secretary Mr Gerrit Breinburg. Read more of this post

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