Plantwise Vietnam welcomes the Chairman, Governing Board of CABI

Report by Dr Sivapragasam Annamalai, CABI Country Coordinator for Plantwise Vietnam

Mr. Philip Walters, the Chairman of the Governing Board, CABI visited a plant clinic in Tan My Chanh Village, My Tho City, Tien Giang Province, south Vietnam on the 2nd  November, 2015.  It was his first ever visit to a plant clinic in operation. During the visit, he was accompanied by Dr. Nguyen Van Tuat, the Vice President of VAAS and National Coordinator of Plantwise Vietnam; Dr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Director General of the Southern Fruits Research Institute (SOFRI), a local Implementing Organization of Plantwise, Vietnam and Dr. Siva Annamalai, the CABI Country Coordinator for Plantwise in Vietnam.  During the visit, he was able to see the plant doctors in action diagnosing disease samples and giving appropriate recommendations for the problems faced by mainly citrus farmers in the area.  He also interviewed some farmers and a Vice Chairman of the commune to get a feel of their perception on plant clinics and their future needs.

After the visit to the plant clinic, Mr Philip visited SOFRI and was briefed on the overall Plantwise operations in Vietnam by Dr. Tuat and Dr. Hoa. He addressed the questions raised by the Plantwise Team in Vietnam, assisted by Dr. Siva. Mr. Philip also visited the diagnostic laboratory and other Plantwise-related facilities in SOFRI.   Overall, the trip was a successful one and in the words of Mr. Philip: “impressed with the Plantwise developments going on in Vietnam”.

Plantwise progress reported at 2015 Donor Forum

Progress made by Plantwise in 2015 was the subject of the global programme’s annual Donor Forum earlier this month (October 6-7, 2015). The meeting took place in the Swiss Pavilion at the Milan World Expo where Plantwise is the focus of an interactive exhibit.

Plantwise executives invited key programme donors to attend the annual meeting and those participating included the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (DGIS), Irish Aid, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, People’s Republic of China.

Key Plantwise stakeholders come together at the Swiss Pavilion at Expo Milan.

Key Plantwise stakeholders come together at the Swiss Pavilion at Expo Milan.

Kicking off the two-day session, Plantwise Executive Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann reported on progress from the past year of expansion and consolidation for Plantwise across 34 countries. Highlights included the updated Plantwise Strategy for 2015-2020, the development of a systematic monitoring and evaluation plan for roll-out in all Plantwise countries, as well as more than 850 newly trained plant doctors.

Dr Shaun Hobbs, Plantwise Global Director for the Knowledge Bank, presented findings from e-plant clinic pilots. The piloting of tablets at plant clinics first started in February 2014 in Kenya and, based on very positive early results, has now been further expanded to India, Rwanda and Sri Lanka, with 71 e-plant clinics currently being piloted across these countries. The idea of e-plant clinics is to improve the current plant clinic model through mobile technologies. Tablets very effectively support the collection of data at clinics and also increase plant doctors’ access to substantial information on crop management.

Dr Abdillahi Alawy, Plantwise Global Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, presented the results of a farmer satisfaction survey carried out in the first half of 2015. The questionnaire was pre-tested in Kenya and implemented in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda by two external research firms. In total, the survey interviewed 933 farmers via telephone and results show that 94% of farmers are satisfied with plant clinic services.

Dr Wade Jenner, Plantwise Programme Support Manager, updated colleagues on an exciting new development for the programme – its first simulation game as a professional development tool for plant doctors. Plantwise has been trialling a simulation which will act as a learning tool to complement plant doctor training modules, while also helping to inform future training requirements based on game play results. Plant doctors are able to investigate the symptoms of plant health issues using the Plant Doctor Simulator and identify what is causing the problems. Feedback from plant doctors has been very positive and therefore Plantwise will continue to develop and roll-out this tool from early 2016.

The results of a rigorous in-depth impact assessment in Kenya as well as an external evaluation in five Asian countries were also presented. The American Institute of Research (AIR) reported on a baseline household study in Kenya which is part of a four-year impact assessment led by the American Institute of Research and funded by DFID. This assessment so far confirmed that the Plantwise programme helps to improve coordination within the plant health system and enhance the knowledge of its stakeholders. The external evaluation in Asia was commissioned by Evidence on Demand (EoD) to undertake an overall independent assessment on the performance of the programme according to OECD indicators. The lead evaluator reported that the Plantwise approach is still entirely relevant and appropriate, with expected positive impact whilst being highly cost-effective.

One of the Donor Forum’s highlights was the panel discussion with national Plantwise partners from eight different Plantwise countries – Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These individuals serve in different Plantwise-related functions in their home countries and were able to share their experience of the Plantwise approach on the ground. They offered donors the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the challenges and successes they have experienced.

CABI CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls, took the opportunity to inform the donors about CABI’s overall goals and strategy.

Being at the Milan Expo, it was a special Donor Forum for all participants and a valuable opportunity to hear about the progress made by Plantwise to date.


Plantwise national partners from eight different countries share their experience of Plantwise.

Plantwise national partners from eight different countries share their experience of Plantwise.


Rice pests are no longer winning: the Khmer Smile is back

Hy Broey, rice farmer in Cambodia

Hy Broey, rice farmer in Cambodia © CABI

Contributed by Heng Chunn Hy and Ho Chea, General Department of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Hy Broey, a farmer from Choeung Tik Khor village in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia, came with her problem to the plant clinic. She had many problems in rice planting and production, especially during the tillering stage. By attending plant clinics in her village she has learned how to solve her agricultural problems.

Mr Tep Say, the plant doctor, had identified the problem and told her that it was caused by stem borer. He showed her the affected part: dead hearts or dead tillers that can be easily pulled from the base during the vegetative stages. Also, during the reproductive stage, the plants were showing whiteheads: emerging panicles were whitish and unfilled or empty. He showed her tiny holes on the stems and tillers. He told her that she should synchronize planting, and use a recommended resistant variety. During the harvesting she should cut rice near the stem base in order to remove and kill all larvae and pupae. She should also try to conserve predators and try to catch the adult stem borer moths. If she removes all the affected plants, and only if the insect still persists, she can spray a named insecticide in order to kill the insect.

Later the plant doctor also visited the farmer’s field and gave her IPM recommendations. He told her and her husband not only to rely on chemical control but also include cultural practice to improve crop yields, and to protect the environment, thus allowing the natural enemies like dragonflies to breed and help control the adult stem borer moth.

The plant doctor had a follow-up visit to the farmer to see the implementation of his advice. After attending the plant clinic, Hy Borey and her husband changed their habit of only relying on chemical sprays and practised with IPM technique as provided by the plant doctor. They got good results and harvested a good crop. At the harvesting time the farmer was very happy since she got a better yield. Before visiting the plant clinic she got only 2.5 ton/ha but this year after visiting the plant clinic the yield had increased to 3.7 ton/ha. Before visiting plant clinics, she sprayed pesticide 3 times per season for management of pests but after visiting the plant clinic she learnt to apply the IPM method to control insects and diseases, and no more spraying of chemicals was required in this season. She was very happy and thanked CABI’s Plantwise plant clinic program for the support to help farmers in Prey Veng, and other provinces as well.

Perú: nueva clínica de plantas en de la región de Lambayeque

Texto preparado y editado por Martha Passador, Melanie Bateman y Javier Franco

Bernardina Bereche y su hijo Antonio Hiause después de recibir el formulario con recomendaciones. Foto: Martha Passador

Bernardina Bereche y su hijo Antonio Hiause después de recibir el formulario con recomendaciones. Foto: Martha Passador

Los agricultores de la región de Lambayeque recibieron el día 20 de Julio del 2015 un nuevo servicio para mejorar su producción agrícola. Una nueva clínica ubicada en el poblado de Batan Grande fue inaugurada, dónde los agricultores de esta región podrán acercarse a realizar sus consultas sobre plagas y enfermedades sin costo alguno. Batan Grande es un poblado menor perteneciente al distrito de Pitipo, Provincia de Ferreñafe, Región Lambayeque, dónde los agricultores tienes sus cultivos de arroz, maíz, cebolla, lenteja, papa y maracuyá.

La primera atención de esta nueva clínica, contó con la presencia del alcalde de Batan Grande, Luis Alberto  Valladolid Terrones, que confirmó el apoyo de la alcaldía para este servicio. Antes del inicio de los servicios de clínica, la Ing. Patricia Villegas, Coordinadora de la Unidad de Extensión Agraria de la EEA-Vista Florida-Lambayeque, explicó a los agricultores cómo sería realizado el trabajo. Patricia les explicó que en esta clínica, el agricultor sólo necesita acercarse con una muestra de su planta atacada por alguna plaga o enfermedad y el “Doctor de Plantas” le brindará la asesoría necesaria para resolver su problema fitosanitario, además de brindarle las recomendaciones necesarias para prevenir futuros ataques de la plaga.

Ing. Patricia Villegas habla acerca del servicio de la clínica y de los materiales de extensión. Junto a Patricia están Domingo Guzmán y Cesar Flores (Doctores de Plantas) y el alcalde Luis Alberto Valladolid. Foto: Melanie Bateman

Ing. Patricia Villegas habla acerca del servicio de la clínica y de los materiales de extensión. Junto a Patricia están Domingo Guzmán y Cesar Flores (Doctores de Plantas) y el alcalde Luis Alberto Valladolid. Foto: Melanie Bateman

En este primer día de atención, se llenaron 15 formularios de prescripción, teniendo como problemas presentados por los agricultores plagas, enfermedades y deficiencia nutricional. Los productores de la región llevaron más de una muestra cada uno, y se estuvieron muy satisfechos con este servicio y las recomendaciones ofrecidas. La señora Bernardina Bereche Tejara, supo del inicio de este servicio por su hijo José Antonio Hiause Bereche, que obtuvo esta información en la municipalidad. La señora Bernardina llevó sus muestras de lenteja, papa, maíz y maracuyá para ser analizadas por el Doctor de Plantas y recibir las recomendaciones prácticas y accesibles para sus problemas. Ellos tienes cultivos orgánicos, entonces Patrícia les explicó acerca de la utilización de los fertilizantes orgánicos, que ellos no usaban ni conocían – dijo la señora Bernardina. De acuerdo con el señor Antonio Hiause, nunca tuvieron este tipo de servicio que les parece una muy buena idea, y esperan que siga adelante.

Esta nueva Clínica de Plantas se estará ubicada en la Plaza Principal delante de la Alcaldía, y su horario de atención será de las 9 de la mañana hasta las 3 de la tarde, cada 15 días en los días viernes. Esta nueva Clínica pasa a formar parte de la red de Clínicas ya existentes en diversas regiones del Perú.

Clínica de Plantas de Batan Grande. Foto: Melanie Bateman

Clínica de Plantas de Batan Grande. Foto: Melanie Bateman

Free plant clinics set up in Bangladesh

Ten plant clinics have been set up in Bangladesh to provide practical advice to farmers who have crop problems.

Read the full story here

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.

Read more of this post

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:

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.


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