The 6th Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures was held in Rome on 14th –18th of March 2011; CABI was represented by Dr. Phil Taylor who gave a talk entitled “Maintaining global vigilance for pests and diseases”. This talk described the work of the plant clinics and how the clinic data was being added to the Plantwise knowledge bank as well as some recent research looking at the publication of new disease records from around the world.
The talk sparked lively debate about the use of data from field diagnoses in a database. The delegates were reassured to learn that the data was validated prior to inclusion into the knowledge bank and that there were filters within the software that could remove the clinic-derived data from from the maps.
Delegates from Morocco and Zambia were interested in the work of CABI and made enquires on CABI membership and plant clinics respectively. The IPPC have asked for the presentation to be posted on their webpage.
There was also a talk by Hannah Clarendon of FAO that was prepared jointly between her and Roger Day of CABI entitled “Strategic framework for Crop protection in Africa”.
The plenary sessions in the main hall were looking at cost cutting measures that could be undertaken by the IPPC, it is an eye-opener to learn that even the IPPC is not flush with cash.
Permanent members of staff at the FAO knew of clinics and knew that there was change afoot and were keen to learn more. They were very impressed by the optical character recognition system we are testing saying that they had tried other technologies such as mobile phones but they did not maintain the good farmer interface of pen and paper. They asked for a copy of the plant clinic prescription sheet. They also had some reservations about the use of clinic data in a database but were reassured to learn of the planned validation and filtering available within the Plantwise knowledge bank. The new IPPC phytosanitary portal was unveiled at the conference whereby new diseases are posted online by the NPPO of various countries. Since 2006 there have been 213 new posts.