Plant Clinics boost fight against diseases and pests

“Plant clinics boost fight against diseases, pests” – this was the title of a story that appeared in the newspaper Business Daily last week. It was one of many positive articles that were written after a group of journalists were taken to visit some Plant Clinics in Kenya.

The article includes examples where the Plant Clinics have helped farmers in Kenya.

Karanja Kinyanjui, a farmer from Kikuyu District, who supplies Nairobi’s Wakulima Market says he spent Sh10,000 on pesticides prescribed by agro-vets for his potatoes and spinach to no avail. Following this, diagnosis from the plant doctors encouraged him to spray wood ash onto his crops, which, within a week wiped out the disease.

“It still pains me to imagine that the agro-vets fleeced me of my meagre earnings,” he said.

The common pests and diseases are maize stalk borer, nematodes and headsmut. However, it is white fly infected crops that form 60% of the cases reported. White fly is found on the leaves of many plants – both on the upper and lower surfaces – and feeds on growing shoots, laying eggs that hatch into tiny white scales that remain attached to the underside of leaves. The flies suck the sap of the plant, weakening the plant and introducing viruses that often kill the plant.

The clinic experts single out poor greenhouse management as the greatest culprit in the spread of diseases and pests.

“Due to global warming, most farmers are opting for greenhouse but the problem is they are not able to construct them well and this attracts insect vectors, which, when feeding on the crops, transmit the diseases,” says Elizabeth Njoroge, an expert at Wangige Plant Clinic, who also doubles up as the divisional extension agricultural and crops officer in Kabete.

Njoroge says that it has been challenging trying to introduce innovative farming practices to rid farms of pests, especially crop rotation and spacing.

Read the full article at BusinessDailyAfrica.com.

Find out more about the Plant Clinics at www.cabi.org/plantwise.

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