Putting Plant Clinics to work
Plantwise is already looking towards 2012 and is organising its resources in preparation to expand the numbers of plant clinics and countries in which they operate. Delegates made up of CABI staff from all over the globe met up at the Swiss ski resort of Engelberg (23rd-28th May) to discuss how the planned expansion of plant clinic activities is to proceed.
We heard reports on progress from existing schemes in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Bangladesh and India as well as information from previous IPM projects and related activities. It is clear from the presentations that low-income farmers are benefitting from the advice that CABI and Plant Doctors give out.
Although successful throughout the world the Plant Clinic model has been evolving since its inception in 2003. Engelberg allowed us to take stock of the progress and discuss what the salient features of the Plant Clinic model are and how they should be preserved and reproduced in new countries. However Plantwise is not just about helping farmers on the ground with immediate issues, it is also about stepping back and taking a much broader view of the plant pest distribution around the world and this is where the Plantwise Knowledge bank comes into its own.
Delegates were shown a preview of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, a vast repository of plant health information. The disease management section was demonstrated in detail, including pest and disease mapping facilities. Individual incidents of each disease are being plotted on country maps on a scale never seen before and will give excellent resolution of disease occurrence. In its final form the knowledge bank will include the ability to superimpose maps of weather patterns and soil type over the high resolution disease maps and links to fact sheets will provide advice on how to manage the disease in question. This is to be achieved by scanning and sending (electronically) the diagnosis and recommendation given to the farmer by the plant doctor to a central hub. At the hub the prescription will be read by computer and after validation uploaded onto the database increasing the resolution of the maps.
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