Plant clinics are being established in Cambodia for the first time. Phil Taylor from CABI UK met up with YC Low and Mei-Jean Sue from the CABI Malaysian office to train Cambodia’s first Plant doctors at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh. They were joined by Vietnamese Plant doctors from the Southern Horticultural Fruit Research Institute (SOFRI) who have been running clinics for several years.
Training took place at the Royal University of Agriculture and involved trainees from that institute as well as from General Directive of Agriculture, another institute involved in extension work and also visitors from Hanoi who are keen to host Plant clinics at their institutes.
The training took its usual course of leading the students through the process of developing a idea as to what is causing the problem on the plant. On the Wednesday the newly trained plant doctors were encouraged to go out to a venue and meet with real farmers. They rose to the challenge and were able to correctly identify the causes of the plant health issues that were brought to them.
Following the training, preparations were made to provide RUA with a small computer and scanner so that the data generated from the clinics can be returned rapidly to a central office for collating. CABI also supplied cameras and a USB microscope so that high resolution images of plant material can be sent via the internet.
In addition to the exciting development of Plant Clinics in Cambodia, RUA is intending to set up a diagnostic lab on site so that the material brought to the plant clinics which cannot be diagnosed immediately can be investigated further in the laboratory.
On the evening before departure Phil and Low made contact with other NGOs which are operating within extension services of Cambodia. They have offered support for the fledgling service CABI is offering by providing additional extension material and assistance in the field.
The trainers intend to return in February 2012 to provide the second Module of “How to be a Plant Doctor”.