The Plantwise program was launched at the Bajan Agrofest that took place at the end of February near Bridgetown. The agrofest is an annual event that this year attracted over 60,000 people, this is approximately 25% of the island population. Working with the Dept of Crop Protection (Ministry of Agriculture) a plant clinic was run jointly at the agrofest by CABI staff and extension staff from the Ministry.
In the course of the three day event various people stopped by to visit the stall, notably the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Michael King, Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick and various other officials from the MoAB. Of noteworthy mention was also a visit by Mrs. Florita Kentish UN Resident Coordinator of the FAO Barbados office.
By far the most common crop at the clinic was lime (and other citrus fruit) and the most common problem, sooty mould and scale insects. All the Bajan visitors to the clinic liked the idea and would like to see them across Barbados.
The following day after the agrofest Phil Taylor and Lizz Johnson gave a presentation to the Ministry of Agriculture which emphasised the knowledge bank aspect of Plantwise as most Bajans already have reasonable access to the extension service. Barbados has had a recent history of invasive species arriving on the island and the idea that clinic could prevent more was of great interest to the authorities. The data from the Plant clinics run at the Agro Fest was presented in summary form with limited analysis performed so that they could appreciate what could be achieved if records were kept and computerised. Ian Gibbs an experienced entomologist from Barbados said “We have been running clinics for several years but computerising and using the data is something which we have never done and is an excellent idea”.