Plant clinics in Uganda: First regional plant clinic awareness workshop held in Kabarole

Plant clinic in Uganda
A plant clinic in Uganda © RIC-NET

This article is adapted from a post on the Rwenzori Information Centres Network blog.

In a bid to create awareness about plant clinics in Uganda, Plantwise organized a one day sensitization workshop at Lesuiex Centre in Kabarole District about improving food security and the lives of smallholder farmers in Uganda.

It was also aimed at bringing together science organizations, agricultural ministries, civil society organizations and extension providers to help them develop sustainable national plant health systems where community-based plant clinics provide practical advice to smallholder farmers when they need it.
It was noticed that average pre-harvest crop losses due to crop pests and diseases in Uganda are about 10-20%, and 20-30% during the post-harvest period.

District officials who attended the workshop were advised by Phil Taylor of CABI UK to integrate plant clinic programmes with those of national agriculture advisory services (NAADS) so that it should not look like an independent project to farmers. Several districts from across the region were represented, including among others Kasese, Kabarole, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kyegewa,  Buikwe, Mukono, Hoima and Ntungomo.

Workshop attendees learn more about plant clinics in Uganda
Workshop attendees learn more about plant clinics in Uganda © RIC-NET

According to Plantwise, 23 plant clinics have been established in Uganda with the help of their implementing partners like the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Rwenzori Information Centres Networks (RIC-NET), local government, Makerere University, National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO), and Caritas. This year, the Ministry of Agriculture and partners hope to establish more clinics in other parts of the country and build capacity to run them especially during market days and on a routine basis so that farmers’ needs are addressed.

Despite plant clinics gaining coverage with farmers in Uganda, they have been faced with a number of challenges like plant doctors not having inadequate skills to handle different plant species; lack of basic equipment like lenses, knives, torches, and reference materials such as photosheets; insufficient funds to facilitate the activity; lack of technical back-stopping like of NARO; and lack of feedback from national laboratories. Another issue is that many people mistake plant doctors for herbalists because they deal with diseased samples of plants which farmers bring for diagnosis.

Joseph Mulema of CABI Africa said there is need to increase plant clinic coverage in every agricultural area in this country since farmers have liked the initiative so far.

To find out more about the Plantwise initiative in Uganda, click here.

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