Plantwise, a global initiative run by CABI, was launched in Accra, Ghana last week. The initiative involves establishing plant clinics, which farmers can attend to get advice on plant health from trained plant doctors. In addition to the knowledge they acquire through the training programmes, these plant doctors can make use of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank which provides up-to-date information to best advise the farmer.
Following the launch, a review and planning workshop took place for stakeholders in the agricultural sector. The event attracted policy makers, extension workers, plant protection officers and researchers as well as private sector and non-governmental agencies who were all keen to share their knowledge and ideas on how to develop Plantwise activities in the country.
The workshop was opened by Dr Samual Kojo Dapaah, Chief Technical Advisor to the Minister of Food and Agriculture in Ghana. He said that Plantwise would help the challenges faced by the food and agricultural sectors and reduce poverty in the country.
In the opening ceremony of the workshop, Dr Entsua-Mensah, Deputy Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said she was “particularly pleased the the clinics will be community based”. She went on to express her support of the Knowledge Bank (KB), “Best thing is the KB [which has] historical data and then national and international data and [we] need to tap into that.”
Outside, a mock clinic was set up to allow the workshop participants to see how the clinics work. Plant doctors looked at a sample piece of crop and diagnosed the problem affecting it. During the consultation plant doctors fill out the details of the diagnosis and recommendations on a prescription form, a copy of which is given to the farmer.
Plantwise began working in Ghana in June 2012, with the training of 29 plant doctors. The trainees, who included extensions workers and staff from plant protection and regulatory services, all successfully completed module 1 of the plant doctor training programme. As part of this training, a pilot clinic was set up which proved popular, receiving 52 queries from 42 farmers in just 3 hours. This significant interest inspired the trainees, and there have now been about 13 clinics launched in Ghana since the first began operation in September 2012. There are plans to establish many more clinics in Ghana, expanding coverage into the North and East of the country.