Photostory: SDC visits Plantwise Sri Lanka

The story of support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for the Plantwise food security programme goes back to its inception in 2011. Since the start, SDC has been a major supporter of both in-country programme activities as well as global resources such as the Plantwise knowledge bank. Sri Lanka is one example of a Plantwise country that has shown particularly strong uptake of the plant clinic concept. This prompted Dr Carmen Thoennissen, an SDC senior advisor for the Global Programme Food Security, to join CABI staff and partners in Sri Lanka for 3 days to discover how the programme is unfolding on the ground and understand what makes it a success. Check out the photo story and read more after the jump

In Sri Lanka, the ‘Permanent Crop Clinic Programme’ is expanding quickly. In 2013 alone, over 200 extension officers were trained on ‘How to Become a Plant Doctor’ and are now establishing plant clinics across the country, advising farmers and gathering valuable field data that will help to inform extension and policy to tackle real challenges facing farmers. “Because farmers don’t know how to use pesticides, they misuse, overuse as well as abuse. We have to stop that,” says Dr D. B T Wijeratne, the Additional Secretary on Agriculture Technology at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). Following meetings with MoA officials including in Colombo, the delegation journeyed to Kandy to hear from the Permanent Crop Clinic Programme national coordinator, the plant clinic data management team, and a research institute which provides pest diagnostic support. “Plantwise fills a need,” said Mr M.U.P. Jayasundara, Agricultural Officer with the Plant Protection Service, the national implementing partner. “We can use the plant doctor prescription sheet as a requirement to show the agro-dealers to receive inputs, providing a sort of checks and balances on pesticides.”

The tour concluded with a visit to the heart of Plantwise – plant clinics run by local extension staff at the village level, one in Anuradhapura District and one in Vavuniya District, both managed professionally by plant doctor teams drawing numbers of farmers seeking advice. “It has helped me in organizing, decision-making and covering a large extension area- 37 villages with over 75 farmers each,” says plant doctor Maheshika Wirkranakaluthe. “And now the farmers’ tendencies are going towards non-chemical solutions as well, so this is very positive.” It was evident that the plant clinics were a concept that the farmers not only understood well, but also appreciated, as demonstrated by the numbers who turn up repeatedly for advice. “Whenever I have a problem, I go to the clinic,” says one farmer from Hettiwatha.

To find out more about Plantwise, please visit www.plantwise.org

And visit the SDC’s Food Security website at: http://www.sdc.admin.ch/en/Home/Themes/Agriculture_and_food_security

One thought on “Photostory: SDC visits Plantwise Sri Lanka

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