Plantwise is showcasing its work at the Swiss Agriculture and Food Fair, the OLMA, held in St.Gallen/Switzerland from 8 to 18 October 2015, following an invitation by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC.
At a special exhibition, the SDC is presenting seven selected projects from different continents illustrating its efforts to help reduce poverty and hunger in the world while promoting environmentally sound agriculture. With the title: “Beyond one’s own four kitchen walls”, the SDC exhibit is throwing a spotlight on development cooperation and is encouraging visitors to discover a world of exotic fragrances and tastes. Along with Benin, Honduras, Sudan, Kosovo, South Caucasus and Laos, Plantwise is presented as one of SDC’s best practice projects.
Smallholder and subsistence farmers, shepherds and fishermen are the people who lay the foundations for feeding the globe. 500 million small family farms provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. But these farmers face major challenges due to crop health problems and currently 30-40% of crops worldwide are lost to pests, threatening local, national and global food security. Plant clinics are one way Plantwise, led by CABI, is working to bridge the gap between smallholder farmers and the science-based knowledge needed sustainably reduce crop losses from pests and diseases.
Through the Live Plant Clinic showcased on October 9 and 10, 2015 at OLMA, Plantwise exemplified how smallholder farmers in 34 countries receive practical plant health advice they need to save their crops. Visitors were invited to select a sick crop sample from those on hand – potato, cabbage, mango and maize – and sit down briefly with real-life plant doctors who work to support plant clinics back in their home countries of Sierra Leone and Rwanda. The plant doctors used hand lenses and a microscope to examine the crop symptoms. They also used diagnostic resources from the Plantwise Knowledge Bank in the process and provided recommendations on how the plant can be treated.
Feedback from OLMA visitors was very positive, with many saying that they find the programme with its approach of training plant doctors extremly interesting and encouraged Plantwise to continue its efforts.
One visitor with a vegetable garden at home was inspired by the advice that Martin Busobozi normally gives to cabbage-growing farmers in Rwanda to fight the Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella). He encourages farmers to sprinkle wood ash over their cabbage plants as a low-cost preventive measure and the dust on the leaves help to rid the plants of eggs. The visitor said he would try this approach in his own garden next year.
Martin Busobozi advises an OLMA visitor on how to control the Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) in his vegetable garden.
With over 1,500 plant clinics around the world and nearly 2 million farmers reached, Plantwise is continuing its work to support stronger, more effective farmer services in countries where agriculture is the economic back bone.
“I’m very proud to be part of the Plantwise programme as it is so unique and sepcial,” said Raymonda Johnson, from Plantwise Sierra Leone. “It helps to improve food security by sharing knowledge on new skills and techniques”. “Every day, I work with farmers to help solve the pest and disease problems in their farms. This makes me really happy!”.