Contributed by Julien Dougoud, CABI Switzerland
Comptoir Suisse, one of French-speaking Switzerland’s most popular trade fairs, took place from 10th to 19th September in Lausanne. Over 106,000 visitors attended the fair, where about 450 exhibitors were presenting their goods and services to the Swiss public. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) showcased some of its development projects and CABI was invited to present its Plantwise programme with a live plant clinic demonstration.
In the corner dedicated to the Plantwise program, visitors were offered a unique opportunity to discover how plant clinics benefit farmers all over the world and to talk to real-life plant doctors. The plant doctors are in Switzerland at the moment as part of their studies for a Master of Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management (MAS ICM) at the University of Neuchâtel, which is made possible with support from SDC, Plantwise and the University of Neuchâtel. Thanks to their long experience in running plant clinics, they provided visitors with first-hand information and entertained them with short stories or personal anecdotes.
A number of classes of schoolchildren visited the SDC expo booth, where they received an introduction to cooperation and development work and learned about SDC’s projects. At the plant clinic, they had a unique chance to discover what the daily life of farmers and agricultural extension workers in developing countries is like.
“This is a fantastic project! Carry on with this important work.”
The majority of visitors were really interested in the project, and wanted to find out more. They praised the integrated pest management approach and the fact that Plantwise helps smallholder farmers improve their livelihoods. Many were impressed by the scope of the project, the number of farmers reached and of plant doctors trained. Visitors were also curious how Switzerland supports international development efforts and approved its support of the Plantwise programme.
“I did not know that SDC was funding cooperation and development programs. At least some of our tax money is spent in a good way.”