By Muhammad Faheem and Chan Fook-Wing
At the recent International Conference on Tropical Fruit Pest and Diseases (known as TROPED), which took place in Malaysia, attendees from countries including the Philippines, Fiji, China, Sudan, and India learned about Plantwise through a series of talks, demos, and an exhibition stand.
The conference was organised with the aim of sharing expert knowledge on the various topics related to pest and disease management of tropical fruits. Delegates from government agencies, research institutes, and the commercial sector participated in the conference.
Dr Sivapragasam Annamalai, Regional Director for CABI South East Asia said: “Tropical fruits are beginning to see significant growth in the global markets. New market opportunities and discerning consumer preferences are major drivers of this trend.
“However, like other horticultural crops, the incidences of pests and diseases are among the main factors that impede the sustainable production and marketing of tropical fruits. TROPED 2018 is a timely event that addresses the needs and challenges with the industry and provides expert knowledge against pests and diseases affecting tropical fruits.
“CABI’s significant engagement in TROPED 2018 underscores its pivotal role as a leading organization with expertise in aspects of tropical fruit pests and diseases and their management.”
Dr Annamalai also presented his paper on emerging trends in plant protection at the conference.
The second day of the conference began with a keynote from CABI’s Dr Jayne Crozier titled ‘The Role of Plant Health in Food Security’. It is estimated that 30-40% of crop losses are due to pests and diseases. Plantwise is on the ground working to ensure that through its plant clinics network that farmers lose less and feed more. In recent years, technology has improved the Plantwise network such as the use of tablets and apps which can help plant doctors with their diagnosis, and also significantly improve the speed of data collection around the globe from plant clinics.
At a special side event at the conference, Mr Muhammad Faheem from CABI’s South East Asia office presented how the Plantwise programme can strengthen national plant health systems. He explained how the plant clinics operate and showed the short film, Cocoa is my livelihood, about cocoa farmer Phu, who benefited from the help of a plant doctor in Vietnam. In addition, Mr Chan Fook-Wing presented the features of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and Plantwise Factsheets Library app.
The CABI booth displayed publishing products as well as information about Plantwise. Visitors were very interested in the plant clinic model and enquired about clinic operations in the local context. Since Plantwise covers not only clinics but plant health systems, complementing the work carried out by extension and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) divisions, they were keen to know more about how Plantwise can assist their day-to-day. Just some of the activities and tools found within the Plantwise suite delivered to countries implementing the programme include: plant doctor training, workshops for writing extension materials, plant health rallies, use of ICT tools, knowledge resources, data gathering and analysis.
In addition to the sessions delivered by CABI at the conference, the booth served to support and bolster the image of CABI’s work in the region. While some delegates may have heard of CABI, the face-to-face interaction offered by the booth and the series of sessions provided an excellent opportunity to further engage with conference participants and to explain what CABI does in support of its mission of ‘improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment’.