Launching of Plantwise training in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India.
With the support of the State Government of Madhya Pradesh, under an RKVY scheme, a 6-day training programme on Plantwise modules was conducted at the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), Jabalpur, in technical collaboration with CABI.
The training programme was scheduled in 2-modules with an objective of building skills of experts as Plant Doctors on ‘Field diagnostics & operation of plant clinics’ and ‘Giving good recommendations’. This high-level training was imparted to experts from local extension agencies like State Department of Agriculture, JNKV, BISA, NGOs and other related agencies. Training was facilitated by Dr. Shalik Ram Adhikari and Dr. Vinod Pandit from CABI, and Dr. Pankaj Singh from BISA.
The programme focused on guiding the extension experts through processes and principles to arrive on accurate diagnoses of pests on crops and providing safe advice to farmers through the establishment of community level plant clinics at farmers’ door steps. Plant clinics, supported by the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, are found to be an effective and economically relevant approach to minimize crop losses by providing an on-the-spot advisory service to farmers. The Plantwise Knowledge Bank hosts information about various crop pests and diseases and is accessible both offline and online.
Experts, trained as plant doctors, were also guided on the processes of establishing plant clinics at the field level and conducted a live plant clinic on 12th February in Tilgawa village in the district of Jabalpur. A number of farmers were informed prior to the event so they could bring infested samples to the clinic and get advice from plant doctors under the guidance of training facilitators.
As the event started, more and more farmers started coming to clinic with infested samples and about 25 farmers were served directly. The farmers were informed that a new disease on wheat crop had started spreading in the area from last year; this had caught them by surprise as no management measure was found to be working. Observing the samples, plant doctors were able to quickly diagnose it as smut disease of wheat and suggested that farmers follow an Integrated Pest Management approach and rogue out infected ears/plants carefully from the field as smut spores can spread through air to other healthy ears in the area. Farmers were satisfied with the operation of a plant clinic in the area as they were constantly engaged in conversation to describe the field situation, which was part of training to “monitor the field through a farmer’s eyes”.
The new plant doctors were equally excited to conduct the plant clinics, interact with farmers, and with ease could access the Knowledge Bank to give advice to farmers with much confidence. They were also satisfied with the process of giving a prescription to farmers on paper like medical doctors and record the prescription electronically on the Plantwise Data Collection App (DCA) for online management and documentation of entries.
Participants felt that this approach was highly relevant for the state of Madhya Pradesh and help all plant health stakeholders like: farmers for right advice; agrodealers for correct and registered inputs; experts in improving diagnostic skills, universities for research, and government departments for the right information about pest occurrence on a dynamic basis to devise policy interventions.
Plantwise is operational in India in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Assam, Orissa, and Jammu, and has reached thousands of farmers in these states since its inception. The approach is effective in increasing the income of farmers by reducing costs on inputs and decreasing the impact on environment by discouraging the use of chemical pesticides.
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