CABI’s new digital learning platform, the CABI Academy, is now available free for users in Bangladesh. The digital learning courses are designed for agricultural extension and advisory service providers. They provide interactive exercises and resources to help participants grow their knowledge, so they can deliver the best possible advice to farmers.
Strengthening agricultural advice
Education and technology have an important role to play in helping farmers lose less of what they grow and maximise the yield potential of their crops. The CABI Academy builds on CABI’s scientific and publishing background to provide digital learning courses, designed to strengthen agricultural advice for farmers.
Nearly two-thirds of Bangladesh’s population work in agriculture and 80% depend on it for their livelihoods. However, pests can have a devastating effect on smallholder yields. In Bangladesh, up to 25% of all crops are lost to pests, despite farmers using an estimated 49,000 tonnes of pesticides each year.
Unpredictable crop pests and diseases
Climate change, which farmers in Bangladesh are extremely vulnerable to, is worsening the risk posed by crop pests and diseases. Erratic rainfall, temperature extremes and drought can cause pest problems to flare up unpredictably. Yet, with around 1,000 farmers per agricultural service provider, getting timely advice is not always possible.
Agricultural advisory services can confirm causes and suggest effective, accessible, and pragmatic solutions to pest problems. The CABI Academy aims to strengthen agricultural advisory services by equipping the right people with the necessary skills and knowledge.
Interactive digital learning courses
The digital learning courses are designed to support teachers and trainers in agricultural education institutions and in the workplace. They provide interactive exercises and resources to help participants learn about diagnosing and managing pests and diseases, so they can deliver better quality advice to farmers. The courses are currently in English, with Bangla translation available in the coming months.
The materials work equally well for self-study, as they provide all the information and context required. There are currently two interactive courses available for free in Bangladesh – Crop Pest Diagnosis and Crop Pest Management. Together they provide a comprehensive methodology to diagnose and proactively control pests and diseases.
Digital learning courses outline
The Crop Pest Diagnosis course features 15 hours of training across five modules, over 400 knowledge checks and 1,000 images for symptom recognition. The course supports field-based diagnosis using the Diagnostic Field Guide and covers pathogens, pests and nutrient deficiencies.
Meanwhile, the Crop Pest Management course helps users to apply the principles of an IPM approach to pest and disease management to real-world scenarios. It supports them to make good, informed decisions without the use of the most hazardous chemicals. It includes key areas such as economic considerations, bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, insects and mites as well as viruses.
Crop Pest Diagnostic Simulator App
The topics covered in the courses are reinforced by the Crop Pest Diagnostic Simulator App which gives students the chance to test their learning on plant diagnosis. They can zoom in on symptoms, turn the plant around and even ‘cut’ it open and look inside.
CABI has a deep understanding of face-to-face training. CABI’s on-the-ground expertise in development communications and agricultural extension has helped thousands of smallholder farmers apply tried and tested agricultural practices that improve yields. As a digital learning platform, the CABI Academy has the potential to amplify this impact. Digital media can complement other traditional forms of training to deliver high quality, more accessible, self-paced and adaptive learning than allows agricultural advisory service providers to better support farmers.
CABI’s Digital Learning Team as part of the CABI Academy also provides a range of other services that include consultancy and learning design as well as the platform itself.
Using the Skills Framework for Agriculture as our base, we can help you to devise a sustainable strategy for training and performance improvement. In addition, our team of user researchers, learning designers, user experience specialists, graphic designers and testers are available to help you create high-impact experiences and resources. The CABI Academy is provided in partnership with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, SciDev.Net and NextGenU.org
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