Plantwise Blog

CABI Academy’s eLearning courses are now available free for users in Burkina Faso. The new digital learning platform provides online courses for agricultural extension and advisory service providers to help them expand their agricultural knowledge and skills. The courses are also relevant to agriculture and crop protection students, reinforcing the knowledge, skills, and experience they gain at university,

Plant Doctor training Burkina Faso
Plant Doctor training in Burkina Faso

Building capacity through education and technology strengthens the extension system and promotes the sustainable development of agriculture. Specifically, it improves farmers’ access to quality information so that they lose less of what they grow and maximise the yield potential of their crops. There are currently two interactive courses available for free to users in Burkina Faso –  Crop Pest Diagnosis and Crop Pest Management. Together they provide a comprehensive methodology to diagnose and proactively control pests and diseases. A third course, Introduction to Bioprotection, will be available later this year. Covering what bioprotection products are and how they work in the field, it gives practical guidance to help learners choose, use and advise others about bioprotection products.

eLearning strengthening advice in Burkina Faso

About 86% of Burkina Faso’s population relies on subsistence farming on small family plots. Staple crops include maize, sorghum, millet, and legumes such as cow peas and beans, while cotton is the country’s primary cash crop.

However, the agriculture sector in Burkina Faso faces several challenges. Farmers in the country are reliant on the variable summer rainfall, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change. In addition, poor soil, erratic rainfall, and pest and disease outbreaks hinder many households from making a living from the land.

Cotton crops

Pest outbreaks

Pests can have a devastating effect on smallholder yields, accounting for nearly 40% of all crop losses. For example, like many West African countries, Burkina Faso has seen outbreaks of the invasive fall armyworm since its discovery in the region in 2017. Fall armyworm feeds on more than 350 plant species and can cause up to 73% maize yield losses if no control measures are taken.

Another agricultural pest is the legume pod borer, which is a serious pest of cowpeas – an important crop in Burkina Faso, The larvae feed on the tender parts of the plant, especially terminal shoots, flower buds, flowers, and pods, causing significant yield losses.  

fall armyworm
Fall armyworm

Unpredictable crop pests and diseases

Understanding the seasonal patterns of these pests along with identification, monitoring, and prevention is essential for effective and safe management options. The CABI Academy aims to strengthen agricultural advisory services by equipping the right people with the necessary skills and knowledge. 

What’s more, because the courses are online, they have the potential to reach a greater number of users than face-to-face courses. Ultimately this will mean more farmers having access to extension service providers and the advice they provide. This, in turn, is vital to achieving sustainable food and nutrition security.

eLearning courses in Burkina Faso

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, arthropod 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.

Find out more about the Crop Pest Diagnosis and Crop Pest Management courses

The courses are currently in English, with French translation available in the coming months.

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.

Further information

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

About CABI

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.

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