PlantwisePlus Blog

Two international experts in crop and plant health from CABI have visited Papua New Guinea (PNG) to provide training in crop pests and disease which may help increase livelihoods and greater food security in the country.

Agriculture is vital to PNG. It provides 22% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounts for 26% of its exports and supports around 85% of the rural population who rely directly on subsistence farming for their basic needs.

Coffee and cocoa are the main cash crops and employ half of the workforce. However, the cost and availability of modern inputs and technologies, lack of irrigation, poor access to support services and the threat of pests and diseases all contribute to low yields.

Dr Arnaud Costa, CABI Crop Health Advisor and PlantwisePlus Coordinator for Papua New Guinea, and Dr Phil Taylor, Senior Plant Health Advisor, from CABI UK, are visiting Port Moresby as part of CABI flagship programme PlantwisePlus.

Pioneering new ways to assist farmers

This programme, spearheaded by CABI, is pioneering new ways to assist farmers with protecting their crops from pests and diseases. This includes the sweet potato weevil (Cylas formicarius), the diamond-back moth (Plutella xylostella) on cabbage and the rhinoceros beetle (Scapanes australis) pest on coconut.

The concept is simple, modelled on a human health system, farmers take sick crops to a Plant Clinic for advice. At the clinic, the “Plant Doctor” will examine the plant and based on what they see will make a recommendation for treatment. 

CABI is currently training Master Trainers to become “Plant Doctor trainers” with 2 Modules run over 5 days (Module # 1 on Diagnosis and Plant Clinic operation, Module # 2 on Recommendations for prevention control). Once these Master trainers are operational, they will provide training to Plant Doctors who will run the Plant Clinics.

The first Master Trainer training was conducted in October 2023 in Lae, with 14 experts on pests and diseases attending. With support from the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) on Wednesday 17th April 2024, 5 Master Trainers completed a final refresher training. Prior to that, Dr Costa and Dr Taylor provided training on extension materials suitable for farmers.

Advice on how to minimize pest and disease attack

Dr Taylor said, “Farmers need help with their crops, they need country-specific, detailed advice on how to minimize pest and disease attack.” 

This one-day workshop was held on 16th April 2024 at the Holiday Inn & Suites Conference room and included delegates from the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), NARI, the National Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA), the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association (PNG-OPRA).

All the attendees learned how to create literature for farmers and extension staff that will help them control pests and diseases with possible alternatives to chemical options such safer-to-use and environmentally friendly biological control agents.

This programme in PNG is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and by the UK Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

CABI is an international, intergovernmental, not-for-profit organization that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

PNG is one of CABI’s 48 Member Countries who each have a role in shaping CABI’s future direction. This includes the creation and implementation of its Medium-Term Strategy to help tackle some of the greatest challenges facing humanity including poverty, hunger, climate change, gender inequality and biodiversity loss.

The PlantwisePlus programme was launched in PNG in 2022 after a meeting was held between CABI, NARI and NAQIA to see how it can help PNG’s smallholder farmers grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases.

Additional information

For more information, please contact Dr Arnaud Costa

Relevant news story

‘Papua New Guinea’s food security to be strengthened further through PlantwisePlus programme.’

1 Comment

  1. Emax Ngoribago on 30th April 2024 at 12:08 AM

    How can I apply for this training program?

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