It is the end of December 2016, with clear skies over Niger. But as 2017 draws near prospects are grim for some 500 residents in Bani Kosseye, a village 80km from the capital Niamey. Agricultural production has been poor here, and families’ meagre stocks are expected to run out within a few weeks. People already fear famine.
For the fourth successive year, CABI UK Centre staff in June ran a four day training course on Techniques in Plant Pathology. Through lectures, demonstrations and practical sessions, the course provided a comprehensive overview of methods used for diagnosing plant health problems and for isolating, culturing and identifying fungi, bacteria, nematodes, viruses and phytoplasmas as causal organisms. This year, as in 2015, the primary aim of the course was to support the development of diagnostic capacity within the Plantwise programme. As such, all participants were carefully selected from 19 Plantwise partner countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean and Latin America. The majority are actively involved in Plantwise activities within their respective countries, and some are already providing diagnostic assistance directly to plant clinics or through provision of laboratory-based diagnoses and pest identifications. To provide a practical management perspective, participants also received some insight on the key characteristics of high impact pests they are likely to encounter in their work and how these are best tackled in the field. Feedback from all participants, who immensely enjoy the course and their time in the UK, has been extremely positive. Continue reading →
by Kyin Kyin Win, Deputy National Plantwise Coordinator, Myanmar
The Myanmar Plant Health System Strategy (MPHSS) was launched successfully in Nay Pyi Taw on 8th September 2016. It was officiated by H.E. Dr. Tun Win, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), and was attended by key officials of MOALI including the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Tin Htut. Dr. Tin Htut, who is also the CABI Liaison Officer for Myanmar, had earlier advised the CABI country team to write the PHSS as a strategic document based on the Plantwise framework to transform and catalyse the required reforms in the nascent agricultural extension of Myanmar. Plantwise has been operational in the country since 2014. When the evaluation results of the pilot phase of Plantwise were reviewed and presented by the Plant Protection Division and CABI, MOALI officials were convinced that internalising the Plantwise approach could substantially contribute to increasing the efficiency of and having impact on the desired changes of the Myanmar plant health extension.
During 3-day training workshop, participants learnt how to validate Plantwise diagnoses and recommendations and how to analyze data from Vietnam stored on the Plantwise Knowledge bank. This activity is useful and necessary for the staff working in plant protection because they can examine and evaluate skills and qualifications of Plant doctors and also can have an overall vision and panorama picture about pest and diseases of each plant in each region of the project. Thus, the need for training of Plant doctors could be identified with the aim to enhance their skills and knowledge, to diagnose more accurately pests, and to improve the quality of advice helping farmers prevent effectively pests and diseases, while ensuring safety for people and environment.
“I have suffered [crop] losses amounting to 90%. I have no other source of income apart from tomato farming. I was relying on this crop to feed my family. I have nothing to do now other than tery to think of what to do next.”
Elias Kamuga, Farmer, Kenya
Elias is a smallholder farmer from Kenya. Every year he sells his tomato crop at the local market, which gives him enough money to feed his family. But the arrival of a tomato pest to his region in Kenya has stopped that. The pest – a moth called a tomato leaf miner or Tuta absoluta – was recently introduced to Africa. This pest is an invasive species, and is destroying people’s livelihoods.
In 2015, Elias started to notice his tomatoes were being damaged by this pest. He tried taking them to market, but customers said they had too many holes and…
by Dr. Kyin Kyin Win, Deputy Director (Plant Protection Division, MOALI)
A major outcome of the two-year pilot programme of Plantwise in Myanmar was the recommendation from Dr. Tin Htut, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) to develop a Myanmar Plant Health System Development Strategy (MPHSDS) to guide the future development of the plant health system in Myanmar. Following this, a write shop with senior officials of MoALI was held on the 22nd April 2016 in NayPyiTaw,. The first draft of the MPHSDS was prepared by CABI using as reference documents the Myanmar Rice Sector Development Strategy (MRSDS) and Climate Smart Agriculture Development Strategy.
A ground-breaking report from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has produced an estimate of the number of plants known to science. By searching through existing databases, the researchers have estimated that there are now 390,900 known plant species, of which around 369,400 are flowering plants. But this figure is only those species currently documented: new species are being discovered all the time, including over 2000 in 2015 alone. But more worryingly, it is suggested that 21% of plant species are under threat, from a range of pressures including climate change, habitat loss and invasive species. The invasive species component of the report, which draws heavily on CABI’s Invasive Species Compendium, says that nearly 5,000 plant species are documented as invasive, from over 13,000 vascular plant species naturalised outside their native range.
Prof Kathy Willis, director of science at RBG Kew, said: “It’s really important…