The Plantwise training for plant doctors (Module 1: Field diagnostics and plant clinic operation) is unique in that it is the only international training that focuses on field diagnosis and uses live plant samples in the learning process. The training takes advantage of the fact that many of the symptoms caused by the different groups of pathogens are often similar irrespective of the host plant. The training has been widely praised by those just starting a career in field diagnostics as well as those trained to PhD levels as it is rare that the symptoms are laid out in this way.
Contributed by Jane Frances Asaba and Joseph Mulema, both CABI Africa, and Phil Taylor, CABI Egham-UK Plantwise has been operating in Uganda for 8 years, throughout which progress in setting up plant clinics with partners has been slow but steady. Recently, things are really taking off; extension workers being instructed to attend courses by their superiors, and their role as plant doctors is becoming part of their expected duties. Continue reading →
The Sorrel plant (left) was one of those found by the trainees during the recent training in Module 1 of how to be a plant doctor. The plant doctor training uses live plant material as well we photographs to lead the trainees through the process of field diagnosis.
The large and hard beige lump at the base of the stem is a gall caused by the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The unique thing about this host/ pathogen interaction is the fact that DNA from the bacterium is inserted into the plant where it remains even long after the bacteria have been removed. This is the only natural example of DNA transfer of this kind; a natural genetic engineer.
The recent awareness raising exercise that took place in Fort Portal in the west of Uganda was a roaring success. The key to extending Plantwise in Uganda was to involve the Chief Administrative officers, District Agricultural officers and the NAADS coordinator of each of the districts. The extension service in Uganda is mostly decentralised with the local government officials having a great say in both the budget and the implementation of extension.
Jane Asaba and Joseph Mulema (CABI Uganda) together with Phil Taylor (CABI UK) set off to the west of the country to promote Plantwise to districts of the Western region. They were accompanied by Kanakulya Luswata and Steven Mabira experienced plant doctors from Buikwe and Mukono The ministry (MAAIF) was represented by Benius Tukahirwa. Continue reading →
Plantwise is expanding rapidly and it is difficult to keep up with the demand (see Plantwise heads west) in some parts of Africa. Uganda was one of the first countries that took up the concept of Plant clinics and thus it is one of the most advanced in clinic numbers and in the integration of Plantwise into the infrastructure of the country’s extension service.
Up until now training was provided by staff from the UK, originally, Rob Reeder and more recently Phil Taylor, with support from the local CABI staff in Uganda. However the demand for Plantwise is growing at such a pace and the level of experience of local people has grown such that now is the time for local people to begin training plant doctors. Continue reading →
Module 1 of the How to be a Plant Doctor has recently taken place at the Makerere University Agricultural research institute. The training over 3 days (12th –14th Nov) was opened by Dr Robert Karyeija, the assistant commissioner for crop protection, and was led by CABI trainers Phil Taylor from CABI UK and Joseph Mulema CABI Africa. The training was in association with Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). The trainees were from 8 districts that already have Plant Clinics (but are intending to increase the number) and an additional 6 districts that are intending to start clinics shortly Iganga,Luwero,Kabarole, Mityana, Wakiso and Kibale. Morris Akiri the Regional Director of CABI Africa closed the training. Continue reading →
Lizz Johnson and Michael Lett holding the MoU that outlines how the Ministry of Agriculture and CABI will work together to bring Plant health system to Grenada and provide information to the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.
Plant clinics are now a reality in Grenada. Phil Taylor and Lizz Johnson recently travelled to Grenada to give Module 2 of the Plantwise “How to be a Plant doctor” training and additional exercises in data management. The week-long course involved a brief recap of what was learned in Module 1 (symptom recognition and description) and then moved onto how to make recommendations in response to farmers’ pest and disease problems. CABI courses encourage non-chemical control of pests and diseases but also acknowledges the importance of chemical inputs in food production. Module 2 studies cultural control measures as well as the use and the modes of action of various chemicals so that they can be used judiciously and minimise the likelihood of resistance. The course involves a visit to local agro-chemical suppliers in the area to alert them of the Plantwise initiative and to begin dialogue with them and to incorporate them into a true plant health system. In each case the trainees were well received and the dealers were keen to learn more and become involved in the initiative. Continue reading →