In June 2014, Dr Aamir H Malik, CABI Country Coordinator for Pakistan, Cambria Finegold, Head of Project Development for the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin, Plantwise scientific officer, organised a workshop in Islamabad that united major stakeholders in the Pakistani plant health system. These included the departments of Extension and Adaptive Research, Pest Warning and Quality Control of Pesticides, Agricultural Information, the National Agricultural Research Centre, the Punjab Seed Corporation and the Horticultural Development and Export Company.
The objective was to demonstrate the power and possible use of the data being generated by the rising number of plant clinics in the country. The participants felt that it is crucial that the data, owned by the Directorate General of Extension and Adaptive Research, is shared to a maximum amount of actors in the plant health system. This will enable them to work more efficiently in the agricultural domain, depending on their mandates: develop updated and topical research strategies, conduct more targeted extension campaigns, understand the health of various crops in a region and develop better seeds or resistant varieties. Indeed, this is one of the core objectives of Plantwise.
Overall, the workshop was an unqualified success, as many partners are now keen to be linked to the data sharing platform that is the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, and receive topical and interesting data from the Directorate General of Extension and Adaptive Research plant clinics.
Plantwise has been active in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2006. It has been doing admirable work with the cocoa growers of ESCO Kivu and the “Universite Catholique du Graben” in North Kivu province in the last 5 years. However, since November 2013, the focus has been on getting the central government figures of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Livestock (“Ministere de l’Agriculture, Peche et Elevage”) on board in order to develop a sustainable plant clinic structure in the country.
In December 2013, Plantwise trained 20 staff from the Crop Protection department (Direction pour la Production et Protection des Vegetaux), and 3 staff from the Extension Department (Service National de Vulgarisation) as plant doctors that will operate plant clinics. These plant clinics are designed to give the best recommendation for a given crop problem.
On the 24th May 2014, the Plantwise DRC clinic programme was officially launched in CECOMAF, the central commune of the Kinshasa province, by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hubert Ali Ramazani, alongside the Crop Protection, Extension and Quarantine deputies. Representatives from other donors, such as the FAO, the World Bank and the Fonds Belge de Sécurité Alimentaire, all the trained plant doctors (shown below in their white blouses), as well as Radio television Nationale du Congo (the national News Network) and Radio Okapi (UN sponsored radio station) were also in attendance for this momentous occasion. Click here to listen to radio coverage of the event (French language).
Five weekly clinics are scheduled to take place in the Province of Kinshasa and will remain in place till the end of 2014. Continue reading →
Since 2012, the Plantwise Afghanistan team, including Muhammad Faheem as Country Coordinator, Dr Babar Ehsan Bajwa as Regional Director for CABI Central and West Asia and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin as European Support Staff from the CABI UK centre, has been increasingly involved in the agricultural development of the country. As the programme has gone from strength to strength, it has not only grown its clinic network, but also engaged regularly with the various stakeholders involved in the country’s agricultural system.
The National Forum is one of the many stakeholder engagement tools at the programme’s disposal, and it was used to full effect in March 2014. Continue reading →
In November 2013, three members of the CABI Plantwise team (Dr Noah Phiri and Peter Karanja of the Nairobi office, and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin of the UK office) visited Musanze in the Northern zone of Rwanda. 12 participants from the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) were trained in techniques to inform the surrounding rural communities on serious pests and diseases of important crops, particularly maize stalk borer and Lethal Necrosis, and potato late blight. During the 4 day training, participants were taught to develop a simple extension message that can be announced clearly in less than ten minutes. This message explains the background to the problem, discusses symptoms, and recommendations to prevent or reduce its effects in the field.
In the picture above, Jeanne Priscille Ingabire uses a megaphone to alert the village of Bikara of an impending talk on maize stalk borer. Kalisa Jean Pierre (left) and Stanislas Mushimiyimana (right) both hold onto a banner to gain more public interest before the talk.
This technique complements the established plant clinics in the area, and will help the RAB team inform and help more people with their agricultural pests and diseases.
Blog by Florence Chege and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin
During a Plant Health Rally regional training in Kitale, Western Kenya, 15 participants, including CABI Africa staff, local Kenya Agricultural Research Institute staff, Ministry of Agriculture extension staff and international Plantwise collaborators from Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, went out to inform farmers on various local plant health issues and problems.
These included soil acidity, the proper use of fertilisers, control and management of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND), Cabbage Black Rot and Napier Grass Stunt.
Kitale is the largest maize growing area in Kenya, therefore, information on MLND at the rallies was very useful and well received by farmers attending them.
During the first day of rallies, two teams of participants went out to conduct a total of 11 rallies, and reaching out to 768 people in rural market locations.
In this picture, Martin Kimani of CABI Africa is creatively demonstrating (with the use of flour and a maize plant) how plant viruses can be transmitted through movement of infected plant material and equipment, . This will help the farmers to understand the safe handling of infected material in the future, and reduce the spread of a serious maize problem.
Thank you Kim for the creative spark that made farmers laugh and remember the message.
The training, led by Dr Eric Boa is continuing till the end of the week
Muhammad Faheem of the CABI Central West Asia and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin of CABI UK are currently training 30 new plant doctors for the plant clinics that will open in April 2013 in the Kabul and Baghlan provinces. These will join the clinics that are already performing sensationally in the Parwan and Bamyan provinces. The Plantwise concept is lifting off, with solid ties with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. Watch this space for more positive news in the near future!