Backstopping visit to Bangkok, Thailand

As the last part of our data management trip, Claire and I headed to Bangkok for the 11th and 12th of September. We joined a group of plant doctors and farmers at the plant clinic/rally in Nong Kung village, Suppaya district, Chainat province. We saw a demonstration on biocontrol, looked through pamphlets and information available to farmers about crop problems, and discussed the rice harvest which was currently taking place. In the backstopping training at the Rice Department, the participants shared their concerns and plans for future data management in Thailand.

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Participants of the data management backstopping in Bangkok. ©CABI
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Farmers attending the clinic to listen to advice about crop protection. ©CABI
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Emily, Claire, Fook Wing, and Siva observing how plant clinics operate in Chainat province. ©CABI
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Discussing data management in Thailand. ©CABI
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Looking forward to a delicious meal in Nong Kung village! ©CABI
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Farmers learning about biocontrol products using fungal spores grown on a culture of cooked rice. ©CABI
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A farmer and plant doctor discussing issues with food crops. ©CABI
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Preserved samples and specimens for comparison purposes when diagnosing crop problems. ©CABI
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View from the plant clinic into part of the village – it was a beautiful, sunny day. ©CABI

Backstopping visit to Hanoi, Vietnam

After our stay in Cambodia, Claire and I continued on our way to Hanoi, Vietnam on September 8th and 9th. From there we drove out to Hưng Yên province, visiting two plant clinics and an agro-dealer. We had the opportunity to speak with farmers and plant doctors about how clinics are going, and how useful they can be for farmers to seek advice on their crops. On the way, we enjoyed some pomelo and longans, and shared a cup of tea.  Afterwards, we headed back to the city and facilitated a backstopping training session about data management for 6 participants. Together, we identified bottlenecks in the data flow process, and discussed how they can be improved.

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Plant doctors at Plant Clinic 8 in Hưng Yên province. ©CABI
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Longan season in Hưng Yên province. ©CABI
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Interview with the leader of Nhat Quang commune while sharing a cup of tea. ©CABI
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Pomelo picked fresh from the tree! ©CABI
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Visiting an agro-dealer and learning about the safety information available for farmers. ©CABI
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Claire highlighting the importance of data management. ©CABI
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The group visiting plant clinic 8 and talking with farmers about how much they valued the advice provided by plant doctors. ©CABI
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Group photo from the backstopping data management training. ©CABI

Data management training in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – looking back on a successful trip!

In the first week of September, 2014, Claire Beverley and I went to Cambodia for three days to run data management training and a cluster meeting, along with our colleague Jeremy Ngim from the CABI Malaysia office. The presentations were given in English and translated into Khmer, which was a neat experience for all. We got the opportunity to talk with plant doctors and their supervisors about current issues with data management in Cambodia, and how harmonising, analysing, and sharing of data can work within Cambodia.

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The General Directorate of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. ©CABI
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One of the translators, Ho Chea, patiently getting materials ready for a harmonisation exercise. ©CABI
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Participants listening enthusiastically to Claire presenting. ©CABI
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Birds of Paradise at lunch break. ©CABI
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Participants discussing ways issues and solutions with data flow in Cambodia. ©CABI
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Claire working with one of the translators, Sarika, to facilitate a discussion in both English and Khmer! ©CABI
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Emily, happy to be talking about data! ©CABI
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Claire and Emily exploring Phnom Penh in a tuk-tuk. ©CABI
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Delicious snacks at tea – can you name the fruits in this picture? ©CABI

 

 

Looking back on 2013: Plantwise brainstorm

2013 Plantwise knowledge bank infographic
©CABI

Last year, 2013, was a productive year for Plantwise. There were over 120,000 visits to the online knowledge bank, with over 250,000 page views. This is great news because there were over 15,000 views per month, with people exploring distribution maps, browsing the image-led diagnostic tool, and looking at factsheets on treatment of pests and diseases. Of the views, about a quarter were from PW countries, where use has doubled since the same time in 2012.

We’re excited to share that at the end of last year, there were more than 7,500 factsheets publicly available on the knowledge bank, with 550 Factsheets for Farmers, 100 Pest Management Decision Guides, 3,400 Technical Factsheets and links to 3,500 External factsheets. The Technical Factsheets included 2,500 pests that affect over 4,000 different agriculturally significant hosts.

Mobile is progressing well, with over 450 Factsheets for Farmers having been repurposed and available via tablet or smartphone. This means that plant doctors on the e-clinics pilot initiative have access to factsheet information in real-time as they fill out prescription forms, making diagnoses and recommendations more accurate. Using mobile technology also increases the number of people that Plantwise reaches, especially since the app works with intermittent internet, and can be viewed offline.

The Pest Alert service had 545 sign-ups from 200 countries, including 169 contacts from the National Plant Protection Organizations.

As of the end of December 2013, plant clinics were regularly collecting data in 14 countries, with over 18,000 records of visits by farmers. Local and national engagement continues to increase in 2014, with the current numbers in July being over 50 000 records collected from 23 countries.

It’s been a busy first half of 2014, and we’re already making good progress on figures for this year. Check out the knowledge bank site to see the content we’ve added recently!

 

Yours in losing less and feeding more,

The Plantwise knowledge bank

 

Craving chocolate – how to supply increasing demands in cocoa crops

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Helping cocoa farmers tackle diseased crops in a sustainable way ©CABI

A recent article in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, discussed some of the upcoming issues associated with out-dated cultivation methods for cocoa crops. Demand for cocoa, and the end product chocolate, is increasing in Asian countries as salaries increase and demands shift. While it has been suggested that this might contribute to a world cocoa shortage, some of the ways in which this can be addressed is through improving and modernising technologies used to grow the crop. Increasing farm sizes, managing and mitigating pests of cocoa, increasing incentive to grow cocoa trees, and investing in more effective agri-inputs have all been proposed as ways to address this growing concern.

CABI has several projects ongoing to helping farmers in cocoa-growing regions improve farming techniques and improve the long-term sustainability of growing cocoa in West Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. If you are interested in cocoa pests, please visit the Plantwise knowledge bank site.

Who benefits from Plantwise?

Plant doctor, Agnes Kariuki, helping a female farmer diagnose her crops in Embu Town clinic, Kenya ©CABI (photo credit Holly Wright)
Plant doctor, Agnes Kariuki, helping a female farmer diagnose her crops in Embu Town clinic, Kenya ©CABI (photo credit Holly Wright)

As part of our Monitoring and Evaluation within Plantwise, we are identifying indicators both to help us improve the way we operate and also increase accountability to our participants, partners, and donors. As a follow-up to our blog post on International Women’s Day, one of the ways we can improve our current work and set the stage for more effective project design in future is by collecting sex-disaggregated data. Continue reading