Sri Lanka launches Skype service to further strengthen advisory support in plant clinics


Plant clinics in Sri Lanka, known as the Permanent Crop Clinic Programme, continue to grow and modernize throughout the country. After successfully rolling out e-plant clinics in several provinces in Sri Lanka, the younger generation of agricultural extension workers is now feeling just as confident in solving crop health issues as their senior colleagues did in the past. Nevertheless, some older farmers do not always take the advice from younger extension workers believing that their years of experience in farming is much greater than the age of “such young extensionists”.

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Space-age technology for fight against crop-devastating pest outbreaks

Fall armyworm on maize; photo: CABI

Last night, the Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE), which uses state-of-the-art technology to help inform farmers in sub-Saharan Africa of pest outbreaks, was launched in Zambia at the British High Commission in Lusaka. The service is being developed by a consortium led by CABI and is funded by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP).

Datasets obtained from a combination of the plant-pest lifecycle, earth observation and satellite positioning, are being used to spearhead the fight against pests that devastate an estimated 40% of the world’s crops. The project will help farmers fight back against potentially disastrous pests such as the Fall Armyworm.

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Photo story: e-plant clinics in Sri Lanka

E-plant clinics in Sri Lanka were launched in June 2015. Since then 190 Plant doctors have been trained and equipped with tablets, with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture funding half of the total number of tablets themselves. Being equipped with tablets means Plant doctors give higher quality recommendations, and the data collection process is also considerably streamlined. Below are two snapshots of how e-plant clinics are doing in Sri Lanka.

Sagarika 1
Sagarika helps a farmer diagnose his diseased crop

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Gobernación de Santa Cruz lanza piloto de Clínicas de Planta Electrónicas

Coordinadores locales del programa junto con doctors de planta y técnicos de soporte durante entrenamiento sobre las clínicas d eplanta electrónicas.

La Gobernación de Santa Cruz por medio de su ‘Servicio Departamental Agropecuario y Sanidad e Inocuidad Agropecuaria’ (SEDACRUZ) y de DSIA, conjuntamente con el Centro de Investigación Agrícola Tropical (CIAT-Bolivia) implementan clínicas de plantas en el departamento de Santa Cruz, Bolivia, desde el 2012. El grupo coordina acciones de entrega de servicios de diagnóstico y recomendación fitosanitaria a los agricultores del departamento. Además, articula campanas de salud de plantas para diseminar información sobre manejo integrado de plagas, útil para evitar pérdidas en los cultivos.

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PRISE: speaking to the end user – pest alerts for plant doctors in Africa

Brian Siame shows plant health conversations between plant doctors in the Zambia Telegram group (Photo: David Onyango, CABI)

After 2 hours drive, we arrive in Rufunsa District located approximately 150 kilometres east of the Zambian Capital, Lusaka. After exchanging pleasantries we settle down with Brian Siame, a trained plant doctor and one of the participants in our survey to find out more about plant doctor requirements for pest alert messages.

After a brief explanation of how PRISE will work, Brian was taken through the survey and its relevance to his role. “The pest forecast messages will be sent to plant doctors like you so that you can provide farmers with timely advice and help them manage local pest outbreaks,” explained Abigail Rumsey from CABI. “The alerts will take the form of short text messages, advising on predicted pest life stage and risk level, with the possibility of including the pest image to help ease identification and diagnosis”.

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