Al Jazeera correspondent Gelareh Darabi recently travelled to Nepal for the broadcaster’s Earthrise programme, to see how plant clinics in Pokhara are helping farmers deal with crop pests such as tuta absoluta.
Last year Plantwise launched in Jammu & Kashmir state, India, with the establishment of 15 plant clinics across 3 districts in the Jammu region. This year sees the launch of an exciting new development, with the roll-out of e-plant clinics to revolutionize the extension system and support the quick transfer of information and advice to farmers via text messages on their mobile phones. This process began with a series of training workshops last month, which were officially inaugurated by Jenab Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.
Greater involvement of women in plant clinics has improved the climate resilience of the farmers in Rohal Suong village, Cambodia. Women farmers play a critical role in agricultural production and food security, as well as household welfare in most Southeast Asian countries. According to a Census of Agriculture in Cambodia in 2013, of the 82% of Cambodians engaged in the agriculture sector, at least half of them were women.
I meet Man Bahadur Chhetri and his assistant on a bright Sunday morning as they are setting up the e-plant clinic in Gorkana, on the outskirts of Kathmandu. On the drive over, I saw plenty of maize being grown on smallholder plots and, here and there, tomatoes in polytunnels. Around the corner from the clinic, a woman is sorting potatoes on the floor of a dark storage room on the ground floor of her house. Nepal’s economy is predominantly agricultural and even a mere 10km from the centre of Kathmandu, I can tell it is a major part of people’s lives.
Mr. Guze Kampinga visits the plant clinic at Dowa Turn Off with his damaged maize samples and is received by Mrs Eluby Phiri a trained plant doctor.
“I have grown about 0.8 ha of rain-fed and 0.4ha irrigated maize (Ndimba). This year a strange pest has seriously damaged my maize and almost all people in this village are experiencing the same problem. The pest started damaging the crop a few weeks after germination and has continued damaging the crop up to now. I first noticed the tips of the maize funnel chewed and stunting yet I had applied fertilizer and there was sufficient moisture. When I checked the funnel I found small caterpillars inside, which were growing very fast. Later the leaves were chewed and holes seen in the cobs, they also feed on the kernels. I have tried to control the pest to no avail”, said Mr Guze.
Home gardening enthusiasts and farmers from as far as Rio Claro seized the opportunity to have their plant sicknesses diagnosed at a plant clinic hosted by Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MoALF) at its Farmers’ Training Centre in Centeno. After a in-depth one-on-one discussion with Ministry representatives from the Extension, Training and Information Services Division (ETIS), participants were each given a prescription sheet which captured a host of valuable information, including a description of the plant problem and the recommended control measures.
It is generally accepted that early morning is the best time to learn and retain new information. As the saying goes: “the early bird gets the worm.” This long-held belief is being applied in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, where plant clinics are now conducted at the crack of dawn. The plant clinics are a platform for adult learning, where farmers are taught to follow Integrated Crop Management (ICM) principles to address crop health issues.