In developing regions where pest and disease outbreaks and the impact of climate change is most devastating, early warning systems are required to build resilience into agricultural production. These early warning systems cannot operate in a void, but proves effective when incorporated within a national policy framework that can support a holistic plant health system approach.
In Myanmar, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI) has identified that its efforts to intensifying and diversifying agricultural production is being challenged by increasing pesticide use, illegal importation of pesticides, introduction of invasive species and slow response to disease and pest outbreaks. These issues have served as constraints to building a strong national plant health system as they undermine the resilience of millions of smallholder farmer who are key stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid!” Passionate words spoken in 2014 during an indelible Oscar moment. The utterance of these words, coupled with the winning of an Academy Award, announced Lupita Nyong’o’s entry into the global stage. Two years later in Lupita’s country of origin, Kenya, long-held dreams in the plant health sector are realized.
Indeed, the journey to realizing the usefulness of mobile technologies for the plant health sector has been long, and to some extent treacherous. Was the Plantwise program setting up the agricultural extension officers for failure? Was the program having unrealistic expectations? Could it be, in the program’s quest to keep up with the times, it was essentially building an ivory tower? All these were questions Plantwise grappled with in 2014 when it introduced mobile technologies for the running of plant clinics.
Blog written by Dr. Claire Beverley, Dr. Manju Thakur and Dr. Vinod Pandit
E-plant clinic training commenced in Pokhara, Nepal, today, after a successful launch in Kathmandu earlier this week. ICT intervention for the country is funded by the Centre for Applied Crop Science (CACS), UK Government and training was inaugurated in Kathmandu by Dr. Suroj Pokharel, Secretary, Ministry of Agricultural Development and chaired by Sh. Dila Ram Bhandari, Director General, Department of Agriculture.
Paulus Verschuren, a CABI Board member, recently visited Myanmar, accompanied by CABI staff, associates and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. His motivation for the trip was “to get out and learn in the field what Plantwise means to farmers and other stakeholders”. The brief but busy itinerary entailed field visits to see plant clinics in action and also to meet with some of the key donors currently operating in Myanmar.
Paul Gyedu, a plant doctor working with the Plantwise program in Ghana, has been awarded the Ashanti region Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA) of the Year Award. Paul works for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and combines his work as an extension agent with plant clinic operations in the Bekwai Municipality of the Ashanti Region. His experience and plant doctor training played a crucial part in being selected as the best AEA from among over 400 candidates in the region at the 2016 National Farmers’ Day awards ceremony, held on 04 November.
Different doctors treat different types of diseases. When the villagers of Rohal Suong in Cambodia feel sick, they can consult a doctor. Now when their crops are sick, they can also go to another doctor, a plant health advisor, who can provide information on the best methods to treat crop pests and diseases.
Last week in the Nkhotakota region of Malawi a new radio show went on air. Not a news programme or a music show, but a show devoted to Cassava. Sounds pretty specific? Well, it’s even more focussed than that. The weekly 30 minute programme is actually focussed on managing one of Cassava’s most damaging diseases – Cassava mosaic disease.