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.
On the 6 of March 2017, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture Land and Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Clarence Rambharat, and his team met with CABI Plantwise Regional Coordinator, Dr. Yelitza Colmenarez and with the USDA representative for the Caribbean Mr. Wayne De Chi , in order to review and restructure Plantwise activities in the country. “Food security is one of our national priority areas and it’s important to keep supporting the Plantwise activities in the country in order to ensure farmers are getting the technical advice needed”, the Minister said.
The Sri Lankan e-plant clinic pilot, which launched in 2015 at 10 clinics in Central Province, was extremely successful in minimizing the time as well as workload of plant doctors performing data management tasks. As a result of these and various other benefits established over the last 2 years, the e-plant clinic network has been scaled up to Northern, Eastern and Western Provinces with around 66 e-plant clinics in operation, and over 86 plant doctors trained to date. The target is to have 140 e-plant clinics across Sri Lanka by the end of the year.
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.
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.
Contributed by Dr Sivapragasam Annamalai, CABI
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.