Sri Lankan plant doctors launch e-plant clinics

Farmers listen to the plant doctors whilst they wait their turn. Ginigathhena crop clinic. Photo: Katherine Cameron ©CABI
Farmers listen to the plant doctors whilst they wait their turn. Ginigathhena crop clinic. Photo: Katherine Cameron ©CABI

24 June marked the launch of the first e-plant clinics pilot in Sri Lanka. Experienced plant doctors from ten plant clinics in Nuwara Eliya district came together to learn how tablet computers could enhance the current Permanent Crop Clinic Programme (PCCP) led by the Plant Protection Service, Department of Agriculture. Plant doctors learnt:

  • how electronic data collection and submission could make it easier to collect data about crops and pests in the area
  • how to use the Plantwise factsheets library app, ebooks library, and internet to access information resources during their clinics
  • how to communicate with other plant doctors and local diagnostic experts using a chat app
  • how to ensure that farmers receive good advice in a written recommendation, in the language and format (either SMS or paper) chosen by the farmer

All of this means that the plant doctors’ job should be a little easier in future and they have access to more support for diagnosing pests and providing management advice.

Plant doctor M.N. Sagarika uses her tablet to record data about A. Weerasooriya's bean anthracnose problem. Photo: Abdul Rehman ©CABI
Plant doctor M.N. Sagarika uses her tablet to record data about A. Weerasooriya’s bean anthracnose problem. Photo: Abdul Rehman ©CABI

“It’s easy to carry [the tablet] to the field or any other place with lots of information inside it… The Plantwise factsheet app is easy to use and no need to carry lots of heavy books. Copy paste is more easy, accurate, comprehensive and detailed.” – NMM Chandana Kumara, plant doctor, Bulugahapitiya plant clinic.

It also means that new data can be submitted, collated and analysed quickly after the plant clinics so that stakeholders in the plant health system can use it to track distribution of pests, monitor quality of advice given to farmers, and feed back information to improve the service in future.

“For sharing and using the data e-crop clinics are very good because the data will come quicker. Previously it took a long time to process data – we would see it maybe the next season, not the same season.” – PT Bandara, previous National Coordinator, PCCP.

“Making the data available quicker will help me to monitor the crop clinics in Nuwara Eliya more easily. I can’t visit every clinic in the field but seeing the data will let me know what is going on.” – Ms PK Senevirathne, Deputy Director Extension, Nuwara Eliya district.

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (08 Jul 15)

Symptoms of "crinkling" caused by RSNV in rice (A) Yellow stripes on leaves  (B) Crinkling (G.Prado, Rice Pathology Laboratory, CIAT, Cali, Colombia).
Symptoms of “crinkling” caused by RSNV in rice (A) Yellow stripes on leaves (B) Crinkling (G.Prado, Rice Pathology Laboratory, CIAT, Cali, Colombia).

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of Rice stripe necrosis virus infecting rice in Benin, the occurrence of Tomato zonate spot virus on potato in China and the first report of Cassava common mosaic virus and cassava frogskin-associated virus infecting cassava in Argentina.

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Factsheet of the month: July 2015 – Prevention of powdery mildew on mango using cultural methods

20157800331The use of pesticides in Ethiopia has been increasing in recent years but it is thought that due to a lack of training and awareness, these chemicals are often being used unsafely and excessively. Many groups in Ethiopia are therefore raising awareness of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in which control methods are selected based on their economic justification and level of risk to the environment. Cultural control methods do not involve the use of chemical pesticides and so are often less expensive to implement and safer for the environment.

This month’s Factsheet of the Month, ‘Prevention of powdery mildew on mango using cultural methods‘ provides information about using cultural control methods to reduce the incidence of powdery mildew in mango. This factsheet was written by extension experts in Ethiopia last year.

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Update: Plant Health News (01 Jul 15)

Pheromone trap in Uganda © CABI
Pheromone trap in Uganda © CABI

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a reduction in banana yield in the Philippines due to the effects of El Niño on rainfall, a pest causing severe damage to tomato production in Nigeria and the use of pheromones to control insect pests in the field.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (24 Jun 15)

Phytophthora species cause significant damage to natural and agricultural systems © Scot Nelson, via Flickr
Phytophthora spp. cause significant damage to natural and agricultural systems © Scot Nelson, via Flickr

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of the tomato russet mite in northern Chile, Cytospora species associated with walnut canker disease in China, and globalisation, the founder effect, hybrid Phytophthora species and rapid evolution causing headaches for biosecurity.  Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (17 Jun 15)

Coffee cherries in Thika, Kenya, photo by Rogiro
Coffee cherries in Thika, Kenya, photo by Rogiro

Contributed by Fiona Bunn

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the development of a new App in Kenya to help farmers select climate-smart seeds to maximise production, the use of drones to boost banana grower’s productivity in Columbia and new findings about how greening disease wreaks havoc in the citrus industry.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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