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.
In the busy streets of Hanoi, history was made last month. CABI Southeast Asia (CABI-SEA) signed a memorandum of understanding with Agricultural Multimedia Joint Stock Company (AgriMedia) – a private company working in the field of agriculture. As a pioneer in M2M applications in agriculture, AgriMedia was established in 2014 and aims to provide a wide range of effective agricultural solutions via agricultural information services on mobile phone and applications from smart agricultural technologies.
With 50 staff, advanced agricultural technologies and a broad network of leading agricultural experts in Vietnam, AgriMedia is committed to provide high-quality and timely agricultural information related to domestic and global commodity price and market, weather forecast advisory or expert advice on agriculture techniques, bringing benefits to farmers and agricultural enterprises in Vietnam. In fact, AgriMedia is the only private company to be given a licence by the government to provide weather forecast. It currently works with a Japanese company to provide services using smart weather stations installed in the central agro-ecological zones of Vietnam.
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.
Looking for something to read over the weekend? The latest Plantwise newsletter has just been published, featuring stories about the programme from around the world.
The big headline for this edition is that our work has recently been recognised with two major awards: the $100,000 St Andrews Prize for the Environment and the Bond International Development Award for Innovation.
You’ll also be able to read about how Plantwise is supporting the fight against fall armyworm in Africa; how we are expanding our successful network of e-plant clinics; and how radio is helping Plantwise reach out to more farmers.
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.
Plantwise, a global programme led by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) which provides smallholder farmers across the world with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow to pests and diseases, has won this year’s St Andrews Prize for the Environment, worth $100,000 USD.
The Prize is a joint environmental initiative by the University of St Andrews and ConocoPhillips which recognises significant contributions to environmental conservation. Since its launch in 1998, the Prize has attracted 5,200 entries from around the world and donated $1.67 million to environmental initiatives on a wide range of diverse topics including biodiversity, sustainable development, urban re-generation, recycling, health, water and waste issues, renewable energy and community development.