Plantwise wins the 2017 St Andrews Prize for the Environment

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From left: Terri King (ConcoPhillips), Dr Washington Otieno (CABI Plantwise), Lord Alec Broers (Chairman of the Prize), and Professor Sally Mapstone (University of St Andrews)

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.

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Data from plant clinics is contributing to Trinidad and Tobago’s agricultural database

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Roshni Ramsingh (left) and Gayatri Singh-Ramlogan identify the Cushiony Cotton Scales pest on a plant specimen (Photo: MoALF)

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.

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CABI working with Partners to Manage Fall Armyworm in Kenya

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CABI’s Dr MaryLucy Oronje explaining the impacts of FAW to Agriculture CS Willy Bett (centre); Photo, David Onyango, CABI

Kenya has launched a campaign to control the Fall Armyworm, (FAW) which has been sighted by farmers feeding on Maize in Trans Nzoia County, Kenya. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mr. Willy Bett said the pest poses a serious threat to the country’s food security situation.

“Its impact will be severe given that the country is just recovering from a drought that has affected food production. This risk is heightened since Trans Nzoia is the country’s grain basket producing maize both for seed and for consumption. The government has allocated 200million Kenya shillings for the campaign and we are working with partners to help us fight this pest”. The pest is spreading fast and has been spotted in 10 other counties of Bungoma, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Nandi, Makueni, Vihiga, Busia, and Kisumu.

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Plantwise Annual Report 2016 released

AR coverThe Plantwise Annual Report is an update on the programme, listing key highlights along with details on progress, lessons learned and next steps for each of the three programme components: Plant Health Systems Development, the Knowledge Bank and Monitoring & Evaluation.

Highlights include (cumulative numbers):

  • 9.8 million farmers have been reached directly and indirectly through plant clinics, plant health rallies, and mass extension campaigns;
  • 6,787 agricultural extension staff have been trained as plant doctors, with local trainers responsible for over half of the training workshops;
  • 2,292 plant clinics have been established, 432 of which are equipped with tablet computers.

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Reaching more farmers with innovative early morning plant clinics

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.

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CPM-12 adopts a record number of new tools for protecting plants from pest spread

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The new standards cover topics such as cold treatments for Mediterranean fruit fly on citrus. Photo ©Daniel Feliciano – CC BY-SA 3.0

This week we’ve been reporting from the 12th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, which successfully drew to a close, having produced concrete tools to support plant protection through the adoption of 25 International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). Under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), the IPPC is recognized as the international standard setting body for plant health, and WTO members are encouraged to use these ISPMs to address phytosanitary concerns. When members apply these standards for plant protection, they are likely to be safe from legal challenge through a WTO dispute. A record number of ISPMs were submitted for consideration and adopted during the CPM, attesting to the continued demand for the development of standards.

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The benefits and challenges of protecting plants from pest spread – some vivid examples from CPM-12

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Melanie Bateman presenting on the mutli-sectoral FORIS project which aims to protect forests from Invasive Alien Species in SE Asia. Photo: Stephanie Dubon

The 12th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) featured a full day of talks covering a range of topics related to plant health. The day began with a session on the benefits (and also the challenges) of implementing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs).

A talk given by the Executive Director of the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association, Ron Campbell, compellingly documented the monetary and employment benefits of the export of Hass avocados for both the exporting country, Mexico, and the importing country, the USA. This case study detailed how implementing just under 20 key ISPMs had enabled avocado exporters from the Mexican state of Michoacán to gain access to US markets, first in the northern most states of the US and over time to the whole country. While implementation of these standards involved many steps and required significant effort, the benefits to both Mexico and the USA were thousands of jobs across the supply chain and billions of dollars in returns.

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