Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle on Guam – an update

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An adult male coconut rhinoceros beetle. Emmy Engasser, Hawaiian Scarab ID, USDA APHIS ITP, Bugwood.org

10 years ago the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle (CRB) was first discovered on the western Pacific island of Guam. Since then, these shoe-shine black, miniature invaders have spread to all parts of the island and are laying waste to the local coconut and oil palm population. The economy, culture and ecology  of Guam and other Pacific islands are intrinsically linked to the native palm species such that the rhino beetle poses a major threat. The indigenous peoples of Guam have a long history of weaving palm fronds, an artistry that is now at risk due to the rhino beetle. These trees are a symbol of tropic paradise, a motif that drives Guam’s primary industry; tourism. Continue reading

Plantwise goes mainstream in Myanmar agriculture

by Dr. Kyin Kyin Win, Deputy Director (Plant Protection Division, MOALI)

A major outcome of the two-year  pilot programme of Plantwise in Myanmar was the  recommendation from Dr. Tin Htut, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) to develop a Myanmar Plant Health System Development Strategy (MPHSDS) to guide the future development of the plant health system in Myanmar. Following this, a write shop with senior officials of MoALI was held on the 22nd April 2016 in NayPyiTaw,. The first draft of the MPHSDS was prepared by CABI using as reference documents the Myanmar Rice Sector Development Strategy (MRSDS) and Climate Smart Agriculture Development Strategy.

Myanmar plant clinic
Plant doctor helps a farmer at a plant clinic in Myanmar

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Ecological Engineering Approach for Rice Pest Management-Need to Popularise its Advantages

           Example of Ecological engineering in Vietnam (Photo credit: Dr HV Chien)

The rice ecosystems are inhabited by more than 100 species of insects. Twenty of them can cause potential economic losses. With the change in the climatic factors and modern cultural practices adopted for production a drastic change has been caused in the pest scenario in the recent past. Besides stem borer, gall midge, brown plant hopper and green leafhopper which were the major problems in past, several other relatively minor pests such as leaf folder, armyworms, cut worms etc. have gained importance. In a study conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), it was found that, on average, farmers lose 37% of their rice yield to pests and diseases, and that these losses can range between 24% and 41% depending on the production situation (http://irri.org). All the pests are generally kept under check by their natural enemies (parasitoids and predators) by feeding on them. The food web of their relationships prevents the explosion of their populations and keeps them under economic thresholds mimimising the pesticide use.

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Working together for Plantwise in South and West Asia

Representatives for agricultural development from South and West Asia came together for a two-day conference in Bhurban, Pakistan in April to discuss country plans for Plantwise activities. Decision-makers from countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and UK, met to share ideas and knowledge of their plant health systems. Continue reading

How plant clinics are helping farmers in Puducherry, India

Plant clinic in Pondicherry, India
Plant doctors inspect a diseased rice sample at a plant clinic in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Sanjit Das/Panos

Plantwise plant clinics are currently operating in 31 countries in Asia, Africa and Central & Latin America. Thousands of farmers come to these clinics for advice on managing their crops, particularly crops that are being affected by pests or disease. The video below gives the story of a farmer in Puducherry, India, who got advice on how to manage the rice in her paddy field that had turned yellow during a cyclone.

For information on plant diseases in India, visit the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.

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Helping to Secure Crop Yields Globally with Land Drainage

by Tim Sissons of William Morfoot land drainage, experts based in the East of England.

Water drainage on farmland
© William Morfoot

Along with a combination of other factors, agriculture, and therefore food production depend on the proper management of water to enable crops to develop properly and yields to be healthy.

Globally, ecosystems and environments vary greatly and even the most experienced crop producers can see a drop in yields when dealt a particularly nasty deal by Mother Nature.

To provide them with sustainable agricultural development and to help secure their harvest, farmers often rely on land drainage systems to help them cope with a deluge of rain or even a lack of it.

Although it may seem like an odd statement, a sustainable land drainage system is as important in areas of low rainfall as it is in those where rainfall is high. In the first instance a correctly installed land drainage system can help to minimise soil salinisation and in the second it is necessary to prevent the water logging of soils which can lead to a whole host of difficulties.

In 2002, the FAO estimated that salinity had damaged about 20 to 30 million hectares of irrigated land, resulting in loss of crops for a number of those working in the agricultural industry globally – upsetting food security. A build-up of saline happens more regularly on irrigated land due to the addition of salts in irrigation water where natural drainage is insufficient.

Land drainage is also pivotal for securing the quality of soils, as waterlogging prevents crops accessing the vital nutrients needed to grow to their full potential.

So how is land drainage relevant across the world? And how do different ecosystems use land drainage systems to their advantage? Continue reading