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Ten plant clinics have been set up in Bangladesh to provide practical advice to farmers who have crop problems.
According to the Daily Star, mango production in Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts in Bangladesh might be hampered by unfavourable weather this year. The farmers are worried as large numbers of fruits, up to 70%, fell from the trees before ripening. Following the attack by leaf hoppers earlier in March, mango trees in that area are now affected by an undiagnosed disease which has symptoms described as mould on leaves. This unconfirmed disease could potentially be caused by powdery mildew (Oidium mangiferae), but reliable pathogen diagnosis is needed before advising management strategies.
For advice on how to prevent and manage mango pests and diseases, such as powdery mildew, anthracnose and mango seed weevil, review the Green Lists hosted on the Plantwise knowledge bank providing cultural and biological management options.
The Green Lists are produced by Plantwise for use by plant doctors and extension workers who provide advice to farmers. To see more about the content held on the Plantwise knowledge bank, please click here.
The Plantwise programme in Bangladesh was launched with the training for module 1 (Field Diagnosis and Plant Clinic Operation) and module 2 (Introduction to Plant Healthcare) for 32 extension officers in Dhaka early this March. The training followed the signing of a tripartite agreement between the Economic relation division, Ministry of Agriculture and CABI on the 20th January this year. This was followed by signing of a work and funding contract that marked initiation of activities with the national partner to implement the program in the country. Though Plantwise was being implemented by a few NGOs in Bangladesh from 2011, the partnership with Department of Agricultural Extension has opened a new era for the program which has a strong possibility of driving the program to sustainability in the nation. Ten Upojillas (unions) have been selected to conduct ten regular plant clinics in five districts of the country. Dr. Steve Edgington was the CABI trainer who meticulously and consistently captured the attention of 32 trainees as they understood how the symptoms can be easily recognised at field level. The clinic concept is quite new to the country and, although the Farmers Information and Advice Centre is already established by the World Bank as advisory centres to farmers, many farmers could get additional synergies with PW operations as suggested by some newly trained Plantwise doctors.
It was very encouraging to see the complete and punctual attendance of the trainees for all the four days. Their rapt attention during the presentations and active participation in the field as well as in class room exercises was noticeable. Prior to the training the workshop opening session was presided by the Director-General DAE, Director PPW and other eminent staff of the department. This event was captured by the national television media and broadcasted in prime hour throughout the nation. Click this link to see a clip of the television coverage: https://www.dropbox.com/l/sGSepN8iCMnEbAcx1b5khr
Though the women constituted around only 20% of the participating trainees, their enthusiasm and passion to execute the clinics was evident. The commitment of these officers to support farmers to guide them with timely diagnosis in order to reduce the use of pesticide was appreciable. This was also evident by their earlier efforts to bring out certain tools in this focal area. The newly trained plant doctors proudly wore their badges at the end of the training while receiving their certificates. They are now looking forward to April when they will witness a model clinic first-hand. Later in April the plant doctors plan to conduct the first plant clinics in their respective unions and start to provide their farming communities with practical advice in plant health.
Last week, Nature published an article on the story of rice, from a wild grass to the stable crop we know today. Rice is one of the most important crops in the world as it forms the basis of the diet of a large portion of the human population. Due to the high importance of this crop, there is a vast amount of research that goes into ensuring the world’s rice production is as efficient and sustainable as possible.
Like all crops, rice is affected by a range of pests including insects, pathogens, weeds, nematodes and birds. One of the most damaging pests for rice in Asia is the Brown Planthopper (BPH). This pest not only feeds on rice plants, but also transmits grassy stunt virus and ragged stunt virus which cause stunting and reduce productivity. There are chemicals that will control this insect pest but it is important to note that this isn’t always the best method of control, due to the effect on natural enemies that feed on BPH. There are a range of non-chemical options that are effective at preventing and controlling BPH including the use of resistant varieties and avoiding excessive urea application to the field.
To find out more about BPH and its management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from Shushilan, an agroecology and rights-based NGO situated in South West Bangladesh. Please note this factsheet is also available in Bengali.
Agricultural super ducks? You may think that the entire phrase is flawed. Ducks waddle around in parks, not on farms. You probably have never thought of them as being particularly ‘super’ as they paddle around the park pond, searching for scraps of bread. However, you’d be mistaken, as I was, for the humble duck is now emerging as a new tool in the farmer’s arsenal for improving food security. Brace yourself for the rise of the agricultural super duck.
Recently, we have witnessed a rise in the use of ducks in Asian agricultural systems. They have their own book dedicated to their amazing agricultural abilities in Japan and are already employed in some of Bangladesh’s rice paddies. These agricultural superstars provide an effective pest management solution and have even been found to reduce both production costs and greenhouse gas emissions.