Shifting gears: expansion of e-plant clinics in Kenya

“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid!”  Passionate words spoken in 2014 during an indelible Oscar moment. The utterance of these words, coupled with the winning of an Academy Award, announced Lupita Nyong’o’s entry into the global stage. Two years later in Lupita’s country of origin, Kenya, long-held dreams in the plant health sector are realized.

Plant doctors (in green lab coats) attending to farmers at Kithumu plant clinic in Embu County

Indeed, the journey to realizing the usefulness of mobile technologies for the plant health sector has been long, and to some extent treacherous. Was the Plantwise program setting up the agricultural extension officers for failure? Was the program having unrealistic expectations? Could it be, in the program’s quest to keep up with the times, it was essentially building an ivory tower? All these were questions Plantwise grappled with in 2014 when it introduced mobile technologies for the running of plant clinics.

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New Zambia office strengthens Plantwise food security programme

New Zambia office strengthens Plantwise food security programme

CABI has opened a new Southern Africa office in Lusaka, Zambia, putting staff on the ground to strengthen its work in international development. The CABI-led Plantwise programme has been active in Zambia since 2013. Working closely with national agricultural advisory services, CABI and national partners establish and support sustainable networks of plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers receive practical plant health advice to help them lose less and grow more. To date, Plantwise has helped establish 42 plant clinics and trained 77 plant doctors in Zambia, reaching thousands of the country’s farmers.

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Tiny wasp that is having a big impact on pests in the Mekong

Rice productivity is seriously affected by the damage pests cause © IRRI
Rice productivity is seriously affected by pests such as the rice stem borer © IRRI

Rice is the most important crop in the Greater Mekong sub-region of Southwestern China, Laos and Myanmar, providing food, work and income for a diverse range of people living all along the Mekong river. However, the yield of this crop in the Mekong region is still missing the mark in terms of potential, partly as a result of the millions of tons of rice that are lost to pests, including insects, diseases and weeds. Unfortunately, in trying to resolve this, the excess use of pesticides in previous years has caused problems of its own with increasing pesticide resistance and damage to farmer health and the environment.  Continue reading

CABI shares knowledge with African universities

RUFORUM eventEach year, top university representatives from across Africa gather at the RUFORUM conference to learn about new developments in education and exchange ideas for collaboration. This year’s event, held in Maputo, Mozambique, from 21 July – 25 July, was an opportunity for CABI to increase awareness of its knowledge and training resources, especially those made available for the first time through its Plantwise programme. Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (13 Aug 14)

A UF/IFAS study has found a simple solution for monitoring the spotted wind drosophila © Hannah Burrack (CC BY)
A UF/IFAS study has found a simple solution for monitoring the spotted wind drosophila © Hannah Burrack (CC BY)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including  the management of Kanjarai leaf spot of banana in India, a UF/IFAS study into monitoring a major berry pest and the invention of the most efficient technology of vegetable growing in Japan.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Plantwise in Pakistan and its opportunities to share knowledge

The group of participants for the data sharing and use workshop held by Plantwise at the CABI CWA office in Islamabad
The group of participants for the data sharing and use workshop held by Plantwise at the CABI CWA office in Islamabad

 

In June 2014, Dr Aamir H Malik, CABI Country Coordinator for Pakistan, Cambria Finegold, Head of Project Development for the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin, Plantwise scientific officer, organised a workshop in Islamabad that united major stakeholders in the Pakistani plant health system. These included the departments of Extension and Adaptive Research, Pest Warning and Quality Control of Pesticides, Agricultural Information, the National Agricultural Research Centre, the Punjab Seed Corporation and the Horticultural Development and Export Company.

The objective was to demonstrate the power and possible use of the data being generated by the rising number of plant clinics in the country. The participants felt that it is crucial that the data, owned by the Directorate General of Extension and Adaptive Research, is shared to a maximum amount of actors in the plant health system.  This will enable them to work more efficiently in the agricultural domain, depending on their mandates: develop updated and topical research strategies, conduct more targeted extension campaigns, understand the health of various crops in a region and develop better seeds or resistant varieties. Indeed, this is one of the core objectives of Plantwise.

Overall, the workshop was an unqualified success, as many partners are now keen to be linked to the data sharing platform that is the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, and receive topical and interesting data from the Directorate General of Extension and Adaptive Research plant clinics.

Plantwise captures the imagination of the Afghan Agricultural hierarchy through its National Forum

Group Photo NFM
Representatives at Afghanistan’s National Forum

Since 2012, the Plantwise Afghanistan team, including Muhammad Faheem as Country Coordinator, Dr Babar Ehsan Bajwa as Regional Director for CABI Central and West Asia and Julien Lamontagne-Godwin as European Support Staff from the CABI UK centre, has been increasingly involved in the agricultural development of the country. As the programme has gone from strength to strength, it has not only grown its clinic network, but also engaged regularly with the various stakeholders involved in the country’s agricultural system.

The National Forum is one of the many stakeholder engagement tools at the programme’s disposal, and it was used to full effect in March 2014. Continue reading