The software application WhatsApp is being used by plant doctors in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to provide and receive plant diagnostic support. WhatsApp has proven to be popular in many countries, because it is a free communication tool for sending and receiving SMS messages. Continue reading →
In March 2014, the Plantwise programme was initiated in Costa Rica. Twenty-two extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the National Plant Health Department (SFE) were trained in Module 1: “How to Become a Plant Doctor- Field Diagnosis and Plant Clinic Operation”. In addition to this training, a meeting was held with representatives from various departments of the national plant health system to discuss the Plantwise initiative and the pathway to implementation. Trainings for Module 2: “Giving good advice” and developing extension materials are planned for the coming months, and it is expected that 10 new plant clinics will be opened in two regions of the country, Grecia and Cartago, before the end of the year.
For more information about Plantwise in Costa Rica, contact Eduardo Hidalgo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guatemala has declared a state of agricultural emergency after coffee rust fungus has affected approximately 193,000ha of coffee, equating to 70% of the national crop. As a result of the outbreak, Guatemala is releasing $13.7m (£8.7m) in emergency aid to help farmers buy pesticides and to inform farmers on ways to manage the disease. Honduras and Costa Rica have already declared national emergency and El Salvador and Panama are also affected.
Coffee is a major export crop in many Central American countries and it is thought that this disease outbreak, which has been called “the worst seen in Central America and Mexico” by John Vandermeer, ecologist at the University of Michigan, will lead to big job losses. The Institute of Coffee in Costa Rica has estimated that the latest coffee rust outbreak may reduce the 2013-2014 harvest by 50% or more in the worst affected areas.