By Eduardo Hidalgo, Project Scientist, CABI South America
The Mosquitia is a territory of 16,997 km², located on the Caribbean coast of Honduras and inhabited mainly by the indigenous Miskito, Tawahka, Pech, and Garífuna ethnic groups. Of the 100,000 inhabitants, 36% are Miskitos who depend mainly on agriculture and fishing. The Mosquitia is one of the last virgin regions of Central America and one of the biologically richest areas of the planet, housing the Reserve of the Biosphere of Platano River, classified in 1982 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Mosquitia is considered the poorest region of Honduras. As there are no roads, the only way to access the area is by air or by boats locally called pipantes. These isolated conditions make it difficult for the population to access basic public services, including agricultural assistance.
La Mosquitia es un territorio de 16.997 km², ubicado en la costa del Caribe de Honduras y habitado principalmente por las etnias indígenas misquita, tawahka, pech y garífuna. La población es de 100,000 habitantes de los cuales el 36% son misquitos y sus principales actividades son la agricultura y la pesca. La Mosquitia es una de las últimas regiones vírgenes de Centro América y una de las áreas biológicamente más ricas del planeta, albergando la Reserva de la Biosfera del Rio Plátano, clasificada en 1982 como Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO. La Mosquitia es considerada la región más pobre de Honduras. Como no hay carreteras, la única forma para acceder el área es por vía aérea o por el rio, en botes localmente llamados pipantes. Estas condiciones de aislamiento dificultan el acceso de la población a servicios públicos básicos incluyendo la asistencia agrícola.
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 email@example.com
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.