Plant doctors share advice using WhatsApp and Facebook in Central America

by Erica Chernoh and Eduardo Hidalgo, CABI

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Discussion of symptoms and a diagnosis on the WhatsApp group for plant doctors in Honduras
Discussion of symptoms and a diagnosis on the WhatsApp group for plant doctors in Honduras

 

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

Update: Plant Health News (25 Mar 15)

Costa Rica's first carbon neutral banana farm had reduced its use of nitrogen fertilizers, reduced electricity consumption and improved the efficiency of transportation © The LEAF Project (CC BY-SA)
Costa Rica’s first carbon neutral banana farm has reduced nitrogen fertilizer and electricity use, and improved transportation efficiency © The LEAF Project (CC BY-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including early reports on the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, the first carbon neutral banana farm recognised in Costa Rica and training for Citrus farmers in Ghana on the use of technology to increase yields.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: Plant Health News (04 Jun 14)

Scientists have identified a gene that encodes resistance to Phytophthora capsici, a fungus-like pathogen spreading root rot disease in peppers © Gerald Holmes (CC BY-NC).
Scientists have identified a gene that encodes resistance to the fungus like-pathogen causing root rot disease in peppers © Gerald Holmes (CC BY-NC).

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the discovery of a microbe that could help control rice blast, concern over the effects of erratic rainfall on crops in Somalia and the discovery of a gene encoding resistance to stem and fruit rot of pepper.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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First plant doctors trained in Costa Rica

Contributed by E. Chernoh and E. Hidalgo

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Participants gather around after the training. (Photo: E.Hidalgo/CABI)

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 e.hidalgo@cabi.org

Update: Plant Health News (18 Dec 13)

New technology can improve the detection papaya viruses © Prato9x
New technology can improve the detection of papaya viruses © Prato9x

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the use of technology to improve the detection of papaya viruses, toxins discovered in banana root tissue kill root pests and the vital importance of water conservation in Nigeria to avoid food crises.

Click on the links to read more of the latest plant health news!

 

 

 

 

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The Bird, the Borer and the Bean

Yellow Warbler © Tom Tetzner
Yellow Warbler © Tom Tetzner

A recent study carried out in Costa Rica found that insectivorous birds such as the Yellow Warbler help to reduce infestations of the Coffee Berry Borer Beetle on coffee plantations by 50%. This free pest control service is estimated to save a medium sized coffee farm up to $9,400 per year. The study carried out by biologists from Stanford University could provide incentive for biodiversity conservation and enhancement of ecosystem services and also offer hope to coffee farmers devastated by the beetle.

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Improving Food Security Using Agroforestry Schemes

Agroforestry is an integrated system of trees and shrubs and/or crops and livestock within a managed agriculture area and has potential in improving food security in developing countries by fully utilising land, improving crop yields, diversifying farmer income and improving environmental sustainability.

Last month the United National Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) published an “Advancing Agroforestry on the Policy Agenda” guide, detailing case studies from countries including Kenya, Costa Rica, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

To read more about agroforestry and how it can be beneficial in farming systems see this recent article “How agroforestry schemes can improve food security in developing countries” by Caspar van Vark in The Guardian newspaper. 

Faidherbia is an indigenous African acacia which has been found to be useful in agroforestry systems due to the fact it sheds its nitrogen rich leaves in during the early rainy season when crops are being planting, thereby fertilising crops. Studies have found that Faidherbia-maize intercropping can increase maize yields by up to 400% in one area in Malawi. This photo shows Borassus palm intercropped with Faidherbia in Burkina Faso © Marco Schmidt via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 2.5)
Faidherbia is an indigenous African acacia which has been found to be useful in agroforestry systems due to the fact it sheds its nitrogen rich leaves during the early rainy season when crops are being planting, thereby fertilising crops at an important time. Studies have found that Faidherbia-maize intercropping increased maize yields by up to 400% in one area in Malawi. This photo shows Borassus palm inter-cropped with Faidherbia in Burkina Faso © Marco Schmidt via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 2.5)