Sri Lankan plant doctors launch e-plant clinics

Farmers listen to the plant doctors whilst they wait their turn. Ginigathhena crop clinic. Photo: Katherine Cameron ©CABI
Farmers listen to the plant doctors whilst they wait their turn. Ginigathhena crop clinic. Photo: Katherine Cameron ©CABI

24 June marked the launch of the first e-plant clinics pilot in Sri Lanka. Experienced plant doctors from ten plant clinics in Nuwara Eliya district came together to learn how tablet computers could enhance the current Permanent Crop Clinic Programme (PCCP) led by the Plant Protection Service, Department of Agriculture. Plant doctors learnt:

  • how electronic data collection and submission could make it easier to collect data about crops and pests in the area
  • how to use the Plantwise factsheets library app, ebooks library, and internet to access information resources during their clinics
  • how to communicate with other plant doctors and local diagnostic experts using a chat app
  • how to ensure that farmers receive good advice in a written recommendation, in the language and format (either SMS or paper) chosen by the farmer

All of this means that the plant doctors’ job should be a little easier in future and they have access to more support for diagnosing pests and providing management advice.

Plant doctor M.N. Sagarika uses her tablet to record data about A. Weerasooriya's bean anthracnose problem. Photo: Abdul Rehman ©CABI
Plant doctor M.N. Sagarika uses her tablet to record data about A. Weerasooriya’s bean anthracnose problem. Photo: Abdul Rehman ©CABI

“It’s easy to carry [the tablet] to the field or any other place with lots of information inside it… The Plantwise factsheet app is easy to use and no need to carry lots of heavy books. Copy paste is more easy, accurate, comprehensive and detailed.” – NMM Chandana Kumara, plant doctor, Bulugahapitiya plant clinic.

It also means that new data can be submitted, collated and analysed quickly after the plant clinics so that stakeholders in the plant health system can use it to track distribution of pests, monitor quality of advice given to farmers, and feed back information to improve the service in future.

“For sharing and using the data e-crop clinics are very good because the data will come quicker. Previously it took a long time to process data – we would see it maybe the next season, not the same season.” – PT Bandara, previous National Coordinator, PCCP.

“Making the data available quicker will help me to monitor the crop clinics in Nuwara Eliya more easily. I can’t visit every clinic in the field but seeing the data will let me know what is going on.” – Ms PK Senevirathne, Deputy Director Extension, Nuwara Eliya district.

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Mobile data collection – can it work in Tamil Nadu, India?

Plant doctor using tablet
Credit: Holly Wright © CABI

Over the past year, the Plantwise Knowledge Bank team has been conducting an e-plant clinic pilot in Kenya. Following the success of this pilot, we are now seeing if we can apply the lessons learnt in Kenya to other Plantwise countries. In December, we travelled to Thanjavur city, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, to work with our in-country partners, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), on a mobile scoping workshop to better understand the requirements of such a pilot in India.

For a summary of our e-plant clinic scoping mission, see the picture story below. Click here to jump down the page. Continue reading

Plantwise Data Management Training in Mozambique

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Since its launch early this year, the partnership between the Plantwise Initiative and the Ministry of Agriculture in Mozambique (MINAG) continues to grow. The National Directorate of Agrarian Services (DNSA) that falls under MINAG is the Plantwise implementing institution in Mozambique. There are currently 5 plant clinics established and running in Maputo and Manica provinces. Continue reading

Backstopping visit to Hanoi, Vietnam

After our stay in Cambodia, Claire and I continued on our way to Hanoi, Vietnam on September 8th and 9th. From there we drove out to Hưng Yên province, visiting two plant clinics and an agro-dealer. We had the opportunity to speak with farmers and plant doctors about how clinics are going, and how useful they can be for farmers to seek advice on their crops. On the way, we enjoyed some pomelo and longans, and shared a cup of tea.  Afterwards, we headed back to the city and facilitated a backstopping training session about data management for 6 participants. Together, we identified bottlenecks in the data flow process, and discussed how they can be improved.

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Plant doctors at Plant Clinic 8 in Hưng Yên province. ©CABI
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Longan season in Hưng Yên province. ©CABI
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Interview with the leader of Nhat Quang commune while sharing a cup of tea. ©CABI
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Pomelo picked fresh from the tree! ©CABI
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Visiting an agro-dealer and learning about the safety information available for farmers. ©CABI
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Claire highlighting the importance of data management. ©CABI
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The group visiting plant clinic 8 and talking with farmers about how much they valued the advice provided by plant doctors. ©CABI
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Group photo from the backstopping data management training. ©CABI

Photo of the Month, October 2013 – Idyllic location for training in Malawi

Data management training participants at Lake Malawi
Participants during the plant clinic data management training held at the Mpatsa Lodge Salima by Lake Malawi from 16th to 17th September, 2013 © CABI

Plantwise was launched in Malawi in May 2013 after vigorous training of plant doctors in crop pest identification and how to give recommendations based on the identified pest problem. In the 14 plant clinics widespread in Lilongwe and Mzimba, there was need to understand the role that the plant clinic data will play in the national Plant Health System. Plant clinic data management training was carried out for the eight participants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Extension and Crop Development departments and World Vision who are directly involved in the supervision of plant clinic data collection and use. Continue reading

Update from Kenyan plant doctors

A plant doctor giving a farmer crop management advice at a plant clinic in Kenya © Sven Torfinn / Panos Pictures

MaryLucy from the Plantwise Knowledge Bank team, who is based in Kenya, has been visiting plant doctors in the Rift Valley to train them in data management. She has already had some very enthusiastic responses from plant doctors and agricultural officers who welcome the use of plant clinics in conjunction with the Knowledge Bank to help farmers and to collect valuable data on crop pests and diseases. Continue reading

Kenyan plant doctors respond to new data management

A plant doctor identifying which disease is affecting this crop at a plant clinic in Kenya. © Sven Torfinn, Panos Pictures.

This week MaryLucy, a member of the Knowledge Bank team based in Nairobi, has been travelling across Kenya to meet some of our plant doctors and offer them data management training to help improve the support available to farmers. This training involves highlighting the importance of accurate data collection from farmers who attend Plantwise plant clinics, and the benefit of this to future clinics. The clinics not only provide farmers with essential information, but also allow the collection of extremely valuable data, which can then be used to assess pest and disease distributions, for example.

MaryLucy has received an incredibly positive response from the plant doctors so far. Over the coming weeks we will continue to report on the feedback from MaryLucy’s training, presenting the reactions of plant doctors across Kenya.  Continue reading