A group of farmers in Ntcheu district, Central Malawi, have clubbed together to fund the first purpose-built permanent plant clinic to help fight a range of crop-devastating pests and diseases that threaten their livelihoods and food security.
Pengapenga Plant Clinic, which previously operated under a tree in the market place, is now providing a more attractive and fit-for-purpose brick structure which is giving the 1,000 smallholder farmers it serves shelter from the rain.
In honour of International Women’s Day, Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, Plantwise Regional Coordinator for Latin America and Caribbean and Country Director of CABI Brazil, reveals the motivation and inspiration behind her career in science communications and says her mother and grandfather’s advice has helped her overcome barriers faced as a professional woman.
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 →
On Tuesday, June 3rd, Land O’Lakes held another in a series of Farmer Field Day training events at one of their signature Answer Plot® sites, known locally as Yankho Plot™ sites in Malawi. This farmer training event was held in Salima district, Malawi, on a plot planted with several varieties of rice. On this day, farmers got to see Kilombero and Funwe rice plants right before harvest and to hear from Lead Farmers (who had been trained by Land O’Lakes staff) and Ministry of Agriculture field extension agents, all about the characteristics of these two new strains of these two rice varieties. In addition, farmers were taken through rice trials done on site in collaboration with the GOM Ministry of Agriculture, the CCARDESA (Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for South Africa) and the World Bank. Under this USDA-funded Food for progress project, Land O’Lakes uses the Yankho Plot™ sites as learning platforms where complementary information is given out about goat production, animal welfare, best animal feed practices and animal health. In addition, Land O’Lakes nutrition staff work hand-in-hand with MOA Nutritionists and staff from the GOM Ministry of Health to share nutritional information and to conduct cooking demonstrations for all farmer field day participants. At this special field day event, more than 150 USDA-funded Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) handbooks were distributed by Land O’Lakes to the female heads of community-based Nutrition Groups in order to assist with their community education efforts. Land O’Lakes also invited many agricultural suppliers and service organizations in order to facilitate farmers networking with other sources of information, services and products. For example, Demeter Agriculture Limited and CABI Plantwise had tables on which they displayed their helpful information and where staff were ready to talk about their services for helping farmers be better producers. More than 350 male and female farmers from Salima District participated in the Farmer Field Day training event.
The Direct2Farm (D2F) project, run by CABI, provides mobile information services to farmers in India. Two D2F initiatives in India that use voice-based systems to communicate with farmers, mKisan and IKSL, have now cumulatively reached over 4 million farmers. The use of mobile technology allows extension messages to reach isolated communities that have few means of accessing such information. Continue reading →
Yesterday, Mrs Rael Taiy, the District Agricultural Officer for Trans Nzoia East, told us that her and the extension team are very happy about the plant clinics as the initiative greatly complements their extension work. Farmers present their ‘sick’ plants and they are given solutions immediately by the plant doctors. This reduces pest incidence and severity thereby improving food security and income generation.