Shifting gears: expansion of e-plant clinics in Kenya

“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid!”  Passionate words spoken in 2014 during an indelible Oscar moment. The utterance of these words, coupled with the winning of an Academy Award, announced Lupita Nyong’o’s entry into the global stage. Two years later in Lupita’s country of origin, Kenya, long-held dreams in the plant health sector are realized.

Plant doctors (in green lab coats) attending to farmers at Kithumu plant clinic in Embu County

Indeed, the journey to realizing the usefulness of mobile technologies for the plant health sector has been long, and to some extent treacherous. Was the Plantwise program setting up the agricultural extension officers for failure? Was the program having unrealistic expectations? Could it be, in the program’s quest to keep up with the times, it was essentially building an ivory tower? All these were questions Plantwise grappled with in 2014 when it introduced mobile technologies for the running of plant clinics.

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Kenyan farmers keen to learn more about pest and disease management at agri trade fair

eldoret-2016-1
Image by Rose Kamau

Plantwise Kenya held a demonstration plant clinic at the University of Eldoret Agribusiness Trade Fair, held on the university’s campus from 22-25 September. The fair, which has been an annual highlight in western Kenya for the past 11 years, saw around 30,000 visitors exploring over 200 exhibits.

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The secret to cutting global hunger rates around the world? Hello, ladies.

By Morgan Shoaff. Reblogged from Upworthy.com

There’s a pretty simple way we could be feeding an additional 150 million hungry people around the world. It’s not through some super advanced technology or billion-dollar idea that someone just came up with. The answer has been right in front of us for a very long time:

Women. Women farmers are a secret weapon to fighting hunger.

‌Photo via Esther Havens/The Adventure Project

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Plant clinics help improve yields in Machakos, Kenya

Plant doctor John Mutisya examining a potato sample at the Katoloni plant clinic Credit: David Onyango © CABI
John Mutisya, a plant doctor at the Katoloni plant clinic examines a potato sample
Credit: David Onyango © CABI

“Approximately 300 farmer-self help groups from Machakos County and its environs under the Katoloni community-based organization have registered improved crop yields in the last one year due to high levels of sensitization on crop pest and diseases at plant clinics in the region,” writes Maugo Owiti of HiviSasa.com.

In the article, Pius Ndaka, a farmer from Iluvya village shares the benefits he has experienced from the Katoloni plant clinic.

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Update: Plant Health News (11 Feb 15)

Maize plants infested by Striga © IITA (CC BY-NC)
Maize plants infested by Striga © IITA (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including Striga resistant maize yielding well in Kenya, scientists in the UK  finding a potential way to control leaf blotch disease in wheat and a grant under the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) to help small scale rice producers by creating better linkages in the rice value chain.

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

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Plant clinics helped improve my yield

Rose Wanjiru displaying healthy mango fruits in her farm  Credit: David Onyango © CABI
Rose Wanjiru displaying healthy mango fruits in her farm
Credit: David Onyango © CABI

I meet Rose Wanjiru Ireri in her 2.5 acre farm in Mbeere inspecting her crops. From the smile on her face, it is apparent that her plants are healthy.

“I grow oranges, mangoes, cassava and vegetables on my farm. I also produce a lot of bananas for sale.” She currently has over 100 banana plants in her farm. Times are better now, but it has not always been smooth sailing for her. Crop pests and diseases were a major cause of crop losses in her farm until she sought help from her local plant clinic at Kathiga Gaceru irrigation scheme.

“When the leaves of the orange plants became black in colour, I went to the plant clinic with a specimen of the sick leaves. The plant doctors recommended an insecticide to control aphids. I sprayed it on my oranges and now my harvest has greatly improved.”

Rose is one of the many farmers benefiting from the advice provided for free at plant clinics since 2012. “I have been attending the plant clinic at Kathiga Gaceru irrigation scheme for the last one year and I clearly see the benefits. My banana harvest has increased significantly. I have managed to buy more land and construct a poultry house. The best part of this is that the plant clinics offer the services free of charge. ” She sells each bunch of banana at a farm gate price of Kshs 800 each.

CABI is working with The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MoALF), Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO), University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK) and Small Scale Horticultural Development Project (SHDP) to set up and run the plant clinics. A total of 89 plant clinics are currently running across 13 counties in Kenya.