A plant and livestock clinic to win the ‘gold medal of life’

1The plant clinic in town of Chamis in the department of Cajamarca represents something unusual in Peru: a farmer advisory service with a permanent presence. According to the agricultural and livestock census of 2012, only 7.3% of the country’s farmers receive technical assistance and in Cajamarca it is even less, just 4.6%.

Faced with this alarming scarcity of services for smallholders in Peru, the introduction of the plant clinics fit like a hand in the glove. The clinics, a new type of rural service, were established in several regions of Peru in 2013 as part of an agreement between the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA) and CABI’s Plantwise programme.

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Delivering services to places that are hard to reach

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In the midst of its highly challenging surroundings, the INIA (National Institute of Agricultural Innovation) Experimental Station of Baños del Inca in Cajamarca offers an advisory service for smallholder farmers. Since 2013, when an agreement was signed between Plantwise and INIA, plant doctors Eng. Fernando Escobal Valencia and Eng. Marieta Cervantes Peralta operate plant clinics, one in Chamis and another in Chetilla. Three years of experience have taught them a lot about the challenge of providing a service that satisfies the demand, not just of male farmers, but of the women farmers too. A field visit in and around the town of Chamis showed how the plant clinics, through complimentary activities, can improve their reach so that more farmers can take advantage, especially women farmers. Creativity and flexibility are key, and above all, the willingness of the people. Continue reading

Sowing seeds of sustainability in Achuapa, Nicaragua

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Jose Perez, Israel Cerros, Brígido Sosa, and Eddar Castillo at the JFPS plant clinic (from left)

The Cooperative Juan Francisco Paz Silva (JFPS), which was founded in 1990, began operating a plant clinic in 2009. The cooperative was looking for a way to provide technical support to its member farmers, and the plant clinic provided a means to do so. Initially, two technicians, Oscar Calderon and Harold Espinoza, were trained as plant doctors to provide technical support to farmers, and they in turn trained others technicians in the cooperative, including current plant doctor Israel Cerros. The plant clinic services are provided for free to about 500 farmers in nearby communities, of which 280 are member farmers of the cooperative.

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Using the Plantwise training modules and approach to strengthen the curriculum at UCATSE

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UCATSE (Universidad Católica Agropecuario del Trópico Seco) is a private university with state funding that began operating a plant clinic under the Global Plant Clinic (GPC) initiative in 2005. With the start of the Plantwise programme in Nicaragua in 2012, UCATSE incorporated student participation into the plant clinic by adopting the plant clinic approach and Plantwise training modules as a teaching tool within the curriculum of the Agricultural Engineering degree programme. Since the Plantwise training was integrated into the curriculum, about 240 students have been trained in field diagnostics (as of mid-2016), many of whom later go on to work for private companies, extension, or as farmers.

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A plant clinic linked to research and teaching in Mairana, Bolivia

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Telémaco Orquera evaluates new tomato varieties for local tolerance to emerging diseases

In 2009 the Government of Santa Cruz, through the Directorate of Agricultural and Food Health (DSA), invited Telémaco Orquera, an agronomist in Mairana, Bolivia, to attend a training course in the city of Santa Cruz. The course, the first of several taught by CABI, introduced Telémaco to plant clinics, which meant setting up a table in a public place, accepting plant samples from members of the community, and giving out written and verbal advice. The plant clinics appealed to Telémaco’s sense of public service.

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Diagnostics in action: A proactive plant laboratory in Comarapa, Bolivia

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Ladiplantas (Plant Laboratory) in the agro-town of Comarapa, in Bolivia’s low Andean Valleys, is well integrated into the farming community. Ladiplantas is run by agronomist Olivia Antezana, as part of CIAT (Research Centre for Tropical Agriculture), of the Departmental government of Santa Cruz, since 2000 (Bentley and Boa 2004). CIAT is one of the three agriculture agencies of the Government of Santa Cruz. The others are DSA (Directorate of Agricultural and Food Health) and Sedacruz (Departmental Service for Agriculture, Livestock and Food Safety; formerly Sedag).

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