In the Kabwe District of Zambia, Adamson Andrew Tembo is the acting senior agricultural officer (SAO) working with the Ministry of Agriculture. He is trained as an agricultural engineer and his role has been as an irrigation engineer. He was transferred to Kabwe District in January 2017 and assumed the role of SAO in July that year. Kabwe district has five plant clinics; one permanently based at Chililalila and the rest mobile plant clinics; operated by two plant doctors. Although Mr Tembo has not been trained as a plant doctor, he has access to a rich Plantwise informational resource; the Plantwise Factsheets Library app on his phone.
Agriculture is increasingly knowledge-intensive with a continuing need to provide the right information to the people who need it most, making a real difference to their livelihoods. This ensures food security for the ever-growing population by providing the best possible remedies for crop health issues. Globally, rapid adoption of ICT tools and applications provides new avenues to share and access information.
Globally, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two thirds of the world’s population. With 40% of crops lost annually to pests, achieving zero hunger by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholders.
We already have weather forecasts, pollen forecasts and UV forecasts, but what if farmers had access to pest forecasts?
Plant clinics in Vietnam have received a major boost with the introduction of digital devices to facilitate the work of plant doctors. The use of tablets and smartphones has been proven to help plant doctors improve the quantity and quality of data generated from plant clinic operations. With improved ICTs, the captured data from plant clinics can be added swiftly to the Plantwise Online Management Systems (POMS) and managed from one device. Prior to this, plant clinic operations were dependent on a paper-based system of recording pest and disease data provided by farmers during clinics.
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.