Plantwise and the German-based company PEAT (Progressive Environmental & Agricultural Technologies) are about to conduct an 18-month pilot study to assess the benefits of PEAT’s smartphone app Plantix, which identifies plant pests, diseases and nutrient deficiencies in the field.
India is one of the world’s largest producers of sugarcane which is used in many food and drink products. Sugarcane is vulnerable to a variety of pests, including sugarcane woolly aphids which caused a 30% yield loss in the outbreak of 2002. This pest is constrained to south and east Asia, (see the Plantwise distribution map). The aphids are covered in a woolly coating and are often mistaken for mealybugs. They deposit honeydew on the leaves which allows sooty mould to develop. This interrupts the plant’s ability to photosynthesise and so results in a weaker plant with a reduced yield.
To find out more about sugarcane woolly aphids and their management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by a senior scientist from M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in India. This factsheet is also available in Tamil.
With over 1.2 billion people living in India, 70 percent of which are reliant on agriculture for food and income, steady development in this sector will be a key determinant of global food security in years to come. To revitalise agricultural growth for the Indian small holder farmer- sharply declining in recent years- leaders of the national Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) joined CABI representatives in New Dehli to outline critical measures for expanding the Plantwise food security programme in the country.