Una clínica agropecuaria para lograr ‘el oro en la vida’

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La clínica de plantas del pueblo Chamis del departamento de Cajamarca representa algo raro en Perú: un servicio de asesoría para agricultores con presencia permanente en el pueblo. Según el censo agropecuario del 2012, sólo un 7.3% de los agricultores del país reciben asistencia técnica y en Cajamarca es menos todavía, con un 4.6%.

Frente a esta escasez alarmante de servicios para los pequeños productores de Perú, la introducción de clínicas de plantas cayó como anillo al dedo. Las clínicas, un nuevo tipo de servicio rural, fueron establecidas en varias regiones del Perú en el 2013 a través de un convenio entre Instituto Nacional de Innovación agraria (INIA) y el programa Plantwise de CABI.

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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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Haciendo llegar los servicios donde no alcanzan

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En medio de un entorno altamente desafiante, la EEA Baños del Inca de INIA (Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agragia) en Cajamarca ofrece un servicio de asesoría para los pequeños agricultores. Desde el 2013, cuando se estableció el convenio Plantwise-INIA, los doctores de plantas Ing. Fernando Escobal Valencia e Ing. Marieta Cervantes Peralta operan dos clínicas de plantas, una en Chamis y otra en Chetilla. Tres años de experiencia les han enseñado mucho sobre el reto de proveer un servicio que satisface la demanda, tanto de los hombres como de las mujeres. Una visita al campo en el centro poblado de Chamis y sus alrededores mostró cómo la las clínicas de plantas, a través de actividades complementarias, pueden aumentar su alcance para que más agricultores se aprovechen, sobre todo las mujeres. La creatividad y flexibilidad son clave, y sobre todo, la disposición de la gente.

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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.

Old pest, new tricks

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The maize earworm enters along the corn silk. Once inside, it cannot be controlled and it starts to eat the ear of the corn from top to bottom.

Eusebia Ramos Castrejón plants a wide range of crops to eat at home. In a plot of about 1000 m2 she has maize intercropped with quinoa. There is a severe problem with maize earworm. This pest has its own slogan: “When the grains fill out, the worm is about.”

“The worm enters using the silk thread and eats the ear of corn”, explains doña Eusebia. Her brother opens several ears to show the worm. “Look, it enters here and starts to eat. When it is already inside, there is nothing you can do,” he explains as he points out a white worm about 3-4 mm long.

To keep the worm out, doña Eusebia is trying an INIA technique, applying cooking oil. Each ear has to be treated once just as the corn silk emerges. Since all ears do not mature at the same time, the treatment must be staggered, every week, for a total of three times from the time the corn silk starts to peek out of the ear. The treatment requires a total of 2-3 litres of oil and each application takes her about a day. With more practice she could probably do it quicker.

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Doña Eusebia is trying cooking oil to control the maize earworm

This is the first time that doña Eusebia is trying this technique. “The agronomist told me that I have to apply the oil every week, and I am going to do it, she says,” laughing as she looks at Eng. Fernando. “I am going to do it”, she repeats herself. “I am going to see the result when I harvest”.

Fernando explains that the technology with cooking oil is 100% effective if done well. “It has been tested by INIA many times. It works and it is not expensive either. The expense per hectare is 56 sols for the oil (8 litres/ha) and 300 sols for the labour.”

Eng. Marieta agrees that giving good advice is not an easy thing. It is influenced by many factors. “The farmers we serve have very small subsistence farms,” she says. “The rural environment is very complex; it is important to understand that. Their farming systems are diverse and their problems are complex.” Fernando adds that the processes of adoption are slow. “First the farmers have to see that the technology works. Then the technology has to be accessible and affordably priced”.

When Fernando suggested that Eugenia try the oil, she was a little reluctant, because she did not have the money both for the oil and for the bus fare to go and buy it. Fernando offered to act as intermediary. “She gave me the 7 sols, and I bought her a litre of oil and sent it to her on the bus”, Fernando recalls.

At the end of the season, doña Eusebia will realise if the application of cooking oil has worked. The total cost will be between 14 and 21 sols for the oil plus 2 to 3 days of work, if she applies the whole treatment. With an estimated 50-80% of her crop infested by worms and 50% loss per ear, she could save her maize from a loss of between 25 and 40%. It is a considerable amount for a family whose food security depends on what they can take from their field.

Contributed by Sol Danielsen. Photos by Marieta Cervantes Peralta, José Gómez and Sol Danielsen.

Plantwise in Peru is coordinated by INIA, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MINAGRI), and implemented through 8 of the 19 experimental stations of INIA.

Extender del Programa Plantwise a Nuevas Áreas del Perú

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Con el apoyo de todas las agencias de donantes que apoyan el programa Plantwise y a traves de un trabajo conjunto con el INIA y gobiernos locales el programa INIA-CABI Plantwise viene siendo implementado en el Perú desde el 2012. A través de la utilización de los Módulos de Asistencia Técnica – Clínicas de Plantas como forma de diseminación de tecnologías agrícolas para pequeños y medianos productores.

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Las Clínicas de Plantas participaron en la conmemoración del 32º “Día de la Investigación Agraria” en Perú

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El doctor de plantas Armando Valencia le explica al público presente la metodología que utiliza cuando realiza una clínica de plantas

El 14 de julio se llevó a cabo el 32º “Día de la Investigación Agraria” celebrado por el Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria (INIA) de Perú. El evento conmemora la importancia que tiene la investigación y el desarrollo de tecnologías en el área agrícola en el país. En este evento se reconoce el aporte que personas distinguidas han hecho a la investigación y a la agricultura durante su carrera profesional.

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Perú: Las clínicas de plantas en los periódicos locales

Ing. Patricia Villegas habla acerca del servicio de la clínica y de los materiales de extensión. Junto a Patricia están Domingo Guzmán y Cesar Flores (Doctores de Plantas) y el alcalde Luis Alberto Valladolid. Foto: Melanie Bateman
Ing. Patricia Villegas habla acerca del servicio de la clínica y de los materiales de extensión. Junto a Patricia están Domingo Guzmán y Cesar Flores (Doctores de Plantas) y el alcalde Luis Alberto Valladolid. Foto: Melanie Bateman

En las últimas semanas, dos periódicos peruvianos, Andina y Correo, han publicado artículos acerca de las clínicas de plantas Plantwise impulsadas por el Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria (INIA) a través de la Unidad de Extensión Agraria de la Estación Experimental Agraria Santa Ana.

En 2015, mediante la red de clínicas de plantas establecidas en Perú, se han atendido a más de 350 productores y productoras aquellos pudieron recibir asesoramiento en cuanto al uso de las semillas, análisis de suelo, abonamiento y fertilización, cosecha y post cosecha de cada cultivo, además sobre el control de plagas y enfermedades.

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