Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle on Guam – an update

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An adult male coconut rhinoceros beetle. Emmy Engasser, Hawaiian Scarab ID, USDA APHIS ITP, Bugwood.org

10 years ago the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle (CRB) was first discovered on the western Pacific island of Guam. Since then, these shoe-shine black, miniature invaders have spread to all parts of the island and are laying waste to the local coconut and oil palm population. The economy, culture and ecology  of Guam and other Pacific islands are intrinsically linked to the native palm species such that the rhino beetle poses a major threat. The indigenous peoples of Guam have a long history of weaving palm fronds, an artistry that is now at risk due to the rhino beetle. These trees are a symbol of tropic paradise, a motif that drives Guam’s primary industry; tourism. Continue reading

Looking back on 2013: Plantwise brainstorm

2013 Plantwise knowledge bank infographic
©CABI

Last year, 2013, was a productive year for Plantwise. There were over 120,000 visits to the online knowledge bank, with over 250,000 page views. This is great news because there were over 15,000 views per month, with people exploring distribution maps, browsing the image-led diagnostic tool, and looking at factsheets on treatment of pests and diseases. Of the views, about a quarter were from PW countries, where use has doubled since the same time in 2012.

We’re excited to share that at the end of last year, there were more than 7,500 factsheets publicly available on the knowledge bank, with 550 Factsheets for Farmers, 100 Pest Management Decision Guides, 3,400 Technical Factsheets and links to 3,500 External factsheets. The Technical Factsheets included 2,500 pests that affect over 4,000 different agriculturally significant hosts.

Mobile is progressing well, with over 450 Factsheets for Farmers having been repurposed and available via tablet or smartphone. This means that plant doctors on the e-clinics pilot initiative have access to factsheet information in real-time as they fill out prescription forms, making diagnoses and recommendations more accurate. Using mobile technology also increases the number of people that Plantwise reaches, especially since the app works with intermittent internet, and can be viewed offline.

The Pest Alert service had 545 sign-ups from 200 countries, including 169 contacts from the National Plant Protection Organizations.

As of the end of December 2013, plant clinics were regularly collecting data in 14 countries, with over 18,000 records of visits by farmers. Local and national engagement continues to increase in 2014, with the current numbers in July being over 50 000 records collected from 23 countries.

It’s been a busy first half of 2014, and we’re already making good progress on figures for this year. Check out the knowledge bank site to see the content we’ve added recently!

 

Yours in losing less and feeding more,

The Plantwise knowledge bank

 

Craving chocolate – how to supply increasing demands in cocoa crops

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Helping cocoa farmers tackle diseased crops in a sustainable way ©CABI

A recent article in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, discussed some of the upcoming issues associated with out-dated cultivation methods for cocoa crops. Demand for cocoa, and the end product chocolate, is increasing in Asian countries as salaries increase and demands shift. While it has been suggested that this might contribute to a world cocoa shortage, some of the ways in which this can be addressed is through improving and modernising technologies used to grow the crop. Increasing farm sizes, managing and mitigating pests of cocoa, increasing incentive to grow cocoa trees, and investing in more effective agri-inputs have all been proposed as ways to address this growing concern.

CABI has several projects ongoing to helping farmers in cocoa-growing regions improve farming techniques and improve the long-term sustainability of growing cocoa in West Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. If you are interested in cocoa pests, please visit the Plantwise knowledge bank site.

First plant doctors trained in Costa Rica

Contributed by E. Chernoh and E. Hidalgo

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Participants gather around after the training. (Photo: E.Hidalgo/CABI)

In March 2014, the Plantwise programme was initiated in Costa Rica. Twenty-two extension workers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the National Plant Health Department (SFE) were trained in Module 1: “How to Become a Plant Doctor- Field Diagnosis and Plant Clinic Operation”. In addition to this training, a meeting was held with representatives from various departments of the national plant health system to discuss the Plantwise initiative and the pathway to implementation. Trainings for Module 2: “Giving good advice” and developing extension materials are planned for the coming months, and it is expected that 10 new plant clinics will be opened in two regions of the country, Grecia and Cartago, before the end of the year.

For more information about Plantwise in Costa Rica, contact Eduardo Hidalgo at e.hidalgo@cabi.org

Warming Climate Marches Pests and Pathogens Polewards

Locust Swarm © Wild Center
Locust Swarm © Wild Center

The distribution of plant pests and pathogens has been observed to be moving away from the equator towards the North and South poles and inhabit areas previously too cold for their existence. This threatens to increase the percentage of crops lost annually to pests and pathogens and subsequently raises major concerns over global food security.

A new study published in Nature Climate Change revealed distributions of plant pests and pathogens are advancing polewards at an average rate of 2.7 km (1.7 miles) per year. The current shift in the range of plant pests and pathogens will increase the percentage of crops lost every year. This is expected to increase as temperatures continue to rise. Dr Dan Bebber and his co-authors from the University of Exeter warned that “If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security”.

Continue reading

Rise of Agriculture in the past 300 years

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This glimpse of agricultural expansion over recent centuries, courtesy of Bill Rankin, tells us a compelling story of the importance of farming in the modern world. However, the increaase in land dedicated to farming does not necessarily translate to the increase in food and income to sustain people- not while 40% of these crops is lost to pests before it can even be harvested. Is it time to grow more with less?

Watch the rise of agriculture over time, and learn how Plantwise is changing the story:

http://www.radicalcartography.net/index.html?worldcrops