Last week in the Nkhotakota region of Malawi a new radio show went on air. Not a news programme or a music show, but a show devoted to Cassava. Sounds pretty specific? Well, it’s even more focussed than that. The weekly 30 minute programme is actually focussed on managing one of Cassava’s most damaging diseases – Cassava mosaic disease.
Access to agricultural information especially crop pest information, e.g pest identity and practical control options, is an essential ingredient in increasing agricultural production in developing countries. Where available, such information is always inaccessible and poorly developed and farmers hardly understand the contents. The Knowledge Bank, which was launched in July 2012, is part of the wider Plantwise programme, an initiative led by CABI, to help smallholder farmers lose less of what they grow to insect pests and diseases. The Knowledge Bank is an online open-access resource and plays a key role in the access to a wide range of information on crop pests from international scientific literature to simple, actionable factsheets that the farmers can use to solve key pests problems they encounter. This connects both agricultural researchers, extension agents and the farmers in developing countries to reliable and appropriate plant health information wherever they may be. Visitors to the website are advised to sign up for new crop pest and plant health new alerts which are sent directly to their e-mails.
Agfax, a media based organization with millions of listeners throughout Africa who include farmers, traders, entrepreneurs, field workers – as well as research and development organizations, conducted an interview with me to broadcast on the website to enable wider reach to potential users of the Knowledge Bank. Continue reading
Plantwise works with in-country agencies to set up plant clinics, which farmers can attend with a sample of their affected crops to obtain a diagnosis and treatment advice. Plant clinics are often run in larger towns or villages, and farmers can travel many miles to talk to a plant doctor to solve their crop problems. So how do farmers find out about where and when the next clinic is running? I asked co-ordinators of plant clinics in Sierra Leone, Uganda and India about how clinics in their countries are advertised to farmers. Continue reading
Information and communication technology has advanced rapidly in the past few decades. Many of us now take connection to the internet and easy access to information for granted. However, in remote parts of the world, even access to electricity is infrequent and unreliable, and communication technology is developing in a way that reflects this. In Africa, one technology that has become popular as a means of reaching a wide audience is radio. Several initiatives are now using this medium to help educate farmers in rural areas. Continue reading