Friday May 22nd was 2015’s International Day for Biological Diversity. This year’s theme was ‘Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’ which reflected the importance of biodiversity in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Biodiversity is key in agriculture and it both promotes and is promoted by sustainable methods. Farmers rely on a range of different species for the success of their crops. This may include barrier or repellent crops to prevent pests from attacking their crop, nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil for nutrient availability, pollinators to transfer pollen between plants, and natural enemies to keep pest populations under control without the need for chemicals.
This month’s Factsheet of the Month, ‘Conservation of natural enemies of pests of vegetables‘ provides information about the role that natural enemies can play and the importance of maintaining populations of natural enemies in the field. This factsheet was written by staff from the Plant Protection Service in Sri Lanka. It is also available in Tamil and Sinhala.
Clubroot is a serious disease of crucifers. It is found in many countries across the world (see the Plantwise distribution map). It is caused by the fungus Plasmodiophora brassicae, whose spores can live for many years in the soil. This makes the disease difficult to control once a field has been infected.
To find out more about clubroot of crucifers and its management, read this month’s Plantwise Factsheet for Farmers which was written by staff from the Regional Agriculture Research & Development Centre in Sri Lanka. This factsheet is also available in Tamil and Sinhalese.
Coconut is well known for its flavour, nutritional benefits and source of versatile materials, prompting it to be known in Sanskrit as kalpavriksha, meaning “the tree which provides all the necessities of life”. Sri Lanka is the 5th highest producer of coconut in the world, with an FAO-estimated production of 2 million tonnes in 2012. The following video, created by The Perennial Plate shows just how important the humble coconut is to life in Sri Lanka:
The story of support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for the Plantwise food security programme goes back to its inception in 2011. Since the start, SDC has been a major supporter of both in-country programme activities as well as global resources such as the Plantwise knowledge bank. Sri Lanka is one example of a Plantwise country that has shown particularly strong uptake of the plant clinic concept. This prompted Dr Carmen Thoennissen, an SDC senior advisor for the Global Programme Food Security, to join CABI staff and partners in Sri Lanka for 3 days to discover how the programme is unfolding on the ground and understand what makes it a success. Check out the photo story and read more after the jump
A farming family visits the plant clinic in Vavuniya. Today it’s estimated that 500 million farming families like this one produce food for over 2 billion people worldwide. (Photo Credit: W. Jenner, CABI)
Dr Carmen Thoennissen (left) of SDC visits the diagnostic facility at the Horticultural Research and Development Institute (HORDI), Gannoruwa, Kandy District. This facility received approximately 1,000 plant diagnostic queries from plant clinics in 2013. “By continuing to implement as planned this year, I think we will see more and more benefits, especially as these clinics are running regularly in one site,” says research officer Dr M.G.D. Lakmini Priyantha (right). (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
Meeting with Dr D. B T Wijeratne (right from centre), the Additional Secretary, Agriculture Technology, of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sri Lanka, and the national coordinator for Plantwise Mr W.M.P.T Bandara (right), Deputy Director, Plant Protection Service. They discussed the progress of Plantwise since its 2013 launch in the country. “This is information that can inform policy-makers,” says Mr Bandara. (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
Permanent sign in front of a plant clinic location in Anuradhapura District, indicating the fixed date and time of the plant clinic. “Here the farmers can bring their samples to a common place, and they can expect some remedy for their problems,” says Provinical Director of Extension, Mr M B Dissanayaka. (Photo Credit: W. Jenner, CABI)
A plant clinic in operation at a community centre in Anuradhapura District. Three teams of plant doctors (government extentions workers), each focus on a different category of crops, examine the sick plants and provide advice. This plant clinic can sometimes have more than 100 farmers at a single session. (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
The plant doctor works from a Green & Yellow List, one Plantwise tool where they find safe pest management options for farmers, and records the diagnosis and recommendation in a prescription pad. ”These farmers are using less chemicals,” says one plant doctor. “We’d like more training because the farmers come and we can help them here.” (Photo Credit: W. Jenner, CABI)
Two plant doctors who were trained in 2013 by national trainers with support of CABI staff including Abdul Rehman (left) now run and organize their own plant clinics in teams like this one today. (Photo Credit: W. Jenner, CABI)
Farmers, once registered and given a visit number, wait patiently with their various plant samples until a plant doctor calls on them for their consultation. Farmers have all gathered here from the surrounding villages to consult the plant doctors. “We receive answers here,” says women farmer with a gourd boorer problem from Menikdiwela. (Photo Credit: W. Jenner, CABI)
CABI’s Malvika Chaudhary looks on as plant doctors ask the farmer questions and proceed to record their diagnosis and recommendation, with a sign announcing the type of crops they attend to at that table. This year, national teams in Sri Lanka will begin to review these clinic records to help target training and ensure the quality of advice for farmers. (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
Outside the clinic, Research Officer W. M. D. H. Kulatunga with the Department of Agriculture speaks to CABI’s Wade Jenner about the extension materials created and displayed by plant doctors here in local language. “It’s impressive to see the level of committment and ingenuity of plant doctors here to deliver messages farmers can relate to.” (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
Sakeela Banu (right), the Deputy Provincial Director of Extension in Vavuniya District, talks with Agriculture Officer M. U. P. Jayasundara from Gannoruwa about plant clinic activities in her area, including how this modified ‘tuk-tuk’ (3-wheeler) is used to announce plant clinic events. (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
Dr Thoennissen (SDC), Ms Banu and Ms Chaudhary discuss the provision of advisory services to farmers. “When we have the clinics, nearly 30 or 40 farmers are gathering there,” explains Ms Banu (left). “Some come with problems and some come for a chat, to share their needs and what they expect from us in the extension department. We can have a close link with the farmers.” (Photo Credit: A. Rehman, CABI)
A plant doctor consults a farmer on his crop problem and writes down a diagnosis and advice. One copy of the ‘prescription’ goes to farmer while another is kept so that the information can be entered into a national database, which is then used to inform priorities in research, extension and policy in the country. (Photo Credit: W. Jenner, CABI)
Delegates from over twenty-six countries attended last Thursday’s side event jointly-hosted by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat and the CABI-led Plantwise programme which served the goals common to both organizations: empowering countries to protect crops, thereby increasing food security.
The event on the evening of April 2ndat Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN headquarters brought together key plant health stakeholders of the IPPC there to attend the 9th Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM).
Agricultural officials from the governments of Sri Lanka, Uganda and Kenya stood and presented their own experiences of establishing and tapping into Plantwise resources to support their daily roles in National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs). Back home, these presenters’ all work for the NPPOs whose activities cover a range of different plant health roles, including extension, research and phytosanitary quarantine. Continue reading →
Delegates from around the world convene at FAO headquarters for CPM9, many of which will attend tonight’s side-event to hear of joint activities and how partners are using resources to work together in Sri Lanka, Uganda and Kenya.
This photo was taken in July when data management training and Module 4 training took part in Sri Lanka. Twenty-seven participants took part in the Module 4 training, in which methods for managing and monitoring clinic data collected at plant clinics in Sri Lanka were discussed.