The FAO estimates that up to 40% of global crop yields are reduced each year due to the damage caused by pests (FAO, 2015). Crop losses have a huge impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. They result in less food for them and their families and a lower income for spending on education and farming resources, including tools for the management and control of pests.
Accurate pest forecasting systems therefore need to be made available so that farmers can be warned of potential pest outbreaks that may severely damage crops. Pest forecasts enable farmers to implement prevention methods in time for them to be most effective.
Since the launch of Plantwise in Zambia last year, much progress has been made to build capacity within the national plant health system. In collaboration with the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), CABI staff have successfully trained crop officers and extension staff from the Department of Agriculture, ZARI, and Self Help Africa on ‘how to be a plant doctor’. In addition to this, training on development of pest management decision guides and factsheets has produced content that will be made available on the Plantwise knowledge bank for other plant doctors to use. A workshop on data management has also been run, training plant health experts in recording data at plant clinics, data harmonization, validation, analysis and sharing. Continue reading →