Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Technology transfer’ Category

Africa Develops Mobile App To Support Farmers Against Pests

 Arsalan Ahmad newsresearchTechnology 

A mobile phone app – launched today by an international team of scientists – will support farmers across Africa to adopt environmentally friendly ways of protecting their crops from pests.

African smallholder farmers face major challenges from weeds such as striga and insect pests such as fall armyworm. Fall armyworm is a serious threat to food security and livelihoods and already affects at least 400,000 hectares, causing crop losses worth an estimated $3 billion a year.

But a solution exists – ‘push-pull technology’ – and it avoids the need to use harmful and expensive chemical pesticides.

Push-pull technology is a scientific method of planting crops such as maize and sorghum alongside particular species of forage grasses and legumes, which repel pests and supress weeds to support farmers.

The method was developed by scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya with partners and is designed to protect the plants against devastating pests like the fall armyworm and the striga weed, with the companion plants also improving soil fertility.

But a major challenge is how to communicate advice and information about this crop management technique to millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. To help address this challenge, a new mobile phone app – called Push-Pull – has been launched by Agape Innovations Ltd, in collaboration with a team of scientists from the University of Leeds, Keele University and icipe.

The app is part of a larger project called ‘Scaling up Biocontrol Innovations in Africa’ funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which seeks to understand how biocontrol methods have been used across Africa and to encourage their uptake. The project involves a cluster of previous GCRF-funded research programmes, including the Leeds-led AFRICAP project.

Principal Investigator Dr Steve Sait, from Leeds’ School of Biology, said: “The push-pull method of pest control is decades old and is used successfully by thousands of smallholder farmers across Africa.

“We hope that this collaboration, and this new app, can help us extend knowledge of this technique to potentially millions of other farmers who could be benefitting from it. Compared to chemical pesticides, push-pull costs less money to support farmers, results in less damage to their crops, and it avoids harming other insect species that play valuable roles in the ecosystem.

“We consulted widely with farmers in Kenya and I’m excited to see how their contribution has made the app user friendly and could lead to more uptake of push-pull farming.”

Research by the scientists behind the push-pull technique has proven that odours released by the companion plants can effectively repel fall armyworm and protect crops against the pest.

Early adopter farmers have had great success with the technique, reporting five times less fall armyworm damage and a doubling or even tripling of crop yield, showing the huge potential this has for farmers and crop-producing smallholders. It also reduces the environmental impact of farming by protecting against pests without using pesticides, as well as improving soil quality without inorganic fertilisers.

Improving food security


The Push-Pull app, which has launched today, has been developed by Agape Innovations and is available on Android phones. It has been designed to work on the basic smartphones that are being increasingly used by smallholder farmers in Africa. It gives farmers information they need to get started with push-pull farming, and is not only free but will work offline, meaning a lack of internet connection in rural regions will not affect its function.

The ultimate goal is to provide a resource for support farmers that is informed by science, protects their crops and improves their harvest, which they can access any time of day from anywhere in the world.

Paul Mugisha, CEO of Agape Innovations Ltd, said: “With the world going digital and uncertainties like Covid-19 amplifying the challenges of physical interactions, ICT is so vital in today and tomorrow’s agriculture.

“At Agape, we built the Push-Pull app as a global tool to equip a farmer with all that is needed for a successful push-pull garden. Embedded with audio, visual and graphical expressions we are certain that the Push-Pull app will be relevant to maize and sorghum farmers worldwide for both today and tomorrow in controlling fall armyworm, striga and maize stalk borer.”

Professor Toby Bruce, from Keele University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “We are excited to see if this app can serve as a vehicle for taking practical information to the farmer. It is designed to share key details about how to get started with push-pull. We hope this will increase the number of farmers taking up this innovative approach that provides real benefits by improving crop protection and food security.”

Arsalan Ahmad

Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arsalanahmad-materialsresearchengr/

FM98

Some Planets In The Habitable Zone Are Not Good For Life

Humans can Make Approx 4 Years Trip to Mars

Global Internet Communication Structure Is Weak To Handle Large Solar Storm

Read Full Post »

Digital Engagement and Training Helps Increase Agro-Dealer and Farmer Knowledge on Integrated Pest Management in East Africa

twitter sharing button
facebook sharing button
email sharing button

Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Aug 19, 2021

A group of people training with the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)

This post is written by Sara Hendery, communications coordinator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

Given Tanzania’s diverse geographical landscape, it’s no surprise the country is among the world’s top 20 producers of vegetables. Nevertheless, farmers remain in search of ways to combat the pests and diseases that threaten crop yields every season.

Results of a survey conducted by Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management partners at the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) show that the majority of Tanzanian farmers receive key knowledge on how to manage pests and disease not only from extension personnel, but often from agricultural supply dealers, or agro-dealers. While agro-dealers do carry valuable information, resources and inputs, the survey also shows that many agro-dealers have limited formal knowledge on vegetable production or protective measures for applying chemical pesticides.

To address these gaps, TARI began providing cohesive training to agro-dealers, farmers and extension officers on vegetable production and pest and disease management. Training covers such areas as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and safe handling and use of agricultural inputs, including pesticides. Thus far, 500 participants have been trained in the Coast and Morogoro regions. The GAP training in particular helps farmers build capacity in reporting and record-keeping, assessing input quality and crop hygiene, and training in IPM provides information on bio- and botanical pesticides, pruning, developing seedlings in a nursery environment and how to apply pesticides with minimal body exposure.   

“Knowing that farmers receive their pest and disease management knowledge from agro-dealers provides us important insight into how to best reach farmers with up-to-date information,” said Dr. Fred Tairo, principal agricultural research officer at TARI-Mikocheni. “If we want farmers to adopt sustainable, climate-smart and productive inputs that might be outside of their typical use, an important pathway to reaching them is through the people that farmers already trust and are familiar with.” 

In a group of 69 agro-dealers surveyed, only 49 were registered and licensed to run agricultural shops. The 20 unregistered participants had received no formal training in crop production or pesticide safety and use, and most participants not only had no prior knowledge on how to dispose of expired pesticides, but did not sell bio-pesticides or chemical pesticide alternatives at their shops. Since registering as an agro-dealer can cost nearly $200, TARI is collaborating with the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), a regulatory authority for pesticides in Tanzania, to consider lowering the costs.  

TARI and the IPM Innovation Lab are increasing communication through digital platforms to reach more agricultural actors with safe and effective approaches to pest and disease management. A Kiswahili-based (Swahili) WhatsApp group named “Kilima cha Mboga kisasa,” or modern vegetable cultivation, currently shares information with 154 farmers, extension agents and agro-dealers in Tanzania who can use the app to cite crop threats and receive expert management guidance in return.

Participants post a picture or video of the crop problem for immediate diagnosis. Not only do agro-dealers in the group directly learn about farmers’ most pressing problems, but they can use the platform to market agri-inputs, including the IPM products they learn about through the platform. 

“Even if members of this group do not necessarily follow up with formal training we offer, this is a low-stakes knowledge-sharing space that they can be a part of and receive guidance from,” Tairo added. 

To increase access to information and inputs, the IPM Innovation Lab is also collaborating with Real IPM, a private company based in Kenya that develops low-cost biological and holistic crop solutions available in Kenya and Tanzania. In just one year, the company has provided training to thousands of farmers in seven counties in Kenya by targeting farmer groups, the majority of which are made up of women. Real IPM has developed training manuals on IPM, a WhatsApp group for crop health assistance and a free web portal for diagnosis and IPM recommendations of specific crop threats. 

“Our goal is to make IPM solutions more accessible,” said Ruth Murunde, research and development manager at Real IPM. “When you enter a pest or disease into our web portal, those images, diagnosis and IPM recommendations stay posted. We know that many farmers are experiencing similar issues to one another and collective action against crop threats is an effective way to combat them more long-term.”

While technology constraints remain — including smartphone, internet and electricity access — making learning spaces available for a range of crop production actors is critical to adoption of sustainable, effective farming solutions. 

Currently, the Real IPM database hosts over 7,000 participants and has collected over 200 infected crop images.

“The Real IPM technical team is actively working to support farmers by providing biopesticides as a solution for mitigating pests and diseases on vegetable crops to ensure sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers,” added Murunde. “Our information networks help disseminate best practice methods for using those tools.”  

For more information on IPM training or Real IPM products, contact saraeh91@vt.edu.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYEDUCATION AND EXTENSION

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

POST

Using Integrated Pest Management to Reduce Pesticides and Increase Food Safety

POST

Virginia Tech Taps Text Message Services to Assist Smallholder Farmers

POST

Research Finds Protecting Pollinators is Critical For Food Security in Africa

POST

Kenyan Farmers Find Hope in Fighting Fall Armyworm

Leave feedbackFollow Agrilinks:

Read Full Post »

University of Leeds

An app to help African farmers defeat crop pests

CategoryEnvironment newsDate11 August 2021

Two men look at a smartphone stood in a field with maize crops behind them on a sunny day

A mobile phone app – launched today by an international team of scientists – will support farmers across Africa to adopt environmentally friendly ways of protecting their crops from pests.

African smallholder farmers face major challenges from weeds such as striga and insect pests such as fall armyworm. Fall armyworm is a serious threat to food security and livelihoods and already affects at least 400,000 hectares, causing crop losses worth an estimated $3 billion a year.  

But a solution exists – ‘push-pull technology’ – and it avoids the need to use harmful and expensive chemical pesticides. 

Push-pull technology is a scientific method of planting crops such as maize and sorghum alongside particular species of forage grasses and legumes, which repel pests and supress weeds.

A field of crops shows maize planted using the push-pull method, with other plants alongside it.

The push-pull method pictured in action. Credit AFRICAP

The method was developed by scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya with partners and is designed to protect the plants against devastating pests like the fall armyworm and the striga weed, with the companion plants also improving soil fertility. 

But a major challenge is how to communicate advice and information about this crop management technique to millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. To help address this challenge, a new mobile phone app – called Push-Pull – has been launched by Agape Innovations Ltd, in collaboration with a team of scientists from the University of Leeds, Keele University and icipe.  

The app is part of a larger project called ‘Scaling up Biocontrol Innovations in Africa’ funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which seeks to understand how biocontrol methods have been used across Africa and to encourage their uptake. The project involves a cluster of previous GCRF-funded research programmes, including the Leeds-led AFRICAP project

Principal Investigator Dr Steve Sait, from Leeds’ School of Biology, said: “The push-pull method of pest control is decades old and is used successfully by thousands of smallholder farmers across Africa.  

“We hope that this collaboration, and this new app, can help us extend knowledge of this technique to potentially millions of other farmers who could be benefitting from it. Compared to chemical pesticides, push-pull costs less money to the farmer, results in less damage to their crops, and it avoids harming other insect species that play valuable roles in the ecosystem. 

“We consulted widely with farmers in Kenya and I’m excited to see how their contribution has made the app user friendly and could lead to more uptake of push-pull farming.” 

Research by the scientists behind the push-pull technique has proven that odours released by the companion plants can effectively repel fall armyworm and protect crops against the pest.  

Early adopter farmers have had great success with the technique, reporting five times less fall armyworm damage and a doubling or even tripling of crop yield, showing the huge potential this has for farmers and crop-producing smallholders. It also reduces the environmental impact of farming by protecting against pests without using pesticides, as well as improving soil quality without inorganic fertilisers. 

Improving food security

The Push-Pull app, which has launched today, has been developed by Agape Innovations and is available on Android phones. It has been designed to work on the basic smartphones that are being increasingly used by smallholder farmers in Africa. It gives farmers information they need to get started with push-pull farming, and is not only free but will work offline, meaning a lack of internet connection in rural regions will not affect its function. 

The ultimate goal is to provide a resource for farmers that is informed by science, protects their crops and improves their harvest, which they can access any time of day from anywhere in the world. 

Paul Mugisha, CEO of Agape Innovations Ltd, said: “With the world going digital and uncertainties like Covid-19 amplifying the challenges of physical interactions, ICT is so vital in today and tomorrow’s agriculture.  

“At Agape, we built the Push-Pull app as a global tool to equip a farmer with all that is needed for a successful push-pull garden. Embedded with audio, visual and graphical expressions we are certain that the Push-Pull app will be relevant to maize and sorghum farmers worldwide for both today and tomorrow in controlling fall armyworm, striga and maize stalk borer.” 

Professor Toby Bruce, from Keele University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “We are excited to see if this app can serve as a vehicle for taking practical information to the farmer. It is designed to share key details about how to get started with push-pull. We hope this will increase the number of farmers taking up this innovative approach that provides real benefits by improving crop protection and food security.” 

Further information

Image credit: Agape Innovations Ltd

For media interviews please contact Simon Moore, press officer at the University of Leeds, on s.i.moore@leeds.ac.uk 

The Push-Pull app can be downloaded on the Google Play website

Read Full Post »

What is the

The Plantwise Knowledge Bank is a free online resource that gathers plant health information from across the world. Over 15,000 pieces of content, which include, pest management decision guide’s (PMDG), factsheets for farmers (PFFF), species pages, photosheets, manuals and video factsheets in over 100 languages.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank Homepage
Plantwise Knowledge Bank website home page © CABI

It also provides the user with really useful tools including the diagnostic tool, country resources, pest alerts, horizon tool, interactive maps and booklet builder.

It’s modern and dynamic design makes it easy to use. The site is also mobile responsive which enables our smartphone users in Plantwise countries to access the site with ease.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank
The Plantwise Knowledge Bank information flow © CABI

The  Plantwise knowledge bank links all actors in the plant health system – plant clinics, researchers, extension workers, farmers and government bodies – to the information they need for timely action against crop pests and diseases. It supports the Plantwise goal: lose less, feed more by collecting, analyzing and disseminating pest data in order to enable:

– Identification and management of plant pests

– Protection against pest and disease threats

– Secure storage and analysis of national plant pest data

Search content

The content can be searched using the search box that appears on the homepage. You can use the free text search to search for a pest problem or crop by common or scientific name. You can then filter by country, region, category or language. Additional search support can be found here, along with details on how to use the Boolean operators.

Diagnostic tool

The diagnostic tool allows you to diagnose a crop problem through the symptoms observed and the part of the plant affected. Results from the diagnostic search are given as a list of possible pests or diseases, each with an image, and a technical factsheet further describing the problem.

Country resources

The country resources give dynamic location specific information including crop variety list, guidelines, diagnostic field guides, pesticide red lists and country specific plant health websites. It will soon also contain links to country-specific factsheets. It allows users to get a range of information that refers specifically to their chosen country.

Pest alerts

Pest alerts deliver information about new pests straight to your inbox. You can sign up to receive email alerts containing recent literature reports for a specific country or region, or recent literature reports from around the globe.

Horizon Scanning Tool

The Horizon Scanning Tool, developed under CABI’s Action on Invasives programme, helps you identify and categorize species that might enter your country. Using data from CABI Compendia datasheets, the tool evaluates whether there is a potential threat of an invasive species, based on countries with similar climates, trade connections or major transport links to the source country.

Booklet builder

Some factsheets can be added to a booklet, using the booklet builder, and are denoted by 📖. Click on the open book symbol to add a factsheet to the booklet. The booklet builder helps you to build a PDF booklet containing factsheets of your choice. Further details can be found here.

Interactive Map

Mapping plant pests and diseases is critical to plant protection decision-making. The knowledge bank allows users to plot multiple species of crops and pests to track spread. With climate overlays, predictive scenarios can be added.

Plantwise Knowledge Bank
Distribution map on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank © CABI

Further reading

Contact us via email to share links to factsheets or any queries: plantwise@cabi.org


Visit the The Plantwise Knowledge BankPlantwisePlantwise Knowledge Bankpest alertsplant healthplant pestsCrop healthDevelopment communication and extensionInvasive species

Read Full Post »

Every year, people in Sub-Saharan Africa consume 34 million tons of milled rice, of which 43 percent is imported. But the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly hampered supply chains, making it difficult for imported rice to reach the continent. Indeed, if immediate action is not taken, the supply shortfall will further strain the region’s food systems which are already impacted by the pandemic.

Rice imports from Thailand, one of Africa’s largest suppliers, have declined 30 percent due to lockdowns, border closures and general limitations on supply chains in just over one year since the pandemic started.

Consequently, many poor urban dwellers, who traditionally struggle to afford staple foods, now have to contend with more expensive food as the price of the popular Indica White rice has increased by 22%.

On the flip side, however, these challenges can be viewed as a wake-up call for Africa to strengthen its domestic rice production and achieve self-sustainability. Undoubtedly, the continent has the resources for adequate rice production, and with increased investment, tremendous change can be achieved.

Ghana, for example, has increased its rice production by an average of 10 percent every year since 2008, with a sharp 25 percent rise being reported in 2019 following the rehabilitation and modernization of the country’s irrigation schemes. These investments led to a 17 percent rise in the country’s rice self-sufficiency between 2016 and 2019.

And while the West African nation has yet to produce enough rice to meet its local demand, the impressive increase in output makes it a model example of what can be achieved through supportive policies and investment. On this point, the country’s National Rice Development Strategy of 2009 and the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign – launched in 2017 – not only prioritized rice but set ambitious expansion targets for domestic production.

Among the objectives of the two policies were the substitute on of rice imports and the production of higher-quality rice that is acceptable to Ghanaian consumers and can compete with imported products.

These policy frameworks played a pivotal role in de-risking market failures while speeding up the implementation of innovations in local rice production, including those that relate to genomics and e-commerce. At the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), we are first-hand witnesses to the transformation, and saw the positive impact of the government’s leadership in the development of favorable policies.

AGRA supported these developments; we helped the government in publicizing its ‘Eat Ghana Rice’ campaign, which sensitized local consumers on the economic and nutritional importance of consuming local products.

The clarion call inspired rice farmers, millers and other private sector players to increase domestic sourcing and marketing. The result, the country’s national production increased from just 138,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 665,000 in 2019.

AGRA also played a major role in supporting the adoption of innovative technologies in rice production, particularly through the development and distribution of locally adaptable varieties. We remain a key player in availing suitable rice varieties and seed to farmers in the country, a goal we continually pursue by helping train scientists and researchers in the field.

Of the 680 crop breeders that we have trained at post graduate level in Africa since 2006, more than 50, or around 8 percent, have been rice breeders. These professionals have been instrumental in sustaining the production of varieties that are suited to local conditions and yield more per acreage than older types.

We are now delivering such technologies across Africa, and especially in countries with the potential for large scale rice production, most of which are spread across West and East Africa. In countries like Tanzania and Kenya, we soon hope to report a major rise in rice output attributable to our advocacy for the implementation of supportive policies related to the uptake of the best production and marketing practices.

But we cannot do it alone; we believe that investments of a genuinely great extent, like the ones we are pursuing, can only be achieved by the participation of all stakeholders. For this reason, we continue to appeal to all players in the rice value chain to support all efforts aimed at increasing the production of local rice, a crop that holds a leading role in the achievement of food security and economic stability for the continent.

More news fromAGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

Websitehttp://www.agra-alliance.org

Published: June 22, 2021

Read Full Post »

NEMEDUSSA CONSORTIUM ADVANCING NEMATOLOGY EDUCATION IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA

To develop the research and educational capacity in Sub-Sahara Africa in the field of nematology, or the study of roundworms, a joint Erasmus+ KA2 project was recently launched. The Erasmus+ project, Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE): Nematology Education in Sub-Sahara Africa (NEMEDUSSA), is a joint effort by a consortium of Universities from Sub-Sahara Africa and Europe.

This three-year project (2021-2023) is co-funded by the European Union (Erasmus+ KA2 CBHE) and VLIR-UOS, and is linked to the objectives of the Erasmus+ Programme. The aims are to encourage cooperation between the EU and Partner Countries and support eligible Partner Countries in addressing challenges in the management and governance of their higher education institutions.

Specifically, NEMEDUSSA aims to increase awareness of nematodes and expand educational and research capacities in higher education and other institutions in Sub-Sahara Africa in this field. Nematodes or roundworms cause significant damage and yield loss to a wide variety of crops often together with other pathogens. Unfortunately, nematodes are often overlooked or misdiagnosed, resulting in the unnecessary use of unhealthy agro-chemicals. Nematodes can also be used as bio-control agents against insect pests and/or as bio-control agents for environmental health and biodiversity.

Despite the profound adverse impact plant-parasitic nematodes have on productivity worldwide, it is striking how concealed the discipline of nematology has remained, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa. This project aims to address the need for increased capacity and specialised training in handling these pathogens, so that plant-parasitic nematodes are managed correctly and beneficial nematodes can be implemented as biocontrol organisms.

To achieve this, the project focuses on 6 core activities:

  1. Developing Curricula. Develop curricula in nematology on BSc and MSc level for the integration into existing educational programmes in English and French, for both lecturers and students.
  2. Training Staff. Improve the nematological expertise of academic and technical staff to enhance teaching capacity.
  3. Upgrading lab facilities. Increase the number of student microscopes, lab and demonstration equipment to augment hands-on training.
  4. Nematology digital learning platform. Develop an open-access platform to share and disseminate nematological knowledge, develop curricular modules, knowledge clips, etc.
  5. Nematology Network. Enhance cooperation between nematologists in Sub-Sahara Africa by providing networking tools, workshops on relevant topics in nematology and sharing good practices in education, promoting collaboration with a focus on young nematologists.
  6. Creating awareness. Facilitate dissemination activities and involve a range of different stakeholders such as farmers, extension service workers, policy makers, students and private and public sector.

Ghent University (Belgium) coordinates NEMEDUSSA, in cooperation with:

  • University Abomey-Calavi, Benin
  • University of Parakou, Benin
  • Haramaya University, Ethiopia
  • Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • Kenyatta University, Kenya
  • Moi University, Kenya
  • Ahmadu-Bello University, Nigeria
  • University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • North West University, South Africa
  • Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • Muni University, Uganda
  • University Côte d’Azur, France

The work of this project is further supported by 36 associated partners from the private and public sectors in Sub-Sahara Africa.

For more information about the NEMEDUSSA project, please see www.nemedussa.ugent.be or contact us at nemedussa@ugent.be.  

Read Full Post »

An inter-country workshop and an experience-sharing session on a virtual platform

Community Business Facilitators (CBF) plant doctor Mr Gannesh Rokaya and Mrs Dipa Poudel of Surkhet giving farmers a technical consultation

Our experiences in Nepal during the global COVID-19 pandemic have been both positive and negative. On the positive side, this difficult time has made us realize the value of coming together and being connected as a community. But the pandemic has also put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk. In Nepal, COVID-19 is now spreading quickly. There is a strong need to protect the most vulnerable and to mitigate the pandemic’s impacts across the country’s food system.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, iDE Nepal has been working in coordination with all the collaborative partners of the Plantwise programme, as well as with government agencies, to adapt and improve the ways in which integrated pest management (IPM) technology and related information is communicated and delivered to smallholder farmers.

Most recently, iDE Nepal teamed up with CABI Plantwise and government agencies to host a workshop on the validation of plant clinic data contained in the Plantwise Online Management System (POMS). The three-day workshop (29–31 May) was hosted on an online platform (Zoom) and was attended by agriculture technicians from iDE Nepal and agriculture experts from Jammu, India. The facilitation of the workshop was carried out by resource personnel (Senior Plant Protection Officers) from the national Plant Quarantine and Pesticide Management Centre (PQPMC) and the Agriculture Development Directorate, Pokhara. The guest speakers at the workshop were Dr Vinod Pandit (CABI), Dr Corey O’Hara (Country Director, iDE Nepal) and Mr Komal Pradhan (National Programme Director, iDE Nepal).

The major objective of the validation workshop was to train agriculture technicians at iDE Nepal to harmonize, validate and analyse the plant clinic data managed by iDE Nepal in POMS. The validation of clinic data is crucial in order to evaluate the recommendations and advice given by plant doctors to farmers through plant clinics, and ultimately to enhance the quality of recommendations for the control of insect pests and diseases through IPM. The validation of clinic data is equally important in order to record the quality of services provided by CBF plant doctors, which can be later used as a basis for providing follow-up training to CBF plant doctors at iDE Nepal.

In addition to the valuable validation session facilitated by resource personnel, the experience-sharing session on the validation of clinic data by experts from Jammu, India, was of major help in easing the practical difficulties faced in the validation of clinic data.

Overall, the workshop was a success considering the learning gained on the validation of clinic data. It was also a beneficial platform for strengthening coordination with government bodies, and for inter-country experience-sharing with the ultimate goal of providing quality services to small-holder farmers.

Read more about Plantwise in NepalIntegrated Pest management, Nepal, covid-19, digital development, plant clinics, plant doctors, smallholder agricultureAgriculture and International Development, Development communication and extension, Digital development

Read Full Post »

warda logo

Thursday, April 5, 2018

AfricaRice launches free mobile app for rice weed control in Africa

The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) has launched a powerful new decision-support tool, called ‘RiceAdvice-WeedManager,’ to help African rice farmers find the most effective and cost-efficient weed management strategies, matching their specific farming conditions and available resources.

Potentially all rice farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) can benefit from this interactive tool as it can be used across rice-growing environments, from rainfed uplands to fully irrigated lowlands, leading to significant improvements in efficiency, productivity and incomes.

RiceAdvice-WeedManager

Weeds are serious constraints to rice production in SSA across all rice environments. AfricaRice surveys indicate that farmers perceive weed infestation as the predominant biotic constraint to rice production in SSA. Annual weed-inflicted yield losses in rice are conservatively estimated at 2.2 million tons per year in SSA, resulting in at least US$ 1.5 billon losses per year.

It is estimated that improved weed control, when combined with good soil fertility management, can raise rice yields by 1 ton per ha. Improved weed management is therefore vital to prevent losses in rice yield and production costs. For this, rice farmers in SSA need timely and reliable advice to make better decisions on the most appropriate weed control options. But at present they have limited access to such information.

The WeedManager app has been developed in close association with Co-Capacity, The Netherlands, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Rice Agri-food Systems (RICE). It is strongly based on research findings of AfricaRice and its partners, who have long been involved in developing efficient weed management strategies that are affordable and feasible for resource-poor rice farmers in SSA.

The app is now being field-tested with farmers in Nigeria and Tanzania with the help of the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI), commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). “We are planning to organize training in the use of WeedManager app, which is an exciting tool for weed management,” said Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice Agronomist.

The app provides a range of adapted recommendations for weed management – before, during and after the main rice-cropping season – based on information entered for each participating farmer relating to his/her field conditions, available resources (financial, human and natural resources and equipment) and prevailing weed problems. Each farmer decides which of the recommendations to adopt and can then be further advised and monitored by service providers.

“The WeedManager app stimulates adoption of targeted and integrated weed management practices by smallholder rice farmers in SSA, helping to reduce their reliance on manual weeding. This contributes to sustainable productivity enhancement leading to food security and income generation,” explains Dr Jonne Rodenburg, former AfricaRice agronomist, who has spearheaded the development of the WeedManager app. Dr Rodenburg is currently Senior Lecturer/Researcher Agroecology at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich, United Kingdom.

The WeedManager app can be used by farmers, extension workers, private companies involved in rice agri-business, development agencies and other stakeholders in Africa, who are interested in getting expert advice on weed management for rice production. It can also open opportunities for young professionals to serve as service providers by delivering personalized recommendations generated by the app to smallholder rice farmers and by assisting farmers during the implementation of the recommendations.

The WeedManager app can be freely downloaded from the Google Play Store on any Android device (smartphone or tablet). It is available in English and French, and other language versions are planned. The WeedManager app uses the same login data as the RiceAdvice app earlier launched by AfricaRice.

Related links :

Posted by AfricaRice AfricaRice at 6:35 AM

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

Read Full Post »

Plantwise_Logo

Investing in smallholder farmers for a food-secure future

Mr. Kampinga

Smallholder farmers provide the vast majority of the world’s food supply, and ‘small-scale farming’ is the largest occupation group of economically active people, 43% of which are women.

Approximately 2 billion of the world’s poorest live in households that depend on agriculture in some form for their livelihoods, whether this is for market or subsistence. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that growth in agriculture in developing countries is on average almost 3 times more effective in reducing poverty (relative to non-agriculture GDP growth).

DSC_0057In light of SDG 2, to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, this is an important statement. According to the FAO, “meeting the goals of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030, while addressing the threat of climate change, will require a profound transformation of food and agriculture systems worldwide.” It is fundamental to invest and support small-scale sustainable agriculture

Plantwise helps smallholder farmers to invest in themselves by providing them with the key knowledge and skills they need to lose less and feed more. Plant clinics are a proven way of increasing farmer yields and empowering communities from within. Ensuring farmers are well-equipped against the threat of pests and diseases to their crop improves food security.

Farmers who use our plant clinics are more productive. In 2017, maize farmers in Rwanda who used plant clinics saw an increase across yield (29%), net income (29%), and productivity (13%). Whilst costs also went up by 14%, a general increase across the board shows the positive impact of plant clinic use.

The same was also found for tomato farmers in Malawi whose yield went up by 17%, net income by 17%, and productivity by 6%, again alongside an increase in total costs by 12%. These farmers made use of their local plant clinic and compared to those that didn’t, were able to put their skills and knowledge into positive change for themselves.

graphs

With Africa’s population set to double by 2050, new jobs will be needed for the more than 600 million working adults who will then be entering the labour market. Growth in agriculture is key for job creation for unskilled labour as well as for employment generation in agricultural equipment, inputs, processing, and retail. If we invest in agricultural development then that should feed a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050.

With the dangers of climate change potentially cutting crop yields, particularly in the world’s most food-insecure regions, continuing to share knowledge to those that need it most is vital.

Learn more about Plantwise impact →

 

Read Full Post »

Plant Doctors in Vietnam go digital

Group photo

Plant clinics in Vietnam have received a major boost with the introduction of digital devices to facilitate the work of plant doctors. The use of tablets and smartphones has been proven to help plant doctors improve the quantity and quality of data generated from plant clinic operations. With improved ICTs, the captured data from plant clinics can be added swiftly to the Plantwise Online Management Systems (POMS) and managed from one device. Prior to this, plant clinic operations were dependent on a paper-based system of recording pest and disease data provided by farmers during clinics.

Earlier this month, an E-plant Clinic Pilot Workshop commenced at the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture and Sciences (VAAS), Hanoi. ICT intervention for the country is funded by the Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) and training was inaugurated in Hanoi by Dr Dao The Anh, Vice President of VAAS.

A total of 22 experienced plant doctors and 3 data managers from 4 provinces, had been nominated to launch this new approach. Plantwise distributed 15 tablets to plant doctors in 12 operational regions. These devices were pre-loaded with Plantwise apps to help plant doctors gain quick and easy access to reference materials, such as Pest Management and Decision Guides (PMDGs), fact sheets, and educational games, among other online and offline resources.

The training was facilitated by Ms. Claire Curry and Dr. Manju Thakur, from CABI’s Plantwise Knowledge Bank team. The National Coordinator for Plantwise Vietnam, Dr Tran Danh Suu, said he will be able to monitor the flow of plant clinic data and plant clinic activities using this new ICT. All the plant doctors in training were keen and excited to work on this new approach to the extension system in Vietnam.

20180314_111751

  • Share

Read Full Post »

How does communication and its technical content shape farmer responses to plant clinic advice?

P1020373

A recent study led by CABI and published in International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, explores how communication and its technical content shape farmers’ response to advice delivered at plant clinics. How willing were farmers to accept or reject the technologies recommended at plant clinic consultations? And what were the reasons? The research was carried out in Malawi, Costa Rica and Nepal, with the team visiting one plant clinic in each country.

PlantClinicMalawi
In Malawi, Violet (right) spends a long time listening, and explaining her recommendation to the farmer, Joseph.

Advice given in plant clinics in all three sites was found to be generally clear and open with plant doctors speaking in the local language in a respectful and accessible manner. This was followed up with a written ‘prescription’ which outlined a number of options for a single problem (consistent with IPM principles). This allowed farmers to choose their preferred recommendation, even if it was intended as more of a to-do list rather than a “menu” of choices. The written prescription ensures that the communication is lasting after farmers leave the clinic; not only does it enable farmers to remember the advice but they can also take the prescription to suppliers when buying pesticides. Clinics, therefore were found to have engaged in sound didactic teaching (where the required theoretical knowledge is provided); once the farmers had received their prescription, they were able to subject those recommendations to further environmental learning (e.g. experimenting with new techniques) back home.

NepalCoupon
A handwritten recommendation in Nepal which can be taken to suppliers.

 

 

 

As  extensionists became plant doctors, they had to quickly adapt to diagnosing plant health problems on dozens of crop species and provide sound advice on multiple pests and diseases. This is a huge challenge. Earlier studies indicate that plant clinics did not consistently give accurate diagnoses or recommendations. In this study, there were relatively few misdiagnoses or gross errors of communication. In addition, the plant doctors were able to contact experts to help improve their diagnoses via digital platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook groups.

Farmer responses to the clinic advice proved too complex to be labelled dichotomous (accept/reject). Their decisions are more nuanced, based generally on the fit of the technology and how well the innovation was communicated.  The research did discover problems with the communications and recommended ways in which it could be improved, for example:

  • The Plantwise prescription forms include a number of tick boxes which facilitate data input after the consultation. However this is not of much use to the farmers and leaves only a small section for the recommendation. Not all plant doctors remember to write down the diagnosis. The forms could be improved, making them easier to read and printing them in the local language rather than in English.
  • Problems with terminology were identified, such as using units of measure (e.g. grams or millilitres) that farmers find difficult to replicate at home without the right equipment. In addition, it was difficult for them to extrapolate further information from this, such as how much they should dilute the chemicals. Measurements must always be communicated in volumes that rural people understand such as a ‘spoonful’ rather than 15ml.
FarmerCostaRica1
In Costa Rica, Don Gerardo grows ginger
plants under his blackberries to control pests

Farmers learn from other people such as plant doctors or fellow farmers, but in addition, they are also actively experimenting with the advice they receive. Experimenting and learning from others are complementary and is part of the process of developing novel techniques that work for each farmer. What is fundamental for farmers is harvesting a healthy and profitable crop. This means that while the research can ascertain whether technologies were adapted (or not) and why, it doesn’t necessarily define whether the crop problems were actually solved. More research is required to understand not only which options farmers accept from plant clinics but also the extent to which these solved farmers’ problems. As the the research surmises, ‘odds are that farmers temper outsiders’ advice for technical reasons, not because of mis-communication.’

Read Farmer responses to technical advice offered at plant clinics in Malawi, Costa Rica and Nepal in full with open access →

Read the country reports in full, including individual testimonies and photos:

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »