The science and agriculture organisation, CABI, has launched a free online resource designed to help extension workers, government organisations, researchers and farmers in developing countries diagnose, treat and prevent plant pests and diseases.
“The right information really can change people’s lives,” explains Roger Day, CABI’s Regional Coordinator for Plantwise in Africa. “The Plantwise Knowledge Bank provides this information, helping people lose less of their crops to pests and diseases, and enabling them better to support themselves, their families and their communities. With the support of the Knowledge Bank, Plantwise can benefit food security, support farmers and ultimately, improve lives.”
The Knowledge Bank provides clear, actionable treatment advice on the most prevalent pests and diseases. In Kenya for example, Black Aphids, or ‘ume’ in Kikuyu, feed on field beans and have had a devastating effect on yields. The Knowledge Bank provides a simple factsheet giving diagnosis and treatment advice for the Aphids. It suggests spraying the plants with soap – a simple, but remarkably effective treatment which kills off the Aphids and leaves the crop unharmed. The Knowledge Bank also contains information on 22 different pests and diseases that attack coffee in Rwanda and 58 pests and diseases that attack cocoa in Ghana, providing country specific advice on diagnosis, treatment and prevention in order to mitigate crop losses that can devastate farms and ruin livelihoods.
Diagnostic tools enable users to diagnose plant problems based on pictures of symptoms, and country specific homepages mean that information shown is tailored to the user’s location. The Knowledge Bank is already being used to support Plantwise ‘Plant Clinics’, where ‘plant doctors’, trained by CABI, provide diagnosis and treatment support to farmers from their local area.