News / Africa

Plant Clinics Taking Root in East Africa

FILE - A worker is seen at a tea plantation near Kasese town, some 500 km west of Uganda's capital, Kampala.FILE - A worker is seen at a tea plantation near Kasese town, some 500 km west of Uganda's capital, Kampala.
x
FILE - A worker is seen at a tea plantation near Kasese town, some 500 km west of Uganda's capital, Kampala.
FILE - A worker is seen at a tea plantation near Kasese town, some 500 km west of Uganda's capital, Kampala.
Nick Long
Despite advances in science and technology, crop disease continues to plague farmers everywhere.  The Britain-based Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International, or CABI, says up to 40 percent of the food grown worldwide is lost to pests and diseases before it can be consumed. 

CABI is trying to change that with a crop protection program called Plantwise.  In the past three years, the program has trained nearly a thousand so-called plant doctors in 24 countries, including one near Kampala, Uganda.

It’s market day in Mukono, a village about 15 kilometers from Kampala.  Plant doctor Daniel Lyazi has arrived by motorbike to set up his clinic next to a stall where a traditional healer is trying to sell herbal remedies to shoppers. 
 
There is no remedy for the diseased plant samples that people bring to Lyazi’s clinic, which is basically just a table under a small tent.
 
The slime-covered cabbage that a farmer plunks on the table is not going to get any better, nor will the rest of his cabbages.  But Lyazi’s recommendations may save the next season’s crop. 
 
“So he’s telling me there’s a small caterpillar which eats [the cabbages] starting from the youngest leaf.  He’s told me that the whole garden has been attacked and affected by this caterpillar.  So according to me, I know that it’s a diamondback moth and I’m going to give him recommendations,” says Lyazi.
 
The farmer has been using an insecticide but Lyazi says it’s the wrong one.
 
FILE - Farmers attend one of the plant clinics in East Africa (Courtesy - CABI).FILE - Farmers attend one of the plant clinics in East Africa (Courtesy - CABI).
x
FILE - Farmers attend one of the plant clinics in East Africa (Courtesy - CABI).
FILE - Farmers attend one of the plant clinics in East Africa (Courtesy - CABI).
“It’s tolerant - it doesn’t kill the diamondback moth caterpillar.  So I’m recommending him to use another insecticide called Fenkill, and in another planting season he should plant with onions.   Onions can repel (the caterpillar) and he can get income,” advises Lyazi.

What Lyazi means is the farmer should interplant onions between the rows of cabbages as an additional protection measure.
 
The clinic lasts about three hours and in that time Lyazi advises about 20 farmers. The head of a local farmers’ group, Erifazi Mayanja, says they are really benefiting from this twice-a-month clinic, which started last year.
 
“That’s why they have come in great number today, because of the good advice they are getting from our master here,” says Mayanja.
 
Program popular and growing
 
Plantwise says there are now about 90 of these clinics in Uganda, and this year donors spent around $290,000 training plant doctors and expanding the system in the country.
 
Coordinating the Plantwise program in Uganda and Zambia is Joseph Mulema.  He argues that plant clinics are a far more effective model for getting advice to farmers than the traditional one where agricultural extension workers, in theory, visit farms. 
 
“Plant clinics can help so many farmers in a very short time.  In fact, more farmers are seen in a plant clinic session, if good mobilization is done, than actually an extension officer can look at in an entire month,” says Mulema.
 
Government crop protection officer Robert Karyeija says training plant doctors has been vital, because even though there were thousands of agricultural extension workers, they just didn’t know enough.
 
“They were there.  But the problem [was] they would be general agriculturalists who knew agronomy but didn’t know much about pests and diseases,” says Karyeija.
 
Since 2010, CABI has set up Plantwise clinics in 12 African countries - nine in East Africa and  three in West Africa.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs