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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid