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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid