Oral: Fieldside Manner: Serving Plant Pathology's Stakeholders
Think local, act globally: Meeting stakeholders' needs in developing countries.
A. TESTEN (1), S. Miller (1) (1) The Ohio State University, U.S.A.
Resource-poor farmers in developing countries are especially affected by the economic and environmental consequences of plant diseases. Plant pathologists can mitigate these impacts through research to develop locally appropriate solutions and effective outreach to enhance their diffusion. A multidisciplinary, participatory approach was used to develop a program to improve soil and plant health on smallholder tomato farms in the Morogoro Region of Tanzania. Farmers’ local knowledge of plant diseases and soils was gathered to improve communication between farmers and researchers. This local knowledge helped to identify key regional tomato diseases and soil constraints. We also engaged farmers in a type of participatory evaluation of local and introduced tomato germplasm called mother-baby trials, which places farmers at the center of the selection process and enhances dissemination of new varieties. Farmers were also trained on use of a low-cost soil health test kit, which allowed them to assess soil health in their own fields. These participatory approaches engage farmers at all stages of research and can enhance farmers’ acceptance and dissemination of introduced technologies.