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Plantwise: as a source of intelligence on emerging disease in developing countries including Asia

Malvika Chaudhary: CABI

<div><span style="font-family:'Verdana';">Agricultural extension systems often poorly resourced to deal with the demand for information has highly variable ratios of public extension personnel to farmers as seen in Ethiopia from 1:476 to 1:5000 in India. The lack of targeted information impacts farmers’ abilities to identify and effectively manage new pests and diseases. Filling in this gap Plantwise programme operates through more than 200 local partner organisations in 33 developing countries has network of more than 2300 established plant clinics operated by over 6,800 trained plant doctors reaching out 9.8 million farmers with recommendations in a form of written paper or digital on smart phone, tablet or computer. With more than 50% of the clinics now being empowered by technology over 10 countries with 30,000 records have E-plant clinics. This data held within a secured Plantwise Knowledge Bank can be analysed to assess a number of issues also pest surveillance for new pest outbreaks. This is not an explicit function of the plant clinics, but is achieved as by-product of farmers seeking assistance. Monitoring of pest out breaks is further enhanced by the use of social media by sharing of information through ‘self-help’ groups on mobile devices. The volume of message exchange is substantial and growing, with over 12,000 messages sent between groups in 2016 alone. This has proved to be highly instrumental in the early detection of invasive pests as in Asia, the banana skipper (<em><span style="font-family:'Verdana';">Erionota torus</span></em>),a new pest was identified triggered quick action from NPPO preventing considerable loss to the banana industry. Another potential use for the clinic data is pest forecasting providing pest risk predictions for a preventive action. The Pest Risk Information Service project aims to do this by creating a pest risk forecasting system based on earth observation data and ground truthing through the Plantwise clinic data.</span></div>

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