Changing the story of plant health

Millions of smallholder farmers in developing countries struggle to grow enough food to eat and sell – the CABI-led Plantwise programme is changing their story

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Valli in her paddy fields

Valli Kupuswamy is a rice farmer living in Embalam village in southern India. One year, her crops started to die.

“During the Thane cyclone, when I planted my crop, some rows turned yellow and by the third weeding it spread through my fields. Even the base had turned yellow. My crop was destroyed. I was lost.”

Valli did not have enough food to take home to feed her family. But she heard that a Plantwise plant health clinic was taking place near her village.

“I thought, let’s go and see, and find out what is happening at my local plant clinic.”

Since its launch in 2011, the Plantwise programme led by CABI, a Partner in GFAR, has been providing support to make national plant health systems more effective for the farmers who depend on them. The goal: delivering plant health knowledge to smallholder farmers. This ensures they lose less of what they grow, which in turn provides food for their families and improves living conditions in rural communities.

Crucial in this fight against crop loss are the plant clinics, where farmers can get practical plant health advice – owned and operated by over 200 national partner organisations in over 30 countries – and a global open-access knowledge bank delivering best-practice pest management advice. Plantwise has reached almost 5 million farmers to date.

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Valli at a Plantwise plant clinic

Valli visited a plant clinic in Puducherry.

“I plucked a paddy sample and took it along to show them. When I came to the plant clinic and heard their advice, I had the confidence to continue growing my crop.”

When she came to the plant clinic, Valli was hunting for a ray of hope and the motivation to save her crops. The plant doctors inspected her crop and identified the plant pest. They instructed her with a simple and safe treatment to stop the pest from destroying her crops.

Valli continues to farm and, most importantly, to feed her family.

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Valli with her family

Why is Plantwise so important?

Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat.

Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by even one per cent, we could potentially feed millions more people.

The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses. With Plantwise, we can change the story…

With additional funding support from donors and by developing new partnerships, we aim to reach 30 million farmers by 2020 with relevant plant health information. This will help them to lose less and feed more, and will ensure the food secure future of generations to come.

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This blog post is  part of GFAR’s Partner Spotlight on CABI (12-16 December). For more information on the Partners in GFAR, and to become a Partner, visit the GFAR website!

Image credits: CABI


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