International Pest Horizon Scanning

As part of the International Pest Horizon Scanning capability, CHAP has funded the distribution of 180 Android tablet devices to plant doctors in five countries: Ghana, Nepal, Peru, Vietnam and Malawi. These devices are set up to improve plant doctor efficiency, and to speed up the recording and validation of international pests and diseases.

The plant doctors, who are trained extension workers, use the tablets during plant clinics to collect data about the crop pests and diseases, and to provide access to agri-advisory information.

This information supports the plant doctors with their diagnosis and recommendations, helping farmers to understand and control the problem on their crop. The information, which is available online and offline via an app on the tablets, is based on an IPM approach, which encourages non-chemical methods and biocontrol, and provides additional details related to chemical pesticides to enable responsible use.

The tablets also improve the collection of location information which can used to analyse new trends in pest distribution. This can help with early warning for pest outbreaks, so that growers can be informed on what to look out for and how to act when an outbreak occurs.

 

Using tablets to collect data reduces the lag time between data collection and availability for analysis from three months or more to a matter of hours, which means new diseases and outbreaks can be caught much more quickly. These tablets therefore play a crucial role in the work carried out in CABI’s network of plant clinics.

 

This is important because the UK derives 50% of its food from 190 countries, many of which are developing countries with relatively poor plant health advisory services. Growers – generally smallholder farmers – get little access to pest and disease information or warnings, and rarely receive objective advice about the correct, safe use of agrichemicals. This can result in them using too much, too often, even when using the right active ingredient, which then affects the quality of the crop: as much as 40% of EU food rejections are a result of pesticide residues.

 

Such early warning improves not just the food security of smallholder farmers but of the UK too.

Our services include:

  • Provision of electronic tablets to plant doctors in five countries
  • Access to an ever-expanding international database of pest and disease information, including better farming practices, biocontrol, and recommended safe chemical solutions where required;
  • Pest control recommendations for smallholder farmers, based on information validated by experts;
  • Keep a record of local plant symptoms and diagnosed pests; and
  • Submit data on crop pests faster and more efficiently

To date, CHAP has benefited almost 200 plant doctors across five countries, who have used the devices to handle and record more than 35,000 consultations with farmers.

For more information about how CHAP’s tablets help plant doctors, visit www.plantwise.org.

The Plantwise knowledge bank hosts free information on over 2,500 pests affecting a huge variety of host plants, including images of symptoms, disease distribution maps, treatment guides and pest warnings. This includes free information on more than 600 pests affecting the UK.

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