CHAP has funded the distribution of electronic devices in the form of tablets to plant doctors in a number of countries to improve plant doctor efficiency and to speed up the recording and validation of pests and diseases.
The tablets provide access to agri-advisory information that helps agronomists and farmers understand and control plant pests and diseases relevant to their crops.
Data about disease locations can be mapped against variables like weather and soil type so we can forecast likely spread and issue alerts to farmers, government and the food sector, which can then inform growers what to look out for and how to act, when an outbreak occurs.
Delays in validation have been reduced from 3+ months to a matter of hours. This means new diseases and outbreaks can be caught much more quickly. These tablets now play a crucial role in the work carried out in the network of plant clinics around the world run by CABI.
This is important because the UK derives 50% of its food from 190 countries, many of which are developing countries like Kenya, Ghana, Nepal and Malawi, 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 therefore using too much, too often even when using the right active ingredient: 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.