By Agnes Nantambi
The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has partnered with CABI International to implement the Plant wise Plus initiative to enhance sustainable crop production.
Speaking during the high-level stake holders meeting organized by CABI at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Morris Akiri the Senior Regional Director CABI Africa said that the plant wise program has brought E-extensions services closer to the farmers to compliment what the different government extension services are already doing and also enrich it.
“Under the program, we are doing E- extensions whereby we reach more farmers with a service as opposed to the traditional way of one extension officers moving around going to visit farmers,” he said
The program which he said has been running for the past several years stemmed into global plant clinics where Uganda was one of the four countries globally where it was launched.
In 2011 he said the plant wise classic which has an element of plant clinic and the knowledge bank which collects data to help inform in surveillance and pest repaired Ness within countries, ran on up to 2021 when the plant wise plus proof of concept was launched.
“Uganda happens to be one of the six focus countries, now working on pest preparedness, management and farmers advisory, in addition to other 21 co-countries globally which come together to help sustain extension services, to help the farmers to produce more and loose less of what they produce but also produce safer food.
Food safety is something that is critical to us, so the program is going to enhance an element of pest preparedness and also coming up with low-risk solutions of responding to plant pests and diseases,” he explained.
Some of the low-risk solutions he said is about working with agro dealers to know the safer bio-control elements, like use of natural enemies to control pests and diseases saying it is much safer.
He observed that many times, farmers rush into getting into Pest sides just spraying for quick access, because they believe the pest dies immediately but said that, it is not safe for consumption and also for the protection of the environment.
“When spraying, you must look at the pollination elements, because when you keep spraying, you kill the bees that help in the pollination thus lowering the yields,” he said.
Plant wise classic and plant wise program reached 60million farmers saying under the new plant wise plus, they anticipate to reach an additional 75million farmers globally.
The seven-year program he said is aimed at ensuring that the technologies that have come up are sustainable and are absorbed within the system, so that they out leave the program such that the farmers can be able to commercialize them in their groupings.
The program he said is also aimed at training youths to help provide services to the farmers.
About $100m he said will be injected in the next project globally for the next seven years with $15m being injected in annually within the 6 focus countries although the entire program will benefit about 21 countries.
The director General of NARO Dr. Yonah Baguma in a speech read for him by Babra Zawedde Mugwanya the director Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institute, said CABI’s experts in communication and extension working with NARO and partners played a key role in helping banana farmers in Uganda and Tanzania reap a 64% increase in yields.
Other CABI-led work in Uganda includes the innovative one Health Initiative that is offering joint crop and livestock services for smallholder farmers in Uganda.
This integrated crop and livestock health advisory services is enabling smallholder farmers to address major health and production problems affecting crops, livestock and food safety.
According to Baguma joint clinics, enable crop and livestock staff to pool operational costs and share knowledge, save farmers time through consolidated plant and livestock consultations, foster cross -learning acts as a gateway to refine referral systems and deliver targeted technology such as animal vaccines and clean cassava cuttings.
Through the plant wise initiative, it laid the foundation for plant wise Plus Uganda, successfully established 300 plant clinics staffed close to 1000 dedicated plant doctors.
“These clinics play a crucial role in aiding smallholder farmers in diagnosing and mitigating the effects of various pests and diseases including addressing threats like the fall armyworm Pest, which if untreated can wreak havoc on crops such as maize among others,” he said.