Last month, farmers from Guangxi province in Xing’an county welcomed China’s first plant clinic to help reduce crops losses from pests and diseases.
The plant clinic, launched on 19 May, was attended by a great number of regional farmers with some travelling over 40km in search of professional diagnostic services and integrated pest management recommendations. With over half of China’s population living in rural communities, the plant clinics will provide an alternative source for pest management advice to help reduce a crop losses; a task which is mainly serviced by agrochemical dealers.
In collaboration with Institute of Plant Protect, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IPP-CAAS), local partners from Xing’an Plant Protection Station (XAPPS) and Beijing Plant Protection Station (BPPS), 27 extension workers were specially trained on pest diagnosis practices and IPM solutions. Having graduated as professional plant doctors to run plant clinics in local communities, the launch provided new plant doctors with the opportunity to put their training into practice.
Peng Haomin, Head of XAPPS, strongly believes the plant clinics will reduce the misuse of chemical pesticides. He pointed out that for many farmers, agrochemicals dealers are their first and only source of advice on pest problems. Responding to the farmers' sense of urgency the dealers will usually recommend fast-acting chemicals, some of which are highly toxic.
Gu Peiyun, a plant doctor in Yanqing district of Beijing, showed how Plantwise will encourage a more sustainable approach: “When I give a recommendation to a farmer, unlike the agrochemical dealers, I consider the environmentally friendly control methods, such as cultural control, biological control, and physical control, to have the highest priority.”
With financial support from MoA and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and after the successful launch of China’s first Plant clinic, Plantwise have helped to set up four plant clinics in China and will complete another five by the end of June.