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 just 1%, 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.
Plantwise is a global programme led by CABI, which helps farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. Working closely with national agricultural advisory services, we have established a global plant clinic network, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice. Plant clinics work just like clinics for human health: farmers visit with samples of their crops, and plant doctors diagnose the problem and make science-based recommendations on ways to manage it.
The plant clinic network is reinforced by the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, a gateway to practical online and offline plant health information, including diagnostic resources, best-practice pest management advice and plant clinic data analysis for targeted crop protection. Together, these two unique resources are part of the Plantwise approach to strengthen national plant health systems. The stronger the national plant health system, the better equipped the country will be to help farmers provide a safe and sustainable food supply and improve their livelihoods.
The wider context
As well as helping farmers, Plantwise is strengthening national plant health systems by bringing together the many different people who play a role in delivering knowledge to farmers. These include extensionists, researchers, educators, policy makers, agricultural input suppliers, farmer organizations, NGOs and more. This is what we call plant health systems development, and it supports a country’s long-term sustainable agricultural production. We help stakeholders to build the knowledge, skills and linkages to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more. We also listen to and learn from these stakeholders through a continual process of monitoring and evaluation, feeding the insights they give us back into our program.