New global plant health resource to improve food security
Press release, 26 July 2011
From the devastating Coffee Wilt Disease to the infectious Wheat Stripe Rust: for the first time ever, distribution maps, diagnostic support and treatment advice for thousands of the world’s most damaging pests and diseases of plants and crops are being made available free of charge on the new Plantwise website, www.plantwise.org, launched today.
The Plantwise website contains a fully working prototype of the world’s only global “knowledge bank” of information about plant health. Users will be able to find out more about the Plantwise network of plant clinics and the farmers they are helping, use the online diagnostic support tool, and view distribution maps of more than 2500 pests and diseases.
The website is part of a major programme led by science-based development organization CABI to improve food security and the lives of the rural poor by linking scientific research about plant health directly with farmers in the field. The aim is to deliver actionable knowledge that will enable farmers to reduce their losses and increase their yields. Plantwise has already received funding of $11 million from the UK and Swiss governments and is accelerating the establishment of networks of plant clinics, which are the means both of delivering plant health knowledge to farmers, and of collecting intelligence about the occurrence of new pests and diseases. There are now plant clinic programmes running in 14 countries and pilots running in 5 more.
“It is estimated that as much as 40% of what we grow is lost to pests and diseases,” said Dr Shaun Hobbs, Director, Plantwise Knowledge Bank, CABI. “New threats are constantly emerging, and everyone involved with plant health, from scientists and policymakers to the farmers on the ground, needs to have access to the best information on plant pests and diseases, so that we can stay on top of their control and eradication. We hope that as many people as possible who are involved with plant health will review the resources on www.plantwise.org and let us know if anything is missing and what we can improve. If we all work together, we believe that Plantwise can have a huge impact on the lives of some of the poorest farmers in the world, and those working to help them.”