Plant clinic in Kenya

The CABI-led Plantwise programme, which has helped millions of smallholder farmers realise a 12-30% increase in crop-based activity and income, has won the IPM Team/Group category at the 2021 International IPM Achievement Awards.

Judges were impressed with the impact of the Plantwise programme – launched in 2011 – which has supported over 44 million farmers around the world with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow to pests and diseases, thereby increasing food security and improving rural livelihoods.

Plantwise operates in over 30 countries across Africa, Asia, South/Central America and the Caribbean. Through its network of plant clinics, plant health rallies, mass extension campaigns and farmer-to-farmer sharing of information, Plantwise has helped bring about a 5% reduction in the likelihood of a household falling below the poverty line of USD$1.25 a day.

The 10th International IPM Achievement Awards, which also include a Lifetime Achievement and IPM Practitioner, Non-Academic categories, are held to recognize people who have made outstanding achievements in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) adoption, implementation and sustainability.

Scientists discuss various plant diseases with local farmers as they attend ‘plant clinics’ in Mangalam village outside of Pondicherry, India. Photo: Sanjit Das/Panos

Dr Washington Otieno, Plantwise Programme Executive, said, “We are delighted to have won this award which is not just a testament to the hard work of the team – including over 175 local implementing partners – but also to the successful engagement of farmers themselves with whom the programme serves to help.

“While there are other projects that just push information out to farmers, and still others that just collect data, Plantwise’s key innovation is this cyclical flow of information – with the net result that everyone – from researchers and governments, and most importantly the smallholder farmers – benefits from improved scientific information and knowledge for life.”

The award winners had their entries evaluated based on the USDA NIFA IPM Roadmap which was developed in 2002 and revised in 2018 by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) and its stakeholders. It provides direction for people who specialize in IPM through research, use of new technology and measurement of success in management of all types of pests.

Plantwise, along with the other winners, will now have the opportunity to attend the award ceremony at the 10th International IPM Symposium: Implementing IPM across Borders and Disciplines in Denver, USA, between 28 February to 3 March 2022, where the team will present the story of the programme’s success.

The IPM Symposium Steering Committee decided to postpone the 2021 symposium due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more about the achievements of the Plantwise programme from the Plantwise Impact Report 2011-2018 as well as the Evaluation of Plantwise and Action on Invasives report 2020 which was recently commissioned by CABI on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Additional information

Main image: Plant doctors at a plant clinic in Kenya (Credit: CABI).

Awards citation

Plantwise – Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) will receive the International IPM Award of Excellence (IPM Team). Launched in 2011, the Plantwise program works by establishing networks of local plant clinics, where farmers can get safe and reliable agricultural advice from local/national government extension staff trained as plant doctors. This is reinforced by the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, an open access gateway to actionable plant health information, including diagnostic resources, pest management advice and front-line pest data. The changes in farmers’ pesticide use and behavior with regard to pest management practices, is among the greatest successes for the program, particularly given that these practices are deep-rooted in the minds of most farmers. Plantwise countries have reported up to 60% increase in the use of nonchemical practices. Some of these changes are evidenced by reduced pesticide use, decreased use of the most toxic chemicals, use of more efficient products and application methods rather than mixing random pesticides and increase in safer alternatives, and improved use of PPE.

About Plantwise

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.

Plantwise is funded by international donors who also provide insight and guidance on the programme. Donors include the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the European Commission DG DEVCO, the Directorate General for International Cooperation (Netherlands), Irish Aid, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA, People’s Republic of China).