26 February 2015 – Over 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide provide food for two-thirds of the earths growing population. These farmers, and the major challenges they face due to crop health problems, will be the focus of a new interactive exhibit to be launched by the CABI-led Plantwise programme at the Swiss Pavilion during Expo Milano 2015.
The universal expo, occurring once every 5 years and opening its doors May 1st, will welcome an estimated 20 million visitors with the theme Feeding the planet: Energy for Life. Switzerland, along with 145 countries and international organizations, including 22 UN agencies, will highlight both private and publically-funded contributions to global food security and the goal of reaching a world free of hunger and malnutrition to which smallholders contribute. Switzerland wishes to present itself at Expo Milano 2015 as an attractive country, which values the principle of solidarity and which is committed to responsible policies in the area of food and nutrition. The Plantwise exhibit, featuring the 3- minute farmer free mobile app game developed by Geneva-based Swiss Tomato, will give visitors a view of the challenges producing food before it reaches supermarket shelves – the stories of smallholder farmers and their fight against crop health problems.
Currently 30-40% of crops worldwide are lost to pests, threatening local, national and global food security. Reducing this loss by just 1% could feed millions more people. Since its launch in 2010, Plantwise has provided an innovative approach to agricultural development, working with national partners- over 168 and counting- to better manage plant health and support farmers to lose less and feed more. Plantwise works with governments to set up plant clinics, like those for human health, where trained plant doctors provide farmers with practical diagnosis and advice to prevent crop loss. Supporting this network of plant clinics, the Plantwise knowledge bank ensures an online and offline gateway to diagnostic services, pest tracking, and best-practice farmer recommendations specific to every country.
Plantwise and its partners in over 34 countries are building sustainable networks of farmer support, now with over 1,000 plant clinics running in markets and rural village centres. With these resources, Plantwise has reached over 600,000 farmers and aims to reach more than 30 million by 2020 with knowledge to fight pests.
The Milan Expo exhibit will highlight to visitors how international development programmes like Plantwise, through the support of the Swiss Confederation and other funding partners, are providing solutions for farmers to manage plant health challenges through timely, science-based knowledge. By stepping into the shoes of a farmer for a moment, visitors will help a plant doctor in the interactive game to diagnose an infected plant. Each time players save their crop, they earn food security points to achieve goals like paying schools fees for their children and building additions on their homes.
Visitors to the Swiss Pavilion will experience virtual plant clinics first hand. The free Plantwise game will be available April 16 on the Swiss Pavilion website, www.padiglionesvizzero.ch, for all mobile devices and as a web-based game, so people around the world can play and experience a few moments as a smallholder farmer helping to feed the future.
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