1 May 2015 – Today, Plantwise opened the doors of its exhibition at the Swiss Pavillion of the Milan World Expo.  

In the first 10 days, pavilions of 140 countries and 22 UN departments will welcome over 1 million people from around the world, and anticipate 30 million before doors close 31 October. Guests experience the theme ‘Feeding the planet: Energy for Life’ in many ways- from the bee-hive inspired UK pavilion to the giant human net by Brazil, and of course a taste of many countries’ local produce and cuisine. But besides dining, shopping and taking in the design, visitors to this Expo are also asked to think about food differently, and more importantly, sustainably.

At the Swiss Pavilion, sustainabilty is key. Visitors can help themselves to Swiss products that are plentiful but not infinite: the message is clear that we are all responsible for ensuring food security. One exhibit at the Swiss Pavilion from non-profit organization CABI and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) links visitors to the start of the food chain- smallholder farmers – and how science-based solutions from the CABI-led Plantwise programme are helping farmers lose less and feed more. “Smallholder farmers need support,” said Markus Bürli, Deputy Head of the SDC Global Programme Food Security, a key funding partner for Plantwise. “They need to be able to use their very limited means to produce food in such a way that secures natural resources for future generations.”

Featuring vibrantly colored crop-themed gamespots and links to a new Plant Doctor Game app, the Plantwise exhibit is based on real life plant clinics helping advise farmers in 34 countries. Plantwise has reached nearly 2 million farmers, and with continuing support aims to reach 30 million farmers by 2020. Many of the innovative resources for plant doctors presented at the gamespots come from the Plantwise knowledge bank, a global online and offline gateway to plant health knowledge. Expo visitors are invited to play at the gamespots, spinning the wheel of images  to answer questions, find clues about this critical issue, and link to the online app game.

In the Plant Doctor Game, available worldwide for Android and iphone devices, we meet farmers who grow some of the world’s favorite crops like cocoa, tomato and maize, help the plant on the farm, and visit the plant doctor to fight off dangerous pests. Each time a player saves a crop, they gain virtual ‘food security points’ to buy seeds, livestock, schooling for their children as examples of the benefits for improved plant health.

“My uncle is an organic strawberry grower, so I can relate to these issues,” says one German visitor to the Plantwise gamespot at the Swiss Pavilion. “He would definitely want to know about this and see how maybe it can affect his work.” 

In addition to the exhibit, a video capturing the story of one cocoa farmer, Phu from Vietnam, plays throughout the Expo days at a chocolate-making workshop. Before participants begin the chocolate making process they see how farmers like Phu who overcome cocoa pests and diseases with help of experts at their local plant clinics.

A special ceremony to inaugurate the exhibit was held at SDC headquarters in Bern, Switzerland, marking the launch of this unique and interactive approach to food security.

Millions of visitors will come to the Expo in the coming months to share food experiences from around the world brought to one place. Through the Plantwise exhibit and game app, everyone in Milan or at home can be part of the Expo, and take a glimpse into the world of smallholders farmers helping to feed the future.

For all our latest news, click here.