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Launch of ePlant Clinics in Nepal by Plant Protection Directorate and CABI-Plantwise

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Plantwise is a global programme led by CABI, which works to help farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. CABI in Nepal works closely with Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) of Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agricultural Development, Government of Nepal to implement Plantwise programme for strengthening the National plant health system by establishing and supporting sustainable networks of plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice. CABI and PPD entered into agreement in 2013 and since then clinics have been established in 45 Districts of Nepal. The programme is evolving in the country with better acceptance by national authorities and 2017 sees the launch of an exciting new development with the start of ICT intervention to revolutionize the national extension system and aid quick transfer of information to farmers via text messages of recommendation advice on their mobile phones. This intervention for the country is funded by the Centre for Applied Crop Science (CACS), UK Government. The ICT intervention started with the trainings for establishing e-plant clinic pilot in Nepal from 7 March 2017.  The training-cum-workshop was inaugurated in Kathmandu by Dr.SurojPokharel, Secretary,Ministry of Agricultural Development. The inauguration function was chaired by Sh. Dila Ram Bhandari, Director General, Department of Agriculture. In its first phase, about 22 experienced plant doctors, were provided hands on training to operate the e-plant clinics. Introduction and benefits of ePlant Clinics in extension system was presented by Dr.Dilli Ram Sharma, Program Director, PPD and Dr. Vinod Pandit, CABI Country Coordinator for Nepal. The facilitation of this training cum workshop was done by Dr. Claire Beverley and Dr.Manju Thakur, Knowledge Bank (KB) team of CABI. After successful completion of 1st phase of training,the qualified Plant doctors were awarded certificates by Program Director of PPD. The second phase started on March 10 at Pokhara of district Kaski wherein further 20 plant doctors are being given the same level of training. It is envisaged that these trained plant doctors will cover about 45 districts in Nepal and serve the smallholder farming community of the country with locally-relevant, readily accessible information on pests and diseases on their crops.  

 

Plant doctors mentioned that tablet-based clinics will help them in reaching a greater number of farmers backed with more scientific information delivered through aid of different KB tools.

Plant doctors learnt:

 

  1. how electronic data collection and submission can make it easier to maintain data about crops and pests in the area
  2. how to use the Plantwise factsheets library app and internet to access information resources during their clinics
  3. how to communicate with other plant doctors and local diagnostic experts using a messaging app
  4. how to ensure that farmers receive good advice in a written recommendation, in a language and format (either SMS or paper) as chosen by the farmer.

 

By using tablets, pest surveillance in the country will be easier and data can be quickly submitted to a secure central database and analysed quickly, benefitting stakeholders in the plant health system. This will also help to track the distribution of pests, monitor the quality of advice given to farmers and use the information to improve the service offered by the plant doctors at their clinics.