Tune in to the Cassava show

Farmer listening group; photo David Onyango, CABI

Last week in the Nkhotakota region of Malawi a new radio show went on air. Not a news programme or a music show, but a show devoted to Cassava. Sounds pretty specific? Well, it’s even more focussed than that. The weekly 30 minute programme is actually focussed on managing one of Cassava’s most damaging diseases – Cassava mosaic disease.

For Nkhotakota’s farmers, Cassava is one of two staple food crops they grow, so it’s pretty important to their food security. And Cassava mosaic disease causes extensive crop losses so is a priority to manage.

This region has a population of over 250,000, so reaching everyone through traditional extension methods is challenging. This is why Plantwise is working in partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture-Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES) and Farm Radio Trust to see whether radio can help change the way farmers manage this disease on their farms.

Over a period of 4 months, the ‘Cassava show’ will be on the Nkhotakota community radio station weekly, with a repeat every week. Using a variety of show formats (farmer interviews to panel discussion) farmers can learn how to recognise Cassava mosaic disease, the effects of the disease on the plant, and how they can prevent and manage it on their farms. Farmers will be able to call in to some shows and ask questions, while for others they can text (at no cost themselves) to give a view on a subject.

Participatory Research involving farmers into existing knowledge and practices has informed the planning of the programmes and the messages they will communicate. For example we know that 32% of farmers surveyed believe that Cassava mosaic disease can be controlled by a pesticide which is a misconception. This understanding helps the team decide which perceptions need to be discussed and addressed and what new knowledge is needed.

‘So’, you may be asking ‘how can Cassava mosaic disease be managed?’ Well, the answers that will come out of the radio shows focus around uprooting plants that show signs of the disease and the use of tolerant seed varieties.

Together with Farm Radio Trust and the Department of Agricultural Extension Services, the Plantwise team will be tracking the activities over the coming months to assess the actual reach of the messages (working out how many people listen to radio programmes is a challenge!), whether farmers are more aware of the disease as a result and if they are changing their planting behaviour.

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (19 Oct 16)

Drimys winteri © Hedwig Storch (Own work)
Drimys winteri © Hedwig Storch (Own work)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include descriptions of two new species from the subfamily Greenideinae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) from Laos, a report on Megachile leaf-cutter and resin bees of Singapore and a report on the host plant of Cercophana frauenfeldii (Felder) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) in Magallanes, Chile.

Continue reading

A greater role for educational animation in extension?

Blog contributed by Nick Quist Nathaniels, Independent Consultant, Denmark

A freeze-frame animation showing a mouldy groundnut kernel © CCRP/ McKnight Foundation’
A freeze-frame from animation showing a mouldy groundnut kernel © CCRP/ McKnight Foundation

Computer animations are a rather special and exciting communication medium. For example, they can be used to illustrate the basic biology of pests and diseases and explain control measures. Animations are also an effective way to show changes that occur over a long time or at the landscape, watershed or even the global level. A combination of animation with spoken explanations can make such phenomena much easier to grasp. Being able to ‘see’ the phenomenon helps viewers imagine why individual or collaborative actions may be needed to address otherwise hidden problems. Continue reading

Our favourite recipes – Ghana

Recipe courtesy of Hannah Serwaa Numah

Following Claire’s series of posts on ‘making the most of the Plantwise knowledge bank’, I’d now like to introduce our next mini-series, which asks our country partners for their favourite recipes using top crops brought into plant clinics in their countries, so we can share them with you! Our first recipe comes from Hannah Serwaa Numah, who is the National Data Manager for Ghana. She tells us how to cook okro stew and akple, which is a traditional Ghanaian dish made from dried corn flour.

Continue reading

Plantwise: connecting smallholders to knowledge through ICT interventions

Plant doctor showing a specimen on his screen through a USB microscope in Balkheda plant clinic. Photo: MSSRF
Plant doctor showing a specimen through a USB microscope in Balkheda plant clinic. Photo courtesy: MSSRF

The emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the last decade has opened new avenues in knowledge management that could play important roles in meeting the prevailing challenges related to sharing, exchanging and disseminating knowledge and technologies. The types of ICT-enabled services are capable of improving the capacity and livelihoods of poor smallholders are growing quickly.

Continue reading

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (05 Oct 16)

Nilambur Teak Plantation © Vengolis (Own work)
Nilambur Teak Plantation © Vengolis (Own work)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include a record of Yamatochaitophorus yichunensis, a new species of aphid from northeast China, a report on Rust (Olivea neotectonae) occurrence on teak plants in Sergipe, Brazil and a new record of a genus and two species of whiteflies (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) from India.

Continue reading

Kenyan farmers keen to learn more about pest and disease management at agri trade fair

Image by Rose Kamau

Plantwise Kenya held a demonstration plant clinic at the University of Eldoret Agribusiness Trade Fair, held on the university’s campus from 22-25 September. The fair, which has been an annual highlight in western Kenya for the past 11 years, saw around 30,000 visitors exploring over 200 exhibits.

Continue reading