Plant clinics: Prescriptions for crop protection
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CTA. 1987. Plant clinics: Prescriptions for crop protection. Spore 11. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44736
seminar in Feldafing, Germany, in June 1987
Agricultural extension workers often spend considerable time responding to questions dealing with crop protection. In an effort to improve such services, the German Foundation for International Development (DSE) organized a seminar in Feldafing in June 1987 in collaboration with the FAO and CTA. An encouraging trend in developing countries is the increasing level of technical- knowledge of local producers. If continued, this could help reduce the time that extension services spend answering such questions, thereby enabling them to concentrate their efforts on the diseases and pests in their regions. This is important as crop protection services must be able to anticipate such attacks so that they can quickly identify the problem and thus advise farmers on the best ways of dealing with it. This also means that the knowledge available in national research centres must be decentralized in a comprehensible manner. Acting as an intermediary between research centres and national agencies on the one hand and local extension workers and farmers on the other, is the main role of 'plant clinics'. Such facilities provide three main functions: correct diagnosis of the problem and prescription of the treatment training of local extension workers; and experimentation under local conditions. The most important task remains the diagnosis and prescription, for which clinics must have adequate personnel and equipment. Once the problem is identified, even more experience is required to judge the risks involved and thus the protection measures that can be justified. The resulting recommendations must also be expressed in a clear and practical manner so that extension workers will be able to select those most appropriate to local conditions. Finally, the clinics must be able to provide national research centres with details on the outbreaks of such problems and the effectiveness of the measures that were used. It is important that all of this information be stored in a databank that can then be used to provide an overview of the crop protection status of an entire region and to prepare surveys of the situation. This will improve the ability to alert extension workers of impending risks in order to be able to intervene quickly with the farmers concerned. In order for clinic staff to train extension workers, they themselves need specialized training that must be continually updated. Apart from having the required technical knowledge, such staff must also be good communicators. They need to adapt their training programmes to local conditions and be able to work equally well in the field and in the classroom. An easy, practical way to help extension workers is to prepare samples showing the main pests, their natural enemies, and the symptoms that infected plants develop. Other means to identify diseases and insects, including technical factsheets, photographs and kits, must also be used whenever possible. If research is not the principal role of plant clinics, they must be involved in decisions about which problems should receive priority for such attention. The proceedings of this seminar will be published in the FAO Phytosanitation Bulletin. For more details, contact: FAO Via della Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome Italy