Sivapragasam, A., Jeremy Ngim and Low Ying Chiang
CABI South East Asia, Serdang, Malaysia
The CABI Plantwise training for plant doctors kicked off on the 7th May, 2013 in Thailand. The training is an activity in the PLANTWISE (PW) program, a new innovative platform for promoting crop health and sustainable plant protection services to gear up capacities in pest and disease diagnosis. Twenty-four (24) participants from ten Rice Research Centers participated in the plant doctors’ training using course materials modified for rice. Ms Josie Lynn Catindig and Bong Villareal of IRRI made the modifications and were resource persons in the training. The pilot project was initiated in May 2012 and is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The training, jointly organized by CABI, IRRI and the Rice Department of Thailand, was conducted at the Pathum Thani Rice Research Center on May 7-11, 2013.
Dr. Poonsak Mekwatanakarn, the National Coordinator for the Thailand Plantwise project, welcomed the participants and mentioned that the two main objectives of the training are to help farmers make better pest management decisions through plant clinics and to increase farmer’s incomes by reducing rice crop losses and using pesticides properly. Mr. Kukiat Soitong, representing the Rice Department Director General welcomed the program as it will strengthen Thai rice experts in pest diagnostic skills. Furthermore, he mentioned that the training and the establishment of the Plantwise-based plant clinics will complement the 3 mobile clinics in North, Northeast, and Central Thailand.
Dr. Sivapragasam, the CABI Coordinator for Plantwise in Thailand underscored CABI’s role in improving the livelihoods of farmers and the objectives of the training. The training is composed of classroom presentations, field, greenhouse and laboratory exercises. The training of rice doctors consists of 4 modules, Module 1 is about field diagnosis and operations of clinics and Module 2 deals on plant health and the art of giving advices. It specifically discusses management options like the use of chemical and natural enemies. Modules 3 and 4 will be conducted later in the year.