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Scientists roll out plan to fight chronic crop diseases

Plantwise, Kenya’s branch of the UK-headquartered Centre for Biosciences and Agriculture International (CABI), has rolled out a programme to collect data on chronic crop diseases in the country.

The programme which aims to develop a remedial plan will focus on 13 counties to reduce crop losses and increase food production.

Plantwise National coordinator James Wanjohi said 278 plant doctors have been trained and deployed to the 13 counties to collect data on the common diseases and pests, and to detect emerging infections.

Agriculture

Speaking in Embu town during a meeting with agriculture stakeholders, Mr Wanjohi said they were working closely with national agricultural advisory services to come up with a database where farmers can find practical plant health advice.

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“This data will be available to all stakeholders and will be shared with interested farmers. They will also be advised on how to access inputs to mitigate probable plant health problems. We will also be able to detect emerging infections so as to come up with remedial measures,” he said.

He said the government would open more centres in crop-growing counties and called on farmers to visit plant clinics to access information about plant health.

Plantwise operates in Embu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Elgeyo-Marakwet, West Pokot, Machakos, Bungoma, Kajiado, Narok, Tharaka Nithi, Siaya, Nakuru and Kiambu counties.

Control

Embu County Agriculture Chief Officer Francis Kathuri advised farmers to be on the alert to control probable crop pests and diseases caused by high amounts of rainfall.

He also called on farmers to plant quality and disease resistant seeds to reduce chances of infections.

“Report crop diseases and pests in time to extension and plantwise officers so that mitigation measures are taken in time,” he said.

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