09 February 2024, New Delhi: The CABI Academy – which brings together CABI’s expertise in crop health, agricultural advisory services, and digital development – is now making free courses on crop pest diagnosis and management available in India.
Students, teachers and trainers in agricultural education institutions and the workplace can now access at no charge the online Crop Pest Diagnosis and Crop Pest Management learning programmes as part of the PlantwisePlus programme.
PlantwisePlus is a global programme working to increase incomes and grow safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production. The programme strengthens national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more.
Understanding of the hands-on skills needed
Students on the courses will gain an understanding of the hands-on skills needed for field-based diagnosis of plant pests and diseases and ways to manage them. It is based on CABI’s established methodology for diagnosis, used by thousands of Plant Doctors all over the world.
Such crop pests include the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) which arrived in India in 2018 – heralding a new era of challenges for the agricultural landscape in the country. A highly invasive pest, notorious for its capacity to inflict extensive damage to crops worldwide, the fall armyworm spread across the India subcontinent, infiltrating maize farms in 20 states.
And the ripple effects of fall armyworm extend beyond a threat to India’s annual production of 20 million tonnes of maize, as it has demonstrated a voracious appetite for over 350 plant species, including rice, sugarcane, beet, potato, cotton, and grassland.
Meanwhile, an example of crop diseases which affect crops in India include Turcicum leaf blight on maize that has been detected in states and territories such as Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, and West Bengal.
Helping smallholder farmers increase their yields and livelihoods
Mark Berthelemy, CABI’s Digital Learning Manager, said, “The CABI Academy is delighted to be able to extend the reach of its two main online courses to India – thereby helping smallholder farmers increase their yields and livelihoods while helping to ensure greater food security.
“The move aligns with the five major goals within CABI’s Medium-Term Strategy 2023-2025 – particularly with regards to increasing the reach, application, and impact of science in agriculture and the environment.”
He said the benefits of taking the two courses include access to the materials online or by downloading via the platform’s mobile app, the ability to “dip-in” to the course and save progress and – after a certification assessment – gain a CABI Academy certificate.
The full list of countries with free access is Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia.
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