Rapid responses to new plant diseases: the use of going public to monitor the spread of Xanthomonas wilt and control Napier grass stunt in East Africa.
Since 2002, the Global Plant Clinic (GPC), Surrey, UK, has strengthened plant health advisory services for smallholders through the initiation of plant health clinics. These started in Bolivia in 2003 and regular schemes now exist in ten countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The clinics aim to: improve diagnosis of plant health problems; provide regular and reliable advice on control; and strengthen community-based plant disease surveillance. In 2003 the GPC confirmed outbreaks of two new serious and spreading diseases: Xanthomonas wilt in banana (Musa spp.) in Uganda and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) stunt in Kenya. However, plant health clinics were not established in Uganda until 2006 and only pilot clinics have been held in Kenya. Two one-week-long Going Public exercises, an extension method which helped give rise to plant clinics, were held to see if Xanthomonas wilt had reached the Southwest region of Uganda (2004) and to help farmers recognize and control Napier grass stunt in Kenya (2005). Over 1,500 people were reached by the two campaigns. Going Public was subsequently used in both countries to share and gather information on both diseases and promote good advice.
Acta Horticulturae (2010) No. 879 pp. 705-716. International Conference on Banana and Plantain in Africa: Harnessing International Partnerships to Increase Research Impact, Mombasa, Kenya.