Listening to the Silent Patient: Uganda’s journey towards institutionalizing inclusive plant health services
Published: June, 2015
Book, Working paper
This working paper is based on a timely study carried out in 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, an effort by the United Nations to highlight the potential family farmers have to eradicate hunger, preserve natural resources and promote sustainable development. Every year, farmers in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from unacceptable levels of crop loss as a result of plant health problems, threatening their food security, income and livelihoods. Crop diseases continue to emerge and at the same time there is a persistent threat of known problems. Pests and diseases can flare up unpredictably, yet there often is no mechanism for responding quickly. And indeed, plants cannot speak for themselves. They are silent patients. Farmers routinely have to make vital decisions in response to unpredictable conditions and unknown risks. One way to help farmers achieve this is by providing them with the information and knowledge that they need through a well-functioning extension system.
This working paper is the end result of a series of workshops and studies that have been taking place in Uganda over the past year to examine the Plantwise approach in that country. As will be seen in the introductory chapter, Uganda is an interesting place to carry out such work as it has a decade-long history of CABI involvement and has led, with a number of Latin American countries, the piloting of many activities. This long history has led to a wealth of experience, thoughts and ideas about what is working and what is not. These opinions, voiced not only by those running the programme, but also by plant doctors, local government staff, local partners and farmers form the basis of this working paper. Their experiences and ideas have led the authors to the conclusions they have reached, based not on theoretical findings, but on the realities on the ground.