Reaching for the low hanging fruits: One health benefits of joint crop–livestock services for small-scale farmers
Published: February, 2019
The benefits of joint health service delivery remain under-explored in One Health. Plant clinics are known to provide ad hoc, undocumented advice on animal health and production to farmers. To understand the scope of this activity, 180 plant doctors (extension workers) in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Peru and Costa Rica were surveyed and a workshop involving key stakeholders was organized in Uganda. Most (81%) plant doctors regularly received queries from farmers on livestock topics. This shows that the single sectoral approach to service delivery often does not match small-scale farmers’ needs. There is growing interest among service providers, ministry officials and researchers to improve integration of farmer services to reduce operational costs and make better use of existing capacities. The workshop supported the proposal for the first ‘crop-livestock clinics’ to be trialled and evaluated in Uganda. This will inform other countries on the potential of joint services to mixed crop-livestock farming communities.
Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.