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Two Oxfordshire organisations help remote farmers with app for crop troubles

PUBLISHED: 11:27 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:27 25 March 2014

Plant Doctor Beatrice Njero tries out the new CABI Plantwise app at Embu Market plant clinic in Kenya / Photo Holly Wright, CABI

Plant Doctor Beatrice Njero tries out the new CABI Plantwise app at Embu Market plant clinic in Kenya / Photo Holly Wright, CABI


Global agricultural not-for-profit organisation CABI, which has its HQ in Wallingford, along with Oxford based White October has commissioned an app, to help farmers in remote locations get help with plant troubles.

Plantwise, in partnership with Oxford-based White October, has launched an app that helps to improve world food security and the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries and remote locations. The Plantwise ‘Factsheets library’ is an Android app designed to be very effective on low cost tablets making knowledge on pests accessible anywhere.

The firm has developed the new Plantwise mobile app ‘Factsheets library,’ which gives plant specialists the knowledge and connectivity they need to advise farmers on handling pest problems with their crops. Farmers in rural areas who lack resources and knowledge on pests are often faced with devastating yield losses.

CABI’s Plantwise programme works to improve food security in many ways, such as helping countries provide best-practice advice directly to farmers to safely manage crop problems and to secure food and income for their families. Working with national partners in over 30 countries, networks of plant clinics are established, whereby plant doctors offer free plant health expertise and practical advice in dealing with pests.

When fully rolled out, this app will act as an additional way to access the online and downloadable resources of the Plantwise knowledge bank, a global gateway to factsheets on many types of plant problems, which has been used by plant specialists as their ‘Knowledge Bible’ for years. The Plantwise app gives plant doctors everything they need to diagnose and make recommendations with easy, instant access offline, enabling them to consult scientific facts, images and best practices. This ensures that the advice they give to farmers is well informed and up-to-date. The app also delivers valuable usage statistics back to CABI to help with ongoing product and service development. A pilot programme for the Plantwise app on low cost Lenovo A3000 tablets is now underway in Kenya.

“It’s in my pocket, it’s like a mobile office, so anytime you need a service from me…I just deliver – immediately!” says plant doctor Daniel Kamaru at the Mbogoni plant clinic in Meru, Kenya.

“Plantwise knowledge bank has been working since its inception to close the gap between scientific research on pests and the farmers who need this information,” says Plantwise Knowledge Bank Head of Technical Solutions, Tim Holmes. “This app puts the information in the hands of anyone with a smartphone, and that number is growing all the time.” Following a phase of refinements and further testing, it will be rolled out across Kenya and other countries worldwide.

CABI is a worldwide not-for-profit organisation which offers scientific expertise, advice and resources to help solve problems in agriculture and the environment. The Plantwise programme is a global initiative to increase food security and improve rural livelihoods by reducing crop losses. Working in close partnership with key actors, Plantwise strengthens national plant health systems from within, enabling countries to provide farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less and feed more. This is achieved by establishing sustainable networks of local plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice. Plant clinics are reinforced by the Plantwise knowledge bank, a gateway to online and offline actionable plant health information, including diagnostic resources, pest management advice and front-line pest data for effective global vigilance.

At any one time CABI is working in more than 70 countries. We have centres in Brazil, China, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

White October takes a lean approach to creating websites and mobile applications for innovative companies. The team is known for its unique development process which conserves budgets and delivers measurable success. Recent projects include an award-winning budget simulator for Lambeth Library and an online customer loyalty mobile application for Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

Call +44 1865 920707, visit or follow @whiteoctober on Twitter.


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