Valli Kupuswamy India

How plant clinics help farmers reduce crop losses due to pests and diseases

"The plant clinic helps not only me, but all the farmers."

Valli Kupuswamy is a widow from Puducherry, India, with two daughters and one acre of land where she grows rice. After a cyclone, Valli noticed that four to six rows of her rice crop were turning yellow. Even after she performed a few rounds of weeding, the yellowing continued to spread, until her entire field was completely destroyed. “I was lost,” Valli recalls. “I did not have enough food to take home to my family.”

Valli had heard about plant clinics in her area and decided to visit for advice. When she came to the clinic, the plant doctors inspected the sample of paddy crop she had plucked and told her it was rice leaf folder pest (Cnaphalocrocis medinalis). This is the caterpillar of a moth that folds the rice leaf around itself and feeds inside the tube. It can affect all stages of rice growth. The plant doctors prescribed a simple and safe treatment to stop the pest from destroying her crop. “When I heard their advice, I gained the confidence to continue growing my crops,” Valli says. “I obtained knowledge.”

CABI’s Plantwise programme is changing the story for smallholder farmers like Valli, providing the right advice at the right time. “The plant clinic helps not only me, but all the farmers,” she says.

By equipping farmers with the skills they need, Plantwise is empowering communities to make lasting change from within. Since its launch in 2011, Plantwise has supported over 30 million smallholder farmers across the world with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow to pests and diseases, thereby increasing food security and improving rural livelihoods.