Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), a not-for-profit inter-governmental development and information organization, has devised an e-learning course that will enable farmers to gain skills and methodologies required for the field-based diagnosis of pests and diseases.
The practical e-learning course dubbed, PestSmart is the first in a series of new and unique e-learning courses based on training developed for the award-winning Plantwise agricultural programme aimed at farmers in developing countries.
It promises to benefit the way businesses in the food supply chain manage plant health problems to grow more and better produce.
The course is unique in two ways: it is the first plant health e-learning product of its kind on the market and is a rare example of a proven innovation from the aid sector being developed into a commercial product.
CABI is a not-for-profit organisation, so the profits made from PestSmart will be reinvested into the Plantwise programme – making it more sustainable and ultimately helping farmers both in developed and developing countries.
The knowledge learnt in the course gives farmers and agronomists the skills needed to identify new and emerging threats to their crops, reducing risks to the food supply chain and improving productivity.
Plantwise is a CABI-led aid programme that helps farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America lose less of what they grow to plant health problems by establishing and supporting plant clinics, where farmers receive practical agricultural advice.
“We’re delighted to launch PestSmart. So often we hear about commercial innovation trickling down into developing countries. Here, we’ve taken a highly successful international development programme and adapted it for the commercial sector. This ‘reverse innovation’ approach shows how agricultural knowledge in developing countries can be applied and distributed to developed markets.” Said Carol McNamara, CABI’s Chief Commercial Officer.
PestSmart’s eLearning element is designed to be completed on a desktop PC but is viewable on Android and Apple mobile devices. There are three elements to the PestSmart package: an eLearning course, a field guide and a simulator app with 3D render of diseased crops.