Plant health clinics in Bolivia 2000—2009: operations and preliminary results

Abstract

Smallholder farmers need information on plant diseases. Ten plant health clinics (Postas para Plantas) evolved in Bolivia after 2000 and are still operating due to the efforts of three local institutions. The plant clinics receive any problem, on any crop, and give written and verbal recommendations, immediately if possible. Many clinics are held at weekly farm fairs, where villagers from many surrounding communities can seek help. The clinic staff write fact sheets for farmers on common problems. From 2000 to early 2009 the clinics received more than 9000 queries on over 100 crops with potato comprising two thirds of the queries, followed by peach, tomato and broad bean. Potato tuber moth and potato weevil were by far the most dominant plant health problems in the high Andes, but not in lowland areas. The diversity of crops and problems are a big challenge to the clinic staff. With basic training and practical experience they learn to diagnose most problems. However, they need access to expert support to solve some of the more difficult problems and improve the quality of advice. Preliminary results show cases of poverty alleviation, reduction in pesticide abuse, increased harvests and other benefits. The plant health clinics in Bolivia enabled extension and research to reach more farmers with a timely low-cost service.

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Acknowledgements

The plant health clinics in Bolivia receive advice and some funding from the GPC, which is managed by CABI in alliance with Rothamsted Research and the Food and Environment Research Agency (previously CSL), and supported by the UK Department for International Development. This support is gratefully acknowledged, although the usual disclaimers apply. The plant health clinics are operated by PROINPA, CIAT and UMSS and we thank Ernesto Montellano, Andrea Porco, Carlos Osinaga, Sandra Muñoz, Dionisio Sosa, Alberto Gutiérrez, Gladys Main for their contributions. Phil Jones, Yaima Arocha, Rob Reeder, Paula Kelly, Yaima Arocha, Jim Waller, Julian Smith, John Bridge and Nigel Harrison are thanked for training and technical support. Two anonymous reviewers for Food Security made helpful comments on a previous version.

Conflict of interest

Eric Boa is head of the Global Plant Clinic and is employed at CABI. Jeff Bentley and Solveig Danielsen are CABI associates, and work on a part-time consulting basis for the GPC.

Pablo Franco, Olivia Antezana, Henry Rodríguez and Bertho Villarroel are employed at CIAT and are actively engaged in managing plant clinics there. Jhon Ferrufino now works for the prefecture of Santa Cruz and operates the plant clinic in Los Negros.

Javier Franco, René Pereira, Jaime Herbas and Oscar Díaz are employed at PROINPA and are actively engaged in managing plant clinics there.

Vladimir Lino is employed at PROINPA and has supported the plant clinics at CIAT.

Juan Villarroel is dean of the Agricultural College (Facultad de Agronomía) at UMSS, and oversees the UMSS plant clinic. Fredy Almendras and Saúl Colque manage the UMSS plant clinic.

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Correspondence to Eric Boa.

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Bentley, J.W., Boa, E., Danielsen, S. et al. Plant health clinics in Bolivia 2000—2009: operations and preliminary results. Food Sec. 1, 371–386 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-009-0033-z

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Keywords

  • Plant health clinics
  • Bolivia
  • National plant healthcare systems
  • Research/extension links
  • Global plant clinic