Do Plant Clinics Improve Household Food Security? Evidence from Rwanda
Published: July, 2020
One of the main drivers of food insecurity is pests, which are estimated to cause around 40% of crop losses worldwide. We examine the food security effects of plant clinics, a novel agricultural extension model that aims to reduce crop losses due to pests through the provision of demand-driven plant health diagnostic and advisory services to smallholder farmers. The study is based on survey data from maize-growing households in Rwanda, where 66 plant clinics have been established. Using switching regression and matching techniques as well as various food security metrics, including the food insecurity experience scale, we find evidence that participation in plant clinics is significantly associated with a reduction in household food insecurity. For instance, among the participating households, plant clinics contribute to a decrease in the period of food shortage by one month and a reduction in the severity of food insecurity by 22 percentage points. We also show that these effects are more pronounced for female-headed households. Overall, our findings suggest that plant clinics can play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of zero hunger.
Farmers’ crops are increasingly at the mercy of climate change, pests and diseases. PlantwisePlus will work to help countries predict, prepare for and prevent potential threats and reduce crop losses. We will provide comprehensive support to countries and farmers so they meet the increasing global demand for quality food in a changing climate.
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.