An external evaluation report, recently commissioned by CABI on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been published. The report describes the independent evaluation of the CABI-led Plantwise and Action on Invasives programmes that both aim at increasing agricultural production and farmers’ incomes impacted by crop pests and invasive species.
Plantwise is a multi-country and multi-donor programme (launched in 2011) to strengthen national plant health systems through improved stakeholder linkages in developing countries. The Action on Invasives programme (launched in 2017) strengthens national and regional resilience to the threat of invasive organisms to agriculture and its natural resource base.
The study, compiled by researchers at the Royal Tropical Institute in The Netherlands, suggests that the experiences of Plantwise and Action on Invasives form a good basis to develop CABI’s new Plantwise+ programme – with more comprehensive services for millions of smallholder farmers around the world – and provides recommendations for the future.
Meanwhile, stakeholders also shared their appreciation of Plantwise and Action on Invasives with the most pleasing component being the capacity building (technical expertise), followed by the ability to detect and respond to pests and diseases, and the subsequent benefits for farmers.
In addition, the Plantwise and Action on Invasives programmes resulted in a wide range of fact sheets and pest management decision guides being developed as well as field-level data on crop pests and diseases which were collected through the Plantwise Online Management System (POMS).
The Action on Invasives programme, the study states, built on the infrastructure created by Plantwise. Its activities resulted in: stakeholder engagement to inform policies and strategies on invasive species and guidelines for the registration of biopesticides and microbials.
Other benefits included the identification of best practice solutions for invasive species; community campaigns (reaching 6.6 million people in five countries) and area-wide management of Fall armyworm in Kenya; and the redevelopment of Invasive Species Compendium and development of the Horizon Scanning Tool and Pest Risk Analysis Tool.
Report author Dr Thomas van Mourik said, “Plantwise positively contributed to the extension and research component of the plant health systems. However, more efforts can be made through Plantwise+ to feed the knowledge back into tertiary education.”
The report proposed three main recommendations.
The first recommendation of the KIT team suggests implementation of Plantwise+ in two phases, with the first phase to graduate successful Plantwise and Action on Invasives countries, and pilot the new programme in a few countries, representing diverse settings, including fragile states. In the second phase, the programme can be rolled out in more countries, using the insights obtained from the pilot and successfully graduated countries.
Secondly, the authors suggest for the Plantwise+ programme to intensify engagement training and linkage with the private sector as well as alternative business models for advisory services.
KIT further argues that “useful insights can be obtained from other market-oriented programmes, social enterprises providing inputs and extension services and studies on Agribusiness-based Advisory Services.”
Thirdly the author states that “We also see Plantwise+ as an opportunity to further develop ICT, mass media tools and social media platforms to extend the reach of the programme to additional countries and facilitate services by moderately skilled service providers and intermediaries between farmers and plant doctors.”
Read the full Evaluation of Plantwise and Action on Invasives report 2020 here.