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    Plant health clinics hold key to food security

    Approximately 40% of the produce is believed to be lost worldwide by plant pests, due to want of timely diagnosis and advisory support. Saving even one percent loss can feed the millions according to Oerke, 2006. Creation of well-organized clinics modeled on human clinics could mitigate huge losses due to plant pests and enhancing productivity through diagnostic and advisory support of plant clinics and ensure food security to ever growing population in Asia.

    Farmers could get right diagnostic and mitigatory advice in time if the nations create well-developed, multispecialty, farmer-centric clinic on lines of human clinic in rural areas too like primary health centre. The clinics need to provide 7x12 services free of cost on plant health and ailments and innovations to achieve higher productivity. It’s also important to organize plant health camps, monitor pest scenario, issue pest alert and keep vigil on pest incursion and empower farmers with knowledge to tackle pests. During epiphytotics outbreak ‘Clinic on wheels’ must help the farmers in rendering on the spot advice.

    Communication with farmers needs to be invigorated though print, electronic devices, toll-free telephony, e-mails and SMSs. Knowledge is crucial to manage plant diseases and ensure sustainability. Therefore farmers need to be empowered with latest know-how of managing plant diseases through IPM and 4G fungicides having least impact on biodiversity, using traditional tools of extension and info technology.

    Besides, maintaining database, networking and impact analysis and tango with research, government and pesticide dealers for optimizing techno-resources are also necessary. The important role of innovative publications – Plant Disease Warning, Plant Pathology Courier, amongst others in keeping pests at bay also cannot be ignored.

    Creating such clinics with difference, modeled on human clinics, providing wide range of plant health services at zero cost, shall symbolize quintessential ‘plant clinic/ hospital’, empowering farmers to improve food security and plant doctors commanding same status and recognition as physicians get in the society.