Karnataka set to have 1000 plant doctors

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Bangalore, Jan 24 (PTI) Nearly 1000 farmers in Karnatakaare set to be trained as �Plant Doctors� in a major programmefunded by Karnataka State Department of Agriculture andBio-Control Research Laboratories (BCRL).

The ongoing programme, also supported by the internationalnot-for-profit organization CABI (Centre for AgriculturalBioscience International), aims at empowering local farmers inKarnataka who do not have much access to technology to dealwith endemic pests and diseases, and help create an earlywarning system for those that are spreading, a release said.

Eighteen districts have been selected to receive plantdoctor training during 2010�11.

The plant clinics advise farmers on pests and diseases inthe way a health centre does for humans. They are run by localtechnical people, who visit markets and small towns everyweek. Farmers drop by with samples of diseased plants, to getthe problem identified and to learn what to do about it.

Studies of similar clinics in Bangladesh and Bolivia haveshown that, as a result of the clinics, farmers have increasedcrop yields and spent less money on expensive pesticides,increasing their average household income.

The trainees are chosen according to their farming familybackground, keen interest in agriculture and basic training oneither IPM (integrated pest management) or a related subject.

In addition, the department focused particularly on weakergroups in society such as women and people of a low caste.

The trainees all come from farming families and have a keeninterest in agriculture. Many of them are women or come fromdisadvantaged groups � scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Since the programme started in May 2010, over 400 farmershave been trained.

The next batch of training programme will be held between27-29th January 2011 at the district agricultural centre inBagalkot.

By the end of March 2011, there will be enough trainedPlant Health Workers to run 72 independent, community-basedplant health clinics throughout the state.

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