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progress of frosty pod rot through South and Central America. Alternative strategies are currently being pursued to reduce the impact of frosty pod rot. Plant breeding, crop sanitation, rational pesticide use and biological control are being investigated as a means to develop an integrated crop management (ICM) strategy, tailored to meet the needs of the smallholder farmers.  In field trials in Costa Rica, both copper compounds and flutolanil, showed some efficacy, especially when applied with precision. Studies of cultural control have also demonstrated that weekly pod removal can significantly increase yields effective and a model has been developed to determine its cost effectiveness. In addition biological control with fungal mycoparasites has shown some potential. Reducing the impact of the disease is most likely to be achieved in the short term by a combination of techniques (i.e. ICM), but none of these interventions are likely to be adopted if farm-gate cocoa prices are low. We will discuss the biology of the pathogen, its impact and the different strategies currently being pursued, with special reference to potential developments in the use of coevolved fungal natural enemies (including endophytes) and the identification of resistance genes as medium to long-term management techniques.

New approaches to delivery of healthy seed to resource-poor farmers – Recent experiences from Uganda and Bangladesh

Solveig Danielsen

Department of Plant Biology, Plant Pathology Section, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Thorvaldsensvej 40, 1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, Email soda@kvl.dk

Seeds of hope or seeds of failure? Seed is a carrier of many important plant diseases. Clean, high quality seed is the first and foremost prerequisite for successful crop production, particularly for key crops that sustain the nourishment and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries. As scientists and technologists we know how to produce healthy seed to minimize disease risks. We know much less about how best to deliver such seed to the people who need it most. Here I discuss recent progress in Uganda and Bangladesh, where different approaches are used to enhance resource-poor farmers’ access to healthy quality seed. From the point of view of a plant pathologist, producing healthy seed and other planting material is fundamental to preventing disease epidemics and spread of new and notifiable diseases. Developed countries have efficient seed certification and plant quarantine system. Seed-borne diseases are monitored on a routine basis and managed through effective quality control measures. When an outbreak occurs emergency action is taken, led by statutory bodies with clear official mandates and the resources to meet them. In contrast, many developing countries are characterised by weak institutions, poor infrastructure and unsuitable rules and regulations that limit farmers’ access to good and healthy seed through routine channels. Delivery and access to good seed is hampered by many different factors e.g. access to input and outlet markets, seed policies and regulations, trustworthiness, social and political conditions. Improving access to good seed requires many changes, undermined by a lack of funds and effective support. Resource-poor farmers in developing countries have sought different routes through which to acquire seed. They either produce their own seed or acquire it through informal means. Yields decline after continuous recycling, in part due to accumulation of seed borne diseases and post-harvest problems. This spiral of failure can be changed if resource-poor farmers receive training in seed production and management. With regular access to better quality material and supporting advisory services they can become producers of good quality seed. Plant pathologists can help solve the problems related to seed-borne diseases, through improved varieties and farming practices for example. First, we must understand the problems and needs of the farmers, their perceptions of seed quality and plant diseases, and not least how they acquire seed in the first place. Expert scientific knowledge and sound diagnosis of problems will identify solutions and further research needed. Seed supply systems are important for delivering technological innovations. Plant pathologists need to understand how such systems operate. In Bangladesh new pro-poor seed supply models have been developed under the PETRRA project (Poverty Elimination Through Rice Research Assistance), addressing complex problems and demands from the outset. In Uganda, a dynamic private seed sector is trying to go beyond the conventional technology-driven dissemination methods. Common to both countries’ experiences is the growing recognition of the need to make proper demand assessment, create effective public-private partnerships and combine technical and business management skills of farmers and seed suppliers. I will also pay attention to the role of seed laws and regulations in stimulating innovative approaches to seed supply.

What is needed from plant pathologists to make farmers and growers more profitable?

Peter Gladders and Bill Clark

ADAS Boxworth, Boxworth, Cambridge CB3 8NN

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