Agriculture Ministry trains officers in pest and disease identification

Optimal extension services can be more easily and effectively provided to stakeholders when frontline agricultural officers – who came into direct contact with our nation’s farmers – are trained and equipped in current, best practices. This, according to Agricultural Entomologist (Ag.) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF), Ms. Roshni Ramsingh, was the thinking behind an in-house training programme on Pest and Disease Identification and Management, embarked upon by Ministry staff last week.

The three (3)-day training course – which took place at the Packing House of the National Marketing Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO) in Piarco and the Farmers Training Centre in Centeno from March 6, 8-9, 2018 – was facilitated by both Ms. Ramsingh and Agricultural Officer (MALF), Mr. Rishi Mohansingh – both of the Extension Training and Information Services (ETIS) Division. The sessions were aimed at impacting those frontline Extension Officers of both the Regional Administration North (RAN) and Regional Administration South (RAS) Divisions of MALF, by building on their existing knowledge of pests and diseases whilst honing skills in areas of diagnosis and management so as to enable them to successfully carry out field diagnosis as well as prognosis. They comprised a review of the main causes of plant health problems, concentrating mainly on current and potential pests and diseases (including giant African snail; sweet potato weevil; citrus greening and frosty pod) as well as environmental disorders and nutrition.

Mr. Mohansingh’s presentation on the Red Palm Mite and Ms. Ramsingh’s presentation on the Tomato Midge, wrapped up the training’s theoretical discourse on Friday 9th March, 2018, paving the way for the practical exercise which ensued. “We asked the trainees to bring samples of plants which they feel are diseased or have pest problems. So, based on the samples submitted we will now embark on a practical examination of them to determine just how well the trainees have learnt from the theory over the last two (2) days and whether or not they are currently in a position to give and / or administer sound management options,” Ms. Ramsingh said.

Each financial year, the Ministry’s ETIS Division would facilitate staff training - on a range of topics and areas - periodically and in response to internal requests made, based on specific needs. On this note, Ms. Ramsingh added: “Once a request for training is submitted, we usually make available the necessary resources in order to address same.”

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