Plant Health Services’ core mission is the provision of timely, cost-effective, environmentally benign and sustainable integrated pest management solutions. The division comprises of three skill groups (departments) namely Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology. The main activities undertaken by the division are, providing growers with a diagnostic and advisory service ,Pesticides Approval Scheme Service (PASS), provision of pest management information, screening of rotation crops for resistances to pests and diseases, provide a pest monitoring service, crop pest and disease screening, conduct insect pest and pathogen biology studies and legislation and pest control.
The department mainly focuses on the development, assessment and improvement of the current and new Insect Pest Management Strategies to minimise pesticide usage in the growing of the crop and reduce pesticide residues in the cured leaf and environment contamination.
Testing of newer chemical and biological pesticides to replace the older broad-spectrum chemical pesticides.
Carrying out research on identification and development of biological control agents for tobacco insect pests.
Encouraging farmers to use preventative measures that enable the production of healthy seedlings and enable the establishment and subsequent production of uniform stands in the field.
Encouraging the use of cultural practices that reduce pest populations to achieve reduced pesticide applications.
The department runs a diagnostic and advisory service that involves the identification and enumeration of plant-parasitic nematodes in submitted samples and gives advice to farmers. The department also generates information on economic and environmentally acceptable methods of combating root knot nematodes in tobacco and other economically important ones for various crop plants. The strategy of the department is to investigate the possibility of biological control as well as interactions between different root knot nematodes and plants, efficacy of new nematicides and investigation on the effective use of chemicals, rotations, resistant cultivars and other methods or combinations of methods for nematode control.
The department centers its studies on the causal agents of diseases in plants (viruses, bacteria and fungi) and uses the knowledge for assessment and development of disease management strategies that enhance yield and quality at lower production costs.
Strategies and Services provided
This department evaluates the efficiencies of pesticides (fungicides) on plants. They encourage the use of cultural practices which enhance lowered disease incidences. It provides plant disease diagnostic and advisory services to tobacco and non-tobacco farmers. Diagnostic and advisory services on tobacco and non tobacco-related problems are offered in this department.
The department has a Plant Clinic that offers plant pest, disease diagnosis and advisory services to tobacco growers, merchants and other stakeholders in the agricultural and horticultural industries. Plant health problems can be due to environmental factors, physiological disorders, insect pests, plant pathogens or poor management alone or in combination. It is therefore important for a correct diagnosis to be made, to enable an effective and timely intervention. The Plant Clinic staff will diagnose your problem and offer you feedback on the same day in cases of simple diagnosis or within three (3) days for complex diagnosis. This service is free for tobacco growers but for other crops a nominal fee of ONLY US$21.00 is charged per sample. The plant sample submission form is first filled in.