DR. YUBAK DHOJ G.C.
We are familiar with human and veterinary doctors, but reference to Plant Doctors is not common. Now, why should we have plant doctors? Do plants need doctor care like any other living beings? The reality is that plants are living things. In dealing with their biotic and abiotic problems, the need is for proper diagnosis so that treatment may go in a proper way. While making the diagnosis, certain clinical check-ups like the test of stool, blood, urine, x-rays and internal organs along with the two-way communication between the patient and doctor is needed. However, in the case of plants, that is not possible indicating a greater degree of difficulty in handling the plant problems. This is the reason why the plants are grossly treated without proper diagnosis.
Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) has initiated Plant Doctor Training to its agricultural staffs. The basic objective of such training is to prepare knowledgeable manpower who can handle biotic and abiotic problems in the plants. It is because dozens of problems cause a plant to wilt, however, farmers often neglect the symptoms and think of chemical pesticides as the cure. Farmers think pesticides are medicines and do not realise that wrong handling can cause apparent health and environmental problems. The basic motto of the plant doctor training is to give the right solution to the growers based on clinical diagnosis and observation of the symptoms.
In Nepal, the concept of plant clinic is new, which, however, has become common in some of the developed countries in Europe. CABI, UK and its alliance CABI South Asia Plantwise Program Regional Office, New Delhi, India have becoming pioneer organizations to support Nepal. In order to up-scale and out-scale the essence of this programme at a wider level, this writer as the Program Director of the Plant Protection Directorate requested for support for Plant Doctor Training to CABI, UK. in 2010. This was the real and first kick-start of plant clinic initiatives in Nepal in the government programme. So far, more than 50 plant doctors have been trained. After the motivation of the training, these doctors are involved in conducting plant clinics in more than 35 districts, where farmers are participating enthusiastically. With clinical concepts, the number of positive aspects such as reduction of the unnecessary use of pesticides and production of healthy crops can be achieved. At the same time, many of the chemical pesticides-related problems such as teratogenic, mutagenic; carcinogenic effects on humans may be reduced with the sound adoption of the plant clinics.
Dr. G.C. is Programme Director, PPD