SUVA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Agricultural extension, biosecurity and research officers and farmers in Fiji have been empowered with the launch of a Fiji Plant Doctors network that has revealed 30 diagnosis since its launch in 2017.
Fiji's Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Viam Pillay said on Thursday that the network was initiated through the mobile application group by extension officers from Nadroga-Navosa, one of 14 provinces in Fiji, in partnership with the Pacific Community in 2017, and has since made over 30 diagnoses with more than 30 members, while training continues to provide more officers with necessary diagnostic skills.
Pillay said one of the major opportunities for the agricultural sector that lies in ICT and E-agriculture offers the potential to increase agriculture productivity by transmitting timely and updated information, gathering real and updated market information, promoting new technologies and supporting quick advice to farmers' pest and crop nutrition problems.
"It can also improve extension services, especially in remote and hard-to-reach areas. Connectivity in Fiji has improved greatly in recent years. It is estimated that 96 percent of Fiji is now covered by a 2G mobile network."
"Given the relatively high access of mobile phones with internet connectivity, opportunities exist to develop and promote a Fiji 'market' mobile application that enables agro-producers to obtain up-to-date market prices information, and sellers to advertise their produce buyers on an open market."
Members are also able to use a Pacific Pests and Pathogens app from PestNet that now has 401 factsheets of pests and diseases problems from the region.
The Fiji Plant Doctors network is timely as Fiji continues to face emerging pest and diseases threats such as taro leaf blight, giant African snails, Guam strain rhinoceros beetles, citrus greening and fall armyworms.