Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are constantly under pressure from plant diseases due to the islands’ tropical climate, yearly movement of nearly 2 million tourists and residents, and importation of fresh produce. The plant disease diagnostic services in Guam and CNMI, once provided by specialists in plant pathology are now being shifted to agricultural professionals with little formal training in plant pathology. There were four individuals with doctoral degrees actively engaged in plant pathology in Guam and CNMI in 1995, currently only Dr. Schlub in Guam remains and he is approaching retirement. The goal of Dr. Schlub’s grant is to increase the viability of small commercial and subsistence farming operations in the region by reducing the impact of plant diseases. Project objectives: 1) Improve the ability of agricultural professionals to conduct education programs on diagnostics and to respond to inquiries about ‘sick’ plants from commercial farmers, gardeners, and the public; and 2) Bring awareness to agricultural professionals of the importance of surveying and monitoring for diseases as parts of an integrated plant disease control program. Project activities: 1) Centralize plant disease information and publish a list of plant diseases for Guam and the CNMI, 2) Develop and publish a diagnostics manual for Guam and CNMI, 3) Conduct a four-day diagnostic workshop, and 4) Evaluate project success and identify opportunities for future plant pathology related activities.
Project objectives from proposal:
The purpose of this project is to provide plant diagnostic training and support for those engaged in providing advice to producers of agronomic and horticultural crops. The corner stone to this training project is a four-day diagnostic workshop where agricultural professionals will learn about plant diseases and diagnostics. For the participants to gain fully from the workshop experience and to ensure success of the training project there are various activities that need to be completed and objectives met.
Pre-workshop, September 2014-March 2016: Activity (1) Centralize plant disease information and publish a list of plant diseases for Guam and the CNMI: “Plant Diseases in Guam and Northern Mariana Islands.” Activity (2) Develop a working draft diagnostics manual for Guam and CNMI: “Diagnostic Manual for Plant Diseases in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.” Trainees will be encouraged to provide literature and editorial comments during this stage.
Activity (3) Conduct a four-day plant disease diagnostic workshop, March 2016: Objective (1) Improve the ability of agricultural professionals to conduct educational programs on diagnostics and to respond to inquiries about ‘sick’ plants from commercial farmers, gardeners, and the public. Objective (2) Bring awareness to agricultural professionals of the importance of surveying and monitoring crops as a component of an integrated plant disease control program. The workshop will emphasize diagnoses based on field symptoms and those revealed through the use of a hand lens. The PI and subcontractor will provide the bulk of the instruction with individual trainees providing examples from their own experiences. The first three days will be a mix of field trips, lectures, and hands-on examination of samples. Trainees with access to their own laboratories will receive instruction on laboratory diagnostic techniques, whereas others will receive additional training in basic field diagnostics. To assist trainees in passing on their newly gained knowledge, a plant clinic will be set up in conjunction with the Guam Nursery’s Association’s monthly plant sale. Commercial agriculture and horticulture producers and others involved in growing plants will be encouraged to bring plant specimens and ask questions.
Post-workshop, March 2016-March 2017: Activity (4) Evaluate project outcomes. Activity (5) Publish and make available to the public the project’s disease list and diagnostic manual. As the result of various surveys given to the participants over the course of the project, a comprehensive evaluation will be produced. Trainees will be asked to comment on the project’s disease list and diagnostic manual. Their suggestions for future workshops will be solicited. After the incorporation of participant comments, the documents will be placed on the UOG website. One hundred photo quality copies of the final diagnostic manual will be produced and distributed to participants and others.