British charities Send a Cow and Plantwise have jointly been awarded the Innovation Award at last night’s Bond International Development Awards.
The Innovation Award showcases organisations, coalitions or initiatives that are taking inventive approaches as they chart a course through a complex and changing external environment.
Now, more than ever, organisations need to innovate in order to survive. Factors such as a rise in the economic and political power of emerging countries; demographic and climate change; differing geographies of conflict and poverty; and changing understandings of development goals, all have potential to drive fundamental changes in the sector.
Send a Cow, who support communities in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan countries, were nominated for their Taro project which has trained and supported 300 vulnerable smallholder farmers and their families in Ethiopia to form cooperatives to produce taro flour, making their vital form of sustenance available to their communities during food shortage months and raising their household income.
CABI’s Plantwise programme was shortlisted after helping to make plant health systems more effective for the farmers who depend on them by establishing plant clinics, where farmers can find practical plant health advice.
Send A Cow
Bath based Send a Cow helps communities in Kenya and surrounding countrie find the riches in their own back garden so they can grow their own food to feed themselves and their families every day.
The charity was set up by a group of Christian dairy farmers from the UK over 25 years ago.
Outraged at EU milk quotas, which were forcing them to slaughter healthy dairy cows, and in response to an appeal from Uganda for milk, they embarked on a project, which was set to become an innovative and practical charity.
Uganda was just emerging from a long civil war, communities and their farmland had been destroyed and much of the country’s livestock wiped out. Several of the UK farmers flew to Africa to investigate how they could help.
Meeting with Ugandan farmers, the Bishop of Mukono, and a livestock expert, they saw how smallholder dairy farming in Africa could work. People there were unable to feed themselves and milk would provide an instant source of nutrition. They returned to the UK, sent cows from their own herds to Uganda and Send a Cow was born.
Surrey based Plantwise, operates out of all CABI centres worldwide, with programme directors based in Kenya, Switzerland, Pakistan and the UK, with their Programme Executive based in Nairobi.
This CABI led global programme works to help farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. Working closely with national agricultural advisory services they establish and support sustainable networks of plant clinics, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice.
Plant clinics work similarly to clinics for human health: farmers visit with samples of their crops, and plant doctors diagnose the problem and make science-based recommendations on ways to manage it.
Plant clinics are reinforced by the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, a gateway to practical online and offline plant health information, including diagnostic resources, best-practice pest management advice and plant clinic data anlaysis for targeted crop protection.
Together, these two unique resources are part of the Plantwise approach to strengthen national plant health systems from within. The stronger the national plant health system, the better equipped the country will be to help farmers provide a safe and sustainable food supply and improve their livelihoods.