Purpose: This study developed a framework for quality assessment of diagnoses and advice given at plant clinics. Design/methodology/approach: Clinic registers from five plant clinics in Uganda (2006-2010) were used to develop quality assessment protocols for diagnoses and advice given by plant doctors. Assessment of quality of diagnoses was based on five validation criteria applied on the ten most common crops. Quality of advice was assessed for the four major problems considering efficacy and feasibility. Findings: The quality of diagnoses varied between crops, from 68% completely validated in maize to 1% in tomato. Complete and partially validated diagnoses were 44% of all queries. The remaining 56% were rejected. Several basic weaknesses were found in data recording and symptom recognition. A greater consistency and precision in naming diseases would increase the number of completely validated diagnoses. The majority of recommendations (82%) were assessed ‘partially effective’. ‘Best practice’ was recommended for 10% and ineffective advice was given in 8% of the cases with considerable variation between diseases. Practical implications: Plant doctors need more training in symptom recognition, pest management and record keeping as well as better technical backstopping to solve unknown problems. Common standards and procedures for clinic data collection and analysis should be established, and roles and responsibilities clearly defined. Originality/value: This is the first time plant clinic registers have been used to systematically assess quality of plant clinic services. Apart from being a valuable tool for quality assessment of extension, the plant clinic registers constitute a novel source of regular information about pests, diseases and farmer demand that can help improve decision-making of extension service providers, researchers, plant health authorities as well as information and technology providers.
Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 2012, Vol 19, Issue 2, p. 183-201
Agricultral extension; Plant clinic; diagnostics; Plant doctors; Quality assessment; Clinic register; The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences