A Crowd-Sourcing Approach to Large-Scale Monitoring of Pests by Smallholder Farmers
Menale Kassie of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya along with Ram Fishman and Opher Mendelsohn from Tel Aviv University in Israel will take a community-based crowdsourcing approach to crop protection of smallholder farms in low-resource settings by developing a simple software platform for basic feature phones to monitor pest incidence. Human-based monitoring of crops is the most accurate way to identify pests, but there are too few public monitoring agents in low-resource settings, leaving the majority of farms unprotected. Engaging the smallholder farmers to monitor their own crops is a promising solution, but most of them lack sophisticated equipment like smart phones and have low technical knowledge, so simpler solutions are needed. Therefore, they will adapt commercially-available software that collates and analyzes pest incidence data for basic feature phones and, together with smallholder farmers, design simple interfaces for SMS communication. They will test their approach by performing a pilot study to monitor wheat and maize, covering one to two counties in Kenya, and teach smallholder farmers and government agents how to use the monitoring system and compare the data with that collected by expert field agents.