Disease and Pest Data Collection and Early Warning System
Molly Brown of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in the U.S. will develop an early warning system for crop diseases for rural farmers in Africa by gathering data using existing infrastructure and mobile tools from commercial partners and applying machine learning pest models. Insect pests cause almost half of crop losses in Africa each year, which impacts both food supply and the economy. An effective disease and pest surveillance system provides early warning to minimize crop loss but is often unavailable to rural farmers in poor countries who lack tools for sufficient pest data collection. To address this, they propose to leverage the existing infrastructure, including demonstration farms, retailers, and mobile tools, of a commercial partner to gather the required data, such as field photographs, data on pest prevalence, and satellite weather data. Mobile tools will be available on computer and Android devices with off-line modes. They will pilot test their approach in Zambia focusing on damage to maize crops caused by the fall armyworm. Real-time data will be uploaded to a freely available, public portal with information on geography, pest populations, and affected crops.