PRISE is a 5 year Plantwise project, funder by UK Space, to deliver a Pest Risk Information SErvice. You can read more about the project background here. Each quarter we will up date you on project progress.
Meeting Partner priorities
PRISE inception workshops were held in Kenya, Ghana, and Zambia in March 2017. In the workshops it was recognised by partners that PRISE is a five year project and that the full benefits will only be fully available at the end. However to ensure that we deliver value in the interim we asked partners to prioritise the order in which we should focus on users, crops and pests. Each year a new release of PRISE will incorporate more users, crops and pests driven by partner’s prioritisation of which to tackle first.
Partners prioritised plant doctors/extension workers as the group of users who should receive PRISE first. User interface surveys have now been conducted with 60 plant doctors/extension workers, across the three countries, to ensure the system meets their needs. The results of these surveys will be worked into prototypes which will then be shown to plant doctors to ask for their feedback. The website specification for information output has also been completed.
Identifying armyworms usually involves taking the larvae that have caused the damage, waiting for them to develop in to adults and then studying the body and markings of these adults to identify the species collected. This process causes delays to identification, and could therefore delay action for what are some of the most ravaging crop pests in the world. However, scientists from CABI and Ghana’s Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate have been able to speed up identification using molecular techniques to confirm the identity of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) from the larvae alone.
Farmers are on the boil again in India. In western Maharashtra state, they have been on strike for a week in some seven districts now, spilling milk on the streets, shutting down markets, protesting on the roads and attacking vegetable trucks. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, curfew has been imposed after five farmers were killed in clashes with police on Tuesday. Last month, farmers in southern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh staged protests and burnt their red chilli crop.
Driving from Kathmandu to Panchkhal, there are occasional reminders of the traumatic 2015 earthquake. Collapsed buildings which have not yet been rebuilt and major road damage, made worse by each successive monsoon season. Farmers on terraced fields are getting ready for the upcoming paddy season. I am going to meet Debraj Adhikari, an old friend and the plant doctor responsible for plant clinics in Kavrepalanchok district.
A facility has been launched in Kenya to aid commercial production of a protein bait to control fruit flies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The US$250,000 facility, which resulted from public-private partnership involving the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and Kenya Biologics Ltd, will enable smallholders control fruit flies that devastate their fruits and vegetables.
Mr. Guze Kampinga visits the plant clinic at Dowa Turn Off with his damaged maize samples and is received by Mrs Eluby Phiri a trained plant doctor.
“I have grown about 0.8 ha of rain-fed and 0.4ha irrigated maize (Ndimba). This year a strange pest has seriously damaged my maize and almost all people in this village are experiencing the same problem. The pest started damaging the crop a few weeks after germination and has continued damaging the crop up to now. I first noticed the tips of the maize funnel chewed and stunting yet I had applied fertilizer and there was sufficient moisture. When I checked the funnel I found small caterpillars inside, which were growing very fast. Later the leaves were chewed and holes seen in the cobs, they also feed on the kernels. I have tried to control the pest to no avail”, said Mr Guze.
The FAO estimates that up to 40% of global crop yields are reduced each year due to the damage caused by pests (FAO, 2015). Crop losses have a huge impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. They result in less food for them and their families and a lower income for spending on education and farming resources, including tools for the management and control of pests.
Accurate pest forecasting systems therefore need to be made available so that farmers can be warned of potential pest outbreaks that may severely damage crops. Pest forecasts enable farmers to implement prevention methods in time for them to be most effective.