Crop-devastating pests in Rwanda to be targeted with space-age technology from PRISE programme

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Pests, which threaten to destroy key cash and food security crops including maize, tomato and beans, are to be prioritized as part of an integrated pest management strategy using state-of-the-art space-age technology.

Scores of smallholder farmers in Rwanda are the latest to benefit from the CABI-led consortium, funded by the UK Space Agency and the Global Challenges Research Fund with co-funding from the CABI-led Plantwise, that is using a combination of earth observation technology, satellite positioning and plant-pest lifecycle modelling to provide an evidence-based Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE).

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Farmers in Malawi to benefit from space-age technology in fight against devastating crop pests

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Farmers await for plant health advice at a plant clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi

Farmers in Malawi are the latest to benefit from a CABI-led consortium, funded by the UK Space Agency, which is providing a Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) to fight pest outbreaks that could devastate crops and livelihoods across the country.

The service, which uses state-of-the-art technology to help inform farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – including Zambia, Ghana and Kenya where it is currently operating – gives farmers invaluable information to help them manage pests such as the fall armyworm that is already having a major impact in Africa and South East Asia.

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PRISE: Kenya Stakeholder Workshop July 2018

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PRISE Stakeholder workshop participants, July 2018.

Earlier this month, members of the Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) consortium held a stakeholder workshop in Kenya to update partners, donors and stakeholders on the progress of the project and to discuss future developments over the next four years.

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From satellites to stem borers: using earth observation to forecast pest outbreaks

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Globally, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two thirds of the world’s population. With 40% of crops lost annually to pests, achieving zero hunger by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholders.

We already have weather forecasts, pollen forecasts and UV forecasts, but what if farmers had access to pest forecasts?

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Pest Risk Information Service for sub-Saharan Africa

Field of maize (©Public Domain CC0)

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.

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