Fall armyworm in Africa: communicating out of a crisis

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Take a quick look at the map of the fall armyworm invasion. It gives you a good feel for the number of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa directly affected by a small caterpillar eating their staple crop – maize – at a rapid rate. As a communication professional working in agriculture, it has been the first time I have found it so easy to explain my work – “ah yes, you are working on this ‘worm’… it is causing so many problems for farmers here” is the response I now get.

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Progress made on fall armyworm, but greater effort needed

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A major new report published by CABI has today revealed that losses due to fall armyworm are lower than projected in 2017 and the pest is still primarily focussed on maize rather than any other potential host crops. Better monitoring, swift responses by governments and farmers and an increase of natural enemies attacking the pest all help in mitigating the devastating crop losses it can cause.

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Indian farmers using smartphones to fight fast-moving crop killer

By Eric Marx. Reblogged from Ethical Corporation.

Plantix is a diagnostic app that uses image recognition software and AI. It is being used to halt the advance of the fall armyworm pest.

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An app that uses artificial intelligence to identify plant disease is being deployed in India as an early-warning system to stop the advance of a crop-destroying caterpillar that is having a devastating impact on maize crops in Africa.

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CABI study identifies safer options for fall armyworm control in Africa

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CABI’s experts in the biological control of agricultural pests and diseases have conducted the first major study of potential biological controls that could be used in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm which recently arrived in Africa.

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Citizen Scientists attempt traditional solutions against fall armyworm

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First reported in Africa in September 2016, fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is now present in most sub-Saharan countries, where severe damage in maize fields has been observed. Kenya is one the countries that has not been spared the wrath of this invasive pest. Since it was first reported in Kenya’s western region (Trans Nzoia, Busia, and Bungoma counties) in March 2017, it has spread to 42 counties including the major seed and maize production areas of the Rift valley, coastal, and western regions.

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New Fall Armyworm Portal features as part of CABI’s upgraded Invasive Species Compendium

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A new Fall Armyworm Portal, which includes the very latest reports and research regarding the devastating crop pest, now features as part of a major upgrade of CABI’s Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) launched today.

The portal, created as part of the CABI-led Action on Invasives programme – funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherland’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) – is now an integral part of the ISC, which receives over 1.5 million visits a year.

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A crisis is a terrible thing to waste

Reblogged from AGRF

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From left: Dr Dennis Rangi (CABI), Dr May-Guri Saethre (IITA), Dr Denis Kyetere (AATF), Dr Rob Bertram (USAID)

Last year, the Fall armyworm destroyed swathes of agricultural production across Africa, devastating maize crops in more than 40 countries and placing at risk the food security and livelihoods of some 300 million people.

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