Fall Armyworm Tech Prize
Fall armyworm (FAW) poses a serious threat to food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Originally from the Americas, FAW outbreaks first occurred in West Africa in early 2016 and are now on the precipice of devastating food supplies across the continent, exacerbating global poverty and hunger. FAW attacks more than 80 different plant species and agriculture experts estimate the pest may cause over $13 billion in losses for crops like maize, sorghum, rice, and sugarcane. It can also fly up to 1,600 kilometers (nearly 1,000 miles) in 30 hours meaning it can easily migrate to surrounding farms and countries.
Given the spread and rate of the outbreak, interventions are needed at a transnational level. Information on how to respond and prevent the pest needs to quickly be transmitted to smallholder farmers and those who advise them.
In order to control the spread of FAW and reduce the risk of a future humanitarian crisis, smallholder farmers need improved access to immediate, accurate and actionable information on how to mitigate, identify and combat the fall armyworm. Digital technologies can be utilized in expanding the frontiers of information access in sub-Saharan Africa. Increasingly available digital technologies including sensors, geospatial imagery and data analytics can be leveraged to allow smallholder farmers to gain useful advice and make informed decisions.