Tracking the Fall Army Worm
Low cost approaches to monitoring the spread of the fall army worm
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The lack of ability to monitor the spread of major pests in real time at large scales is a crucial obstacle to addressing devastating outbreaks in low income countries and guiding farmers on treatment and prevention.
Traditional approaches based on surveys by professional scouts, as practiced in high income countries, provide high quality information, but are infeasible in low income settings because of their prohibitive costs and logistical constraints (e.g. transportation).
This pilot study provides some of the first successes of sourcing pest monitoring data (including 8,000 structured subjective assessments and 30,000 images) from local individuals with minimal training and background. It consists of a core of full-time paid scouts and wider circles of progressive farmers who are provided a smartphone, minimal training in the use of an easy to use app (adapted from one used by scouts in Israel, south America and other places) and bestowed with the social responsibility of monitoring pests in their villages. We found this network to be able to provide abundant and reliable data on the spread of the fall army worm among maize farms in Kenya, at scale and low cost.
Implementing Partners and Funding Sources