Pests and diseases contribute to 40% of food loss leading to food insecurity. Synthetic pesticides are the predominant control method but these are associated with negative environmental and health concerns. The extensive use of chemicals has sparked a renewed interest in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – an effective combination of control methods and the need for new innovative ways to manage pest and disease outbreaks. There are many digital systems that have been developed to identify, monitor, manage, control and predict outbreaks of a large number of pest and disease species. These systems provide useful information to aid decision-making and timing of integrated pest management strategies. By building on the successes of existing systems and data assets, this project aims to establish a digital agricultural plant health service for efficient pest and disease management in Malawi that will benefit over 100,000 farmers.
Digital technology has the potential to improve farmer livelihoods through access and utilization of agricultural digital platforms and digital online content across the agricultural value chain. However, despite the rapid global interest and growth of digital services, smallholder farmers face challenges that hinder them from realising the benefits of new and existing digital services, particularly in the areas of crop pests and disease management. Some of the challenges which farmers face include a lack of knowledge, poor mobile internet connectivity, limited finances and skills gaps, especially among women. In this project, CABI developed farmer-friendly, digital plant health content for six main crops with the aim of improving access and encouraging the use of digital resources to enable sustainable agriculture production and food security.
In Kenya, soybean is a key crop in helping to improve livelihoods and nutrition. However, production only meets 10% of the market needs due to the effects of poor agricultural practices and pests and diseases. To address these issues, this project will provide a frontier system that integrates Earth Observation technology, pest modelling and best-practice approaches in agricultural extension to increase soybean productivity and quality. The project aims to reach 30,000 farmers, of which support will be given particularly to women farmers in helping them to engage with this high-value commodity, access local markets and improve their livelihoods.