Joint Forces Against Highly Invasive Fall Army Worm Pest
PEAT, CABI and ICRISAT launch the first live tracking tool for FAW in India.
The Fall Armyworm (FAW), is a very invasive pest which is highly destructive to more than 80 plant species. The pest is native to America and has conquered the African continent in 2016. Since then, it has cost economies billions of dollars in crop losses and caused millions of farmers and their families destitution and hunger.
“Through our mobile application, Plantix, we get thousands and thousands of pictures of crops and vegetables from our Indian users every day. Since the first incident on the 18th of July 2018, we receive an ever increasing number of pictures of FAW cases. It was clear to us that we have to respond” said Simone Strey, CEO of PEAT. “We were able to identify thousands of incidents with a high likeliness - just within the last month. This enables us for the first time to provide a live tracking tool for the spread of FAW. Through our database we are able to generate an early warning system for farmers who might be in risk. Based on this, we already sent push notification to tens of thousands of our users through our Plantix app.”
“It is very valuable to have a live tracking system that is freely available for all stakeholders, but especially government who coordinate the response to new invasions like fall armyworm. This is a logical next step of our ongoing cooperation” says Roger Day, Programme Executive, Action on Invasives of CABI.
The eminent research institute ICRISAT, headquartered in Hyderabad is located in an area affected by the FAW, is part of this important initiative. “We are working in partnership with Plantix since 2016.” says Dr. Rupavatharam, Scientist, ICRISAT. “The FAW live tracking tool enables us to monitor and focus on those states and districts that are infected most. This is crucial to fight the spread of this pest effectively in a country as huge as India and help farmers receive effective advisories on the ground.”
Additionally, the FAW task force gets support through ICRISATs development projects in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Government of Andhra Pradesh proactively supports through the participation of scientists, experts, and the extension workers of the Department of Agriculture in documenting FAW cases via the Plantix app. Furthermore, the shared project between CABI and PEAT in Tamil Nadu also focuses on the occurrence of FAW.
The goal is to monitor and forecast the further spread of FAW and to provide preventive measures and solutions for affected farmers on the ground.
Strey: “We are glad that we could join forces with CABI and ICRISAT to fight the FAW - to tackle this menace we hope more supporters will join too.”