Mobile phone app to monitor fall armyworm in Africa

By Oscar Nkala | 15 February 2018
Photo: Des van Heerden, Syngenta

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has developed a mobile phone application for use by smallholder farmers and agricultural extension officers to collect data to monitor and quantify the impact of fall armyworm (FAW) outbreaks.

The FAO says the Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning Syste (FAMEWS) app will help farmers and field scouts by collecting data from pheromone traps set to monitor outbreaks in the fields.

“FAMEWS will incorporate a tool to diagnose FAW damage, and will be linked to a web-based early warning platform. The FAO has identified several vendors that will be pre-qualified to ensure rapid delivery of high quality traps and lures.

“Innovative technologies are being considered to monitor FAW and diagnose damage using drones, remote sensing, artificial intelligence learning, and Google Earth Engine.”

FAO – FAW Management Guide
Feed the Future – FAW Management Guide

The app is one of 28 technical co-operation-based intervention programmes it has undertaken in response to fall armyworm. FAO Farmers Field Schools across Africa also offer advisory services to rural farmers. It has also prepared an integrated pest management guide which covers topics that include FAW identification, FAW biology and ecology, plant diversity and soil health management.

The guide also offers several other options that can be used by farmers to minimise FAW infestation and reduce yield loss. Other lessons include FAW scouting techniques and the use of mechanical controls and botanical pesticides to control outbreaks.

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