Fall Armyworm in Africa: The Farmer Experience
Date published: May 10, 2018
During the second harvest in 2016, farmer Fred Kisubi lost everything. His region, Jinja District, Uganda, was devastated by fall armyworm. The unforgiving pest decimated approximately 95% of his maize crop within days, an estimated 18 million Ugandan Shillings (US $4,860) loss. Unfortunately, Fred Kisubi’s losses are not unique.
Since fall armyworm was first confirmed in West Africa in early 2016, the invasive pest has now been identified in more than 30 African countries, including Uganda. The rapid spread of fall armyworm has caught farmers and those who support them (such as agricultural extension agents) off guard. Many farmers struggle to identify the insect and appropriate interventions. In response to the emerging threat, Feed the Future and its partners, Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, launched the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. This prize is seeking digital tools and approaches that can provide timely, context-specific information about fall armyworm in Africa to smallholder farmers and those who support them.
For a digital fall armyworm tool to be successful, it must reflect local agricultural needs. The following perspectives from farmers affected by the pest in Uganda will help Fall Armyworm Tech Prize competitors understand the impact of the pest and the needs of farmers to help guide their digital solutions.