Ritter Atoundem Guimapi
Coconut production is significantly constrained by a wide variety of pests. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that management of these pests is influenced by gender differences. Therefore, there was a need to assess farmers' knowledge about coconut pests, farm-level pest management strategies, and institutions offering training to farmers to develop an ecologically sound management strategy. To achieve this research need, we surveyed six coconut-growing districts, three each from the Western and Central Regions of Ghana, using face-to-face interviews, discussions, and direct observations. In addition, a multistage sampling technique was used to sample the coconut farmers. The sample population for each town was determined using a proportional to population size approach. The sample population was randomly drawn from each town/village using a sampling frame based on the agricultural sector records. The results showed that a majority of the farmers mentioned Oryctes monoceros as the most important coconut pest. Significantly more females than males mentioned weaver birds in their plantations (P = 0.035). The number of women who did not mention any of the pests was significantly higher than that of men (P = 0.007). There was a significant difference between male and female farmers who used indigenous knowledge (i.e., knowledge accumulated by an indigenous [local] population over generations of living in a certain area) (P = 0.018) for pest management. However, pest management strategies did not vary in the Central Region. Our results showed a significant difference between male and female farmers who did not use any of the management strategies, suggesting that future studies and training should consider gender in developing sustainable pest management strategies for the pests.
After five years of its first report on the African continent, Fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) is considered a major threat to maize, sorghum, and millet production in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the rigorous work already conducted to reduce FAW prevalence, the dynamics and invasion mechanisms of FAW in Africa are still poorly understood. This study applied interdisciplinary tools, analytics, and algorithms on a FAW dataset with a spatial lens to provide insights and project the intensity of FAW infestation across Africa. The data collected between January 2018 and December 2020 in selected locations were matched with the monthly average data of the climatic and environmental variables. The multilevel analytics aimed to identify the key factors that influence the dynamics of spatial and temporal pest density and occurrence at a 2 km x 2 km grid resolution. The seasonal variations of the identified factors and dynamics were used to calibrate rule-based analytics employed to simulate the monthly densities and occurrence of the FAW for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020. Three FAW density level classes were inferred, i.e., low (0–10 FAW moth per trap), moderate (11–30 FAW moth per trap), and high (>30 FAW moth per trap). Results show that monthly density projections were sensitive to the type of FAW host vegetation and the seasonal variability of climatic factors. Moreover, the diversity in the climate patterns and cropping systems across the African sub-regions are considered the main drivers of FAW abundance and variation. An optimum overall accuracy of 53% was obtained across the three years and at a continental scale, however, a gradual increase in prediction accuracy was observed among the years, with 2020 predictions providing accuracies greater than 70%. Apart from the low amount of data in 2018 and 2019, the average level of accuracy obtained could also be explained by the non-inclusion of data related to certain key factors such as the influence of natural enemies (predators, parasitoids, and pathogens) into the analysis. Further detailed data on the occurrence and efficiency of FAW natural enemies in the region may help to complete the tri-trophic interactions between the host plants, pests, and beneficial organisms. Nevertheless, the tool developed in this study provides a framework for field monitoring of FAW in Africa that may be a basis for a future decision support system (DSS).
Cattle production is constantly threatened by diseases like East Coast fever, also known as theileriosis, caused by the protozoan parasite Theileria parva which is transmitted by ticks such as the brown ear tick, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus. To reduce the extensive use of chemical acaricides, fungal-based microbial control agents such as Metarhizium anisopliae have been tested and show promising results against R. appendiculatus both in field and in semi-field experiments in Africa. However, no known endeavors to link the spatial distribution of R. appendiculatus to climatic variables important for the successful application of M. anisopliae in selected East African countries exists. This work therefore aims to improve the successful application of M. anisopliae against R. appendiculatus by designing a temperature-dependent model for the efficacy of M. anisopliae against three developmental stages (larvae, nymphs, adults) of R. appendiculatus. Afterward a spatial prediction of potential areas where this entomopathogenic fungus might cause a significant epizootic in R. appendiculatus population in three selected countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) in Eastern Africa were generated. This can help to determine whether the temperature and rainfall at a local or regional scale might give good conditions for application of M. anisopliae and successful microbial control of R. appendiculatus.
Despite substantial efforts to control locusts they remain periodically a major burden in Africa, causing severe yield loss and hence loss of food and income. Distribution maps indicating the value of the basic reproduction number R0 was used to identify areas where an insect pest can be controlled by a natural enemy. A dynamic process-based mathematical model integrating essential features of a natural enemy and its interaction with the pest is used to generate R0 risk maps for insect pest outbreaks, using desert locust and the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium acridum (Synn. Metarhizium anisoliae var. acridum) as a case study. This approach provides a tool for evaluating the impact of climatic variables such as temperature and relative humidity and mapping spatial variability on the efficacy of M. acridum as a biocontrol agent against desert locust invasion in Africa. Applications of M. acridum against desert locust in a few selected African countries including Morocco, Kenya, Mali, and Mauritania through monthly spatial projection of R0 maps for the prevailing climatic condition are illustrated. By combining mathematical modeling with a geographic information system in a spatiotemporal projection as we do in this study, the field implementation of microbial control against locust in an integrated pest management system may be improved. Finally, the practical utility of this model provides insights that may improve the timing of pesticide application in a selected area where efficacy is highly expected.
Coconut is recognized for its popularity in contributing to food and nutritional security. It generates income and helps to improve rural livelihood. However, these benefits are constrained by lethal yellowing disease (LYD). A clear understanding of climate suitable areas for disease invasion is essential for implementing quarantine measures. Therefore, we used a machine learning algorithm based on maximum entropy to model and map habitat suitability of LYD and coconut under current and future climate change scenarios using three Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) (1.26, 3.70 and 5.85) for three time periods (2041–2060, 2061–2080 and 2081–2100). Outside its current range, the model projected habitat suitability of LYD in Australia, Asia and South America. The distribution of coconut exceeded that of LYD. The area under the curve value of 0.98 was recorded for LYD, whereas 0.87 was obtained for the coconut model. The predictor variables that most influenced LYD projections were minimum temperature of the coldest month (88.4%) and precipitation of the warmest quarter (7.3%), whereas minimum temperature of the coldest month (85.9%) and temperature seasonality (8.7%) contributed most to the coconut model. Our study highlights potential climate suitable areas of LYD and coconut, and provides useful information for increasing quarantine measures and developing resistant or tolerant coconut varieties against the disease. Also, our study establishes an approach to model the climatic suitability for surveillance and monitoring of the disease, especially in areas that the disease has not been reported.
Understanding the detailed timing of crop phenology and their variability enhances grain yield and quality by providing precise scheduling of irrigation, fertilization, and crop protection mechanisms. Advances in information and communication technology (ICT) provide a unique opportunity to develop agriculture-related tools that enhance wall-to-wall upscaling of data outputs from point-location data to wide-area spatial scales. Because of the heterogeneity of the worldwide agro-ecological zones where crops are cultivated, it is unproductive to perform plant phenology research without providing means to upscale results to landscape-level while safeguarding field-scale relevance. This paper presents an advanced, reproducible, and open-source software for plant phenology prediction and mapping (PPMaP) that inputs data obtained from multi-location field experiments to derive models for any crop variety. This information can then be applied consecutively at a localized grid within a spatial framework to produce plant phenology predictions at the landscape level. This software runs on the ‘Windows’ platform and supports the development of process-oriented and temperature-driven plant phenology models by intuitively and interactively leading the user through a step-by-step progression to the production of spatial maps for any region of interest in sub-Saharan Africa. Maize (Zea mays L.) was used to demonstrate the robustness, versatility, and high computing efficiency of the resulting modeling outputs of the PPMaP. The framework was implemented in R, providing a flexible and easy-to-use GUI interface. Since this allows for appropriate scaling to the larger spatial domain, the software can effectively be used to determine the spatially explicit length of growing period (LGP) of any variety.
CAP-Africa – Combating Arthropod Pests for Better Health, Food and Resilience to Climate Change
CAP-Africa will address the most important and pressing continental issues of malaria and emerging infectious diseases (yellow fever and dengue), climate change impact and education, to improve the livelihood of rural communities in the Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. It is a response to accumulating evidence that addressing these major problems will improve health, food and nutritional security. At the same time, it will build the resilience of the people against the impacts of climate change and enhance the capacity for leadership in scientific research, policy and technology dissemination.
Malawi Digital Plant Health Service (MaDiPHS)
This project will establish a digital agricultural plant health service at the national level in Malawi, based on coordination of internationally developed digital systems.