Stage 2: Research & Development
Melanie Bannister-Tyrrell of Ausvet in Australia will create an SMS-based communication system for farmers in Kenya to anonymously report crop disease and pest infestations and generate surveillance data to minimize crop loss. Pest infestation and disease cause substantial crop losses each year. In many low-income countries, farmers do not report disease to local agricultural authorities because they fear their crops will be destroyed without compensation. Yet information on the presence and spread of pests is needed to inform decisions on planting and control measures. They will optimize the design of an SMS interface for anonymous reporting using SMS codes for diseases and pests. The system will be piloted in one county, leveraging existing users and community volunteers to recruit new users. Reports will be used to estimate the local prevalence of pests and disease using modified small-area statistics. If a credible threat is detected, all users will be alerted. The system will improve connection and trust between farmers and agricultural extension workers and improve surveillance.