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Inspire Challenge

Monitoring Pests & Diseases

Creating innovative disease diagnostic tools to alert on crop, livestock and fish threats

Every year pests and diseases cause billions of dollars of damage to crops, livestock, and fish harvests globally. Changing climate patterns are resulting in new or previously unencountered pest and disease threats attacking unprepared regions, with detrimental consequences to industries and livelihoods. Given this peril, the early warning of possible pest and disease outbreaks is critical. Unfortunately, ground-truthing diseases is time-consuming and costly. Therefore new technologies and approaches are needed to help monitor the spread of outbreaks and alert those who could become affected.

Such technologies and approaches could include:

  • Crowdsourced data and “citizen science” approaches
  • Data mining and scraping of relevant digital information resources
  • Image recognition capabilities to provide real-time diagnosis
  • Georeferenced alerts tied to the appearance and severity of outbreaks
  • Interactive updates tailored for populations with low literacy rates

Technologies such as these, when used successfully in combination, could help address current gaps in the response to pests and diseases, helping to secure food systems against shocks.

This Inspire project looks for compelling demonstrations of an innovative, user-friendly, and open technology-based systems that effectively address pest and disease losses across a broad number of crops, including those that CGIAR focuses on. There are examples that can serve as starting points, such as the RustTracker, Borlaug Global Rust Initiative or 2017 Inspire Challenge awardees whose projects aim to tackle devastating wheat rust outbreaks and cassava diseases.

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