Fall Armyworm (FAW) is a major farm pest capable of destroying 85 plant species including maize, sorghum, and tomato. Projections show that if FAW is not checked, sub- Saharan Africa could lose up to $13bn worth of food, keeping 300 million people in hunger.
In response to this, Feed the Future partnered with Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture to launch the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize in March 2018. The prize sought for timely, context-specific entries that would enable smallholder farmers to identify, treat and track the incidence of Fall Armyworm in Africa.
eHealth Africa partnered with Dr. Cornelius Adewale, the Bullitt Environmental Fellow at Washington State University (WSU), to develop CornBot, a mobile application equipped with audio-visual algorithms to enable farmers to identify, detect, prevent, manage and control FAW on their farms. The app is very user friendly as it is also available in the farmers’ local languages.
The application also provides handy information that allows the farmer to make requests for specialist’s help where needed. CornBot also has a dashboard that provides real-time information and a heat map for CornBot-reported FAW diagnosis and detection to researchers, decision makers and other stakeholders for surveillance purposes and informed decision making.
Out of 225 applications from countries all over the world, CornBot scaled through four stages, including a user testing stage among smallholder farmers to ensure viability and effectiveness, and emerged as one of the 6 winners of the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. At the AfricaCom Awards, eHealth Africa was presented with the Frontier Innovation award and was also awarded prize money of US $50,000.
About CornBot, the FAW Tech Prize panel had this to say, “CornBot had the highest testing score of all the solutions because the app’s interface was extremely easy to use and included a step by step FAW identification system for farmers. The solution is extremely comprehensive and accessible due to its use of human-centered design”
Through CornBot and our nutrition and food security systems focus area, eHealth Africa aims to develop data-driven, technological approaches to improving the quality and availability of nutritious food products throughout West Africa.