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Can Crowdsourcing Stop the Fall Armyworm Invasion?

By Aaron Mason on February 4, 2013


The Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock recently announced that they are experiencing an outbreak of maize-eating fall armyworm in some parts of the country. As Zambia is the continent’s third largest producer of maize (corn), this poses a significant threat to the food security of the country.

In response, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, with the help of BongoHive Zambia, has deployed a Fall Armyworm Crowdmap, urging all farmers to report any sightings of the black-and-green-striped caterpillars.

The tool was deployed in just a month ago, and at the time of writing already has 78 cases showing up as clustered red dots on the map, with individual reports ranging from “0.5 acres affected” to “8000 farmers / 6000 hectares affected”.

Submitting a report can be done online through the Crowdmap website on an online form, or through voice calls and text messages, and a toll-free line is available to reach staff from the Ministry of Agriculture for advice.

So what do you think? Is crowdsourcing the right tool for the job? And how much should governments rely on the data they get back?

Filed Under: Agriculture
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Aaron Mason is a technology and development expert with experience in design, analytics, ICT and disaster response. Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_Mason
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One Comment to “Can Crowdsourcing Stop the Fall Armyworm Invasion?”

  1. Wayan Vota says:

    Whoa! I love this application of Ushahidi for one BIG reason: there is a toll-free line is available to reach staff from the Ministry of Agriculture for advice. Does anyone know if the MoA is proactive and call those that report an outbreak? And are decisions being made from this map?