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Crop early warning project launched

FARMERS in a maize field.

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) and the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) have launched a crop early warning project aimed at providing information to smallholder farmers to enable them assess risks to avoid losses.
The project, dubbed the Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE), is a five-year project which will use state-of-the-art crop and pest modelling techniques to provide users with early warning against damaging outbreaks, and appropriate advice on mitigation responses.
According to the Friday brief availed to the Daily Mail by the Zambia National Farmers Union, ZARI director Moses Mwale said the project will help growers plan to ensure improved household income and food security.
Dr Mwale was speaking during the PRISE in-Country inception workshop held at Chaminuka Lodge in Chisamba last week.
He said the project will work with line ministries in target countries that include Zambia, Kenya and Ghana, which are key partners.
“The launched project called PRISE is an innovative, new project that will develop a crop pest and disease risk forecasting system designed for smallholders and commercial producers in developing countries. It brings together a broad range of stakeholders, including plant protection authorities, space experts, private sector companies, and farmers,” he said.
The PRISE project also works with various models to identify crops exposed to risks from insects and diseases based on environmental data.
The statement said an electrical system is used to provide risk assessment to growers in Zambia, Kenya and Ghana.
It said advice and support is offered via the plant-wise network and other extension services, which are also used to provide validation data into PRISE and the feedback loop provides greater confidence in the forecasts.
PRISE is run by a consortium led by CABI, working with Assimila Limited, Kings College London, and Centre for Environmental Data Analysis.

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