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African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest

Feed the Future seeks digital solutions to help stop the spread of Fall Armyworm across Africa

Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. The prize offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa—a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. Selected digital solutions will strengthen resilience against fall armyworm and mitigate risks to food security across the continent.

Fall armyworm attacks over 80 different plant species. Agriculture experts estimate the pest could cause between $2.4 and $6.2 billion in losses for maize,[1] a major staple crop in Africa on which more than 200 million people depend. Crops like sorghum, rice, and sugarcane are also at risk. Unchecked, fall armyworm is a threat to the livelihoods of farmers and to food security across the continent.

How the prizes will be awarded:

  • One grand prize of $150,000 will be awarded to the most viable solution
  • Two awards of $75,000 for the most promising solutions
  • Two runner-up awards of $50,000 for early stage developments that show potential

Applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

The application deadline is 14 May 2018 via https://fallarmywormtech.challenges.org/. The Prize welcomes entries from around the world that are specific to the context of fall armyworm in Africa. Final prize awards will be announced later this year.

-ENDS-

Notes to editor

For media enquiries please contact Nesta’s press office on [email protected] or +44 (0) 20 7438 2543.

  • Full terms and conditions and judging criteria are available at fallarmyworm.challenges.org
  • Prizes are a tried and tested method for supporting innovation. They offer a reward to those who can first or most effectively deliver a defined result. They act as an incentive for meeting a specific target. Prizes are also a means of opening up the process of solving a problem beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ thus facilitating the engagement and participation of anyone who can solve the problem.

About fall armyworm

  • Fall armyworm poses a serious threat to Africa’s food security. Native to the Americas, it was first identified in Africa in 2016. It is now present across sub-Saharan Africa in more than 35 countries. It is on the precipice of devastating food staples as it quickly spreads across the continent.[2]
  • Differing from other types of armyworm present on the continent, like African armyworm, it eats the vegetative as well as the reproductive parts of plants, rendering further crop growth impossible.[3]
  • In the Americas it has, to an extent, been contained through the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds and crops alongside judicious pesticide spraying. Many effective and fall armyworm-specific pesticides have been registered for use in the Americas. However, no pesticides have been fully registered specifically for fall armyworm in Africa, resulting in the use of unregistered and illegal pesticides, or pesticides meant to treat other invasive pests.[4]
  • The female fall armyworm can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and can produce multiple generations very quickly without pause in tropical environments.[5]
  • If allowed to reach maturity, female fall armyworm moths can fly distances up to 1,600 kilometers in 30 hours (almost 1,000 miles)[6]

About the partners

Feed the Future: Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and food security initiative, aims to transform lives toward a world where people no longer face extreme poverty, undernutrition and hunger. To achieve this, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Land O’Lakes International Development: Land O'Lakes International Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that leverages the farm-to-fork expertise of Land O'Lakes, Inc. to unlock the potential of agriculture to empower the developing world. Since 1981, Land O'Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries.

Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre: Nesta is a pioneer in the use of prizes to accelerate innovation for public good. Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research: The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.

Learn more: www.foundationfar.org | Connect: @FoundationFAR

DAI: Founded in 1970, DAI is a global development company with corporate offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Named one of the world’s top 40 international development innovators, DAI works on the front lines of international development, tackling fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability.

[1]https://www.cabi.org/Uploads/isc/Dfid%20Faw%20Inception%20Report28apr2017final.pdf

[2] http://www.fao.org/africa/news/detail-news/fr/c/1070962/

[3] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2017/06/07/fall-armyworm-outbreaks-in-the-sadc-region-how-to-respond/

[4]https://feedthefuture.gov/sites/default/files/resource/files/FallArmyworm_IPM_Guide_forAfrica.pdf

[5] http://www.cimmyt.org/press_release/multi-pronged-approach-key-for-effectively-defeating-fall-armyworm-in-africa/

[6] http://www.cimmyt.org/press_release/multi-pronged-approach-key-for-effectively-defeating-fall-armyworm-in-africa/

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