In early December 2019, the Pest Risk Information Service (PRISE) project ran a series of workshops across Malawi to engage with Plantwise Plant Doctors on new pest risk forecast bulletins as well as to provide pest identification training to all Plantwise extension workers.
The PRISE bulletin-style forecasts are a new development based on the original Telegram bot pest risk forecasting system, in which Plant Doctors would receive time-sensitive and location-specific pest risk forecasts on maize, beans and tomato crops. In the third year of project implementation, the forecasting system is expanding into Malawi with new crop and pest models, resulting in a new forecasting output – the bulletins.
In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Extension Services (DAES), Malawi, the PRISE team led three one-day workshops in the northern, central and southern regions for all Plant Doctors in the country held in the cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre. The aims of these workshops were to collect valuable user feedback on the new bulletin reports before they are rolled-out in real-time in Malawi and Zambia over the coming months during their rainy seasons as well as to provide PRISE-related pest identification training to Plant Doctors.
Next steps for PRISE:
Throughout the current rainy season in Malawi and Zambia, we will be rolling out the new pest risk forecast bulletins, as well as continuing numerous technology pilots across Zambia, Ghana and Kenya with the hope of expanding our pilot portfolio across all project countries). Over the following months, we will also be continuing to further develop our models used to produce the PRISE forecasts, with field data collection, calibration and validation studies planned to feed back and strengthen our pest risk forecasting system.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved from the PRISE consortium, including our Malawi team, as well as all Plantwise officers and Plant Doctors who took part in the events and provided valuable feedback for our ongoing developments.