The Early App Gets the (Fall Army) Worm

One of the most important stages in the battle to suppress fall armyworm is early detection and early action.  Yet, many African farmers are unfamiliar with the pest, especially in the early stages, when it is hard to detect.

A Tanzanian cassava farmer, left, learns to use a plant disease mobile app developed as part of the PlantVillage initiative led by Penn State researchers. Photo credit: Penn State

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Pennsylvania State University are working together to develop and launch a talking app – Nuru—that assists with fall armyworm recognition so they can quickly stop its spread across their fields. The app is on an open platform, free to use and “speaks” in several local languages for African farmers.

By using Nuru, farmers can register to receive alerts and advice over their phones.  The app is part of the PlantVillage platform, built at Pennsylvania State University, and collects data for global web-based monitoring and actions to fight FAW.


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