How Computer Science Aids in Pest Management

Dr. Guimapi A Research Scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy.

AFRICA-ai-JAPAN PROJECT held an incubation webinar about Computational Science and Decision Support System for Integrated Pest Management on 29th September, 2023. The event focused on how computer scientists could use their knowledge on the issue of Integrated Pest Management.

Professor Waweru Mwangi from the Department of Computing started the webinar with few remarks and a brief introduction of who the speaker of the day was. He also explained how computer science was playing a great role in the approach of Integrated Pest Management.

Dr. Ritter Guimapi a research scientist the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy (NIBIO) who holds a PhD. in computer science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has been involved in ecological modelling at the International Centre for Insects Physiology and Ecology. He is currently responsible for offering support to researchers with experimental planning and statistical analysis.

Dr. Guimapi stated that computer science has strong relationship with the fight against pests. He emphasised that most farmers use pesticides when it comes to control and elimination of pests.

A chart explaining the steps followed in Integrated Pest Management approach.

“This has a long-term side effect on the soil, human skin and crops, because of the benefiting organisms like bees that might be affected by the pesticides leading to the pollution of honey, “said Dr. Guimapi, “this is due to some of the residue that remains after application of the pesticides.”

He stressed that the reason for coming up with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach was to minimize and eradicate the use of chemicals. Although it requires a lot of techniques and suitable environmental condition, it is the best approach.

For IPM to be successful you need to play with the natural interaction and one of the approaches used is the biological control method. It involves the release of the beneficial organisms for example, fungi, viruses or bacteria into the target environment. The advantage of the approach is that you only target the specific insect that plays the role of the pest in your farm. It also does not have the side effects associated with pesticides.

A map generated after the prediction using the simulation model of when the tuta absoluta pest would reach the southern part of Africa.

The computer scientists are involved in coming up with the stimulation model that can be used to optimize, understand and predict the interactions in relation to the environmental factors. This is primed to make it easier for farmers to proactively engage in pest control.

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