CABI launches new portal to help facilitate collaboration on fall armyworm research

CABI has partnered with leading researchers and institutions to launch a new portal that facilitates global research collaboration to help fight the devastating crop pest fall armyworm (FAW).

(1 Jul 2020) CABI has partnered with leading researchers and institutions to launch a new portal that facilitates global research collaboration to help fight the devastating crop pest fall armyworm (FAW).

The CABI-led Fall Armyworm Research Collaboration Portal, is a free-to-access platform that enables the sharing of research data, insights and outputs, and includes a range of key features such as posting research updates, identifying collaborators, and posting questions to the community.

The Fall Armyworm Research Collaboration Portal, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) under the Action on Invasives programme, will also encourage researchers to post preprints of research articles to the new agriRxiv – which offers researchers and students access to preprints across agriculture and allied sciences.

It will help reduce the duplication of research into FAW prevention and management, provide a route for the rapid sharing of results and highlight opportunities for collaboration – encouraging rapid, iterative experimentation and global teamwork to address the spread and impact of FAW.

FAW (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a lepidopteran pest that feeds in large numbers on leaves and stems of more than 80 plant species, causing major damage to maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane but also other vegetable crops and cotton.

The pest is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. However, in 2016 it was reported for the first time in Africa, where it is causing significant damage to maize crops and has great potential for further spread and economic damage.

FAW has since spread to the Near East and Asia and, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it will likely soon be present in southern Europe. The FAO says that once FAW is a resident pest in a country, it is there to stay and farmers need significant support to manage it sustainably in their cropping systems through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) activities.

Dr Roger Day, Programme Executive, Action on Invasives, said, “The current COVID-19 crisis shows what can happen when the scientific community comes together to address a challenge. The fall armyworm is having a severe impact on the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers around the world in addition to the people they help feed with their produce.

“It is imperative that the international science community collaborates in a resourceful and efficient way to help develop existing and new ways of detecting, monitoring and managing FAW in the countries where it is already present and to help prevent its further spread.

“The Fall Armyworm Research Collaboration Portal has already established a steering committee of leading FAW research groups, who are all intent on contributing to research on FAW management.”

The Research Collaboration Portal is the official platform for the Fall Armyworm Research for Development International Consortium. Dr B. M. Prasanna, Director of CIMMYT’s Global Maize Program and the CGIAR Research Program on Maize and co-chair of the portal steering committee commented, “The FAW research collaboration portal will serve as an effective platform for communicating on research actions of the FAW Research-for-Development International Consortium, led by CIMMYT and IITA. We encourage all the members of the FAW R4D International Consortium to actively contribute to the portal.”

The press release is here.