Pest distribution and risk atlas for Africa includes potato and sweetpotato pests

Pest distribution and risk atlas for Africa includes potato and sweetpotato pests

Insect pests cause major yield losses in agricultural crops. Climate change is expected to exacerbate this impact, with warming temperatures affecting insect populations, range expansion and outbreaks. To inform the development of integrated pest management strategies, the International Potato Center (CIP) launched an online Pest Distribution and Risk Atlas for Africa in early 2017.

This open-access, mobile-accessible resource combines up-to-date information on major insect threats to potato, sweetpotato, vegetable and maize production with current risk maps for each pest and predictions for future climate scenarios. Researchers, agricultural ministry officials and extensionists can use that information to plan efforts that help farmers better manage crop pests now and prepare for future threats. The maps were generated using insect life cycle modelling (ILCYM) software (

“Any increase in temperature caused by climate change will have drastic effects on pest invasions and outbreaks that will affect pest management, crop production and food security,” said Jürgen Kroschel, CIP Agroecology and Integrated Pest Management science leader, who started the Pest Risk Atlas project.

To predict the risks of insect pests linked to range expansion and more intense outbreaks at global, regional and local levels, CIP scientists used advanced pest phenology modeling and geographic information system risk mapping, among other tools. This included risk assessments from a collaborative project with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). The Atlas also includes information on pest identification, ecology and impacts, as well as pest management recommendations.

Funded by RTB, the Atlas promotes sustainable pest control methods that reduce the use of pesticides, such as biocontrol strategies for invasive pests. The goal is to improve pest management on the ground, increase crop yields, and contribute to the food security and the incomes of Africa’s smallholder farmers.

Photo: CIP researcher Joshua Okonya inspects the health of a potato field. Credit: CIP