HarvestChoice will use the CLIMEX and DYMEX modelling software to better understand and improve productivity of agricultural crops in developing countries.
The HarvestChoice initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is designed to assess the potential impacts of investments targeted at raising the productivity of smallholder cropping systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA).
A particular goal is to identify those investments having great impact on raising the incomes and improving the nutrition and health of the poorest farming households. Much research has shown that such households generally have low levels of productivity and are susceptible to production shocks.
Furthermore, biotic production stresses, the negative impacts of pathogens, arthropods and weeds (pests) on crop production are frequently found to be the major factors limiting smallholder crop yields.
HarvestChoice scientists have been examining best-bet approaches for assessing pest impacts on the productivity of key smallholder cropping systems across SSA and SA and, ideally, finding approaches that can help explore how the pest prevalence and impacts might vary in the future (for example, as a consequence of climate change, or through the development and adoption of more pest-proofed cropping systems).
Professor Philip Pardey of the University of Minnesota, the co-Principal Investigator of HarvestChoice, "Discovering CLIMEX has been a great boon to us. CLIMEX helps us answer strategic questions about the potential prevalence of pests across broad geographic areas, when much of the published evidence we draw from can only tell us about individual locations.”
Stanley Wood, the other HarvestChoice co-PI, based at the International Food Policy Research Institute adds, "While we've only just started applying CLIMEX in our research, the crop experts we've worked with to validate CLIMEX results for pests in maize, wheat, cassava and legumes are very impressed with its predictive power. We are investing in both CLIMEX and DYMEX software to support the HarvestChoice work on biotic stresses being undertaken in five CGIAR centres (CIMMYT in Mexico, CIAT in Colombia, ICRISAT in Nairobi, IRRI in the Philippines, and IFPRI in the USA) as well as at the University of Minnesota.”
The CLIMEX and DYMEX packages from Hearne Scientific Software are the result of 20 years of research and development at CSIRO Entomology in Australia. To-date CLIMEX and/or DYMEX has been applied in the areas of forest pests and diseases, crop pests, weeds, livestock pests, biological control, global change, vertebrate pests, environmental pests, conservation, public health, climate change, plant breeding and GM crops.