Aberystwyth University students have scooped a major World Food Forum award for their research tackling avian influenza (AI).
Their project aims to build an app to help farmers in rural Nigeria keep up to date on measures needed to limit the spread of the disease.
Significant outbreaks of the disease have been seen worldwide in recent years, in a wide range of birds from chickens to puffins and penguins. Between December 2014 and May 2016, Nigeria alone lost over 2.7 million birds.
The new research project, led by four Aberystwyth University students and graduates, won a research challenge award organised by the World Food Forum and supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Aberystwyth University graduate Samson Balogun, who founded the Neglected Disease Eradication Campaign (NeDEC), commented: “It is fantastic to have received this award from such prestigious institutions. Recent events demonstrate the urgent need to explore innovative approaches for preventing and controlling future outbreaks effectively.”
Maria de la Puerta, Aberystwyth PhD student and founder of Omeva Consulting said: “Technology can improve agricultural information delivery and boost farmers’ productivity. With increasing mobile phone penetration, rural connectivity among small-holder farmers has seen a significant revolution. We intend to build on this momentum by building a platform, actively involving poultry farmers and stakeholders in developing user-friendly, relevant information that is accessible offline. Ultimately the platform and app will benefit the health of the people, animals, and ecosystems.”
Project supervisor Dr Edore Akpokodje from the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University commented: “Many congratulations to the students and graduates who have won this award. I am looking forward to supporting them as they develop the project in what is such an important field.”