‘Cracking the code’ of woody weed spread with machine-learnt algorithms

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Machine learning algorithms have their origins in early ‘computers’ such as the German WW2 ciphering Enigma machine

A scientific tool which has its principles in early ‘computers’ such as the German WW2 Enigma machine – used to convey secret commercial, diplomatic and military communication – is helping to map the fractional cover of the woody weed Prosopis juliflora across the Afar Region of Ethiopia.

PhD Candidate Hailu Shiferaw from Addis Ababa University, who is being supervised by CABI’s Dr Urs Schaffner, Professor Woldeamlak Bewket (AAU) and Dr Sandra Eckert (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern), has compared the performances of five Machine Learning Algorithms (MLAs) to test their ability at mapping the fractional cover/abundance and distribution of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS) – particularly Prosopis which has already devastated an area equivalent to half of neighbouring Djibouti.

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“I was and still am motivated by discoveries and surprises that come with science”

 

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Lucy Karanja: the reward for being ‘best in science’ at school was a first aid course with St John Ambulance

To mark the forthcoming UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February 2019), we speak to some of CABI’s women working in science. In this blog Lucy Karanja, a Content Manager, reveals the motivation and inspiration behind her career in science communications and says ‘women are all round scientists naturally’. 

What motivated you to work in science and development?

My parents were business people and I did not know anybody in our village who was a scientist. I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up because I admired the way pupils respected teachers. In class 8, we were given a multiple choice science quiz and guess what? I miraculously got 18 out of 20. There were four boys and I was the only girl.

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Tuning into radio to dispel myths

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By Amzath Fassassi – SciDev.Net’s regional coordinator for sub-Saharan Africa French, and the driving force behind Science et Développement.

In Africa, many communities are still unaware of the key principles of science, whether they relate to diseases or natural phenomena.

Until the beginning of the 1980s, in the slums of my native Benin, I remember that when lightning, hitherto considered a manifestation of the wrath of Heviosso, the god of thunder, fell on residential areas, voodoo worshipers travelled in procession to retrieve the bodies of the victims, to atone for their sins.

Victims of lightning were indeed considered as sinners.

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One health – human, animal, environmental and plant health

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Ahead of One Health Day tomorrow (3rd November 2018), Robert Taylor, CABI’s Editorial Director, explores the relationships between human, animal, environmental and plant health…

The ‘One health’ initiative launched in 2007 was designed primarily to break down the barriers between human and veterinary medicine, particularly for dealing with zoonotic diseases. The link between BSE and nvCJD, as well as the threat of new diseases like SARS and threat of old diseases like avian influenza made for a strong case that the health of humans and animals are inter-linked. Since then, ‘One health’ has been expanded to include environmental health as there are many examples of how human activity can harm the health of the environment, and how in turn, a polluted environment adversely affects human health.

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Embracing ‘stakeholder interaction’ for better business strategy and integration in Pakistan

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The betterment of supply chains for condiments including spices is a key aim for some stakeholders

Dr Umair Safdar, Development Communications Executive at CABI in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, looks at ‘stakeholder interaction’ for better business strategy and integration in Pakistan through the cluster-based Agricultural Transformation (CDBAT) Project…

Stakeholders strongly influence a project’s success, particularly for complex projects with heterogeneous stakeholders. Therefore, understanding their influence is essential for project management and implementation.

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World Food Day 2018 – Feeding our appetite for food security

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The fruit and veg ‘food basket’ of the world

By Dr Dennis Rangi – Director General, Development at CABI based in Nairobi, Kenya

On this World Food Day 2018 the issue of feeding the world has never been in sharper focus. By 2050, agriculture will need to produce almost 50 percent more food, feed and biofuel than it did in 2012 just to meet demand.

Our passion for food – beyond the need of it for our very survival – is engrained deeply in cultural practices and national identities around the world. The Americans are perhaps stereotypically renowned for wanting their food fast and lots of it, the Italians for pizza and pasta, the Chinese for rice and noodles, while the French are famous for their à la carte cuisine. To quench our thirst one could also add coffee from Ethiopia.

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‘Switching’ onto ICT approaches to gender in extension services

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Duncan Sones, of the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) delivery team, looks back on six years of concept and project development that could unlock changes in farmer’s ability to effectively access improved technologies…

I don’t know about you but when I hear about something for the first time, I rarely take in all the nuanced details. However, ask me to sing an advertising jingle for a store than hasn’t existed for 40 years and I am probably able to sing it! My father knew all of the kings and queens of England in order. Well he did and he didn’t – he knew a rhyme that he could reel off 75 years after he learned it!

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