Using climate information to evaluate plant pathogen and pest occurrence/suitability in Rwanda

Using climate information to evaluate plant pathogen and pest occurrence/suitability in Rwanda

Host Institution:

  • African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Rwanda
  • International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Rwanda

Location: CIAT and AIMS-Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda

Dr Rosita Yocgo,
Dr Desire Kagabo,;

Project Description:

The agricultural sector in Rwanda is extremely vulnerable to climate change, translating to yield penalties and food insecurity. Climatic factors and associated abiotic stressors such as drought further predispose plants to pest and pathogens (plant diseases); hence, exacerbating the challenge of producing enough food for the growing population. These challenges further affect economic growth and poverty reduction efforts in Rwanda, owing to the fact that the agricultural sector is an important employer, and contributes to about a third of the country’s GDP (Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, 2012; Mikova et al. 2015).

Research-based information on the impact of climate change on crop production in general is growing; however, comparable information on plant diseases, their causal factors, occurrences, and spread in Rwanda, to support the design of relevant preparedness and irradiation actions is lagging. This is in spite of the fact that Rwanda has over 100 weather stations, and has made significant efforts to capture and share weather information with all economically important sectors, including the agricultural sector.

As a first step in a broader effort to improve the relevance of climate information for the agricultural sector, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in Rwanda, seek to elucidate the climatic suitability of key plant pathogens and pests of important crops like maize, potatoes, beans, cassava, and banana in Rwanda.  Sub-research topics could include among others:

  1. Elucidating the climatic suitability of plant/crop pathogens.
  2. Mapping suitable climatic zones of key crop pathogens and pests in Rwanda.
  3. Forecasting future outbreaks of important crop diseases in Rwanda.
  4. Evaluating climate change adaptation and/or mitigation strategies for farmers.

Candidates should:

  • have a background in programming,
  • have an interest to work with climate data and plant-pathosystems (knowledge on plants, plant pathogens and pest would be an advantage but is not a core requirement), and
  • propose a brief project and approach/method on how they would address one or more of the above topics using modelling and related techniques. Candidates may elect to propose new topics that are of interest to them.

Results obtained from any of these topics or newly proposed topics would inform next steps post this internship phase.

Applications for this internship should be submitted via the online application system, stating clearly the title of the internship.

Deadline for applications: March 29th, 2019 – 11:59 PM (EAT).

Any inquiries about these internships should be sent to: