Researchers win grant to further test app for smallholders
App diagnoses deadly cassava diseases in field, sends alerts
Roll-out in Africa needs engagement with farmers, says expert
- A team of scientists has received US$100,000 grant to refine a mobile application (app)
that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose crop diseases, and aims to help millions of African smallholders.
adds that so far it distinguishes five major types of damage to cassava
plants: three diseases and two types of pest damage.
virus diseases alone, explains Legg, cause losses of more than US$1
billion annually in Africa, and threaten food and income security of
over 30 million farmers in East and Central Africa.
main target will be farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, we will be
working with the global network of CGIAR, and this means that the app
could equally be of value in other parts of the developing world, such
as Latin America and Asia.”
Peter Okoth, a consultant agronomist at the Kenya-based Newscape Agro Systems Ltd, tells SciDev.Net that
smallholders in Africa cannot afford basic agricultural inputs, and
thus well planned value chain arrangement with key players are needed to
make its potential roll-out in Africa feasible.“For this app to
generate the desired impact, the developers must partner with service
providers and plant-health specialists and financiers to solve the
problems,” explains Okoth. “The CGIAR needs to move a step further and
constitute action consortia with membership drawn from an array of
actors who are needed to address the practical aspects of solving the
crop problems jointly with the farmers.”
in dissemination, according to Okoth, include information distribution
and gaining potential users’ confidence that it will solve their
problems as well as sustainability.