The use of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets to access and share information is rapidly expanding in all areas of our lives, and the agricultural sector is no different. Plantwise is already making use of digital devices, especially in rural areas of the world. Plant doctors, using smart phones and tablets not only have access to up-to-date information on pests and diseases but also a quick and convenient means by which to collect and share information and images on agricultural problems. The tablets also offer a way of delivering information and training to plant doctors, and Plantwise has been leading the way in developing novel ways to make training more fun and engaging.
The banana is the world’s most popular fruit: we consume 100 billion of them a year. And yet, their future is threatened by a spate of diseases that are ravaging crops worldwide. Now, researchers have developed a tool to tackle these silent killers: an artificially-intelligent smartphone app that can scan banana plants for early signs of infection, and alert farmers before it takes hold on their crops.
For poor, rural communities, agriculture is seen as a pathway out of poverty and when considering agricultural development, we often look to digital solutions; ICT for development. But how much are these technologies taken up and more importantly, actually used by their target end users?
In a recent paper, published in Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, CABI authors used the Plantwise Data Collection (PDC) App as a case study to examine the factors impacting user acceptance and behaviour when interacting with an app for agricultural extension in Kenya.
Google’s first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Africa has opened in Accra, Ghana. The tech giant aims to support researchers with the tools and environment necessary to develop AI products to solve numerous problems faced across the continent within the agriculture sector.
In the Kabwe District of Zambia, Adamson Andrew Tembo is the acting senior agricultural officer (SAO) working with the Ministry of Agriculture. He is trained as an agricultural engineer and his role has been as an irrigation engineer. He was transferred to Kabwe District in January 2017 and assumed the role of SAO in July that year. Kabwe district has five plant clinics; one permanently based at Chililalila and the rest mobile plant clinics; operated by two plant doctors. Although Mr Tembo has not been trained as a plant doctor, he has access to a rich Plantwise informational resource; the Plantwise Factsheets Library app on his phone.
E-plant clinics in Sri Lanka were launched in June 2015. Since then 190 Plant doctors have been trained and equipped with tablets, with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture funding half of the total number of tablets themselves. Being equipped with tablets means Plant doctors give higher quality recommendations, and the data collection process is also considerably streamlined. Below are two snapshots of how e-plant clinics are doing in Sri Lanka.