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.
by Erica Chernoh and Eduardo Hidalgo, CABI
The software application WhatsApp is being used by plant doctors in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to provide and receive plant diagnostic support. WhatsApp has proven to be popular in many countries, because it is a free communication tool for sending and receiving SMS messages. Continue reading
If you take a look at a Plantwise pest management decision guide (PMDG) on the Knowledge Bank, it probably won’t look much different to how it looked before. However, under the covers, this PDF has been created in a completely different way to before. This is because we are now storing each part of the PMDG factsheet in a database. This approach to storing content, previously implemented for Plantwise’s Factsheets for Farmers, is being extended for our other content types with the PMDGs being the latest significant addition. It has exciting implications for how pest management advice can be disseminated. Now we are not just limited to what can be provided on paper – the factsheets can be used in web or mobile applications (such as the Plantwise factsheets app), and could be mashed up with other content or data to add further value to the information. Continue reading
24 June marked the launch of the first e-plant clinics pilot in Sri Lanka. Experienced plant doctors from ten plant clinics in Nuwara Eliya district came together to learn how tablet computers could enhance the current Permanent Crop Clinic Programme (PCCP) led by the Plant Protection Service, Department of Agriculture. Plant doctors learnt:
- how electronic data collection and submission could make it easier to collect data about crops and pests in the area
- how to use the Plantwise factsheets library app, ebooks library, and internet to access information resources during their clinics
- how to communicate with other plant doctors and local diagnostic experts using a chat app
- how to ensure that farmers receive good advice in a written recommendation, in the language and format (either SMS or paper) chosen by the farmer
All of this means that the plant doctors’ job should be a little easier in future and they have access to more support for diagnosing pests and providing management advice.
“It’s easy to carry [the tablet] to the field or any other place with lots of information inside it… The Plantwise factsheet app is easy to use and no need to carry lots of heavy books. Copy paste is more easy, accurate, comprehensive and detailed.” – NMM Chandana Kumara, plant doctor, Bulugahapitiya plant clinic.
It also means that new data can be submitted, collated and analysed quickly after the plant clinics so that stakeholders in the plant health system can use it to track distribution of pests, monitor quality of advice given to farmers, and feed back information to improve the service in future.
“For sharing and using the data e-crop clinics are very good because the data will come quicker. Previously it took a long time to process data – we would see it maybe the next season, not the same season.” – PT Bandara, previous National Coordinator, PCCP.
“Making the data available quicker will help me to monitor the crop clinics in Nuwara Eliya more easily. I can’t visit every clinic in the field but seeing the data will let me know what is going on.” – Ms PK Senevirathne, Deputy Director Extension, Nuwara Eliya district.
This blog post is different to those you might usually read on the Plantwise blog. It is a little tour behind the scenes of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, telling you about how we design features for our website and mobile. Let us know if you’re interested in hearing more about how we develop the Knowledge Bank, either in the comments below or via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Plantwise Knowledge Bank team provides tools and content both online and offline to assist in the development of fully functioning plant health systems in developing countries. Over the past couple of years, much of our IT development has focussed on the Plantwise Online Management System (POMS), a secure website that countries can use to record administrative information relating to their plant health system, track progress towards annual targets, and store, view and analyse data from plant clinics.
Over the past year, the Plantwise Knowledge Bank team has been conducting an e-plant clinic pilot in Kenya. Following the success of this pilot, we are now seeing if we can apply the lessons learnt in Kenya to other Plantwise countries. In December, we travelled to Thanjavur city, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, to work with our in-country partners, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), on a mobile scoping workshop to better understand the requirements of such a pilot in India.