Artificial intelligence-powered tools are rapidly becoming more accessible, including for people in the more remote corners of the globe. This is good news for smallholder farmers, who can use handheld technologies to run their farms more efficiently, linking them to markets, extension workers, satellite images, and climate information. The technology is also becoming a first line of defense against crop diseases and pests that can potentially destroy their harvests.
A new smartphone tool developed for banana farmers scans plants for signs of five major diseases and one common pest. In testing in Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Benin, China, and Uganda, the tool provided a 90 percent successful detection rate. This work is a step towards creating a satellite-powered, globally connected network to control disease and pest outbreaks, say the researchers who developed the technology. The findings were published this week in the journal Plant Methods. "Farmers around the world struggle to defend their crops from pests and diseases," said Michael Selvaraj, the lead author, who developed the tool with colleagues from Bioversity International in Africa. "There is very little data on banana pests and diseases for low-income countries, but an AI tool such as this one offers an opportunity to improve crop surveillance, fast-track control and mitigation efforts, and help farmers to prevent production losses." Co-authors included researchers from India's Imayam Institute of Agriculture and Technology (IIAT), and Texas A&M University.
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com)