Exploring partnership to get AI app for disease diagnostics into farmers’ hands
“Nuru,” a Swahili word meaning “light”, is a smartphone app that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to diagnose, in real time, crop pests and diseases. It was developed by Pennsylvania State University (PSU), USA, in partnership with the plant pathology team at IITA-Tanzania led by James Legg.
The app is able to accurately diagnose leaves damaged by the two cassava viral diseases—Cassava Mosaic Diseases (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Diseases (CBSD) and by red and green mites.
Recently, the IITA team gave a presentation on the app to potential partners in Tanzania and explored ways to partner and collaborate in scaling it out to the farming community to support efforts to control pests and diseases. They included representatives of mobile, information technology, and finance companies, other CGIAR centers, and IITA staff in Tanzania.
“Nuru is a free app that is easily accessible using smartphones with good cameras, 2GB RAM, android software version 5.1, and a stable Internet to upload photos,” she added.
According to Mrisho, at least 100 extension officers in Kenya and Tanzania have been trained to use the app to diagnose cassava pests and diseases. The team has been working to improve the app’s accuracy under different environmental conditions and to include pests and diseases of other root and tuber plants including Irish and sweet potato, yam, and banana.
Nacha Mlaki from Andre & Ross, a Technology Management Company, appreciated IITA and PSU’s efforts in developing innovative solutions to address challenges in the agriculture sector such as Nuru. He said the technology has great potential in the agriculture sector and advised the team to think of adding other functions such as integrating the app with a platform where farmers can submit queries about any issue relating to agriculture.
The tool is available in PlantVillage https://plantvillage.psu.edu/ and at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=plantvillage.nuru. More info about Nuru is available here http://www.iita.org/news-item/african-farmers-get-new-help-against-cassava-diseases-nuru-their-artificially-intelligent-assistant/