Google highlights Penn State app helping African farmers

In *All, Technology by Ag is America

Google showcased a mobile app created by a team of Penn State researchers that diagnoses crop diseases at the tech company’s TensorFlow Developer Summit 2018, on March 30 in Mountain View, California. The team, called PlantVillage, is led by David Hughes, associate professor of entomology and biology and includes Amanda Ramcharan, postdoctoral fellow in entomology, and Peter McCloskey, research technologist in entomology.

PlantVillage’s app is called Nuru, which means “light” in Swahili, and it is being deployed in Africa to “help African farmers, who typically don’t have access to the kind of resources — such as land-grant agricultural scientists and extension specialists — that American farmers have,” according to Hughes. The presentation at the Google summit highlighted the team’s work in Tanzania, where local farmers are using the app to diagnose disease in cassava, an important crop that helps to feed 500 million Africans every day.

The app transforms a mobile device’s camera using artificial intelligence and machine learning into a tool that can recognize disease symptoms in plants. In addition to providing a diagnosis, the app also provides disease-management information and advice.

To read more about the work of the Penn State team, click here.

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