Penn State University Researcher Protects Crops from Disease with New Mobile App

In *All, Technology by Ag is America

The cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease are spreading across Africa, threatening the food and income security of over 30 million farmers in the eastern and central parts of the continent. The diseases are hard to identify by farmers alone and the experts lack the data to support them.

Fortunately, there is hope thanks to the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas. The team leaders include David Hughes, associate professor of entomology and biology at Penn State. Along with the other researchers and their $100,000 grant, Hughes is developing a mobile app that uses artificial intelligence to accurately diagnose crop diseases in the field.

“Smartphones are becoming more and more common in rural Africa,” said James Legg, another leader of the team and a member of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. “Smallholders or extension officers with a basic smartphone with a camera will be able to download the app for free, fire it up, point it at a leaf with disease symptoms and get an instant diagnosis. That is truly revolutionary!”

The app is currently developed for cassava crops, but researchers are hoping to expand the app for other root, tuber and banana crop usage with the rest of the grant money. For more details on the app and how it works, read more here.

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