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Disease identification app to boost food security in Africa

Staff Writer |
A team of researchers that has developed an app which will allow small-scale farmers in Africa to identify cassava diseases has won a $100,000 grant to expand the tool for use on other root, tuber and banana crops.

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The international team comprises scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, Pennsylvania State University in the US, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, the International Potato Centre in Peru, and Bioversity International, headquartered in Italy.

The grant forms part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Platform for Big Data Agriculture ‘Inspire Challenges’ programme.

It was presented at the Big Data in Agriculture Convention held recently in Colombia.

According to IITA’s James Legg, one of the leaders of the project, the team generated more than 200 000 images of diseased cassava crops in coastal Tanzania and farms in western Kenya, in order to develop an artificial intelligence algorithm that can automatically classify five cassava diseases.

The app is being field-tested in Tanzania.

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