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November 14th, 2017 / SciDev.net

A team of scientists has received US$100,000 grant to refine a mobile application (app) that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose crop diseases, and aims to help millions of African smallholders.

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas team won the grant during big data conference in Colombia on 21 September as part of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture Inspire Challenges.

The app, to be used against cassava brown streak disease and the cassava mosaic disease, is expected to be rolled out in 2018.

It accurately diagnoses diseases in the field and will combine mobile phone short message service (SMS) alerts to farmers in rural Africa.

David Hughes, associate professor of entomology and biology at US-based Penn State University, who leads the project together with James Legg, a plant virologist with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Tanzania, say the team needs to continue field-testing and improving its user-friendliness. Read more