IITA-New mobile app to tackle crop disease in Sub-Saharan Africa
Mesh-enabled app aims to improve crop disease surveillance with remote field surveys and worker/farmer communications without the need for Internet or data.
Zug, Switzerland & Ibadan, Nigeria, December 20, 2018 — The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and RightMesh have signed an MoU to design, development, and test a mobile application that will allow smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to capture and share data about crop disease without using Internet or mobile data.
In Africa, an estimated 70% of the population depends directly on agriculture for its livelihood. The sector is also under pressure to increase productivity to feed a rapidly growing population in the face of climate change which among others is causing the spread of new pests and diseases.
A lack of tools for early and rapid reporting of emerging diseases have resulted in rapidly-spreading outbreaks leading to epidemics and huge crop loss. Web-based tools for data collection have proven to be effective, however, for many farmers, connecting to the internet is cost-prohibitive.
This co-created mesh-enabled mobile app will allow smallholder farmers to detect and report new pests and diseases without incurring costs for internet or data. When combined with the plant pathology expertise at IITA, the app will allow farmers, community knowledge workers, researchers, and government agencies to collaborate digitally for an innovative approach to address the early detection, prevention, and intervention of crop disease.
“Working with IITA on a solution that has the potential to lift whole communities out of poverty by improving agricultural performance in East and Central Africa is an excellent use case for the RightMesh platform,” said John Lyotier, Co-founder and CEO of RightMesh, “We are honoured to contribute to the solution by enabling connectivity to reach these smallholder farmers who will now have access to the benefits of online community collaboration.”
“The RightMesh mobile app takes early detection of pests and diseases to the next level. It will help in increasing information flow between farmers, extension agents, and researchers in the event of a breakout and this will help reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers,” noted Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General Partnerships for Delivery. “This will help reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers and contribute towards ensuring food security.”