ICBA pilots mobile app for plant disease detection in Egypt, Tunisia
In collaboration with the University of Barcelona (UB), Spain, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has developed a beta version of a mobile application to help identify and deal with diseases and nutritional disorders in different crops.
Initially piloted in Egypt and Tunisia, the application is designed to aid smallholder farmers in plant disease detection, and thus minimize yield losses and improve incomes. The application is preliminarily focused on tomato, capsicum, cucumber, and quinoa.
The application is being developed under the project titled “Developing a user-friendly application for smallholder farmers for detection of plant disorders”, which is led by ICBA jointly with UB.
As part of the project activities, ICBA recently organized two workshops for farmers and researchers to demonstrate how to use the application for data collection related to plant diseases.
The first workshop was conducted in Cairo, Egypt, on 28-30 June 2021. The three-day workshop was opened by Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Acting Director General of ICBA; Dr. Henda Mahmoudi, project leader and plant physiologist at ICBA; and representatives from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy in Egypt; UB; and the Desert Research Center, Egypt. The workshop was attended by 38 participants from various research organizations and universities.
Moreover, experts from ICBA and UB provided hands-on training on data collection using the application and various devices at a field event in Nubaria district, Egypt, on 29 and 30 June 2021.
A similar training workshop was held in Tunisia on 26-28 July 2021. Attended by 18 participants from various local institutions, the workshop was conducted by ICBA, UB and the Biotechnology Center of Borj Cedria (CBBC), Tunisia.
Both events served as platforms to share new ideas on making the best use of the application and how it could be more helpful to farmers and researchers. In addition, participants learned about the importance of agripreneurship for food security, the role of artificial intelligence in crop management and data management protocols, among other things.
According to some estimates, the annual loss in crop production due to pests and diseases ranges between 20 and 40 percent globally. Each year plant diseases cost the global economy around 220 billion USD, and invasive insects around 70 billion USD.
Therefore, developing innovative technologies and tools like mobile applications could help farmers and researchers make prompt diagnoses and facilitate an effective and timely response to plant diseases and pest attacks, ultimately contributing to food, nutrition, and income security.
The project currently targets farmers in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the UAE. Later, the application will be rolled out in other countries as well. It is being customized for each country, and the final version will be available in three languages: Arabic, English and French.