An agricultural technology solutions provider, Okuafo Foundation, has developed a new application (App) to help farmers improve their yields.
Known as the Okuafo AI App, the technology enables the farmer to determine in good time crop diseases for immediate solution.
Described as a virtual agricultural extension officer, the App enables the farmer to scan a suspected disease found on his or her farm. The scan then provides extensive information, both audio and text, to guide the farmer on what to do.
Currently, about 30,000 farmers are benefitting from the technology which is being piloted in Savelugu in the Northern Region, Edubiase and Apagya in the Ashanti Region.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, a co-Founder of Okuafo Foundation and Okuafo AI Research Lead, Mr Mustapha Diyaol-Haqq, explained that the App was farmer-focused and could, therefore, not be found on the Android Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
He said the App was critical to prevent the kind of devastation that came with the Fall Armyworm in 2017, explaining that “such a havoc could have been prevented if the App was available”.
Mr Diyaol-Haqq, a 19-year-old Level 100 student of the Blue Crest University College in Accra who developed the App, said he was motivated to develop the device following the devastation caused by the Fall Armyworm on crops across the country.
He said he also had the urge to help farmers improve their yields in order to address the problem of hunger and malnutrition, which were affecting a number of people, especially children in the rural areas.
Mr Diyaol-Haqq said the good thing about the App was that it did not require Internet to use and, therefore, was a good tool for the rural areas where Internet connectivity was unavailable.
Deployment of App
Explaining how the technology was deployed in the rural areas, Mr Diyaol-Haqq said the foundation had identified 600 farmer leaders in the farming communities in the three areas who had been tasked to sign 50 farmers onto the App.
He said the App was being used in farming communities which were disease and pest-prone to ensure that the farmers did not unnecessarily lose their crops to the activities of pests and diseases.
Mr Diyaol-Haqq expressed optimism that after a two-year pilot, the foundation would be ready to roll out to cover more farming communities, with a target to cover the country.
The developer said the foundation had arranged with volunteers with smartphones in farming communities to help farmers effectively use the App.
A co-Founder of the foundation, Ms Tina Appiah, explained that in developing the App, the foundation assumed that most of the farmers might not be able to read, hence they used colours and numbers to convey the message.
“So the farmers don’t have to know how to read to be able to use the App.
After knowing the disease, the next step is a video in two major local languages —Twi and Dagbani, to help guide the farmer as to what to do,” she explained.