Artificial intelligence or AI is helping farmers get advice on finance, equipment, and pesticides. However, all of these are dependent on the accessibility of smartphones to the farmers.
Cristopher Saggalla once depended on the locally available pesticides and fertilizers suppliers for advice on treatment of his farm in a village in southern India. At times, the suppliers suggested pesticides that either did not work or were too high. He ended up spending a lot more in quest for solutions. However, over the last eight months, there has been a sea of change in how farmers apply pesticides and how much do they apply. Saggalla too came across a mobile app known as Plantix. He now gets tailor-made guidance for his farm, where he cultivates mango, cotton, safflower, and rice.
Self-Learning Algorithm Helps Farmer with Tailor-made Solutions for Farmers
Utilizing these free apps, farmers can now capture and upload images of nutrient deficiencies, diseases, and pest-related problems. After that, the farmer gets treatment recommendations and diagnostic information immediately. They are also advise on the application of fertilizers for optimal growth.
Since its launch two and half years ago, nearly 10 million users downloaded this app, Plantix, with almost 85 % of the users based in India. Srikanth Rupavatharam, scientist at Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) opined that integration of AI is the key to its surging popularity across the globe. He believes that self-learning algorithm of the app is improving considerably as it gets more data. This has resulted in more customized solutions for small-scale farmers. Such solutions have turned out to be more useful as compared to general information given by sms-based services.
ICRISAT has entered into collaboration with PEAT, a Germany-based tech start-up for this AI-based app, Plantix. PEAT is the developer of the app. In addition to India, customers of this app are spread across countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brazil, and Vietnam.