11 April 2009

Mobile phones to diagnose and treat plant diseases in Africa

According to IPS, Mobile phones are being used to diagnose and treat crop diseases that cause massive losses to farmers, presenting an opportunity to increase yields as location-specific information about disease threats is made available.

An initiative in two districts of Uganda, has community knowledge workers (CKWs) sending text messages to farmers in a given locality. The information may include how to arrest the diseases, and where to buy uncontaminated seeds, as well tips on how to improve soil quality to increase yields.

"We have trained the CKWs on how to use mobile phones to get information to the farmers. They offer agricultural tips and advise through the phones on what to do and not to do to control the diseases. Farmers even ask questions on wilt and BBTV and they receive automated answers on their phones,” Whitney Gantt of Grameen Foundation, a global anti-poverty organisation told IPS."

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