Press Release by ICRISAT.

Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, Indi ― “Are my crops doing well?” is a question that plagues every farmer. Now an innovative multi-lingual plant disease and pest diagnostic app available on farmer’s mobile phones helps them identify pests and diseases and suggests remedies. The ‘Plantix’ app was launched by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Vijayawada today.

Farmers take pictures of the affected crop and upload them on the app. The photographs are analyzed using artificial intelligence algorithms and results returned immediately to the individual farmer. Critical information on symptoms, triggers, chemicals as well as biological treatments are provided. All pictures sent via the app are geo-tagged thereby enabling real-time monitoring of pest and diseases. The resulting metadata provides valuable insights into the spatial distribution of cultivated crops and most significant plant diseases e.g. in the form of high resolution maps. Furthermore, the app encompasses a weather information system specific to the farmers’ location and a community feature that facilitates interaction with other players interested in plant protection services.

Currently the database has half a million pictures covering 30 crops worldwide and offers prescriptions for over 120 crop diseases. Demonstrations with farmers held recently in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were very successful. Chandra Mohan Reddy, a farmer from Chagantipadu village in Krishna district said, “Every time there were pests in our field, we would go to the fertilizer dealer for help. The dealer would suggest remedies using a combination of 3-4 types of pesticides based on their experience. However, results were not guaranteed, and while sometimes the recommendation worked, often it didn’t. Now with this app, we can find reliable advice at the click of a button.”

The crop-damage diagnosis app ‘Plantix’, was developed by Progressive Environmental & Agricultural Technologies (PEAT), Germany in collaboration with its knowledge and extension partner, ICRISAT and the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University.

According to PEAT’s CEO Ms Simone Strey, “The early recognition and tailor-made treatment plans for every plant damage are particularly important for farmers’ success and these are the main advantages of Plantix. We also offer information about preventive measures, which should help to avoid plant damage in the first place.”

Commenting on ICRISAT’s partnership in the development of the app, Dr David Bergvinson Director General, ICRISAT, highlighted the role that new technologies can play in making agriculture more productive and profitable and reiterated the institute’s commitment to developing innovative models to empower smallholder farmers. “The app could prove to be a game changer in the field, providing farmers free, reliable and quick diagnosis of crop damage. The simplified dashboard with easy-to-use features helps the app take on the role of an extension worker as well. The app is a novel experiment in using digital technologies for agriculture,” he said.

Initially launched in the Indian regional languages of Telugu and Hindi, the app will soon be available in other regional languages. The app was launched at a collectors’ conference where ministers, line department heads, senior IAS officers and collectors of all 13 districts were present.

  • Real-time diagnosis: Uploaded crop photos are analyzed using image-recognition technology that uses a database of half a million pictures covering 30 crops and offers prescriptions for over 120 crop diseases
  • Smallholder farmers as end-users: Free of cost, with an easy-to-use dashboard in local languages
  • Successfully tested: Recently demonstrated successfully with farmers at several sites, including Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh

Photo: Finnur Malmquist (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)