Smartphone-based Algorithm To Help Farmers In Crop Disease Diagnosis 

Agricultural extension acquires a novel mobile avatar with Crop Darpan, a diagnostic tool developed by IIITH under an Indo-Japan Joint Research Laboratory Project.  

It is not merely anecdotal that the next green revolution is being preceded by the smart phone revolution among farmers. With a ubiquitous presence of these gadgets, a ICRIER study in 2009 had highlighted the impact of mobile phones on farmers who could use them as tools to bridge the information gap that typically occurs at 3 phases of the cultivation cycle. They are; 1) deciding what and when to sow  2)  crop health management for resolving pest and disease problems, and nutrient deficiencies during crop growth and 3) price realization.

Smart Use

Leveraging its expertise in Data Science and IT, the IT for Agriculture and Rural Development (ITARD) at the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad (IIITH) has created a web-based application that can address farmers’ concerns for the second phase of cultivation, i.e, issues that affect crop growth. These are typically related to pests, bacterial and fungal diseases, and nutritional deficiencies. The objective of the system is to mimic the presence of an agriculture expert who is not only well versed with visual symptoms of diseases plaguing crops but can also guide the farmers on appropriate measures to tackle the same. In order to be connected with this portable ‘expert’ on the portal www.cropdarpan.in, farmers only need to own a mobile phone with a valid internet connection.

How It Works

The system comes seeded with a hierarchy of questions related to visual symptoms displayed by the crops. These range from high-level generalized questions to more specific ones. When the farmer confirms the presence of the symptom, he is guided to the next level question ultimately narrowing down on the exact diagnosis of the crop ailment. Advice on the measures to mitigate the problem is also given. The current prototype has been built for the cotton crop in two languages, namely English and Telugu. “It has however been designed in such a way that it is scalable for all crops and can be extended in all Indian languages too. In fact we have already begun work on seeding the system in Hindi,” says Srinivas Annapalli, part of the team consisting of Aravinda Gadamsetty, Revanth Parvathaneni, and Saideep Chennupati, who were guided by Prof. P. Krishna Reddy. 

“Prior to this, we developed an agro-advisory system at the farm and village level called eSagu. It necessitated the presence of educated village-level coordinators who bridged the gap between the farmers and the agricultural scientists. It also has issues of scalability and generality that Crop Darpan hopes to overcome. With a mobile tool at his disposal, the individual farmer is more empowered to handle plant protection,” says Prof. Krishna Reddy.

The research is a joint venture under the India-Japan Joint Research Laboratory project titled ‘Data Science-based farming support system for sustainable crop production under climatic change’ with other participating institutes such as IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Hyderabad and the University of Tokyo.

The Crop Darpan App is available at play store.  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.iiit.cropdarpan

Sarita Chebbi is a minimalist runner, practising yogi and baker of all things whole-wheat, and sugar-free. Currently re-learning her ABC’s…the one that goes: A for algorithm, B for Bayesian, C for convolutional (neural network)….

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