Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday launched an innovative multi-lingual plant disease and pest diagnostic app ‘Plantix’  for farmer’s mobile phones. This app would help farmers to identify pests and diseases in their crops and will also suggest remedies for the same. Initially launched in the Indian regional languages of Telugu and Hindi, the app will soon be available in other regional languages.

The crop-damage diagnosis app Plantix was developed by the German startup Progressive Environmental & Agricultural Technologies (PEAT) in collaboration with its knowledge and extension partner, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University.

Commenting on ICRISAT’s partnership in the development of the app, Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, said “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.”

How Does It Work?

App is easy and simple to use. Farmers just need to 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 is 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 farmer's’ location and a community feature that facilitates interaction with other players interested in plant protection services.

“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,” said Chandra Mohan Reddy, a farmer from Chagantipadu village in Krishna district.

Its USP?

App provides following benefits to the farmers:

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

“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,” said PEAT’s CEO Simone Strey.

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 was very successful.

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