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Digital Crop-Disease Surveillance Systems in sub-Saharan Africa

The burden of pests and diseases on crops varies largely across countries and regions of the world due to access to adequate information, resources and infrastructure to combat the attack. With more than half of the low-income countries found in sub-Saharan Africa, it becomes highly imperative to address food security issues in the region. Notably, 60-70% of the farmers in the region lack awareness on pest and disease, have inadequate knowledge of best-practice control strategies and inconsistent access to crop protection products. In this talk, a disease surveillance system that utilizes images, text, voice and other sensor data within the smart-city paradigm, to prepare and equip farmers for effective response, is proposed. Crops such as maize, wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, bananas and beans; which serve as sources of essential nutrients for growth and development of millions of children are being considered. The system will enable the agricultural extension workers to reach more farmers across large geographical areas, process their demands and communicate effectively while generating real-time data from multiple sources. This system will also facilitate the productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, access to quality food for a healthy life and give a voice to the low-income farmers across the region.



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