maize pests
The platform empowers farmers to upload or scan pictures, along with a short description of symptoms and accompanying notes. Experts can also update and transfer the latest information on new, emerging pests and trends in real-time. [Photo/ UN]

Farmers in Kenya will now be able to access agronomic advice on weeds, diseases and pest control following the launch of an application that links them to agricultural experts from Corteva Agriscience.

The mobile application, known as Corteva™ FarmFundi, has been developed in partnership with Plantix and provides a digital pest and disease identification guide for farmers.

The platform empowers farmers to upload or scan pictures, along with a short description of symptoms and accompanying notes. Experts can also update and transfer the latest information on new, emerging pests and trends in real-time.

Once threats are accurately identified using the app, farmers can consult with Corteva’s specialised crop scientists and local agronomists for treatment recommendations via e-mail or the web links provided.

“Researchers estimate that invasive species alone cost Africa’s agricultural sector $74.3 billion each year, compounded by an approximate $21.5 billion worth of crop losses inflicted by insects and other pests,” said Mr Charles Mutema, Marketing Manager Corteva Agriscience Kenya.

“Our collaboration with Plantix allows us to combine the very best of innovative mobile farming technology with the keen insights and vast expertise of our technical teams; helping to mitigate potential impacts to livelihoods and food security.”

Mr Mutema further stated that the most critical part of managing crop failure is correctly identifying the cause so that appropriate solutions can be implemented, and costly mistakes avoided. He also noted that the app was introduced in Kenya owing to high internet connectivity rates in the country, adding that Kenya was a pioneer in Africa in the application of mobile technology solutions.

The app is available to farmers at no cost in English, Afrikaans, Swahili, French and Arabic from the Apple iOS and Google Android app stores.

While internet access is required for downloading the app as well as subsequent updates, farmers can still access essential information offline; an important feature for users who do not have access to a mobile connection while out in the field.

Crop pests are recognised worldwide as a serious challenge to agricultural production and are a real threat to food security, especially in Africa.  Farmers report that yields losses experienced due to pests significantly affect net income, whilst undermining other livelihood assets.

“The platform will also save farmers essential time and resources spent on physical movement to seek and access expert advice and is expected to impact positively on food security and resilience in Kenya,” the developers said.

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