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Wednesday, 12 August 2015 08:56

Pest Control Mobile Application, and Much More

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Pests – they are good for almost nothing! Well, maybe this is not true in all cases or for everyone. Troy Weekes and Mortimer Seale from Barbados have been inspired by pests to develop a promising agricultural application called CropGuard. As the name suggests, it is an app that provides information that helps defend produce against pests, identified as a key problem in agricultural activities in Barbados.

It offers farmers the option to diagnose their specific problem and advise them how to deal with it. “It’s a knowledge management system,” Troy describes. Through this app, “we connect government administrators, extension services, and research with the farmers who need the information the most. ”Farmers can not only search a database, but they can also send photographs to extension officers to receive quick and correct technical help. “We’re establishing a real-time channel,” as Troy explains. “The extension officer can see what the farmer is seeing and offer much better help in solving the issue.”

So far, the feedback for CropGuard has been overwhelmingly positive. Aside from praise from researchers, government officials and most importantly farmers, the app has also inspired people in ways that the two developers would have never thought it would. “We were approached by a teacher who was so excited by the app because she saw it as an educational tool for her students,” Troy recounts. Students had noticed CropGuard at a convention and were able to remember names of crops because the user interface had been captivating. “She was beaming with excitement. It was incredible – we had never thought of using the app as an interactive game before, and suddenly, this teacher was sharing this whole other usage that could have tremendous impact on the engagement of young people in the sector.”

In October 2014, judges at the regional Agrihack Talent Caribbean initiative were also impressed. Troy’s team walked away with the second prize that gave them 6 months of incubation and a cash reward to invest in the product. Troy and Mortimer see much more potential in CropGuard. “We’re developing an open data API so other developers and systems can connect to our data,” Mortimer notes. Data holds the key to improving many of the problems farmers face, such as excess produce of a certain crop or keeping track of pest infestations. The challenge is to build applications that produce meaningful suggestions for the relevant stakeholders from all that data.

Their incubation has been managed by the Barbadian company Wi Connect Mobile in collaboration with the National Council for Science and Technology of the government of Barbados. Apart from improving their product and participating in agriculture fairs to present their product and exchange with experts, CropGuard’s team has achieved other key milestones. For example, they have launched a new testing phase of the app that will cover not just Barbados but other Caribbean countries; they have also authored with their mentor a research paper on the potentials and first results of CropGuard, detailing as well the benefits of data sharing for agriculture development.

Troy and Mortimer, who are also involved in agricultural cooperative, have set something in motion that today offers more potential than they could have dreamed of in the first phase of their engagement in this activity. And they are very ambitious about it. “The possibilities are endless, and we want to keep all of our options open” concluded an excited Troy.

Find out more at: http://cropguard.addisalemcoop.com/
This article partly builds on an article written by Ashoka for a forthcoming CTA publication
Article published in the framework of the International Youth Day 2015
Read more at: bit.ly/1DJGfUP

Last modified on Saturday, 15 August 2015 09:16
Thierry Lewyllie

Thierry Lewyllie

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