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KoFarmer App

Enable smallholder African farmers manage crop pests and diseases, farm smarter, increase crop production, save livelihoods and environment.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Project? KoFarmer Is an on and offline free-easy-to-use multilingual plant doctor and advisory mobile application designed to help African smallholder-farmers and extension workers to accurately identify, monitor and manage crop pests and diseases, increase crop production, save environment and improve livelihoods. Challenge? Farmers, their families and our growing population depend heavily on secure harvests. However, plant, pests like Fall armyworm (FAW), diseases, weeds and soil nutrient deficiencies cause a loss of 15-40% of the absolute production volume in agriculture. The control of plant damage has major bottlenecks: the classification of the damage is based on expert knowledge as is the recommendation for appropriate treatment and prevention. The vast majority of farmers have little to no access to such services and knowledge especially when they are needed. How? Just by user taking and uploading a photo/s of the plant part affected by the pest or disease on KoFarmer, within few seconds app provides an accurate diagnosis report and offers user instant management recommendation options towards pest management. App also offers an offline SMS platform for non-Internet-enabled mobile phone users that rely on SMS for data transmission to access timely and context-appropriate information through farmer-tailored SMS alerts/tips. Through a “Let’s connect forum” app allows users to social-network with other farmers, extension workers and experts in real-time for knowledge and information exchange, new ideas, ask questions, share pest management best practices and space for data collection, sharing, reporting and communication, including a community-informants-network who work as farmers' watch-dogs. KoFarmer Pests and Diseases Catalog provides an up-to-date descriptive information database to help users find relevant information in the management of fall armyworm and other pests/diseases.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Mainly African Smallholder-farmers, ministries of agriculture, agronomists, and agricultural experts. How? Our services cut across all our beneficiaries: Just by taking a picture with a phone, they can analyze crops for damage and take informed actions. KoFarmer delivers a diagnosis in seconds based on AI and a constantly growing network of community members. Its multilingual catalog consists of hundreds of types of damage with information about symptoms, prevention, as well as mechanical, cultural, biological and conventional treatment options. Every user strengthens the app’s forum, the place where farmers and experts engage a thousand times a day and find help and localized solutions in their language. KoFarmer holds the largest structured database on plant damage. This data enables real time monitoring of the occurrence and spread of crop problems, which is key for warnings and the strategic fight against pests at a national or international level for rapid development.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Our model is unique in that we improve food security and farmer livelihoods, enable farming communities to lead healthier lives, and prevent damage to the environment from unsustainable practices. Secondly, in an era of digital advancement like we are, smartphones and internet are becoming more and more common in rural Africa. KoFarmer comes as the first digital app in Africa to help smallholder farmers to accurately identify pests/diseases and offer preventive measures to users for immediate pest management actions. We bring meaningful technology to millions of smallholders and give their very urgent questions the priority they deserve. Our AI delivers reliable results for more than 200 plant problems within seconds. Our online Let's Connect Forum connects farmers and specialists in unprecedented numbers and uses AI to help them find the answers that suit them best. No competitor in Uganda or Africa has such broad focus, wide reach and quality.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

We a formal registration company working to bring about innovative tools that address the most pressing needs of the people in and around our communities. https://mulabbijoe.wixsite.com/kofarmer

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

For millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa, health crops have a difference between survival or starvation. Among many other challenges facing these rural farming communities is a new Fall armyworm putting millions of livelihoods in jeopardy. The fall armyworm is here to stay. Eradication of large-scale is not an appropriate or viable option but effective and sustainable management is both possible and critical.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Rural farming communities in Uganda is faced with the Fall Armyworm a new pest putting livelihoods in jeopardy. In its Larval stage fall armyworm threatens the production of more than 80 different crops with greater impact on smallholder maize farmers. With the loss of their crops and the like of other economic opportunities, affected families will find themselves in great hardship and may resort to migration. If left unchecked the fall armyworm could have a significant impact on the primary food source of more than 200 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa and lead to economic losses of more than $6.2 Billion for maize alone. Poorly managed responses to the pest can also have devastating effects on nature and human health. Investing in this program will move Africa to the 2030 SDGs by Improving Food Security and Farmer Livelihoods SDG1&2, Enabling farming communities to Lead Healthier Lives SDG3, and Preventing damage to the Environment from unsustainable farming practices SDG15.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Through partnership with Ministries of Agriculture, KoFarmer data/information shall be monitored, validated and analyzed by in-country experts who will work as our monitoring agents to ensure our services are timely and relevant for the users in that given community/country. Partnership with FAO, CYMMIT, CGIAR, CABI, ECCAS, IITA and many other national and international agricultural bodies shall enable us to always provide updated and research-based, tested and approved tools and information relevant in pests and diseases prevention and management. Results shall include outlining the Program of Action against the Fall Armyworm in Africa and provide a clear roadmap towards the sustainable management of the Fall Armyworm. Engaging in this Program partners can empower farming communities and governments in Africa to withstand the current threat as well as to become more resilient to shocks in the future.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The need is agent and all our stakeholders are available and willing to work with us to drive our project services.

Geographic Focus

We intend to carry out a pilot study in Uganda however, webbing Africa is our ultimate goal.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We intend to carry out the design and development of the app within 12months, There after carry-out a user-testing in 6 months. Launch the platform within a period of 6 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

17 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Russell Davis
Team

Good morning Joseph, I would like to discuss consolidating your project along with several complimentary proposals in an effort to have greater impact and opportunity to gain support for your project. We have several other projects in your area. Please provide your contact details, WhatsApp or SkypeID so we may have a discussion today.

Russ Davis
Chairman H2CI

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Hi Russell, thanks so much
here is my WatsApp N0. +256774806272

Photo of Russell Davis
Team

trying to reach you on WhatsApp

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Hi Joseph Mulabbi 

The fall Armyworm has just attacked our farm and our neighbors farms in Kenya! It is horrible and devastating as you described. Some even describe it as a national disaster.

How does the app actually help fight the Armyworm? My husband has researched and researched what to do.. in the end we removed the maize and now only have napier grass growing... there seemed to be no way to control it.

Thanks for your good work.

Angi Maina.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Hello Angi Yoder Maina,
Thanks for reaching out.
Now KoFarmer App enables a farmer to accurately identify fall armyworm from other pest reason being that many smallholder farmers confuse the African armyworm with Fall armyworm, therefore to enable them distinguish between the 2 pests is one major reason for the development of the app. This is done by a user taking an infected part of their plants and uploading it on the app and within seconds the app will provide a diagnostic report with diverse recommended fall armyworm management options so that the user can take immediate actions.
Secondly the app offers the user information that is relevant to your context for instance by offering the information you need to deal with the pest in your garden, this information ranges from botanical, cultural, biological, conventional and or mechanical control measures, this can mean advising you to practice plant diversity of crops by mixing maize with other plants that are predators to fall armyworm, or offering you signs and symptoms of the pest while still at the eggs stages so that you can identify them and mechanically destroy these egg masses.
In many cases farmers have gone ahead to apply hazardous pesticides to their crops which at the end caused very high risks to both their lives and the environment just because they thought they were treating fall armyworm, we want to break this cycle of ignorance among farmers by offering them the right pesticide information for the right crop pest or disease in their gardens so that when they are attacked, they know which chemical to apply to which pest.
On the other hand, the app helps ministries of agriculture and other agricultural bodies to collect and track the occurrences of pests and diseases among farmers communities as well as to share reliable information on how best communities can deal with these pests.
Our app will help you engage in real time with other farmers and or experts so that you can ask questions, gen new ideas and share knowledge with others on how best you can deal with this pest.
As of now, the fall armyworm has been confirmed to have come to stay, but giving you information and practices to manage it in case you are attacked is very paramount in the fight against the pest.
As for your case, sorry for the loss of your crops.

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Thanks.

Good luck on the development of the app and its role out.

Let me know if you ever want to introduce the application to the Kenyan market and i will introduce you to my husband who is very connected in the dairy farming community here.

All the best,

Angi.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

You are welcome and thanks too,
Definitely I will connect with you during our roll-out phase.
Kindly let's keep in touch.
And I wish you good luck too.

Photo of Luz Gallo
Team

Hey Joseph,
I think your idea has a lot potential to create a community of 'digital farmers'. Have you consider what it takes in order to create such a community?
Technically there is a similar app in Colombia that is called 'Plagapp', check it out whenever you can.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Hi Luz Gallo,
Thanks for appreciating, and yes we are thinking through all that and we intend to employ rigorous means to bring our idea to reality. Thanks for the Plagapp link, we have learned alot out of it and we intend to incorporate the lessons to refine our idea.

Photo of Willoughby Eunice
Team

Good idea. Looking forward to a future partnership.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Thanks,
Let's keep in touch

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Very cool. Could you be more specific in your geographic focus? Perhaps choose a single community as a test case?

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Hi SIMN Global
Thanks for asking.
We intend to do our pilot in Uganda however, we are looking at Sub-Saharan Africa as a continent because there are many smallholder farmers in Africa who are loosing their crop productions to unidentifiable pests such as Fall armyworm which looks similar to African armyworm yet totally different.

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Excellent. I think it's a good idea to hone your project in one country and then look to surrounding countries afterward.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Thanks so much

Photo of Steve
Team

I like this idea. It is a good way of gathering data that is otherwise inaccessible. Other plant diseases could also be followed, and requests made to monitoring population asking 'have you seen this beetle?' or 'how many rats do you see a day?' or 'do these birds live in your district?'
A form of distributed citizen science in return for knowledge about plant diseases.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi
Team

Hi Steve,
Thanks a lot for liking my idea.
We still working on this idea and once we are done trust me,
It will be able to answer your concerns.