Home Startups The COMESA forum showcases an innovative device for detecting crop diseases.

The COMESA forum showcases an innovative device for detecting crop diseases.

by Weddy Thuranira
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One of the three innovations presented at the just concluded 8th COMESA Annual Research Forum on the 13th – 16th September 2021 was a device that detects crop diseases and pests. Multiple small camera modules are interfaced to a computer system, and the device uses artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning.

Ms. Esther Kimani of Farmer-Life-Line Technologies Ltd, Kenya, who presented the innovation for consideration in the COMESA Innovation Awards, said it was inspired by the need to find a solution to the prevalent destruction of crops by pests, pathogens, or delayed treatment of diseases prevalent in the region.

“The camera system is programmed to capture images of the crops in the field periodically and process the images using advanced computer vision algorithms to determine the nature of the infection or infestation, any pests or pathogens,” she said.

The device has a solar-powered camera that can operate even in the rainiest of seasons. It has a 48-hour power retention capacity and can detect crop diseases and pests within a 730-meter radius. The camera has a long footing that is normally buried in the soil, with the camera-ball interface looking out over the plants/farm to detect and predict crop diseases, pathogens, and pest infections, and it sends an SMS alert to the farmer’s phone.

The use of wrong herbicides and pesticides due to inaccurate identification of crop diseases and pests, as well as the application of incorrect fertilizers due to incorrect crop disease predictions, are some of the issues that this technology aims to solve.

The company intends to sell the data collected by the devices to governments and non-governmental organizations in order to aid in policymaking. The devices will also be sold or leased to farmers and farmer groups.

The innovator has already acquired patents for the technology and plans to partner with agriculture ministries in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, and Egypt by 2022.

Mr. Billy Munyenyembe of Zambia presented another innovation during the forum: a medicine dispensing machine. The BRIISP Medicine Dispenser is a new invention that aims to improve access to health treatments, particularly in underdeveloped countries where medical facilities are few.

The winning technology receives a financial award to support its further development and commercialization. The award is presented during the COMESA Heads of State Summit.

The COMESA Innovation Award scheme was launched in 2013 to recognize and celebrate individuals and institutions who have employed science, technology, and innovation to further the regional integration agenda. The awards are targeted towards COMESA member states’ small and medium enterprises, youth, women, groups, and institutions.

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