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AI tool for diagnosing potato diseases

Potato growers need to identify and manage diseases in their fields, so the AI-powered mobile app PlantVillage Nuru has been expanded to include them also.

More than two million farmers in East Africa who depend on potatoes will be able to point their smartphones at a plant and receive an instant disease diagnosis through the PlantVillage Nuru app.

Initially, the app was designed to be twice as good as extension workers in East Africa in diagnosing cassava diseases and has been a major help to cassava farmers reports

“We’ve come a long way with disease detection and the rapid dissemination of management advice since the Irish Potato Famine ravaged my home country,” said David Hughes, Ph.D., Department of Entomology, PennState College of Agricultural Sciences. “The Famine kickstarted the field of plant pathology and helped formalize agricultural extension services. But the benefits of such knowledge still don’t reach millions of low-income farmers in Africa. AI can be that personal extension officer working for low-income farmers in Africa.”

“We collected over 8,000 images of healthy and diseased potato leaves,” said Pete McCloskey, lead AI engineer at PlantVillage who worked closely with the International Potato Center (CIP). “Each leaf was then precisely annotated in order to train a neural network that runs off-line, in real-time on the phone, to localize and recognize the symptoms of potato early blight and late blight.”


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