After my studies at the Rupin International Agricultural Center in Israel, I returned to my country and I realized that most of the graduate youth were unemployed. In October 2017, with high passion of ending hunger and poverty in my country, I started a youth organization called Skylight youth development organization where I train these unemployed young graduates from university on applied commercial agriculture. It involves 2 weeks of a quick review of the most potential agricultural businesses that can be conducted on commercial basis in Uganda, give each youth 2 days to identify their opportunities according to where they come from or where they want to conduct their businesses from and help them evaluate their business ideas. A 2 months classroom theoretical training coupled with 4 farm visits to already established farmers is conducted at Skylight youth development organization premises and the youth is set to go and implement their ideas. Each youth is expected to send a weekly progress report followed by a monthly field follow up by our organization to each youth. In the training we offer innovative methods of increasing production, minimizing costs, client management, production losses reduction and project financing. A total number of 113 graduates were trained in 2018, with 38 youth currently under development.
However, most of our farmers, are facing a lot of production losses due to crop pests and diseases. This is mainly because most of these farmers do not have the agricultural background so it becomes difficult for them to identify which specific pest or disease is attacking their crops to take appropriate measures. In some cases, others do not even know if there are pests and diseases in their farms, they only realize when the farm is already destroyed. With the limited number of agronomists in the organization and limited funding for their facilitation since most of the people work voluntarily, it has been a great challenge to the farmers to an extend that some of them feel like quitting the farming business.
It is against this sad background that I would like to develop a mobile application for these farmers called “Crop Doc”. Most of my farmers are university graduates and have smart phones and with the increasing level of technology, most farmers in Uganda have more access to smart phones than professional agronomists. Crop Doc will bridge the gap between the farmers and agronomists. With Crop Doc, the farmers will be taking different pictures in their farms, the application will be doing two tasks:
- Send the pictures to a number of agronomists that are in the data base, they look at the pictures and advise the farmer accordingly within the app. After every 1 hour a notification will be sent to the agronomists in case no advice has been offered to the farmer.
- If 24 hours elapse without any agronomist responding to the farmer, the pictures will be scanned, the signs and symptoms of the crops compared with the data in the data base and possible pest or disease identified. The app will also give possible solutions to the client.
Some information like crop type, variety, stage of growth will first be prompted to the farmer within the mobile app before taking pictures. It is against these that the farmer’s request will be directed to the right agronomist or right data base.
From 28th November 2018 until 22nd January 2019, I have a team of 6 undergraduate student trainees from Busitema University helping me collect data from the field as I develop a data base. From 1 February 2017 to 30th April I will be programming the mobile application. During the months of May to July I will be doing the testing of the application in different regions of the Uganda as well as publishing it on play store.
From August onwards, I will be doing monitoring and evaluation of the application, make improvements where necessary.
This mobile application will be the first of its kind in my country and will surely impact on agricultural production not only for Uganda but the same app can be scaled for other countries to use. “Crop Doc the future agronomist”.
I am applying so that I can network with other agricultural and professional experts as well as getting funding for my project. I will be grateful to be selected for the Ag summit and my project for the N-GAGE champions.
Bwambale Joash, Uganda