Farmers in nine states in Nigeria will soon have access to site-specific recommendations on agronomic practices in cassava farming systems through an advisory tool called Akilimo, being presented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Developed by the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of IITA in conjunction with development partners from the national research systems and the private sector, Akilimo, is an all-in-one agronomic advisory tool that supports cassava growers with knowledge and recommendations to intensify their cassava-based cropping systems.
According to a statement issued by Godwin Atser, Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist with IITA, said “the AKILIMO app is able to provide recommendations in three different ways, within app and by sending SMS and/or email both for Nigeria and Tanzania users. When the user is offline, requests are queued and then sent to the server as soon as the user comes online.
“The app calculates all recommendations automatically and is user-friendly and more precise as it utilizes more features and information, such as GPS location.”
The Digital Extension specialist disclosed that scientists working on the tool are set to expand Akilimo’s prediction coverage to five regions in Tanzania and nine states in Nigeria.
He quoted ACAI Data Scientist, Dr Meklit Chernet, as saying that her team had been processing data and recalibrating models to provide the necessary input for the prediction engine to generate recommendations.
Her words: “Data processing is done for an additional 5 regions in Tanzania and 9 states in Nigeria expanding the areas AKILIMO has been serving so far. The team has been working on both front and back ends of the AKILIMO app, remodeling and adding new features to the frontend to improve users’ interaction with the app”.
She said that huge efforts have been invested to create functional backend features and ensure users’ input are captured and passed correctly to the prediction server and response from the R server is then passed on correctly to the app and presented to the user.
“The task to translate recommendations into local languages is also underway, and the cassava sweet potato recommendations are already being delivered in Swahili,” Dr Chernet added.
Atser however went on to state that a printable version of AKILIMO was already available, covering the same aspects of cassava production including customized advice on fertilizer application, tillage regime and best planting practices, cost-effective weed control measures, intercropping practices, and tailored planting and harvest schedules.
“The printable versions are simplified and allow users to study the process and gain insights into how recommendations are calculated. Together, the suite of AKILIMO tools offers cassava growers with insights and knowledge to make informed decisions on their cassava farms,” he said.