A mobile phone application that enables farmers to control weeds through use of inputs, with over 500 downloads from Google Play Store, has been launched by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Godwin Atser, IITA Digital Extension and Rural Advisory Services Specialist, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Monday.
Atser said the App, known as IITA Herbicides Calculator, was developed by a team of researchers working for IITA under the IITA-Cassava Weed Management Project, now merged with IITA-African Cassava Agronomy Initiative.
He said it would help resource-poor farmers to maximise the use of their inputs by allowing them to determine correctly the quantity of herbicide needed to add to a knapsack for a given spraying operation.
Atser added the inauguration of the App by Lawrence Kent of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the 5th Annual Meeting of the IITA-Cassava Weed Management Project gave free access to farmers and other users to download the app from Google Play Store and use on their farms.
He emphasised that in most rural farming communities in Africa, the knapsack sprayer was a common equipment used for herbicides application.
He said: “However, the challenge farmers face is mostly wrong application of herbicides as many cannot manually calculate the quantity of herbicide needed to load in the sprayer per given operation.
“With the mobile App, farmers by the click of four buttons on their mobile phones are able to know exactly the quantity of herbicides they need to load in their sprayers.
“Reviewers on google play store said the App was a game changer that would revolutionise cassava farming in particular and agriculture in general.
“Reviewers emphasised that the mobile App would help farmers in their weed control activities which would result in increased yields and more profits.
“This is an excellent App for precision agriculture, very useful tool for resource- poor farmers.”
According to Atser, although the App was developed in the context of weed control in cassava farming systems, its application covers other arable crops such as rice, maize, soybean and wheat.
“The herbicide calculator has recently received a 4.8 review rating on a scale of 5 from users who have downloaded it from google play store,” he said.
Also, Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader, IITA-CWMP, and Prof Friday Ekeleme, Principal Investigator IITA-CWMP, expressed confidence in the impact the IITA herbicide calculator would have in the cassava farming system.
“The herbicide calculator will change how cassava farmers control weeds on their farms as they can now calibrate accurately the required herbicide for their farm size,” Dixon said.