By Isiyaku Ahmed
Scientists are making progress to expand the prediction coverage of AKILIMO to 5 regions in Tanzania and 9 states in Nigeria. Once completed, farmers in the regions will have access to site-specific recommendations on agronomic practices in cassava farming systems.
Developed by the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of IITA and partners from the national research systems, development partners and private sector partners; AKILIMO is an all-in-one agronomic advisory tool that supports cassava growers with knowledge and recommendations to intensify their cassava-based cropping systems.
In an update on progress made so far, Dr Meklit Chernet, ACAI Data Scientist said her team had been processing data and recalibrating models to provide the necessary input for the prediction engine to generate recommendations.
“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 added.
She explains 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.
Currently, 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.
Dr Chernet says “The task to translate recommendations into local languages is also underway, and the cassava sweet potato recommendations are already being delivered in Swahili,”
Furthermore, a printable version of AKILIMO is available and covers 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.