ILOILO – A state college in Barotac Nuevo is developing a mobile application that will help farmers detect plant pests and diseases.
The “Plant Diagnostic Tool” was conceptualized by students and professors of the Iloilo State College of Fisheries (ISCOF) – College of Information and Communication Technology (CICT) when they joined last year the Unionbank Hackathon, a contest where participants were made to develop an app within 24 hours.
The competition focused on addressing problems in agriculture, said Professor Mary Sol Baldevarona, dean of ISCOF-CICT, one of the two developers of the mobile app.
“I applied image processing, an algorithm, that can easily detect pests and diseases in plants,” said Baldevarona.
The project was co-authored by Gerard Glenn Dalisay, also a professor of ISCOF who died in an accident last Jan. 30. After his death, Dr. Aurelo Esmediana Jr., a faculty of ISCOF – Dingle campus who specializes in agriculture, replaced him.
The app was also developed with the help of former ISCOF students John Mark Salapantan (assistant programmer), Ray John Parangan (design) and Antonio Esconde (research assistant).
According to Baldevarona, the app contains statistics on plant diseases detected in Panay Island.
She said they had to capture thousands of images of these diseases and pests to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the app.
For each plant disease, they had to take around 1,500 images, Baldevarona added.
The app – once launched – can be downloaded in Google Playstore. It can work even without internet connection.
The development of the app worth P4.2 million was funded by the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Engineer Remelyn Recoter, executive director of the DA Regional Field Unit 6, said their technical experts and entomologists are helping to further enhance the app.
The first module for the project focused on perennial and agricultural plants in Western Visayas.
“Right now, we are done with the rice module and the second one, the sugarcane, will be done in partnership with the Central Philippines State University,” Baldevarona said.
She added: “Hopefully we can launch it in March 2020. We are doing a lot of field works together with the DA.”
Once launched, the DA will introduce the app to farmers in the region. (With a report from PNA/PN)