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West Africa boot camp seeks artificial intelligence fix for climate-hit farmers

DAKAR: Knowledge analyst Fabrice Sonzahi enrolled in a course on synthetic intelligence (AI) in Dakar, hoping to assist struggling farmers enhance crop yields in his residence nation of Ivory Coast.

He’s a part of an inaugural batch of scholars at a brand new AI programming college in Senegal, one of many first in West Africa.

Its mission is to coach native folks in utilizing information to resolve urgent points just like the influence of local weather change on crops.

The Dakar Institute of Expertise (DIT), which opened in September, is working its first 10-week boot camp with 9 college students in partnership with French AI college VIVADATA.

“I’m satisfied that by analysing information we can provide (farmers) higher options,” stated Sonzahi, 30.

He plans to carry his AI expertise to Ivorian startup ATA Answer, which advises farmers on easy methods to maximise scarce assets like land and water.

The corporate already collects information similar to soil PH, temperature and moisture ranges, stated Sonzahi, who works with the startup as an analyst.

With AI, that information might be processed to indicate precisely when and the place farmers ought to add water or fertiliser, and assist strengthen their understanding of crop losses, he stated.

Knowledge scientists throughout the continent are starting to experiment with machine studying as a instrument to assist farmers address more and more erratic climate, from modelling the quickest path to market, to detecting issues in fields with drones.

In Cameroon, a brand new cell phone app referred to as Agrix Tech permits farmers to {photograph} a leaf affected by blight after which, utilizing AI, diagnoses the issue and recommends remedy.

A venture launched in Kenya this 12 months additionally makes use of AI to crunch large information and provides smallholder farmers suggestions similar to when to plant, in a bid to avert meals shortages, in line with French expertise agency Capgemini.

However information of AI and coaching alternatives are slim, particularly in West Africa the place fixes for crop failure are sorely wanted, stated DIT director Nicolas Poussielgue.

West African nations are amongst these hardest-hit by local weather change, in line with scientists, with populations that rely largely on agriculture shedding their livelihoods as a consequence of worsening floods and droughts.

“For fashions of local weather change, the fundamental calculations use physics. Now you possibly can add AI, which helps you to have higher outcomes to know what will occur and the place,” stated Poussielgue.

DIT plans to launch a bachelor’s diploma in large information and a grasp’s in AI in 2020, every with 25 college students, he added.

Not all of the boot-camp members are targeted on agriculture, nevertheless it is among the key areas by which AI has the potential to make a distinction in West Africa, moreover well being and training, he stated.

“The concept of the varsity is to have college students who will create their very own startups and merchandise,” stated Poussielgue. – Reuters

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