The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has developed the first-ever Maize Information Guide app to contribute to food security in the Southern African Development Community region.
Commercial and smallholder farmers can download the app from Google Play Store to easily access scientifically proven data on
- maize production;
- insect identification and disease management;
- weed and nematodes control.
The app was developed by the Research and Development Applications Unit at the ARC.
The unit team leader Matodzi Phaswana (41) says the app was developed to assist farmers increase their harvests and contribute to food security through the integration of agriculture and information technology.
She says she has been in the ICT industry for more than 15 years and holds a National Diploma in Information Technology from the Tshwane University of Technology. Currently, Phaswana is studying towards her BTech.
“Maize is one of the top staple foods in South Africa and globally. Due to its affordability, it contributes significantly to food security and nutrition. As the ARC, we are committed to providing farmers and industry with technological solutions aimed at enhancing good-quality food production,” she says.
“The App is user friendly. It also has the capability to identify pests and weeds on crops based on information inputted by users,” she adds.
Phaswana understands the importance of food security and farming all too well, after her rural upbringing in the village of Muswodi Tshisimani in Venda, Limpopo.
“Most maize farmers experience challenges, including plant diseases, pest attacks and weeds. This has a huge impact on the production yields of crops. We are well aware that agriculture contributes to the GDP of the country and the continent and it is of outmost importance that farmers are given tools to assist them in maximising their production yields,” says Phaswana.
“It is our intention as the ARC to expand the variety of applications that can be rolled out to farmers to assist in addressing the challenges they face. We are currently developing a cactus pear app, which will be launched soon,” she says.
Phaswana says agriculture technology solutions – such as precision farming, smart farming and automation – make life easier for farmers.