From Felix Ikem, Nsukka

The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) has deployed the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems in agriculture to improve the quality of farm produce and ensure food security in the country.

Prof. Chinenye Anyadike, Department of Agric. & Bioresources Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), and the Principal Investigator of the project “Using Artificial Intelligence to Enhance the Production, marketing, and Management of Nsukka Yellow Pepper” disclosed this in Nsukka yesterday during a policy dialogue on the future of agriculture in the country.

According to Anyadike participants were drawn from agriculture stakeholders, farmers, and academia to analyze the effect of AI in the production, marketing, and management of Nsukka Yellow Pepper which is the pilot crop.

She said that the aim of deploying the AI systems in agriculture is to enhance bumper harvest as well as to contribute to the sustainable development goals geared towards ending hunger, improving food nutrients, and promoting sustainable agriculture, among others.

The don explained that many rural farmers have been trained on how to use the AI system on their crops to dictate diseases, real-time weather updates, and water management, among others.

“The aim of this project research is to boost agricultural output through the application of AI system.

“We developed three systems that enhance early disease detection, water management, and e-extension service that supports farmers and provides real-time weather updates, as well as a Smart Greenhouse.

“We target farmers especially those in rural areas, and that is why we have been training and retraining them on how to apply the AI system on their farms to enable them to monitor the development of their crops.

“The goal will be to draw from the evidence of inclusive and responsible implementation of the AI for agriculture and food system innovation research grant in Eziani community of Nsukka Local Government Area, Enugu State.

“We are using Nsukka yellow pepper as a pilot crop because of its uniqueness in terms of its yellow colour, special aroma, and popular demand locally and internationally,” she said.

Related News

The Principal Investigator said that the dialogue was organized by APWEN in partnership with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka researchers, Educare Technologies, Lagos under the sponsorship of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada.

She stressed further that the objective of the dialogue was to analyze and showcase the benefits of AI in agriculture to enable the government to key in and subsidize the AI system so that it will be accessible and affordable to farmers.

“The policy dialogue will help to generate a report that summarizes the main findings and recommendations on the project that can serve as a reference and guideline for policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and other interested parties,” she said.

Anyadike commended the dedication and commitment of the national president of APWEN, Dr. Adebisi Osim for the effective way she is piloting the affairs of the association, as well as ATPS and IDRC for their continued sponsorship, and her UNN research team members for their contributions.

Speaking, Dr. Joel Nwakaire, an Associate Professor, at the Department of Agricultural Engineering, UNN who is currently on assignment in Nairobi, Kenya said that for researchers to be “a beautiful bride” to the government, they must make a positive impact in their chosen field of project so that government will know that they are contributing towards the overall development of the country.

Nwakaire who is ATPS representative and the project coordinator said that ATPS works across Africa with the vision of using science, technology, and innovation as a means for achieving sustainable development in core areas like agriculture, environment, health, and energy, among others.

Dr. Elizabeth Eterigho, past president of APWEN in a remark virtually commended Prof. Anyadike and her research team for carrying out the project diligently and assured that APWEN will continue to initiate projects and programmes that will provide a platform for female student engineers and practicing ones to excel and attain an enviable height in their chosen field of endeavours.

Responding on behalf of other farmers Mrs. Florence Enete commended APWEN on the project of using artificial intelligence to enhance the production, marketing, and management of Nsukka yellow pepper and described the invented systems as friendly and easy to operate.

“With the AI systems, we can now know when our crops are growing very well and when they are attacked by diseases so that we will call for help to cure the diseases and prevent them from spreading.

“We thank APWEN and their sponsors for choosing Nsukka yellow pepper as their pilot crop and we are appealing to the government at all levels to make the AI systems affordable to farmers,” she said.

Mr. Ngene Afamefuna, Deputy Director in Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture was among those present during the occasion.