Although we consume about 100 billion bananas each year, the future of the world’s most popular fruit is threatened by a number of diseases that are silently destroying crops around the world. For that reason, researchers have been working on a tool that allows farmers to detect diseases early and help them save their crops before the diseases take hold.
The tool is an artificially-intelligent smartphone app, and it can scan banana plants to detect early signs of infection. Thus far, researchers have found that the new tool—which uses the phone’s camera to screen crops—is at least 90% accurate in identifying the six most serious diseases and pests that plague banana plants. Those include two globally-destructive infections, known as Black Sigatoka and Fusarium Wilt, which together have decimated vast tracts of banana plantations worldwide.
The major benefit of the app is its flexibility, according to the researchers. It can identify signs of disease on any part of the plant, and can accurately identify disease even in low-quality photos or in images where there’s lots of background noise—such as leaf litter coating the ground.
In some cases, the detection rate for the disease was as high as 100%. It seems there’s no limit to what AI can do, though we ought to stay mindful of downstream implications!