Crop losses due to insect pests and diseases are a major threat to farming communities globally. In the case of rice, up to 37% of economic losses are caused by insect pests and disease infestation. Timely and accurate disease and insect pest diagnosis and management can not only reduce crop losses, but also help protect the environment.
In the last decade, Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been increasingly used for information sharing. With mobile internet services becoming available in even the remotest locations, ICT-based agricultural solutions are finding a foothold on the farms of poor smallholders.
IRRI’s “Rice Doctor” is an ICT-based tool that supports diagnosis of insect pests and diseases and enables farmers to make timely decisions for better pest management. It helps farmers access global knowledge and information to address their challenges.
Rice Doctor is an interactive crop diagnostic tool developed to cater to the needs of the extension and advisory service providers and farmers as primary users to identify insect pests, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, and agronomy related problems of the crops. It provides information on these problems as well as recommendations to address them. It can also be useful for researchers, students and private input dealers.
Rice Doctor is currently available online at http://ricedoctor.irri.org as a mobile app that can be downloaded free of cost on smartphones and tablets.
The Odisha version of Rice Doctor is being developed with the support of the State Government of Odisha, under the project “Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer’s Income in Odisha”. To facilitate the localization of Rice Doctor in Odisha, user testing and workshops were conducted with extension intermediaries, farmers, and plant protection specialists from partner institutions.
Field testing of Rice Doctor at Sundargarh, Odisha
User testing helped assess the efficiency and accuracy of the Rice Doctor mobile application for mid-season diagnosis and management of insect pests, diseases, abiotic stresses, and agronomic problems. The content is being updated to enhance the usability based on the feedback received.
Activities are being undertaken to enhance the capacities of extension functionaries and farmers to use the tool. Plans are also ongoing to develop business models for provision of advisories to farmers on pest and disease management using Rice Doctor, so its use becomes viable and sustainable.