DIIT — Ms. Theofrida Maginga wins a prestigious Global Grand Challenge Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Ms. Theofrida Maginga, who is a staff the Department of Informatics and Information Technology (DIIT) at Sokoine University of Agriculture has successfully secured prestigious funding through the Global Grand Challenge initiative.

Ms. Maginga’s research project titled “Integrated AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and a Swahili Chatbot: Agricultural Technology Solution for Early Detection of Maize Diseases”, will be supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use program.

The research objective, which involves creating a Swahili chatbot powered by ChatGPT, will serve smallholder farmers in Tanzania, particularly those with limited literacy and few resources. The primary focus is on quickly and easily identifying crop diseases, specifically those affecting maize. Maize is a critical crop in Tanzania, contributing up to 50% of rural cash income. Given that certain diseases impacting maize are challenging to detect visually, there have been significant losses in crop yield and income. To address this, Ms. Maginga and her team intends to merge artificial intelligence with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that employ non-intrusive sensors. These sensors will monitor early disease indicators that are not visible, such as volatile organic compounds, ultrasound movements, and soil nutrient absorption. Additionally, she will design and integrate a Swahili chatbot to engage with farmers in their local language, demonstrating cultural sensitivity. The chatbot will aid in model validation and real-world testing.

For more information, you can visit the project page: Link

Further details about the Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use challenge can be found here: Link

To access a slideshow presentation, you can go to: Link

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