The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative has developed AKILIMO decision support tools to for extension agents and farmers to get recommendations on the most efficient way of applying agronomic practices and optimize the income on the investment made in their cassava fields.
AKILIMO offers a suite of decision support tools to provide advice on different aspects of cassava cultivation, identified by cassava value chain actors as the most important agronomic gaps to be filled to improve production and productivity of cassava.
The issues identified were grouped into what is known now as the six use cases of the AKILIMO decision support tools. The use cases have been used to guide and segment research, data analysis and curation as well as calibrating the prediction engine used to provide recommendations.
These six use cases are:
- Site-specific Fertilizer Recommendations, targeting extension agents supporting commercial cassava growers to maximize returns on investments in fertilizer
- Fertilizer Blending Recommendations, targeting fertilizer companies to produce better blends suited for cassava
- Intercropping Recommendations, targeting extension agents supporting smallholder cassava growers to optimize the revenue generated in cassava intercropping systems by optimizing plant density and arrangement, and varietal choice
- Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices, targeting commercial cassava growers investing in mechanized land preparation and improved weed management techniques to recommend the most profitable tillage and weeding regime
- Scheduled Planting Recommendations, targeting commercial cassava growers to ensure a sustained year-round supply of cassava roots to the processing industry, and
- High Root Starch Content Recommendations, targeting out-growers supplying roots to starch factories to maximize root starch content.
The AKILIMO tools have been packaged in various formats that allow access and use for audiences at all skill and literacy levels. For versatile access, AKILIMO is being deployed in the following formats
- Smartphone app (You can download it on Google Play Store)
- Paper-based tools: flyers, manuals, lookup tables and maps (You can download them here)
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) through our partner VIAMO
- Interactive SMS and chat applications through the chatbot of our partner Arifu
The AKILIMO Smartphone App for Android can be downloaded from the google play store. It provides site-specific fertilizer advice, recommendations for best planting practices, intercropping and/or planting and harvest schedules. The app provides yield predictions along with customized recommendations, optimizing investments in the cassava system to maximize net returns.
The app collects minimal essential user data such as GPS location, land area and input and commodity prices in a stepwise manner and interacts with a prediction engine on the central AKILIMO server to generate recommendations. It provides recommendations directly on the smartphone, or via SMS or email.
The Paper-Based Tools summarize the recommendations made using the most common values as default input variables and present them using tables and maps. The paper-based tools are simplified versions providing best recommendations based on a limited set of input variables. For fertilizer recommendations, for example, best recommendations on a hectare basis are provided for each planting month per local government area in Nigeria, or per district in Tanzania. It has the advantage of being the most cost-effective to access and permits the user to do some basic calculations and gain insights in the logics underlying the recommendations, but it is more simplified and less customized as compared with the recommendations provided by the app.
The interactive IVR and SMS methods present the same questions as in the smartphone app but in IVR or text format, and users are required to listen or read the questions and select the answer from the provided choices of numbers. These systems are being built in collaboration with our digital partners VIAMO and Arifu. To access these tools, visit our website www.acai-project.org and view ‘our work’ page.