SUNDARGARH, ODISHA, INDIA — The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is working to decrease crop loss from pest and diseases with an interactive crop diagnostic tool.

Rice Doctor is a 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 also can be useful for researchers, students and private input dealers.

IRRI said crop loss is 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.”

IRRI’s Rice Doctor is an information and communication technology-based tool that 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 currently available online and as a mobile app that can be downloaded free of cost on smartphones and tablets.

A more localized prevalent version of Rice Doctor for the Odisha region in India is being developed with the help of the local government. The “Increasing Productivity of Rice-based Cropping Systems and Farmer’s Income in Odisha” is being used to facilitate the localization of Rice Doctor in Odisha. It includes user testing and workshops that were conducted with extension intermediaries, farmers, and plant protection specialists from partner institutions.

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 also are 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.

To learn more about Rice Doctor, click here.