Search By Topic


A new AI-powered app scans banana crops for early signs of disease

The banana is the world’s most popular fruit: we consume 100 billion of them a year. And yet, their future is threatened by a spate of diseases that are ravaging crops worldwide. Now, researchers have developed a tool to tackle these silent killers: an artificially-intelligent smartphone app that can scan banana plants for early signs of infection, and alert farmers before it takes hold on their crops.

In field studies in India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Colombia and Uganda, the researchers 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.