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Tanzanian Woman Granted $63,000 for Using Machine Learning for Agriculture

Tanzanian Woman Granted $63,000 for Using Machine Learning for Agriculture 

$63,000 was given to Tanzanian computer scientist Neema Mduma as part of an agricultural research grant.

She is one of the only two Africans selected by the Agricultural Research Grant from Grow Further to receive a grant of $63,000. She was chosen due to her creative application of cellphones for early crop disease detection.

Mduma, who was chosen from more than 700 applicants, expresses gratitude and a sense of obligation to produce significant outcomes for food systems and agriculture.

She was awarded the grant, along with her fellow Ghanaian prizewinner, following her suggestion to use technology to address pest-related issues in agriculture, as reported in The Citizen, a Tanzanian news outlet.

Out of over 700 applicants, the computer scientist and lecturer at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Arusha was one of only two chosen to receive funding for her ground-breaking concept of using cellphones for crop disease early detection.

She revealed in an interview with The Citizen that she had the idea for the project while researching machine learning for the health and education industries.

“After I noticed the positive results in the two sectors, I decided to focus on agriculture, where challenges such as disease diagnosis and pest detection can be solved using machine learning tools,” she stated.

She continued by saying that small-scale farmers are the target audience for this technological solution, which aims to minimize needless financial losses and increase output through early detection of crop problems.

“I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement when I was informed about being selected. I feel grateful and honored that this project is among the two projects that were selected for funding, and this gives me a deep sense of responsibility and obligation to produce meaningful results that will benefit smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture and food systems,” she elaborated.

The grant application was submitted by Ms. Neema Mduma as early as January 2023. Her team was chosen to present to funders in June after she was placed on the shortlist for the first screening in February.

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