The Champion who created an App to identify banana diseases

Michael Selvaraj is the leader of the Phenomics Platform team from the Agrobiodiversity Area at CIAT. He is a Champion, because he developed the smartphone App Tumaini, which makes it possible to identify five diseases and one pest affecting banana plants.

Por Sylvia Pineda | Oct 29, 2019


He carried out this research in collaboration with colleagues from Bioversity International in Africa. The Tumaini App – which means hope in Swahili – was tested in Colombia, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Benin, China, and Uganda, and is available free of charge for mobile devices using the Android operating system.

With the Tumaini App, farmers can find symptomatic plants and take a picture with the mobile phone. The App provides a confirmation of the disease, along with recommendations on the next steps to follow and control measures.

It is designed to help banana smallholders to quickly detect the occurrence of a disease or pest. The system finds symptoms in any part of the plant and it is trained to read poor-quality images. 

The App provides an opportunity to improve crop monitoring, rapid control, and mitigation efforts. It also helps farmers prevent yield losses.

Michael Selvaraj


If farmers see some symptoms, they take a picture, click the Scan button in the App, and the likely disease will be displayed in real time. They can also select the part of the plant in which they saw the symptoms and obtain recommendations.

The more the App is used, the more accurate it becomes. Even though the software was specially created for banana, the system will also be used with other crops, such as cassava, beans, and oil palm. “Going forward, we expect to have it connected to satellites and thus allow for a satellite follow-up of diseases”, pointed out Selvaraj.