Rwandan Student Develops ‘Mkulima GPT’ – An AI-Powered Swahili Chatbot for Smallholder Farmers
Theofrida Muginga, a young student at the University of Rwanda, is making strides in the agricultural sector with her innovative project ‘Mkulima GPT.’ This groundbreaking initiative harnesses the power of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to support small-scale farmers, particularly those with limited resources.
Muginga, the founder of ‘Mkulima GPT,’ comes from an agricultural background and understands the challenges faced by many farmers. She aims to bridge the technology gap in agriculture by utilizing AI, particularly ChatGPT, to empower farmers with valuable information and guidance.
‘Mkulima GPT’ distinguishes itself by its commitment to local languages, with plans to expand its services to more African languages in the future. The project is already accessible through a dedicated website and a WhatsApp phone number, allowing farmers to seek advice on various topics, including farm preparation, crop disease management, and post-harvest procedures.
“We are expecting to have multiple numbers of farmers to use this technology, and we are looking at the possibility of including Kinyarwanda into CHATGPT as well. When we were developing the application, we got to interact with farmers, and one of the crop diseases was [head] smut,” said Muginga. “The application keeps on reminding [farmers] of good practices that prevent the disease.”
Currently in the testing phase, ‘Mkulima GPT’ actively welcomes user feedback and aims to officially launch in December. The project is collaborating with agriculture and AI experts to enhance its capabilities before reaching smallholder farmers across the region.