Creation of a Banana Wiki to give reliable spatial information

Digital Content

Soon all information on banana in Africa including the banana growing areas, yield, socio-economic status of the farmers and spread of pests and diseases will be available at the click of a mouse, after experts launched a crop's website.

The banana wiki, (http://banana.mappr.info) developed by Philippe Rieffel a student of Science in applied Geography at the University of Muenster, Germany under supervision of scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), hopes to make a wide range of reliable spatial information on banana readily available to researchers, policy makers and development workers. "Wiki" was obtained from the free Wikipedia on the internet - websites where anyone can add information. So the banana website has the same concept as anyone will be free to add information.

According to Hein Bouwmeester, a GIS specialist with IITA, currently the website is focusing on banana-growing areas in Africa but if successful, will expand to include the whole world. He said the website was developed entirely with open source software and uses 'crowdsourcing' to build onto an existing geo-database. "The idea behind 'crowdsourcing' is that currently there is no accurate geospatial data on bananas in Africa. So, the platform will outsource the data from local experts in Africa," he said. "The core of the website is the editor that enables a user to view and edit banana growing areas and define their characteristics."

According to Bouwmeester, the website is important as it will allow information to be shared across projects and organisations for research and development work. The platform comes in handy as scientists are grappling with the spread of two deadly diseases that are ravaging the crop and threatening the livelihoods of millions farmers. These are the Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW) and the viral Banana Bunchy