Design and implementation of an intelligent organic mushroom farming system for internally displaced and refugee Syrians
Food security and adequate sources of nutrition are important for people fleeing conflict zones. Mushrooms are a valuable food source which are rich in proteins, fibres, antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals. However, their cultivation requires extensive training and considerable relevant expertise to fine-tune multiple environmental parameters. These parameters can be heat, humidity, illumination, and ventilation, and they should be controlled precisely for successful mushroom cultivation. Many NGOs working for Syrian refugees have reported significant difficulties and challenges in mushroom cultivation among the targeted beneficiaries, even after providing them with materials and preliminary training, due to the complexities of controlling the environment. These difficulties and challenges result in high failure ratios among insufficiently experienced growers, when trying to handle the multiple interfering environmental factors affecting and contaminating mushrooms. This project aims to simplify the mushroom cultivation process, to be operated by lay people with a modest amount of training, especially for internally displaced and refugee Syrians. Our project will design and implement an intelligent affordable mushroom farming system. The proposed system will deploy state of the art emerging technologies, such as internet of things (IoT), computer vision (CV) and artificial intelligence (AI) for acquiring and analysing data from different sensors and cameras to control the environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, illumination and ventilation. A prototype of the proposed system will be created, tested and validated. Remote monitoring of the proposed system will be provided through the internet to monitor and control the environmental parameters continuously. Furthermore, a database of the acquired data will be built for applying AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms for future work on disease detection and growth analysis. The proposed project will make mushroom cultivation and production more accessible for internally displaced and refugee Syrians. Thus, it will provide them with an extra source of income and enhance their food security and nutritional conditions, through efficient automated organic oyster mushroom cultivation. The project will also provide an open dataset of mushroom images and cultivation parameters that can help the scientific community and future research. The project team includes experienced computer and electronic engineers who are familiar with embedded systems and emerging technologies and agricultural experts with practical experience in mushroom cultivation and production. The project aims to publish a conference paper introducing the proposed system and an extended journal article in the prestigious journal of Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.