Open Source for Weed Assessment in
Lowland Paddy Fields

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Project Abstract

The project aims to develop and sustain a long-term cooperation between Europe and least developed countries of South East Asia for bringing IT&C to rural sector. This is done by helping to address the issue of slow increasing agricultural productivity in Indochina by proposing a tool for decision-making in weeds identification and control. This decision-making tool will target extension workers and farmers of the lowland rice cropping systems at the village level and will effectively address the issue of local languages. It will address the important aspect of capacity building among students and agronomists in the two least developed countries, Cambodia and Lao PDR. A knowledge base for identification and control of the most important weeds of the lowland rained rice ecosystems of Indochina will be developed for this purpose. This knowledge base, built on a species identification system (IDAO)[1], will draw from existing reference herbaria, which will however need to be completed with extensive field trips. Developed as an open source web-based application, the knowledge base will be made available on-line, on CD-ROM for personal computer platforms as well as on Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC), a specification for a small form factor tablet PC. It has an easy-to-use graphic interface (an identikit system) on which the identification software will be available in local languages (Lao and Khmer). Perception of the application by the target audience in Lao PDR and Cambodia, the extension workers and the students will also be considered in order to improve the tool’s usage and appropriateness at the grass root level.

The result would primarily address the needs of stakeholders that are involved in protecting the rice crops, including the large scientific community working in these geographical areas and also the extension services. The partnership builds on the foundations of the pre-existing scientific collaboration between the various partners who have specialized in developing IT&C applications for species identification (IDAO) on one hand, and botanists / agronomists itself on the other hand. The project also brings together the partners’ demonstrated capabilities in implementing similar actions, viz. a) the development of IDAO, the core module of the identification system by the CIRAD, b) the application of IDAO on the weeds of Reunion Island[2] and on weeds of West Africa[3], c) the application of IDAO in the field of mangroves species, funded by the European Commission and co-published by the CIRAD.

[1] Grard, P., 2002. IDAO - A multimedia approach to computer-aided identification for capacity building in taxonomy. 3rd GTW, Pretoria, South Africa.
[2] Le Bourgeois & al., 2001. Advenrun V.1.0.
[3] Grard, P. & al., 1996. Adventrop-Doc V.1.1. Les adventices d’Afrique soudano-sahélienne.


The purpose of this project is:

  • To initiate a long-term cooperation between European and Indochina’s institutions involved in IT&C applications in agriculture, through a project based on the transfer of IT&C to the extension services and the farmer level, followed by a sustained network for the transfer of know-how between an European tropical area (Reunion Island) and Indochina;

  • To contribute to the enhancement of rice productivity in the lowland rice cultivation by enabling farmers’ decision-making capacity in terms of crop management with specific focus on weed identification and control;

  • To preserve and disseminate traditional knowledge in local languages and improve botany knowledge-sharing through IT&C initiatives;

  • To promote the development of Open Source based IT&C tools for southern countries through a transfer of know-how between Europe and Asia;

  • To promote cooperation between two southern countries in the area of applied IT&C for agriculture, namely Cambodia and Lao PDR.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To build a knowledge base (an open-to-all web-based application and one CD-ROM) for the weed species of paddy fields of Cambodia and Lao PDR. For this, IDAO technology, an existing multimedia species identification software, will be used.

  2. To establish open data standards and protocols for the common use of species descriptions, terminology, composite drawings and common software architecture.

  3. To build fresh capacities in both applied botany and agronomy at the institutional level in Cambodia on one hand and on the other hand in Lao PDR, the focus will be on capacity building in the application of IT&C to agronomy.

  4. To translate the identification tool in the respective local languages (Khmer and Lao). This will help the capacity-building of agronomists in weed control, the self-training initiatives and also contribute to the effort to preserve traditional knowledge in the southern countries.

  5. To transfer the identification system to the Ultra-Mobile PC, a specification for a small form factor tablet PC, which allows for regular updates of data through the web-based database.

At mid-term:

The project envisages the initiation and sustenance of cooperation between the South East Asian and the European agronomist communities. Indeed, it brings together and assimilates into a knowledge base the kind of information, which will be of significant use to the farming community. Such an approach of a decision-making tool made available in rural areas and accessing a centralized database through the Internet can be extended to other agriculture-related needs like pest management, and in a more general sense, to give access to ecological, meteorological, agronomic and economic information (market prices, monsoon forecast, cost of inputs, etc.) that may help farmers to better plan their activities.

Moreover, it will provide a special impetus to major capacity-building efforts for young agronomists, applied botanists and extension workers. The knowledge base will be designed and developed in such way to enable capacity building by taking into account the non-expert background of the intended audience and local language question.


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Programme Component:

Practical Demonstration Actions

Area of Activity:
Agriculture, Education

Duration of the Project:
24 months

EC Co-financing (€):
400.000 €

Start date:
February 1st 2005

This project is financed by the
Asia IT
&C Program

Asia IT&C is a European Community initiative designed to promote mutual benefits and understanding in information technology and communication between the EU and Asia.


Participating Institutions

The Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (Agricultural Research Centre for International Development) is the French specialist in development-oriented agricultural research for hot regions. The CIRAD team involved in the project belongs to the Plant Modelling Programme (AMAP). This programme designs and develops the necessary methods for measuring, analysing and simulating the architecture, functioning, growth and production of plants and crops, for both annual and perennial, tropical and temperate plants. CIRAD has already implemented the Identification CD-ROM for the major weed species of Reunion Island (AdvenRun Version 1.0), Identification CDRom for the weed species of West Africa (AdvenTrop-Doc Version 1.1) and other products.


Royal University of Agriculture, a public institution serves as a higher education institution specializing in agriculture sciences. It offers academic courses in agriculture sciences, agricultural technology and food sciences etc entailing as a perfect seat for training young agronomists. It also conducts regular training courses for farmers and development workers of NGO’s. Due to the long- term disintegration of scientific research, institutions and expertise during the 70’s, presently involving an institution which aims at contributing towards the national development through nurturing capacities in agriculture and helping the policy framework on agriculture would only be a credible effort towards building capacities internally.


The Leiden University branch of the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland (NHN, National Herbarium of the Netherlands) dates back to 1829, when it was founded as the “Rijksherbarium” in Brussels by Royal Decree of King William I and later moved to Leiden in 1830. In 1999 the three major University Herbaria in Leiden, Wageningen and Utrecht were decentrally merged into the NHN, with NHN-Leiden as the coordinating centre. The National Herbarium of the Netherlands is involved in research on plant biodiversity (taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, plant biodiversity assessment, floristic monitoring, etc.). It teaches all aspects of systematic botany at the three universities (graduate level) and at the postgraduate level in the National Research School Biodiversity to students from the Netherlands, but specifically also to students from developing tropical countries. It curates, documents and further develops the herbarium collections (with currently close to 6 million specimen, one of the ten largest herbaria in the world). The Herbarium also takes care of the dissemination of collection-based information on plant diversity and geographic distribution patterns to the general public and policy makers.


National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, formed in 1999 by combining agriculture, forestry and fisheries research centres. NAFRI is the main research organisation of the country under the direct supervision of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It undertakes integrated agriculture, forestry and fisheries adaptive research in order to provide technical norms and results for agriculture development strategy formulation in accordance with the government policy. It serves as a central institution of research with 8 research centres, consisting of projects, research stations and pilot sites located across the country. It has the scope of influencing the policy formulations of the government implying a wider impact based on the outcomes of the activities of the institution.


Key Milestones

  • Workshop 1 in Vientiane (Lao PDR) three months after the beginning of the project.

  • Workshop 2 in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) at the ninth month.

  • Workshop 3 in Réunion (France) at the fifteenth month.

  • Workshop 4 in Leiden (The Netherlands) for the last three months of the project.

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Last updated: 07/21/07.