Tree farming expert system: a case of eucalyptus & pine species
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There is an increasing investment in tree farming business in Uganda by both Ugandan nationals and foreign investors, commonly grown tree species among others include; Prunus Africana , Eucalyptus, Tick Tree, however, due to its lucrativeness, there are many challenges facing commercial tree farming for example a lot of setbacks and great financial losses due to lack of technical knowledge about tree planting, poor quality seedlings purchased from private tree nurseries, unpredictable rain seasons, tree pests and diseases among others. Forests are of immense importance to Ugandans. The National Forestry Authority report of 2008 indicates that in 2004, the total economic value of Uganda’s forests, including all marketable and nonmarketable values, was estimated at Uganda shillings(Ushs) 593.24 billion (USD 304 million at the exchange rate of USD 1 = Ushs. 1920), equivalent to about 5.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Forests and trees contribute Uganda shillings 332.3 billion (US$173 million) to the total annual incomes of the households in Uganda. The Forest Sector Review Report (Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, 2001) indicates that wood and non-wood products removed from the forest for subsistence use are about Ushs. 210 billion (USD 109 million) or 2.75% of the GDP. Thus, the overall contribution of forests is about 6% There’s no state of the art Expert system in place to equip farmers with the best tree farming techniques/practices/knowledge to avert the challenges highlighted above most farmers hire Forestry experts – from National Forestry Authority which is very costly. Therefore, this study was conducted at National Forestry Authority (NFA) with a major aim of developing a Tree Farming Expert System that can be used by any tree farmer or technical expert to freely acquire knowledge about tree farming for better quality tree products (Obua, 2010). In this study, a contextual design methodology is employed as it allows tree farmers and technical experts to fully participate and contribute to the design, development, and implementation of the Expert System prototype. The farmers and technical experts are in the best position to improve how best they can access and avail this information easily respectively. To establish the user requirements the researcher will use; interviews, questioners, observation, and reviewing literature or writings from other sources.