IoT Technology Helps Farmers Meet Global Food Shortage Challenges

The fast increasing world population will become even more reliant on the agriculture industry to meet the growing need for food. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics are helping small-scale farmers increase yield, minimize risk, and discover efficiencies to help feed the planet's humans today and in the future.

 

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Image credit: Capgemini/Project FARM

The global population is increasing at a staggering rate. The United Nations projects that the world’s population will increase by about 2 billion persons within the next 20 years, growing from the current 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050. The amount of food required  to meet the needs of all these additional human beings is difficult to comprehend.

Food security is already a challenging issue. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reports that tens of millions of people have joined the ranks of the chronically undernourished just since 2015, and countries around the world struggle with malnutrition. A global report from 2020, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, estimates that nearly 690 million people went hungry in 2019, an increase of 10 million from the previous year. The report, produced jointly by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), notes that the COVID-19 pandemic plunged millions more into chronic hunger.

Helping Small Scale Farmers

Right now, the demand from the world’s current population is met by small-scale farmers, primarily in developing countries. These farmers still rely on traditional farming methods and practices, which may have worked for centuries, but are typically inefficient and not sufficient to support the current and future burgeoning population. What steps can these farmers take to both increase yield and minimize risk?

The answer lies in technology. Smart farming uses connected tools and technologies like a smart network of sensors that can detect changes in soil, water, light, humidity, and temperature, or actuators, camera, robots, and drones to help detect and deliver precisely the nutrition plants and cattle need. But even the most advanced technologies won’t help the situation unless they’re accessible to the farmers that need them. 

Capgemini, an Intel® Partner Alliance program member, developed an intelligent data platform, Project FARM (Financial and Agricultural Recommendation Models), which aims to optimize the agricultural value chain and boost the global food supply. The platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to examine farming patterns through big data, generating insights to inform recommendations.

Project FARM also uses machine learning (ML) to make the platform applicable at scale by connecting to mobile phones. Capgemini built the platform at its Applied Innovation Exchange (AIE) Collaboration Zone (CoZone) in the Netherlands with the help of Agrics, a social enterprise in East Africa that provides local farmers with agricultural products and services on credit.

The platform can bring automated farming to small-scale farmers, connecting farming communities with data science and combining traditional farming methods with big data. It’s built to optimize the value chain and join parties together as a single ecosystem centered around a single, data-driven platform.

The Project FARM platform aggregates data and provides insights to farms to help them make decisions. The data and analyses are shown on a dashboard that can give farmers tailor-made advice to optimize crop production, for instance. The platform collects data from multiple public and private sources, sets it up in a cloud environment for hosting, and runs analytical models in the same cloud. Offering further aid, Agrics contributes data about crops grown, potential and actual yield, field perimeters, credit, and repayments. The information is then combined with data from the Copernicus satellite. Project FARM is connected to project Sobloo, a Copernicus Data and Information Access Service (DIAS).  

 

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