The agriculture industry has seen great technological adoption in recent times. However, agritech adoption in Asia still lags behind western countries, whose farmers are skewed towards more tech-based farming. Nevertheless, more and more farmers in Asia are opening up to the idea of technology as a way to increase crop production rather than just relying on traditional skills-based methods.
Furthermore, the changing weather patterns such as increased droughts and floods which has brought the spread of diseases, pests and weeds, damage to soil quality, and loss of biodiversity are causing disruptions on planting and harvesting seasons. All the above has an impact on planters’ yield, which affects food security. Now, more than ever, technology has a crucial and game-changing role in the agriculture sector.
In this article, we look at a select few countries in Asia tapping into the possibilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies for agriculture as they gain a strong footing within the Asian region.
Emerging Technologies in Agriculture
According to the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia is “home to a growingly robust agriculture technology ecosystem”, with the Malaysian government placing great emphasis on the development of digital agriculture technology.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a concept that uses computers and machines to replicate the way a human would problem-solve and carry out decision-making. While machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI, and it uses data and algorithms to imitate how humans learn.
Growing Better Through Innovation
Artificial intelligence and machine learning offer technologies that can deliver multitude of benefits for the agriculture industry from the ground up. Various technologies have emerged or are being developed in the Asian region to help transform the agriculture industry. Below are some notable technologies.
In India, a company has developed an AI enabled, fully automatic grading machine for fresh fruit and vegetables. It uses an AI system along with robotics to empower farmers and planters to reduce their operational costs.
Across the shore, our neighbouring country is home to high-tech egg farms. Singapore has three high-tech egg farms, with a fourth on the way. The farms incorporate new technologies that enables automation for tasks such as feeding hens, collection, grading, and packing of eggs.
In the very near future, farmers in China will be able to ‘hire’ assistants in the form of 5G- connected AI robots to operate in the fields. A cloud robot manufacturer from the country is developing the world’s first 5G cloud-based agricultural picking robot. The country which has the world’s largest population at 1.4 billion has big plans to achieve country-wide agricultural modernisation by 2035.
The recently opened Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) AI park is equipped with five technology clusters comprising of drone technology, agriculture, health, bioscience and IR4.0 enablers. The latest addition to the AI park is the agritech zone, which provides facilities to support the testing and development of agriculture technology in Malaysia.
Another notable AI tech that is gaining popularity among Malaysian farmers is the smart fertigation system with IoT capabilities, IOT smart fertigation system. It has been developed to utilise data analytics, enabling continuous monitoring of nutrient levels and tissue health for plants. Smart fertigation works in soil-based and hydroponic environments, and help planters reduce waste.
Additionally, in Malaysia, agribusinesses are ramping up on robots and drone usage in the palm oil industry to mitigate labour challenges faced by oil palm plantations. The pandemic reportedly caused a shortfall of about 120,000 workers in Malaysia this year. Prior to the pandemic, technology adoption has been slow as industry players had access to cheap labour.
Plantations in Malaysia are now stepping up on mechanisation in order to lessen the losses as fresh fruit bunches go unharvested due to the labour shortage.
The Right Technology for Agribusiness
Although the agriculture industry has survived for many years with traditional, manual methods, it should be noted that agritech is a crucial contributor to propel the agriculture industry and overcome future challenges.
With an agritech solution such as the all-in-one Quarto, industry players have access to a cloud platform that grants efficiency through data automation and visibility into operations. It includes functions such as maps and analytics and integrates operational and financial features to support the various roles in the plantation value chain, from field supervisors and estate managers, right up to the plantation directors.
The Way Forward
Agriculture must embrace the right technologies to benefit from increased efficiency and productivity and to continue thriving in this rapidly changing world.
Are you ready to take the next step for your agribusiness? Let’s chat and discover how you can transform with Quarto!