IBM is one of the biggest technology firms in the world and it has recently been announced, in partnership with the Nigerian agri-tech startup, Hello Tractor, a blockchain and AI-powered digital wallet and decision-making tool for the agriculture sector.
According to the VP of emerging market solutions and director at IBM Research in Africa Solomon Assefa, the goal of the new tool is to "digitize, optimize, and streamline agricultural business processes to create efficiencies and new services from farm-to-fork around the world".
The motivation for designing this new tool was to help smooth the current process which is far too time-consuming. Assefa said that "In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60% of crops are managed manually, with less than 20% managed by tractors". This model isn’t sustainable as the demand for food goes up just as the population does which averages out to 11 million on a yearly basis. Assefa also said that "In addition, up to 50% of farmers suffer post-harvest losses annually due to poor planting practices.”
IBM Research is looking to develop the technology in their lab based in Kenya. According to the tech giant, research scientists are looking to implement several technologies into the mobile app like the Watson Decision platform for Agriculture, the blockchain, IBM Cloud and Internet of Things. In addition to this, the VP also stated:
"The magic behind the idea is what we call an agriculture digital wallet, a blockchain-enabled and AI-based decision support platform that enables capturing, tracking, and instant sharing of data, while creating end-to-end trust and transparency for all the parties involved across the agribusiness value chain."
As reported by the Innovation Enterprise, the app is looking to address a lot of cross-sections for the agriculture industry which includes farmers, tractor fleet owners, banks and other financial institutions as well as government subsidiaries.
To start off with, the tool will only be available in Kenya but IBM plans to expand its offering to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Senegal, Mozambique and Tanzania but there was no time period mentioned.
IBM also announced that in the stage of the project with Hello Tractor, the firm will be looking to join image recognition and machine learning so that cultivation quality can be predicted.
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