Pakistan can raise agri productivity by AI technology

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can increase agriculture productivity and have food security if it deploys artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the sector, WealthPK reported on Friday.
AI can help in forecasting changes in weather patterns, pace and direction of wind, pinpoint the level of moisture, temperatures and soil condition. It can be useful in detecting diseases in crops, thus guiding the growers on what harvesting technology is suitable.
Moreover, AI can present the precise solution to improving plant nutrition.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, world population is expected to reach over nine billion by 2050, meaning that food production must increase by 70% to fit the need.
And this can only be possible with the deployment of AI technology in the agriculture sector, especially in the food insecure countries.
Talking to WealthPK, Dr. Abedullah, Chief of Research at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), said deployment of AI in the agriculture sector can help bring an agriculture revolution in Pakistan as it can help in meeting the increasing demand for food grains.
“AI can help the government tackle the biggest challenge of climate change and its adverse effects on agriculture sector.”
He said many sectors like textile, dairy, sugar and edible oil are linked with agriculture sector, so any boost in food production will go a long way in enhancing the productivity of these sectors because they get their raw material from the agriculture sector.
Abedullah maintained that due to non-enforcement of innovative technologies in the agriculture sector, its contribution to the gross domestic product is decreasing gradually. “Drones can be used to pinpoint presence of pests in crops, thus enabling growers to eradicate them before they cause any major damage to crops.”
The PIDE chief of research continued, the images captured by a drone camera can quickly identify the affected areas in a crop. “With the assistance of AI, a better and timely decision for treatment of the damaged parts of the field can be made.”
Abedullah explained that it often happens in Pakistan that farmers apply water and pesticides to crops randomly and almost with uniformity. “There may be some crops that need more pesticides and water than others, which causes wastage of both water and pesticides. But with the help of data-driven agriculture, farmers are able to utilise precision farming, which identifies what crops require more water and pesticides.”
“Use of big data can help farmers to improve sustainability and efficiency of their crops with reduced costs, and increase their profitability,” the PIDE chief of research told WealthPK.
He also pointed out that revolutionary machines known as ‘agribots’ are now used in agriculture for a variety of tasks, including soil preparation, fertilisation, seed sowing, grain and fruit harvesting, irrigation, weed and pest control.
He said the government should provide soft loans to small farmers to purchase the latest technology to boost their productivity. As most farmers are illiterate, they should be provided proper guidance and training on how to make the best use of modern technologies to enhance their yields. – INP