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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

The digital path to a smarter yield

The potential for artificial intelligence and smart apps in agriculture

Update : 06 Sep 2023, 01:31 PM

Bangladesh's success in agriculture is enviable as it demonstrated to the world its ability to produce food grains even in the face of floods, drought, salinity, and the hostile natural conditions due to climate change, shrinking agricultural land, and population growth. Bangladesh is gradually progressing behind the world average production of rice, wheat, and corn. Now is the time to build a smart Bangladesh in agriculture.

AI in agriculture:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science. Fortunately, both agriculture and artificial intelligence are vast fields. Among the many branches of artificial intelligence, the most practical work is being done in two main ones these days. One is computer vision and another is prediction. 

The ideal characteristic of artificial intelligence is the ability to reason and adopt processes that have the best chance of achieving certain goals. A subset of artificial intelligence is machine learning which refers to the idea that computer programs can automatically learn and adapt to new data without assistance from humans.

Smart apps in Bangladesh’s agriculture:

Today, artificial intelligence has become part of the immense potential in modern agriculture. In continuation of this, a group of young IT engineers and agriculturists at Medina Tech Limited -- a private company in Bangladesh -- using AI technology in agriculture, released the groundbreaking mobile app "Dr Chashi" on the Google Play Store, led by CEO Medina Ali. 

With this app, users can get accurate information and solutions for roof gardening, as well as field crop diseases and insects. Take a picture of the affected area of the crop with this app, then "Dr Chashi" will tell you the problem and solution of your crop.

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRI) has launched a mobile app called “Rice Solution” -- a sensor based rice pest management system -- to identify rice pests. Which is able to identify the disease by looking at the picture of the affected rice plant from the paddy field. On January 2, 2023 -- the Agriculture Minister inaugurated mobile apps as the chief guest at the six-day annual research review workshop held at BRI in Gazipur.

Among the agricultural universities in the country, Bangabandhu Agricultural University is known to have used drone technology. With the approval of the Ministry of Defense and Agriculture of the Government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and the International Maize and Wheat Development Centre are jointly using drones as a modern, advanced and effective technology in the country's agricultural research under the “Stars” project.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University of Bangladesh Government is already going to start the project called "E-Village" in order to develop the agricultural sector. It takes various information from the crop or vegetable fields through the sensor and delivers it to the farmer through the mobile app. 

Through this project called “E-Village,” the health of the soil of the crop land is known, the crop is continuously monitored, and the disease is known immediately from the experts, and also the farmers can use the information from the app to maximize the reduction of production costs and ensure the yield. 

The project is financially supported by the Chinese Embassy. This project has been launched in Pajulia village of Joydevpur in Gazipur district in a joint initiative of US based IT firm iSoftStone, Bangladesh Centre for Research and Information (CRI), and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University. Initially, 15 farmers were given sensor-equipped devices and smartphones. The device can detect the pH level of the water and indicate the presence of harmful insects.

Drone Technology in Agriculture:

Drones are being used with AI technology in agriculture -- ie if AI is customized and integrated with drones. Once the drone flies over the crop field, it is able to inform the overall condition of the area in the future, such as: Measuring the moisture of the crop field, determining the presence of elements in the crop, designing crop planting, planting seeds, knowing insect attack (image technology), spraying pesticides, monitoring irrigation.

With the help of AI it can predict even more conditions like: Knowing crop production, knowing soil nutrients, moisture, temperature, pH, salinity, knowing crop nutrient deficiency, crop diseases and knowing the presence of insects, knowing agricultural weather forecasting and giving early warning, predicting the potential yield of crops in advance, providing agricultural call center services, and above all knowing the market price of agricultural products. 

Smart farming or the digitization in agriculture is the future -- ie expanding artificial intelligence in agriculture in the future. Now is the time to make agriculture cost-effective, sustainable, and incorporate smart technology for a Smart Bangladesh.

Shamiran Biswas is an Agriculturist and a freelance contributor.

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