Agriculture

Project FARM: AI will help to ensure you can still get your coffee fix

project farm coffee capgemini ai artificial intelligence climate change environment global warming kenya
©iStock/bombuscreative

Coffee farmers will receive some welcome assistance from AI on managing their crops amid tough conditions and growing demand.

European researchers from Capgemini have developed a platform called Project FARM (Financial and Agricultural Recommendation Models) which aims to boost farmers’ yield, optimise the value chain, and bolster the global food supply.

Project FARM is first going to be used in Kenya to assist coffee farmers. The platform was built in collaboration with East Africa-based social enterprise firm Agrics which provides local farmers with agricultural products and services on credit.

Julian van Velzen, a data analyst at Capgemini who leads Project FARM, said:

“By connecting farming communities with data science, and big data with traditional farming methods, the FARM platform is built to optimise the value chain and bring parties together as an ecosystem around one data-driven platform.

The platform can pave the way for bringing automated farming to small-scale farmers. With the increasing availability of open data and decreasing prices of sensors and satellite imagery, the future of farming is bright.”

AI is used to analyse farm data sourced from Agrics in addition to satellite data from Project Sobloo, a Copernicus Data and Information Access Service (DIAS). 

A dashboard provides insights to the farmer with tailor-made advice on how to optimise production. This advice can also be sent via SMS so, for example, an alert can be issued to take precautions if a crop-damaging thunderstorm is due the next day.

On the business-side, Agrics is able to use the data to foresee any risks that may impact each farmer and their investment.

Violanda de Man, Innovation Manager at Agrics East Africa, commented:

“Through our interactions with the farmers, we are on top of a huge reservoir of data. We can now turn this data into meaningful insights, which allows us to provide time and location-specific products and services to increase yield and lower risk at farm and value chain level.

Increased value chain effectiveness will help to directly improve the income and food security of rural populations.”

The global demand for food is expected to increase by 60 percent by 2050 and most of the world’s population is fed primarily by small farmers in developing countries. Supporting these farmers isn’t just the moral thing to do; it also helps to keep food on all of our plates.

Earlier this week, Fairtrade warned that coffee could become a luxury due to climate change affecting production. According to Catherine David, head of commercial partnerships at Fairtrade, issues like extreme temperatures, increased humidity, and pests are hitting farmers’ crops.

Meanwhile, a growing population is living longer and the demand for coffee is increasing. Combined with the expected production issues, the quality of coffee is expected to decrease while prices rocket.

I don’t know about you, but I need my coffee and would rather not have to take out a loan for my fix.

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