Thailand farms

How Asian Farms Are Digitizing

Agriculture is one of the oldest professions. But it is now rapidly being brought into the digital age thanks to a combination of next-generation technologies that increase productivity while improving food safety.

Globally, growth forecasts continue to be almost exponentially bullish. The livestock monitoring market, for example, is estimated by ResearchAndMarkets.com to be worth $1.6 billion this year and could reach $3.7 billion by 2030.

The increasing implementation of sensors, smart tags, camera systems and GPS devices is driving this. Additionally, telematics is used to capture data through sensors installed on equipment such as tractors.

According to the IMARC Group, the global market for agricultural robots performing tasks such as seeding and planting, aerial data collection, harvesting and soil analysis reached $6.3 billion in 2021.

The ASEAN region is one of the key markets in this transformation. Agriculture accounted for around 11% of the region’s GDP in 2020 and accounts for over 30% of total employment in many countries in the region.

At the same time, the region has proven vulnerable to the impacts of climate change that has caused billions of dollars in crop and livestock losses, a trend exacerbated by pandemic disruptions.

Small farms go digital

Even though many farms in Asia remain small and operated by cash-strapped family businesses, the region is proving to be one of the leading adopters of new technologies.

In Thailand, the government provides grants of up to USD 9,000 to farmers for digital projects, which has led to significant adoption of the use of drones for spraying and planning.

Drones are also used in Malaysian agriculture. There, a new startup called Poladrone specializes in pest control for palm oil growers with precision spraying.

Cloud-based services are at the forefront in Vietnam, where MimosaTEK combines the cloud with precision agriculture, enabling smart irrigation systems that use smartphones to monitor weather and optimize water use.

A young Vietnamese entrepreneur, Pham Thanh Toan, founded MiSmart, which combines automated technologies with artificial intelligence to bring Big Data solutions to remote management.

His inspiration was truly regional. Toan earned a master’s degree in AI in Japan, where farmers use drones to spray pesticides that are 50 times more effective than traditional methods. He teamed up with a friend who got his doctorate. study in Australia.

Their goal is to bring digital agriculture to improve Vietnamese agriculture, overcoming challenges such as the local unavailability of critical components by manufacturing themselves. Their prototype drone flew in 2020 and was found to be able to lift heavy objects and deliver a 25% productivity improvement over traditional methods.

In Singapore City, the focus has been on high-tech indoor farms, with one startup, Sustenir, claiming its farms can achieve yields 14 times higher than other farms.

AI platform

It’s not just start-ups at the forefront of new agritech technologies. South Korea’s well-established LG Group announced this month that it has joined the government’s new smart farming project with plans to build an AI-based platform and pilot it on a farm near the rural town of Naju, about 350 kilometers from Seoul.

The Ministry of Agriculture and its partners aim to create a 543,000 square meter smart outdoor farm typical of about 95% of farms nationwide.

LNG’s IT solutions unit is building a platform to collect and analyze data on crop growth, soil, weather, irrigation and disease damage.

A digital “scarecrow” will be equipped with AI sensors, radars and speakers and will beckon birds and animals. The platform will also allow a fleet of drones.

As the population grows, climate change continues to impact, and food security becomes increasingly critical, we can expect growing momentum for these new technologies, especially as 5G coverage becomes a factor. favorable.

There are challenges and barriers, such as adoption of data standards and access to capital for smallholders. But the trend is only going one way, and by the end of the decade, this oldest of professions will be one of the most technologically advanced.

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australian and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and editor of NextGenConnectivity. He remains fascinated by how companies are reinventing themselves through digital technology to solve existing problems and change their entire business models. You can reach him at [email protected].

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Pixfly