Tag: farming

13
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Farming assistant app Agrolly wins IBM’s Call for Code contest

The innovative platform will be a one-stop-shop for farmers seeking out more information on what to plant and when.

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An autonomous combine–again, smaller and lighter than conventional farm machinery–harvesting HFHa’s first crop in September 2017.

Image: HandsFree Hectare

Agrolly, a platform built to help farmers in emerging markets, was chosen as the winner of IBM’s 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge.

Agrolly provides farmers with a bevy of information about weather patterns and crop characteristics, giving them advice on what would be the best thing to plant during certain times of the year. The platform also has ways for farmers to connect with experts as well as ways for them to share information and tools with each other.

During the virtual “2020 Call for Code Awards: A Global Celebration of Tech for Good” event, Agrolly was announced as the winner of the annual competition, which brings together the world’s brightest minds to create solutions to pertinent problems. This year’s task was to develop solutions to problems related to climate change and COVID-19.

“Climate change is making it worse for farmers in developing countries and they are losing yield production because of the changes. When you come to emerging markets and you look at these farmers, they don’t have the resources, they don’t know what to plant, they don’t know what the weather will be, and they don’t have advantages,” said Manoela Morais, CEO of Agrolly.

SEE: Big data’s role in COVID-19 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“We want to change the farming industry in the long run by listening to these small farmers in emerging markets, giving them a voice, and empowering them with the latest tech available. We wanted to create an ecosystem where they can contact each other, solve their problems and build a system that is better in the

13
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Inside Singapore’s huge bet on vertical farming

From the outside, VertiVegies looked like a handful of grubby shipping containers put side by side and drilled together. A couple of meters in height, they were propped up on a patch of concrete in one of Singapore’s nondescript suburbs. But once he was inside, Ankesh Shahra saw potential. Huge potential. 

Shahra, who wears his dark hair floppy and his expensive-looking shirts with their top button casually undone, had a lot of experience in the food industry. His grandfather had founded the Ruchi Group, a corporate powerhouse in India with offshoots in steel, real estate, and agriculture; his father had started Ruchi Soya, a $3 billion oilseed processor that had been Shahra’s training ground.

By the time Shahra was introduced to VertiVegies founder Veera Sekaran at a friend’s party in 2017, he was hungry to make his own entrepreneurial mark. A previous attempt had involved sourcing organic food from around Asia: “an eye-opening experience, one with a lot of pressure,” he says. It helped him spot a problem that needed solving. 

“I’d seen how much dependency farmers have globally on weather,” he says. “Yields were hugely erratic: there are so many inconsistencies and dependencies that it’s a hugely difficult profession for the bulk of farmers. The perishable supply chain was so broken.”

And what Shahra saw when he stepped into Sekaran’s repurposed shipping containers was a solution. 

Inside, mismatched plastic trays sat carefully stacked on industrial metal shelves, stretching all the way from the concrete floor to the corrugated-steel ceiling. In each tray were small green plants of different species and sizes, all with their roots bathed in the same watery solution, their leaves curling up toward the same pink glow of faintly humming LED bar lights above. 

edible violas
A controlled environment means VertiVegies’s food, such as edible flowers, can be