IBM Research and Hello Tractor launches “Digital Wallet” for agriculture based on AI and Blockchain in Africa (Nigeria). The mobile platform enables farmers to access tractor services on demand. They will be working with IBM scientists in Kenya to apply several technologies including the Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and IBM Cloud, to the app.
The blockchain-enabled and AI-based decision support platform will allow capturing, tracking, and instant sharing of data, while creating end-to-end trust and transparency for all the parties involved across the agribusiness value chain.
It will address 5 broad cross-sections of the agriculture industry – Farmers, Tractor Fleet Owners, Tractor Dealers, Banks and Financial Institutions and Governments:
Machine learning will enhance farmers’ crop yields prediction. The data, with advanced analytics and blockchain, will then be extracted to develop a credit score for loans by predicting the value of a harvest. Forecasted weather data, remote sensing data, and IoT data from tractors will also be combined into the app to let farmers know when to cultivate, know farm cultivation quality, what to plant, and what fertilizer to use.
Tractor owners will be able to view and manage fleet utilization and predictive maintenance as well as forecast future tractor utilizations based on history, real-time weather data and remote sensing satellite data using machine learning and the IoT.
Tractor supplies can benefit from improved tractor repair and servicing, after-sales support, spare part inventory planning and credit administration. Banks and financial institutions can track utilization of tractors to determine a credit portfolio for farmers and tractor owners.
And, governments can utilize data and actionable insights for various decision support capabilities including structuring incentives, enforcing regulations, prioritizing investments and making policy decisions.
Over 60 percent of crops are managed manually, with less than 20 percent managed by tractors and other machinery in sub-Saharan Africa. This model is definitely untenable as food demand rises due to population growth averaging 11 million per year and close to 50 percent of farmers experience post-harvest losses annually due to poor planting practices. All these challenges spurred and still remains the key backbone of the Hello Tractor service.
Blockchain technology, no doubt, is one of the best things that has emerged from the global innovation ecosystem. Its transparent feature has been applied to multiple sectors like – food, real estate, financial services and supply chain processes.
IBM aims to leverage AI, blockchain and the IoT to digitize, optimize and streamline agricultural business processes, creating efficiencies and new services from farm to fork around the world. For IBM, the blockchain will provide a tamper-proof definition of demand-side and supply-side workflows from tractor request to fulfilment, payment for services, and distribution of proceeds.
According to IBM, they are planning for extension of the service to more African countries like – Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, and the middle east region – Pakistan and Bangladesh – aside from Nigeria. The new services will be tried in the first half of 2019.
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