KENYA – International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation, an American multinational information technology company has launched a technology platform in Kenya that seeks to help farmers increase productivity.

The Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture will provide agriculture solution that combines predictive technology to give farmers greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

The platform will be available to farmers planting maize, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more crops scheduled to be added soon.

The launch in Kenya is part of IBM’s global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture that uses weather data gleaned from sensors embedded in farms to predict the best conditions for farming.

Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions, IBM says; “These days, farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment.

“Most of the time, this data is left on the vine, never analysed or used to derive insights.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.”

Future of agri-tech

According to IBM, the average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to four million data points by 2036.

This data can be collected through specialised sensors that are now becoming cheaper and more accessible to the average farmer.

Already, some farmers are deploying sensors in greenhouses to monitor conditions such as temperature to help them schedule and even automate the watering process.

The data further becomes more valuable if aggregated with other data sets from machines, comparator fields and weather patterns to create analytical reports on the best crop practices.

IBM says the platform will enable enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors work with farmers to leverage on those insights.

The platform also tracks crop yield, environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield including irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis.

However, the successful adoption of these technologies to boost Kenya’s agricultural productivity relies heavily on the quality of data that is collected and analysed, reports The Standard.