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ADAFSA organises webinar to highlight impact of AI on agriculture


The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) organised a webinar on Tuesday under the theme, “Al in Agriculture”, to highlight the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques on farming and food production.

The webinar was hosted as part of the activities of the Abu Dhabi Artificial Intelligence Lab as a collaboration between the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI).

The webinar was presented by Jeff Keiser, Lead Offering Manager, Agribusiness Solutions at IBM Business, one of the world’s leaders in digital farming and AI applications. It was attended by those interested in using AI techniques in farming.

Ayesha Mohamed Al Khazraji, Analysis Section Manager at ADAFSA, welcomed the speaker and attendees, stressing the webinar’s importance in achieving agricultural sustainability and improving productivity. She affirmed ADAFSA’s commitment to the Abu Dhabi Government’s plan and the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence, which aims to leverage AI technology in all activities to improve services and achieve customer satisfaction.

Mohamed Abdullah Almadhani, Advisor of the Data and Applied Intelligence Sector, at ADDA, said, “AI and automation are set to have a major impact on the global agriculture industry, driving new business models and disrupting existing value chains. We are delighted to be part of this webinar that explores the role of AI techniques in transforming the future of agriculture.”

Dr. Ahmed Dabbagh, Director of Professional Services, MBZUAI, said, “AI is increasingly deployed to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges, including COVID-19, supply chain, food security, and more. In the UAE, automation combined with AI is being used to maximise crop production in line with the National Food Security Strategy. We are pleased to partner with ADAFSA and ADDA, as we focus on promoting the use of AI by educating, moulding, and empowering creative pioneers who can lead us through the fourth industrial revolution.”

At the beginning of the webinar, Keiser reviewed the key challenges facing the agricultural and food production industry, highlighting ways to address them using AI techniques and data science. He noted that global investments in the agriculture industry, which are estimated at US$5 trillion, face massive challenges, including the increasingly volatile weather, growing environmental and regulatory pressures, and greater demand for quality, sustainable food.

“The recent advancements in analytics technology will help shape a brighter future for the agriculture industry and address its challenges, thus improving food quality, sustainability, output and overall profitability. In addition, rapid access to information, such as weather data, helps farmers make quick and correct decisions, as 90 percent of crop losses are related to extreme weather,” Keiser said.

Furthermore, he affirmed the urgent need for more accurate weather forecasts to make informed decisions to protect crops, adding that the consumer demand for high-quality and traceable food products is putting increased pressure on supply chains.

According to Keiser, the IBM platform provides geospatial analytics services that organise massive geospatial-temporal data sets collected by satellites, aerial, UAV flights, and millions of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, in addition to other data related to soil, crops and implemented agricultural practices. The platform links those data sets to historical, current, seasonal and climatic data.

At the end of the webinar, Keiser narrated the experience of a grape farm in California that applied a smart irrigation system. It helped increase grape yields by 26 percent, improve grape quality by 50 percent, and improve water-use efficiency by 12 percent.