Agri Business

IBM's The Weather Company ramps up engagement with Govt, private sector

Vinson Kurian THIRUVANANTHAPURAM | Updated on October 16, 2019 Published on October 16, 2019

Himanshu Goyal, Business Leader, The Weather Company, an IBM Business

The scope the project includes starting climate-aware cognitive farming techniques and identifying crop monitoring systems, early warning on the outbreak of pest based on advanced AI innovations.

The Weather Company, an IBM business, is bringing together IBM's advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud capabilities and its own high volume of weather data to ramp up engagement with clients in India.

These include leading entities across the private and public sectors as well as the academia, according to Himanshu Goyal, Business Leader, The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

Tie-up with the Centre

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and IBM signed a Statement of Intent earlier in July to deploy IBM’s precision agriculture solution which combines AI and weather technology to obtain and analyse farm-level insights.

As part of the partnership, IBM Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture was implemented in three districts in Central and West India India as a pilot study to obtain farm level weather forecast and village level soil moisture.

The three districts chosen were Nanded district in Maharashtra, Bhopal district in Madhya Pradesh and Rajkot district in Gujarat. The IBM had earlier developed an advanced price forecasting system for the Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission (KAPC).

Karnataka being a key producer of tomatoes and maize, and the dashboard IBM has provided predicts the market price trends for at least a fortnight and the production pattern of tomatoes.

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It leverages IBM’s Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture as well as big data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine LearningL, uses satellite imagery and weather data to assess the acreage and monitor crop health on a real-time basis, says Goyal.

It can detect pest and disease infestations, estimate the tomato output and yield, and also forecast prices. Previously, the output estimates are based mainly on acreage data. Critical other inputs such as the prices in major markets of neighbouring States are also factored into the price forecast.

The price forecasting mechanism developed for Karnataka was the first of its kind in the country. It was initially launched for the three major tomato- growing districts of Kolar, Chikkaballapur and Belgavi and two key maize-producing districts of Davangere and Haveri.

NITI Aayog and IBM have signed a Statement of Intent to develop a crop yield prediction model using Artificial Intelligence to provide real-time advisory to farmers in Aspirational Districts.

Crop monitoring

The partnership aimed to work together towards use of technology to provide insights to farmers to improve crop productivity, soil yield, control agricultural inputs with the overarching goal of improving farmers’ incomes, Goyal noted.

The scope of this project was to introduce and make available climate-aware cognitive farming techniques and identifying systems of crop monitoring, early warning on pest/disease outbreak based on advanced AI innovations.

It also included deployment of weather advisory, rich satellite and enhanced weather forecast information along with IT & mobile applications with a focus on improving the crop yield and cost savings through better farm management.

More read: With GRAF, The Weather Company pushes envelope of science in forecasting

Among its latest clients is Tata Coffee, one of the most extensive integrated coffee cultivation and processing companies in the world. The company is in the process of leveraging the IBM Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture.

The platform helps it to receive accurate weather forecast, soil moisture and soil temperature information at its coffee estate level to amplify the agricultural process of coffee crop cultivation in India.

Another recent client is MyAgriGuru app, part of the Mahindra Group, a unique digital platform for farmers that intends to accompany farmers in their journey towards better and innovative farming.

The weather section of the app leverages IBM's weather forecast information. It enables the farmers to see the weather forecast for their own locations, providing estimates for up to five days and is updated every three hours.

Tie-up with academia

SatSure, an innovative large area analytics company, offers satellite imagery combined with weather forecasts created by The Weather Company, Goyal said.

In 2018, it worked with state governments during the floods in Kerala and in the context of cyclone 'Titli' hitting Andhra Pradesh, providing real-time updates and offering advice on the possibilities of fresh rains and affected areas.

Shree Guru Gobind Singh Tricentenary University (SGT University) and The Weather Company has announced an ‘Open Data Weather Lab’ for academic research and communications on the weather.

Also read: Tap Artificial Intelligence to predict weather, address climate change

As part of the collaboration, SGT University aims to leverage insights from weather data provided to it to drive research on the impact of weather on a range of sectors, facilitate student and faculty learning, and give an incubation platform for startups and corporates.

XShip, the leading vessel management company works with The Weather Company for accurately predicting weather data for optimal route planning, allowing for drastic savings in fuel consumption and fleet management.

Cricket.com has been combining weather data provided by The Weather Company along with match data at a deep level to help fans better understand the game. The precision tool had gone live during the Cricket World Cup in England, Goyal explained.

RML AgTech, which provides agriculture support solutions on mobile to farmers through their widely used apps in seven Indian languages, relies on high weather data from The Weather Company to make advisories relevant to client needs.

Published on October 16, 2019
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