We are expected to feed 9.7 billion people by 2050 in earth (Source: UNDESA). So, novel solutions such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) are urgently needed to safeguard crops and assure food security. Because Low-cost AI tools can transform agriculture through early identification and management of crop diseases and pests. For example, machine learning algorithms can analyze data from satellite imagery, weather patterns, and soil conditions to predict disease and insect infestations in advance, allowing farmers to make more educated decisions. Besides, AI-powered drones and robots can autonomously monitor fields and apply targeted treatments.

A collaborative approach between the government and private sector is essential to harness AI's full potential in agriculture. Government’s crucial task is to create regulatory frameworks for AI in agriculture. To incentivize research and development, government should also provide technical and financial assistance. The private sector, on the other hand, will drive innovation. They will develop cutting-edge AI tools cost-effectively. Both government and private sector can partner with farmers to pilot and scale these technologies. For example, Bangladeshi farmers can use AI-powered smartphone apps to diagnose crop diseases. By taking a photo of a plant with symptoms, such a smart app can analyze the image and provide a diagnosis, as well as suggest appropriate treatments or preventive measures. As smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, our farmers can also help to train AI and its algorithm by feeding data and reference points. Thus they can become an integral part of the team developing the AI ecosystem for agriculture. From a researcher’s point of view, genomic data can be analyzed using AI as well. Therefore, desirable traits like disease resistance, drought tolerance, and other traits can be ensured through genetic engineering. Plant breeders can develop locally adaptable varieties with higher yields using AI in research. Large data collected from drones, computer vision, IoT devices, smart irrigation systems, soil monitoring systems, and weather forecasts will create an AI-enabled eco-system for healthier plants, higher yields, and, most importantly, happier farmers.

Dr. F H Ansarey
ACI Agribusinesses Division