Sama backs infusion of AI in Africa’s agriculture

For agriculture in East Africa to sustainably feed a growing population, farmers must adopt AI tools to enhance productivity, increase yields, protect environments and reduce costs.

Sama, a data annotation solutions provider that powers the artificial intelligence (AI) models of the future, has seen the potential improvements firsthand with deployments for customers in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Drawing on that experience, Sama says it will continue partnering with companies to support initiatives to revolutionize agricultural sustainability in Africa, such as the East African Community’s Vision 2050 plan.

Speaking during the launch of a report on precision agriculture and the challenges AgTech models face, Annepeace Alwala, Sama Vice President, Global Service Delivery, said there is both a tremendous opportunity and a pressing need for AI to better serve farmers and help farming businesses move forward while simultaneously addressing global challenges to reduce emissions and sustainably feed a growing world population.

“Agriculture is facing a number of challenges—an increase in the demand for food and food safety, decreasing agricultural land and labor shortages among them. Our experience with clients in other parts of the world shows that computer vision applications working with Sama-quality data are helping to address many of these challenges by automating tasks—from crop monitoring and weed control to livestock health and pesticide use,” Alwala said.

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Growing food demand

Weeds, pests, and diseases are major obstacles to achieving the productivity needed to meet the growing food demand around the world. Globally, up to 40 percent of crop production is lost to pests annually, and over $220 billion is spent on related plant diseases.

AI models like those evaluated by Sama, identify pests, diseases and weeds, leading to better crop management, reduced pesticide usage and increased productivity.

For example, one autonomous machine developed by Carbon Robotics can reportedly cover 15 to 20 acres a day and remove more than 100,000 weeds an hour, using carbon dioxide lasers to kill the intruders.

Drone technology is increasingly being used to monitor crops and spray pesticides, made possible by advancements in sensors for data collection, the accuracy of computer vision models, and innovations in pesticide spraying equipment.

This information helps farmers make better decisions about crop rotation, irrigation, and pesticide use. Early detection allows farmers to take action quickly and prevent widespread damage. In collaboration with Precision AI, Sama has helped develop a computer vision model for a drone that can identify images at 0.55mm resolution while flying at 50mph.

“With the increasing challenges faced by the agricultural sector in East Africa, our partnership with Precision AI demonstrates the transformative power of AI in farming. We plan to deploy these solutions to enhance crop monitoring and optimize resource distribution. Our goal is to inspire similar advancements within the region,” Ms Alwala added.

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