Categories
AgTech Intellectual Property Rights

How will we support data exchanges in agriculture?

As agriculture becomes increasingly digital and mobile via increasing use of consumer devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), it is important to understand how data is being collected, interpreted, and utilized. Moreover, data sharing is going to be fundamental to deriving value from data analytics in agriculture. The absence of legal and regulatory frameworks around the collection, sharing and use of agricultural data contributes to the range of challenges currently being faced by farmers considering adoption of smart farming technologies.

Agri data is neither recognised under traditional type of property (land, building, good and animals) nor any traditional intellectual property (patent, trademark and copyright). Still many existing laws potentially influence the ownership, control of and access to data. For example, legal liability of an autonomous tractor drive over someone else’s scarecrow. Is the liable party in such a case the software coders, the owner of the tractor, the manufacturer of the tractor, all of these parties jointly and severably, or someone else entirely?

This issue might be further complicated and differentiated by the fact that companies like John Deere, claim that the farmers that operate their tractors do not actually own the software that they are running on, nor do they have the right to alter or fix any code in their tractors. But runaway vehicles are not the only concern that farmers have with their autonomous tractors. The robots designed to collect and analyze millions of data points that relate to animal welfare, soil quality, crop quality, and the output or utilization of seed types are often part of the internet-of-things environment.

As on date, the best solution for managing of agri data seems to be, “individual contract agreements to treat agri data as a protected trade secret”. Contract Agreement could include the following 10 points to make sure that the agreement is fool-proof.

  1. Consent: Collection, access and use of farm data should include consent of the farmer with proper signed (or digital) agreement. 
  2. Notification: Farmers must be notified for the collected data with proper details about it’s usage.
  3. Complaint Redressal: Proper complaint redressal mechanism with full transparency.
  4. Features: Defining the availability of services and features when the farmer make choices for opt-in and opt-out.
  5. Portability: Data portability and data retrieval for storage and usage in other systems.
  6. Confidentiality: A clause for not sharing or disclosing the farm data with a third party in any matter that is inconsistent with the contract agreement.
  7. Retrieval: Farmer should have the authority to discontinue the services and collection of data. Services discontinuation should be supported with an option of retrieval and secured destruction of collected data.
  8. Misuse protection: Prohibition of data for anti-competitive activities like speculation in commodity markets based on inputs from the farm data.
  9. Safeguards: Clearly define liability and security safeguards for loss or unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification and disclosure. 
  10. Policy: Notice and response policy for agreement breach.

All the stakeholders in AgTech sector should ensure that Farmers have the opportunity to easily extract their agricultural datasets from one device to another so that they can migrate to a different system, potentially incompatible with the one they are currently using.

Categories
AgTech Investments

South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry

Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. This helps in early problem detection and offer personalised solutions to tree and wine farmers and optimise crop performance. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.

Food security was of paramount importance, and the Aerobotics platform provided a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO at Naspers

Aerobotics uses drone flights to track tree health and size, using multispectral, high resolution drone imagery. This helps in identification of areas needing attention by a real time comparison with historical satellite health data, and make data driven decisions on the farm, using AI-based analytics platform. Aerobotics provide tools to make actionable decisions on the farm for

  • Orchard Management
  • Problem Tree Identification
  • Pest and Disease Management
  • Yield Management

Aerobotics has demonstrated success in the ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. The services are very relevant to commercial-scale farmers and crop insurance companies who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.

Read more at Disrupt Africa.

Categories
Agriculture Education

Agriculture Training Support Program in Alberta

Agriculture Training Support Program is intended to offset costs for COVID-19 safety and training, including the costs for personal protective equipment and to remove any barriers to getting Albertans safely working. As part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Risk Management programs, this program will improve the agriculture and agri-food sector’s ability to anticipate, mitigate and prepare for risks that could have a major financial impact on the livestock and plant industries, or affect human health and safety.

By providing up to $5 million in support to farmers, agri-businesses and food processors, the program helps offset the cost to train new employees safely in new agri-food roles.

The maximum government contribution under the program is $2,000 per new employee, up to a maximum of $50,000 per employer. Grants will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis until available program funding is fully allocated. In addition, approximately $1 million in funding will be targeted for meat processors to provide support for new hires to undertake meat-cutting training.

Read more at Canada.ca

Categories
Agriculture

Despite lockdown, producers didn’t change planting plans in USA

As compared to 2019, planted acreage in 2020 is as follows:

  • Corn Planted Acreage at 97.0 million acres Up 8 Percent
  • Soybean Acreage at 83.5 million acres Up 10 Percent
  • All Wheat Acreage at 44.7 million acres Down 1 Percent
  • All Cotton Acreage at 13.7 million acres Down Less Than 1 Percent

As compared to 2019, grain stocks on March 1, 2020 is as follows:

  • Corn Stocks totaled 7.95 billion bushels Down 8 Percent
  • Soybean Stocks totaled 2.25 billion bushels Down 17 Percent
  • All Wheat Stocks totaled 1.41 billion bushels Down 11 Percent

Read more at USDA Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks

Categories
e-Commerce

Go-to-market approach: Bayer joins hands with AgroStar

Bayer has partnered with AgroStar, a Pune-based e-commerce firm in the farm input space, to deliver seeds and crop protection products directly to the farmer’s doorsteps. Farmers in India can now order Bayer’s seeds and crop protection products through AgroStar’s digital agri-tech platform. With increasing incidence of online e-commerce platforms, the trend is fast catching up in the agricultural space. The company is hoping that the supply of good quality agri-inputs and digital agronomy solutions, can significantly increase farm productivity and farmer incomes.

Read more at TheHinduBusinessLine

Categories
Policy

Data driven agriculture leads to Sustainable Ag

Putting data to use requires an effective balancing of economic and social interests while minimizing trade-offs. Technologies like genetic modification, protected cultivation, automation help produce more food than we need to survive. The current food system, with its reliance on a handful of crops, is inadequate and unsustainable in the face of climate change and population growth. The United Nations warned that the current global food system is inadequate and unsustainable. Even farmers are being vilified by many—including those in the environmental, scientific and policymaking communities—as enemies of our planet, as indiscriminate polluters and wasters of our air, soil and water resources. 

To meet this challenge, the researchers proposed a two-step process. The initial step focuses on the design of a sustainable framework—with goals and objectives—guided and quantified by digital agriculture technologies. Implementation, the second step, involves increased public-private investment in technologies like digital agriculture, and a focus on applicable, effective policy. Policymakers must make use of digital agriculture to help drive policy including tax incentives and subsidies to support farmers working toward a more sustainable system.

It does no good to design a policy that the farmer will ignore.

Read more at Nature

Categories
Food Loss/Waste

Washington growers have a billion pounds of potatoes that they can’t sell

Washington growers have a billion pounds of potatoes sitting around that they can’t get rid of because restaurants don’t need them. Ninety percent of Washington potatoes go to processors. Due to this lockdown, processors and restaurants are closed. This lead growers to the brink of financial collapse. When all of that shuts down, it has a huge ramification for all the processors and the growers.

There are 4 billion pounds of potatoes already harvested. About 70% of that will be shipped overseas, but that leaves a billion pounds in storage. Those farmers that can sell their product have seen the wholesale price fall below the costs to produce them.

Read more at MyNorthWest.com

Categories
Investments

African Development Bank’s seed-bulking scheme boosts cassava yields in Zambia

For centuries, African farmers across the continent have grown cassava. But Zambia’s cassava growers were not deriving as much out of the crop as was possible. Farmers in the southern African country used low-quality planting materials and suffered from poor harvests leading to hunger and poverty across many of the country’s villages. To tackle this problem, the African Development Bank, through its Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation in the Savannahs (TAAT-S) flagship initiative, implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), provided Zambian farmers with a solution known as “seed bulking”.

This involves collecting seeds from a target crop and then growing them in a controlled setting. Using this method, farmers can multiply their bank of seeds, making them more secure and able to scale-up productivity. Five types of high-yielding cassava seeds were successfully introduced in an effort to boost yields and make the landlocked nation less reliant on food imports. Experts believe that modified seeds could help millions of smallholder farmers to get bigger harvests and earn extra cash.

Read more at AFDB

Categories
Policy

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership opens up E-Business opportunities for agri-food

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) is a five-year federal- provincial-territorial initiative to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri- products sectors, and increase their competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability. The Governments of Canada and Ontario are supporting the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sectors to capture online e-business opportunities that will help create new, expanded or enhanced markets and open new retail channels to help generate new revenue streams for future growth.

The Agri-Food Open for E-Business targeted intake will help businesses/organizations quickly expand their marketing channels and respond to new market challenges, increase online sales in the sector and provide consumers with access to more local food. This targeted application intake features two funding streams:

  1. Bring Your Business Online: Provides a grant of up to $5,000 to eligible organizations/businesses to help establish an online presence.
  2. Develop Online Business Opportunities: Provides cost-share funding for up to 90 per cent of eligible costs to a maximum of $75,000 to develop e-business opportunities on a larger scale.

Eligible agriculture, agri-food and agri-products businesses/organizations (such as farmers, processors, individual farmers markets, on-farm markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries and agricultural associations) that are looking to bring their business online quickly can apply to receive a grant of up to $5,000 in order to capture business opportunities and address marketing challenges through a new, expanded or enhanced online e-business and marketing presence.

Read more at OMAFRA

Categories
Uncategorized

Farmer forced to dump 17,000 gallons of milk

Farmers in North Carolina are dumping fresh milk they can’t sell during the coronavirus pandemic. Homeland Creamery supplies milk to restaurants and coffee shops. Many of those establishments are closed. There is a 65-percent decrease in total milk sales. Because there’s no one to buy milk in bulk, Bowman said he has no choice but dump it in a pasture down the road. Bowman said he’s dumped 17,000 gallons of fresh milk since the pandemic began. I would say probably about $160,000 if I had to put a dollar figure on it.

Dumping the milk is the worst. That’s the profit going down the drain.

In the meantime, to keep business afloat, Bowman opened up a drive-thru at his creamery, selling small quantities of milk, homemade ice-cream, and other items.

Read more at WBTV