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Agriculture: Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the Food Security Challenge

10 July 2019
Сельское хозяйство: робототехника, искусственный интеллект и проблемы продовольственной безопасности

A discussion on the use of innovative technologies in the agricultural sector, including robotics and artificial intelligence, was held as part of the GMIS 2019 business programme on 10 July.

Traditional farming methods are a thing of the past. Agriculture is rapidly becoming a high-tech industry that attracts new specialists, new companies, and new investors. Technology is developing rapidly with advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics. Robotics are critical to the ability to substantially increase production yield. Russian Quality System Director Maxim Protasov said that, according to UN estimates, the world population will increase to around 10 billion by 2050, while demand for food will increase by 70%. Food production can be increased with the introduction of new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles, autonomous tractors, and robotic systems.

Protasov believes that agriculture has begun developing more actively than other industries in terms of innovation. «Agribusiness in Russia is destined to become a driver of robotics,» he said.

A discussion also addressed problems associated with attracting young personnel to the agricultural sector. Agritecture Managing Director (USA) Henry Gordon-Smith said: «Farming should become fashionable, but this requires changing the mentality of young people, improving the education system, and introducing technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence into agribusiness».

Aerofarms Managing Director Sam Schatz spoke about improvements to agricultural technologies. Aerofarms uses Vertical Farms technology to grow food on small plots of land, while boosting labour productivity by several times over.

Riccardo Savigliano, Chief of Agro-Industries Technologies within the Department of Agriculture at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), continued the theme of promoting advanced technologies in agriculture. He spoke about the organization’s efforts to transfer modern technologies from one country to another, especially to developing nations.

The discussion participants also noted that farming has expanded by seven-fold in recent years and there is also a greater understanding of the challenges that small farmers and large agricultural holdings face, such as food safety, water and seed quality, staff shortages, and raising investment. It is impossible to imagine solving these problems today without the use of robotics, he said.