Sunday, September 24, 2023

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Govt. discusses digitization in agricultural sector data with Bill Gates Foundation

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): The government embarked on an ambitious initiative towards digitization of agriculture sector data to modernize the country’ crop cultivation practices, agriculture ministry sources revealed.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe and representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation discussed the digitization of data in Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of continuing the government’s efforts to modernize the agricultural sector, improve nutrition, address climate change and enhance financial security.

During the meeting, officials from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation expressed their willingness to support these activities, provided they align with the government’s policies and regulations regarding financial assistance and the use of modern technology.

They presented relevant information to support their stance.The proposed establishment of a university dedicated to climate change was also a topic of attention during this meeting.

Meanwhile Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS) is developed by the Agricultural and Agrarian Insurance Board (AAIB) with technical assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) under the Global Index Insurance Facility (GIIF).

This was a multi donor trust fund. AIMS is a pioneering step towards modernizing the agriculture sector in Sri Lanka.

AIMS consists of a web and mobile application to manage accurate data and streamline the operational aspects of the agriculture sector by connecting all stakeholders in to one hub.

AIMS carries a centralized database that consists of farmer and farm field information along with geographical referencing, location data, weather data, irrigation system, fertilizer and many more details to facilitate the current requirements.

In another private sector initiative of using digitization of agriculture sector practicaly Hayleys Agriculture Holdings (HAH) with DJI Technologies carried out a series of field trials at pre-approved locations to assess the aerial spraying capabilities of DJI Agras MG-1 Agriculture Drone in challenging terrains and elevations.

It intends to fine-tune this technology to local conditions and crop application requirements in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and relevant research institutions.

Cropwiz, another one of the country’s largest agriculture projects with an investment of approximately Rss.1 billion (over $13 million), is an international joint venture that employs cutting-edge greenhouse technology, such as automated climate control and fertigation as well as hydroponics.

The system enables “climate smart,” year-round production, mitigating the impact of climate change.

While moving away from traditional farming and adapting high-tech solutions can be identified as a positive step in agricultural development in the country, it is apparent that Sri Lanka still needs to do more.

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