SoftBank Corp. (“SoftBank”) today announced that from November 2019 “e-kakashi” —an AI-powered “brain” for agriculture— will be deployed in Colombia for the Smart Rice Farming Project (“the Project”). The Project, which is supported by IDB Lab*1 , the Inter-American Development Bank’s innovation lab, aims to improve the productivity and sustainability of rice farming in Colombia.
Thanks to their large landmasses, Colombia and other countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region (LAC region) have the potential to become agricultural production powerhouses. However, since agriculture greatly impacts the environment with its high levels of water consumption, new solutions using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are being sought to balance productivity and sustainability through the efficient use of resources. Led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), along with seedling distribution, the Project’s purpose is to spread the adoption of low-input rice cultivation in the LAC region by compiling know-how into digital manuals.
SoftBank’s e-kakashi has already been tested*2 in Colombia by CIAT at its pilot rice paddies and the Project will utilize insights from these tests to deploy e-kakashi as an ICT-based solution. After trials that use e-kakashi with CIAT, local rice milling companies, rice farmers and others are finished, the Project aims to spread commercial-level implementation in Colombia and to other LAC region countries.
Through the use of e-kakashi, SoftBank aims to contribute to the realization of sustainable agriculture around the world.
1: IDB Lab is contributing a total of 2 million USD to the Smart Rice Farming Project.
About the Smart Rice Farming Project
The Project plans to proceed in two phases.
Phase 1: e-kakashi will be installed for trials at the estates of three farmers (who farm a total of 213 hectares) in the Cauca and Valle de Cauca Departments. While verifying the results of e-kakashi with local rice milling companies, CIAT and SoftBank will jointly create digital manuals for low-input rice cultivation.
Phase 2: The project seeks to expand coverage to the Arauca and Casanare Departments for non-rice crops.