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Microsoft and IICA define a roadmap for the digital transformation of agriculture in the Americas

The Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero (center), led a work meeting with Luciano Braverman, Education Director for Microsoft Latin America.

San Jose, Costa Rica, 18 January 2019 (IICA). Today, Microsoft and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) defined priority actions to be jointly implemented as part of their Digital Educational Partnership. This strategic relationship will accelerate agriculture’s digital transformation on the American continent though the dissemination of knowledge as well as Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the sector.

The partnership between Microsoft and IICA will provide technology to transform agriculture in the Americas through innovation, for the benefit of rural women and youth in particular, as well as through various tools for collecting and disseminating data related to crops, production, the use and availability of water resources, as well as climatic conditions, for improved decision making.

“Digital technology is crucial in order to bridge productivity gaps while fostering sustainability and inclusion. 2019 will be a year of significant achievements by IICA, which will aim to deliver concrete results to rural populations. The partnership with Microsoft is critical in order to embark on this journey,” stated Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, during his meeting with a team from the technology company, led by Luciano Braverman, Education Director for Microsoft Latin America.

“We have a great deal of experience in matters related to education, and we are leaders in the field of technology. We view IICA as a great partner in bringing our vast experience to agriculture, which is such an important area. We are very excited about the opportunities afforded by this partnership,” stated Braverman.

The purpose of the agreement, which is a springboard for implementing many initiatives within the area of agricultural digitalization, is to use Microsoft’s extensive technological platform to address the critical innovation needs within the value chain of stakeholders and in the ecosystem of the agriculture sector. The partnership will focus on rural youth and women as its primary beneficiaries, which should help to reduce the flight of this sector of the population to urban areas.

As part of its joint work agenda, Microsoft and IICA will create a virtual and interactive agricultural museum to highlight the fundamental role of this activity in human health and the planet’s sustainability, as well as to share a vision for the future of agriculture.

The museum’s wealth of knowledge and information will be made available to all countries in the Americas. It will also serve as the starting point for the implementation of joint work programs that will incorporate various areas such as the use of artificial intelligence in agriculture, drones, satellites and chatbots.

Other possible initiatives include the distribution of specific content for the sector via the Internet, and the creation of health-related certifications for agricultural exporters.

Pilot programs will be executed in Brazil and Argentina, based on the priorities established within the framework of the agreement that both organizations signed in October for the benefit of rural areas in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Microsoft has a wealth of experience in digital inclusion and transformation, especially in initiatives targeting young people and vulnerable populations. Through this partnership, Microsoft will work together with IICA, the specialized agency of the Inter-American System for agriculture and rural development, to establish cloud platforms with state-of-the-art technology to offer training solutions, virtual reality and the Internet of Things, to assist young people and women working in rural areas, in particular.

Microsoft and IICA have already developed Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence prototypes, for the purpose of tackling diseases in coffee farming.

Last year, Microsoft also participated in a public-private sector discussion forum organized by IICA as part of the 38th Regular Meeting of its Executive Committee, one of the Institute’s governing bodies.  There, Microsoft demonstrated how the implementation of drone and sensor technologies, precision agriculture, Big Data, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence could be used to increase productivity and reduce production costs in the agriculture sector.

More information:

Emmanuel Picado, ICT and Digital Agriculture Manager at IICA.