July 3, 2020

Artificial intelligence, the new ally to develop Colombian agriculture

Artificial intelligence has become one of the main allies to boost the productivity of Colombian agriculture with tools that help improve land use and with which it is expected to take advantage of the more than 30 million hectares suitable for cultivation in the country.

The general manager of the technological multinational IBM, Patricio Espinosa, told Efe that the Watson tool started working in Colombia in April 2019 and since then more than 5,000 soil analyzes have been carried out in fields across the country.

“Technology today is more embedded in our day to day than ever. Agriculture is also transforming, that is a complex industry because it is very traditional, changing the behavior of the farmer is not an easy issue, but increasingly we are seeing that they are understanding the benefits that technology has, “he said.

The executive explained that with this tool the company bets on agriculture due to the social impact that the sector has, since he recalled that it contributes between 4% and 6% of the country’s GDP and is the “livelihood of a significant number of families.”

“Today 20% of all suitable hectares are being cultivated, we are talking about 40 million hectares, and only 8 are being cultivated,” said Espinosa.


To improve the processes and be able to take advantage of every hectare in the country, the company decided to apply Watson in agriculture, a tool that has also used banking and even the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office to improve its processes.

With this initiative, a pioneer in Latin America, farmers can take a piece of land from their crops and send it to the Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation (Agrosavia), where Watson studies it and issues an analysis to the entity’s agronomists.

After this, experts make a series of recommendations to Colombian farmers about which fertilizers to apply to their soils, which has benefited mainly avocado and blackberry crops in several regions of the country.

“Through this tool they have tripled the ability to produce recommendations, today more than 5,082 new cases have been processed for 120 crops” that positively impact 1,346 associations and farmers, Espinosa added.


Espinosa stressed that to develop Colombian agriculture there are mainly two challenges: that the field attracts new farmers and that the land is more productive.

To overcome these barriers, IBM opted for technology in the field, with which in addition to analyzing the quality of the soil they provide for a second phase to generate information on the climate so that with artificial intelligence it is possible to “predict patterns of how it will be and make the best decisions. “

“We are processing that information and we put artificial intelligence to predict patterns of how the weather is going to be and to be able to make better decisions based on that, as a second phase of how to use the climate within this to improve productivity,” he added.

According to a study by the company, three out of four companies are implementing artificial intelligence in their processes and by 2025 20% of the world’s supermarkets will use Blockchain technology for their food safety.

With this last tool, IBM also expects to reduce the total amount of wasted food, because in Colombia a third of the food produced is discarded, which is equivalent to 10 tons per year.

“Colombian agriculture will not be the same after the use of Blockchain and artificial intelligence,” said Espinosa, who said that with these practices “a differentiator can be generated in the consumption and consumption patterns of customers.”


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