Tech Doing Good

From cleaning up mountains of untreated sludge to making railway stations fully solar-powered, technology is an ally to those hoping to solve Asia’s environmental problems.

9. Food Security: A big-data boon for corn farming

As the world’s second biggest rice exporter, Thailand continues to rely heavily on agriculture. Backed by the government, Thailand is transforming its agriculture industry through efforts such as precision agriculture.

By harnessing technology, precision agriculture aims to ease industrial operations and maximize yield per square meter. This is done by employing precise watering and fertilizing techniques using information obtained by monitoring variables such as humidity and mineral levels in the soil.

Mobile platform startup Ricult is working with farmers in Thailand and Pakistan to improve crop production yields using satellite images and data analytics. Its name Ricult was derived from the word ‘agriculture.’

The mobile app looks at farmlands and tells farmers when to water their field, fertilize, irrigate or harvest. The desired outcome is greater farm productivity—improved yields, better-quality crop and higher profitability for farmers.

The company started with corn in 2017, followed by cassava in 2018, and rice, palm and sugar cane in 2019. The service is free for farmers, as revenue comes from larger corporations in the agriculture supply chain who want access to the data, such as banks that offer loans to farmers, fertilizer companies and feed factories.

10. Food security: Fishy business using the Internet of Things

In a country obsessed with sashimi—a Japanese delicacy consisting of fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces—it is no surprise that Japan is at the heart of the overfishing controversy. Fueled by growing concerns for our marine resources, aquaculture has emerged as a more sustainable way to deliver this highly-sought-after protein.

Founded in 2016 and based in Singapore and Japan, aquatech startup UMITRON helps fish farms optimize their feeding practices using technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite remote sensing. Their first implementation site is the small and medium fish farms in Oita prefecture, Japan.

UMITRON uses a combination of underwater sensors and data analytics to monitor fish activity. Underwater sensors capture the swimming behavior of fishes and a machine learning algorithm analyzes the data to determine when and how much fish feed should be given. Each sensor is also equipped with solar panels that power them.

In September 2018, UMITRON raised a seed round worth US$11 million. It is currently working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to provide advance warnings for red tide (algae boom that could destroy aquaculture), by using oceanographic data from satellite images.

This article was first published in the July 2019 print version of Asian Scientist Magazine.

Click here to subscribe to Asian Scientist Magazine in print.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Illustrations: Lam Oi Keat/Asian Scientist Magazine.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Lidao is a chemistry undergraduate at the University of Oxford, UK. An aspiring scientist, he is excited to learn about the latest discoveries and even more intrigued by the fascinating stories behind them. In his free time, he enjoys badminton, swimming and running around Singapore to uncover the best durian spots.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist