Connected cows: how technology can help feed a growing population

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By 2050, there will be over 9 billion people living on Earth. That’s an increase of more than 20% from today’s 7.5 billion, but, according to the FAO, (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), food production will have to go up by 60% to meet the growing demand associated with another 1.5 billion inhabitants.

In a world where the vital resources for producing more food – including fertile land, and water – are increasingly scarce, upping production on this scale is no small feat. And when we consider that livestock is also one of the biggest contributors to climate change, accounting for more CO2 emissions than all the cars and trucks on the planet combined, the scale of the challenge seems almost insurmountable. There are 1.5 billion cows currently grazing the planet, which, through their flatulence and manure, emit over a third of total methane emissions – a gas that has 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.

Feeding the growing population

The solution for feeding our rapidly growing population will require a rethink of how we approach animal agriculture, particularly or livestock rearing.

Can we, for example, harness the power of artificial intelligence and sensors to increase farming productivity and efficiency, allowing us to get more food output from the resources agriculture consumes?

Connected cows

Connecterra, a tech start-up based in Holland founded by Yasir Khokhar, has introduced its first service, “Ida” which is a dairy farmer’s digital assistant.

Ida uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to learn about cows’ behaviour patterns as well as learn about the operational activities on a farm. As a result, farmers get insights on the health of livestock, detect eating and feeding habit irregularities, fertility peaks and geo-localise them. Ida provides recommendations to the farmer on what possible solutions could be applied and what has worked for other farmers thereby creating a conversational tone with the farmer.

Farmers are not data analysts and by using technology like Ida that does not show any data to the user and works side-by-side with them, learning about their specific farm, they will be more able to maximize productivity of not only their herd but also their business. After all, productivity is one of the key issues farmers face today.  Products like Ida from Connecterra can help democratize farming knowledge and scale out the best practices on improving agriculture efficiency globally.

Solutions require capital to flourish

Of course, innovative technologies like these require capital to develop and evolve into ubiquitous solutions.

Where the holders of that capital can rethink traditional approaches to agriculture, for example, they can reap the rewards available through using new technologies to meet identifiable and predictable global needs. If artificial intelligence is going to be used in new ways to change our approach to solving some of the fundamental problems the world’s population faces today, then that, in turn, creates opportunities for investors.

1World Population Prospects The 2015 Revision, Department for Economic and Social Affairs, 2015
2Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

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