Saudi ministry keen to enhance agricultural efficiency through AI, drones’ technologies

The use of drones would increase the potential of farmers, engineers and agricultural specialists

  
Image used for illustrative purpose An aerosol drone flies during a training at LTFY drone training school on the outskirts of Beijing, China August 2, 2017.

Image used for illustrative purpose An aerosol drone flies during a training at LTFY drone training school on the outskirts of Beijing, China August 2, 2017.

REUTERS/Jason Lee
 

RIYADH — The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture is keen on raising the productive and operational efficiency of the agricultural sector by using drones backed by artificial intelligence technologies.

In this regard, the ministry organized on Wednesday a virtual workshop titled “Drones and artificial intelligence technologies in agriculture,” which was attended by several officials of major international companies in the agricultural and digital sectors.

The workshop was held with the participation of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Agricultural Development Fund, the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, the National Authority for Cybersecurity, as well as international technology companies in the field of drones and artificial intelligence.

The event was held in the presence of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Eng. Ahmed Al-Ayada and a number of specialists and experts.

Addressing the session, Dr. Bandar Al-Saqhan, director general of the general department for agricultural research and guidance, said that digital development and artificial intelligence have necessitated all countries of the world to adopt a new system of work and a new approach to challenges that were not familiar to the agricultural sector.

“This is because of the ability of these modern technologies in developing and raising the productive efficiency, with more quality, less cost and economic feasibility,” Dr. Al-Saqhan said.

He explained that Saudi Arabia has exerted great efforts to keep pace with this development by adopting artificial intelligence technologies and making use of them in the best possible ways to support food security.

“The use of drones will be one of the main pillars of investment in the agricultural sector, in light of the geographical and climatic challenges and the lack of sufficient and trained agricultural labor and the failure of the human mind to match the amount of data and information flowing significantly in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Al-Saqhan noted that the use of drones would increase the capabilities of farmers, engineers and agricultural specialists throughout the world by providing them with the information they need to identify potential problems and mitigate losses.

The two-day workshop discussed four main areas: plant health, farm production, farm irrigation and agricultural management, as well as reviewed the experiences of a number of leading companies in this field.

Al-Saqhan said that the use of drones will be one of the main pillars of investment in the agricultural sector, in light of the geographical and climatic challenges and the lack of sufficient and trained agricultural labor and the human mind’s inability to keep pace with the amount of data and information flowing significantly in the agricultural sector.

He explained that the use of drones would increase the potential of farmers, engineers and agricultural specialists throughout the world by providing them with the information they need to identify potential problems and mitigate losses.

The two-day workshop comes within the communication links between the providers of smart technical services and between farmers and those interested in the fields of agriculture.

It is noteworthy that the revenues of the drones industry during the last five years amounted to $100 billion, and with expectations of steady growth that may reach more than 30 percent annually in light of the growing use of these aircraft in many areas.

The use of drones will allow farmers to work more to withstand the harsh weather and terrain and to monitor and identify plants and chart their efficient growth while controlling the diseases and insects from spreading and affecting the crops.

There are already large drones in use that can spray crops collectively, where they can spray when needed, in addition to monitoring animals.

 

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