A new artificial intelligence chatbot is proving invaluable for farmers struggling to overcome modern agricultural challenges, with food and climate experts seeing the technology as key in dealing with food insecurity caused by the challenges of global heating and the Ukraine war.

Ismail Serageldin, former vice president of the World Bank, said at a meeting of corporate, academic and political leaders in Tokyo that he has high hopes AI app Farmer.CHAT will bring a significant change to producers who work marginal lands.

AI-powered chatbots are expected to quickly transform agriculture and food systems to be more resilient and sustainable by assisting in the development of drought-resistant crops, early-warning systems against climate change-driven weather disasters and sustainable land management systems.

Photo taken on May 2, 2023, shows grain gathered for exports in southern Ukraine. (Kyodo)

The role of AI in sustainable farming was among the topics raised by participants at the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, hosted mainly by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in early October.

Currently, it is difficult for agricultural extension service specialists, who provide farmers advice on suitable crops and cropping management systems, to visit every remote farm.

By introducing a multilingual AI tool available on mobile phones, farmers will have access to decision-making assistance to help them optimize crop management, increase yields and reduce losses, and improve irrigation, fertilizer use and pest control.

Digital Green, one of the developers of the AI application, said on its website, "Now, any government extension agent or farmer can type or talk in their own language and get clear answers with links to relevant Digital Green videos."

The AI chatbot further boosts the efforts of the extension workers "to bring the best knowledge to these remote areas," Serageldin said.

Participants at the annual forum expressed their concern that as much as 30 percent of food produced in many parts of the world does not reach consumers due to problems including lack of proper post-harvest storage, processing or transportation facilities.

They also said over 345 million people are facing severe food insecurity in 2023, more than double the number in 2020, driven by Russia's war on Ukraine on top of climate change.

One attendee at the forum, secretary general of the 56-member Commonwealth of Nations Patricia Scotland, urged the food and agriculture sector, a huge emitter of greenhouse gases, to become a major contributor to carbon capture and sequestration.


Related coverage:

Japan stresses safety of Fukushima water release at ASEAN-plus-3 meet

86% of municipalities across Japan want more foreign workers: survey

FOCUS: Japan lagging world in introducing livestock welfare standards