Tech titan cultivates interest in AI-powered agricultural innovation

How to boost agriculture to ensure food security in a country where deserts cover 80% of the land? Sounds like a tough task, but planting seeds of tech-based innovation and a data-driven future, can unlock growth.

The Emirates has already witnessed tremendous progress in strengthening healthcare and tourism, via apps and digital platforms. Emerging as a regional tech-hub, Dubai is now hosting tech giants like Microsoft at the GITEX tech week. On its part, Microsoft is demonstrating how AI and cloud storage can engineer an agricultural revolution in the desert.

The American firm is showcasing its agri-tech solution Azure FarmBeats, which collects and analyzes data to share recommendations with farmers. Its machine learning capabilities come up with the best ways to modify water usage and scale up soil quality, to get maximum yield from limited resources.

UAE has adopted tech in almost every sector, and the pandemic has also raised awareness for the country to grow its own food, instead of relying on imports. Microsoft’s datacenters in UAE have already nurtured digitisation for businesses across the region via cloud storage, and the same can be channelised for a green revolution too.

The Emirates depends on imports to meet 90% of its local food supply, and agri-tech firms including Desert Control are trying to change that. The company uses liquid nano clay to trigger higher water retention in dry desert soil for better agricultural growth.

Innovators like Al Badia are growing fresh vegetables in multi-story farms with controlled environments, where light and irrigation can be altered to suit the requirements of the crops. After becoming a tech powerhouse and leading the region’s space-race, UAE may just become an oasis for tech-based farming in the Arab world.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will also be highlighting cyber-security strategies at GISEC 2020, as firms in the region are adopting tech too fast to look over their shoulders. It’ll present a solution to track down hackers using forensics.