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The future of farming is connected

Anyone who has done as little farming as growing a few tomato plants on the balcony knows that there is a lot of guesswork that goes into a successful harvest, and a lot of variables that can get in the way. On a larger scale, those variables have a real impact on successful agriculture and food security. By streamlining the cultivation and transport of foodstuffs, digital technology is planting the seeds for bountiful harvests around the world.

A global perspective on food security
With growing populations, changing climates and increased mobility of pests and invasive species, even wealthy nations must guard against the prospects of food instability. All of those topics will be on the agenda at the Nobel Prize Dialogue Tokyo 2018, where the theme is The Future of Food. On Sunday, March 11, Ericsson team members will be accessible at this free-of-charge, full-day event. The Nobel Prize Dialogue aims to stimulate discussion at a practical level by bringing together Nobel Laureates, leading scientists, policymakers, industry specialists, special interest groups and the general public.

With panels on global issues such as how we can feed a world population of up to 10 billion people, to discussions exploring bacteria and the microbiome at a microscopic level, the Nobel Prize Dialogue should stimulate plenty of thought-provoking conversations. If you can’t make it to Tokyo, the event can be live-streamed online.

Smart farming in Japan is growing with the IoT
As in many nations, agriculture in Japan is dominated by an aging population who often rely on intuition and knowledge gained by working smallholdings over a long period of time to deliver high quality food. To stay viable in a digitized world, the younger generation inheriting Japan’s farms wants to balance the proud tradition of their predecessors with new, data-driven agricultural practices.

Together with PS Solutions Corp. and CKD Corporation, we have collaborated on a platform in Japan that applies artificial intelligence, IoT and cloud technologies to agricultural processes. PS Solutions’ platform “e-kakashi” is designed to maintain an ideal environment for almost any crop to grow in. The purpose is to secure benefits such as reduced water usage, optimized growing conditions and increased crop yield. CKD Corporation, a pioneer in actuation, provides the devices that make it possible to control the IoT machinery remotely. The results of the information are made available in the cloud to support faster decisions. The platform can easily integrate new IoT devices as agriculturalists need them. Through the Zero Touch Onboarding functionality of the Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform, devices are immediately accessible after installation. With the Ericsson IoT Accelerator, the next generation of “e-kakashi” will enable higher automation by connecting with actuators. 

Planting a harvest for the world with ICT
The mix of traditional agriculture insights and digital technology demonstrated by the e-kakashi platform sets an example for the transformation of agriculture around the world.The World Economic Forum has published a report on the role of technology innovation in accelerating food systems transformation, recognizing information and communication technology (ICT) as one of the key technologies to enhance yields throughout the complete food value chain. At Ericsson we were early in identifying this opportunity, producing a report in 2015 on ICT and the future of food and agriculture that examines the transition in detail, providing an in-depth look at how ICT can increase efficiency in everything from cultivation to supply chain management.

Like many global problems, solutions to food security must be implemented and adapted on a local level. Our report explores how ICT solutions can shorten supply chains and place control of food production in the hands of local communities. These digital solutions not only help improve localized food security, they serve to strengthen national economies, and create stability for society as a whole.

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To learn more about Ericsson’s sustainability work, check out our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2017 at: www.ericsson.com/sustainability-report

Written by Matilda Gennvi-Gustafsson

Matilda's early career was in the area of environmental and production management in the food industry. Since joining Ericsson in 1997 she has focused on sustainability, business and change management. From 2009-17 she served as a sustainability director at group level focusing on strategy, climate action and how ICT can accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As of 2018 she works within the Internet of Things (IoT) unit, integrating business and doing good.